The leading cause of death for those between the ages of sixteen and twenty is the traffic crash (the word accident is purposely not used). This age group comprises only 6.7% of the total driving population (for 1993), but they were 13.5% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes. These young people (twice as many males as females) did not need to die; 1,081 of them were legally drunk. [These statistics appeared in the Ann Landers column of August 25, 1995.]
The above information is only one of the fruits of alcohol that were discussed in last week's article. Of course, it's illegal for those under twenty-one to have alcoholic beverages just as it is illegal to drink and drive, but nearly anyone at any age can find access to this dangerous drug. So far, we have cited two arguments for a Christian to have absolutely no fellowship with this unfruitful work of darkness, but there's more.
How does alcohol affect the body? Alcohol is absorbed from the stomach into the blood stream; from there various organs absorb it: the brain, liver, kidney, etc. It depresses one's ability to think, thus swiftly impairing good judgment and self-restraint. Obviously, the more a person drinks, the less control he has--both of his mind and his body. Dulled senses mean a longer reaction time when driving a vehicle. Nobody sets out to be a drunk driver with a fervent wish to kill someone. Undoubtedly, most people feel that they are rational and in control when the blood alcohol level is only .1 or slightly higher. The statistics involving fatalities (cited above) prove otherwise. [This information may be found in Willard Alls' book What the Christian Should Know About Alcohol and Alcoholism, pages 26-27.]
The second pernicious effect of alcohol is that it destroys brain cells. A number of studies have now confirmed that even in small amounts, ethyl alcohol destroys cells in the human brain, which can never be replaced. Anyone who has imbibed over the years should not panic. It's not as though a person only has ten brain cells, and each binge destroys one of the ten. God did marvelous work in creating the human body. But what kind of attitude is it to say, "Well, I have millions of brain cells; I'll risk a few thousand now and then"? Not only is the brain affected; so are other organs. Shall we take the body that God has created for us and systematically destroy it?
More than anyone else, the Christian needs to think, reason, and evaluate properly (Isaiah 1:18, 1 Kings 13, 1 Thess, 5:21-22). Shall we be prepared or impaired?
"But we only drink a little wine with our meals once a week. How could such a harmless custom hurt anyone?" Granted that such an individual will not be out on the high-ways killing or maiming someone, and only a minimal amount of brain cells will be sacrificed. But there are three questions that the one who uses this argument needs to be able to answer.
1. Why do it even then? Why open the door even a crack?
2. Can you guarantee that no one within this intimate circle of family and friends will ever degenerate into an alcoholic?
3. Can you guarantee that no other brother or sister who knows of such habits will ever be emboldened to begin drinking by your example--with possible harmful results?
Brethren, we do not live in a vacuum. We contact many people in the course of a week, and most of them will form a quick opinion of us just as we do them. How does the weekly sip of wine reach the dinner table? Does it come from one's own private vineyard? It doesn't just pop into existence. Doesn't someone have to go to a grocery store or a liquor store to obtain it? If a friend provides it, he knows what its purpose is. If a store delivers it, somebody knows.
And what will those who know think? Even if they are told, "We just have an occasional sip with dinner," their reaction will likely be, "Right!" What they know as factual information is that: 1) This person is a Christian; and 2) This person drinks alcoholic beverages. They will inescapably conclude without respect to quantities consumed that it is all right for Christians to drink. Is it worth the weekly sip to prompt a sinner to think of a Christian as a hypocrite or cause a brother to stumble?
A businessman tried to convince a preacher that social drinking enhanced his influence rather than destroyed it. The man of God challenged him to initiate a religious discussion with a drinking buddy at the next opportunity. Eager to prove his point, he said to an associate, "Bill, in all the time we have known each other, we have never talked about important spiritual concerns." His theory was quickly deflated when his friend laughed and said, "Why you're just as big a sinner as I am." Sobering thoughts?
What if an ex-alcoholic were converted (but through the influence of a Christian who regarded small amounts of consumption to be innocuous) went "off the wagon"? Would one's perceived liberty be worth a brother's soul (1 Cor. 8)? Since drinking alcoholic beverages is a matter of choice, and since there is no compelling reason to do so, and since all kinds of harm can result from it, WHY DO IT?!!
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "Arguments Against Drinking (Part 2) (9/17/95)."