One subject that perennially perplexes some members of the church is the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Not infrequently the question is asked, "Is it wrong just to take a drink now and then?" The answer is an unequivocal, "YES!" This series of articles will explore the reasons why most preachers discourage the use of beverage alcohol to any degree; objections to this position will also be considered.
When Jesus said, "Therefore by their fruits you will know them," He was referring to false prophets who had the appearance of piety ("they come to you in sheep's clothing") which covered their true character ("inwardly they are ravening wolves"). In other words, in order to act responsibly one must do more than listen to their words; he must see what kind of fruit they bear (Matt. 7:15-20).
Figuratively speaking, alcohol promises much: it bespeaks good times, gusto, and serene moments in which life "doesn't get any better than this." But is the picture of good friends relaxing, sighing, and mellowing out a fair one? Are its fruits as good as the advertisements claim? Even in the days of Solomon 3,000 years ago, the alcoholic beverage was unable to make good on its promises.
"Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things" (Pr. 23:31-33). The drinker also has woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, and wounds without cause (Pr. 23:28). In other words, the product cannot make good on its advertisement. It can not deliver what it promises.
What it does deliver is tragedy and misery. For decades alcohol has been involved in 50% of all automobile accidents. Young people have been so affected by its use that each state has raised the minimum drinking age to 21. Alcohol is so harmful and addictive that groups like MADD, SADD,AA, and others are known by nearly everyone.
Other fruits of the drug include its role in domestic violence (battered wives and children will attest to this fact), its link to mental illness, and its relationship to suicide. [Anyone who doubts the truthfulness of any of these statements owes it to him- self to spend an afternoon in the library looking up the statistics.] Millions of dollars are lost in the workplace due to absenteeism caused by alcohol; much more could be said.
In light of all these facts, why would anyone even ask if it is all right to have just one drink? Do we think that the nation's ten million alcoholics all started out with that goal in mind? Imagine someone saying, "Yes, I'm just going to have one glass of wine with my meal tonight, but by next week I plan to be chugalugging sixpacks of beer"!! Who (in his right mind) would set as a goal spending his paycheck buying rounds for the guys, beating his wife and kids, losing his job, and wrecking his health? The problem is that alcohol takes one out of his right mind. The first thing it does is impair one's judgment. The last thing it does is kill, which is well attested by the sad demise of the late Mickey Mantle. Don't misunderstand; Mantle was a great hero, but perhaps never more so than when he tearfully acknowledged that God had blessed him with a marvelously healthy body, and he allowed alcohol to ruin it.
If the makers of alcoholic beverages had to depend on the average American having one drink a week, they would all probably declare bankruptcy within a few weeks. Their livelihood depends on those who drink considerably more quantities. In other words, if it were not for alcoholics and heavy drinkers, they would not stay in business. Hypocritically, they sometimes spend money on commercials to encourage people to drink "responsibly"; but they know that the lighter the indulgence, the lesser their profits. Why else would they spend millions of advertising dollars each year? They need more customers (to replace the alcoholics who have died, committed suicide, or been killed in alcohol-related accidents); they need customers who will escalate their drinking habits. Why would anyone, especially a Christian, want to support such an "industry" which feeds off of innocent victims' (of drinkers) degradation, humiliation, and misery?
Can anyone really convince himself that these companies do not know the results of their products? They employ analysts and statisticians. They will someday reap the results of their actions. Buying their products only encourages them and adds to their guilt. Thinking about the lives that have been ruined should bring about sober reflection on our part. Let us have no fellowship in this unfruitful work of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Listed as works of the flesh are "drunkenness" and "revelries" (Gal. 5:19-21). Prior to becoming Christians, many "walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties..." (1 Peter 4:3), but now we have given such sins up.
All young people want to know, "What's so bad about drinking?" Hopefully, the above considerations will prove helpful. Beverage alcohol is productive of all the evils herein described--and more. Looking at it from another perspective, how much good does it do? List all of the good, positive benefits that have come about because of it. No, its medical use does not count because the subject is beverage alcohol--that which is used merely for recreation. It's an evil companion that will corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33) and an evil tree bearing treacherous fruit. Are you deceived by it (Pr. 20:1)?
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "Arguments Against Drinking (Part 1) (9/10/95)."