2018-08-23 Total Abstinence?

Good Morning!

I have had a couple of opportunities for discussion about alcohol this week. Actually, it happens quite often for me. I nearly died from alcoholism in 2006 and again in 2007. I’m not sure how many times I SHOULD have died by accident while intoxicated. My father was a drunk. So are many of my relatives, both on my father’s and mother’s side. I grew up with drinking and drugs in a large group of friends who did the same thing. While my drug use stopped in high school, my drinking didn’t.

I’ve been completely sober since June 13, 2007. I have come to know a life I never seriously considered. Alcohol was so ingrained into my life that it was almost impossible to remove either alcohol from me or me from alcohol.

What do I mean from that? Remove me from alcohol? It’s very difficult to see this, but alcohol not only permeated my life, but it is woven into the very fiber of life in all of us. Google tells me 30% are abstinent in that they haven’t consumed any alcohol in the past year. Most people are social drinkers. Many people abuse alcohol. Some of us become alcoholics. 27% of people (18+) binge drink (4 or more drinks in one day per month, basically intoxication). 7% engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month (binge drinking 5+ days per month). https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

In my background, 4-5 drinks 5 days in a month doesn’t even register on the meter.

These statistics are for individual drinking. Let’s think about what our social circle looks like? How often is alcohol present in our homes? Do people drink regularly? How much and how often? Even if we are not drinking, how much are those around us consuming? Do you see binge drinking? Let me ask you this. Do you see beer every time you open up your fridge? How about your friends and other relatives? When you get together, is alcohol present? Is there any binge drinking there? Is there ever a time when everyone is together and NO alcohol is present? And, if there is not, are there some who are making jokes (complaining) because of it? How about TV? Can you escape the message of alcohol there? Try going to a baseball game some time and pay attention to the messages being presented. Notice just how much alcohol is being pushed.

Unless you really, really look for it, you don’t even notice just how much alcohol has permeated our lives. Until you are completely free from alcohol, it is almost impossible to see the negative side effects apart from that of the chronic alcoholic. Usually the people that DO see it have witnessed devastation somewhere in their circle of loved ones. Even so, very few of them see the reach of alcohol in others.

So, as a society, I would say that we are very abusive of alcohol. It permeates the very fabric of who we are, and we have lost sound judgment as to our usage. Having said that, can we honestly say it is a good thing? Can we even remove ourselves enough to make an honest assessment of the costs we incur? I don’t think we can.

What does the bible say? Certainly, almost everyone will point to the fact that Jesus turned water into wine. Psalm 104:15 says God made “wine to gladden the heart of man.” Yet, there are many, many warnings about drinking too much. As a society, can we honestly say that we are innocent of that? In my opinion, we have gone way beyond that threshold.

Would we be better off, as a society, without alcohol? I think so. Matthew 5:29-30 comes to mind. We would be better cutting off our hand than to continue to sin with alcohol. But what about on an individual level? Certainly, I should be able to drink socially, right? My question is, “What does ‘social’ mean?” That wouldn’t include binge drinking, would it? Wouldn’t that mean there would be some months I wouldn’t drink at all? I suppose it would. Wouldn’t it mean that out of a year, I should have more than two months totally free, back to back? I would think that there should be times when there are three months straight of no booze. Right?

That seems ridiculous, right? But is it? Now, let’s look at the message WE give when we drink socially. I’ve heard I don’t know how many people say they drink in a manner to show their kids how to drink responsibly. Think about that for a minute. If we really want our kids to avoid problems with drinking, wouldn’t we teach them that ANYONE is at risk of alcoholism and that risk increases dramatically with the prevalence of family abuse and/or alcoholism. We would be wise to teach them that nobody chooses to be an alcoholic. We would be wise to teach them the real risks and real consequences of alcohol and chemical dependency. But that’s pretty hard to do when we regularly have a beer in our hand, it’s always in our fridge, and it is at every social gathering we attend.

See what I mean?

Instead of searching scripture for justification of drinking, perhaps we would be wise to study the many passages like this one:

Romans 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Here’s my challenge to you. If alcohol isn’t a problem, then give it up for a year, just to see what happens. If the thought of that seems ridiculous, then I might suggest your perception of alcohol has become biased negatively. If that is the case, is it possible that your usage might be causing others to stumble?

I’m not going to look down my nose at anyone regarding this. I just hope you give me a legitimate opportunity to speak my message into your spirit. As a society, we have lost sight of the gift God has given to us. Like many things, Satan has turned this gift into a curse. Certainly, alcohol has become a curse to our nation. It’s time to reclaim our freedom. And for many of us, that will mean complete abstinence. For others, it will mean dramatic changes. For all of us, it should include significant dry periods.

Does that make at least a little sense?

Father, forgive us for taking your gift and turning it to sin. Restore us, restore our families, and restore our nation. Amen.

Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers

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