We’re plowing some tough ground. What does it mean when our drunken husband spurns your request to stop drinking, then spurns trusted friends, then, finally, spurns the church? Jesus says to treat them like a Samaritan and a tax collector. We’ve seen that Jesus is very forceful. We’ve seen Paul commanding us to “purge the evil person from among you.”
What does that mean for the drunken husband? I believe it means that he needs to go. He needs to be removed from the home so that his sin may not contaminate the family. This is going to take a radical change in the way we think. All of us. Let’s break this down by player.
If the husband won’t listen to anyone, then perhaps the sudden loss of everything of importance will be the shock he needs to get serious help. Sinners don’t seem to mind losing it all when the loss is little by little over time. Certainly, the alcoholic is willing to destroy the family. That’s not his intention but that is the result due to his unwillingness to seek help. Is this too harsh? Not according to Paul. Let’s see what he says about that guy in the Corinthian church.
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
The commentary that makes the most sense to me on this passage says that by this all restraint is removed and the sinner will freefall in his own sin. In a sense, it is like shoving the chick out of the nest. It’s for its own good. Yes, death is a possibility, but so is life. One thing is certain, the results will be found quickly. When we think about it, we know that coddling bad behavior doesn’t change it. You want your kids to stop watching TV? Throw them outside to play. Long story short, it’s for his own good. Yes, it’s tough medicine to administer and tough to receive, but it is medicine that the Lord says must be used.
Let’s look at one more “tough love” passage that might drive the point home, so we can move on.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
Yes, the bible is tough.
But, what if my drunken husband spirals out of control? He could die! Yes, unfortunately, that is a real possibility. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a) Let’s not forget the rest of the verse: “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There are no guarantees in any of this. The man may die. Then again, he might be saved. This is a matter between him and God, no one else. The point to remember is that by driving him away, he will not be allowed to destroy the entire family in the process. Let’s not forget that.
Here’s my story. Up until June 13, 2007 I was a heavy, closet drinker. People knew I was a drinker, they just had no idea just how much I drank, including my now ex-wife. I didn’t get into trouble with it, in the usual sense, until my health gave out. Nobody questioned me about anything, although it wouldn’t have taken much thought to figure out something was wrong. My doctors did, for several years, but they just kept increasing my blood pressure medication. There was a time, in the late 90s, that I initiated marriage counseling. Although I was convinced that we were there for other reasons, I was certain that my drinking would soon be revealed. Trust me, I thought this through carefully and concluded that my drinking would be sacrificed for the sake of my marriage. As it turned out, the counseling ended after the second visit, so we never even got to my alcohol usage.
Looking back, that was a tragedy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was the one drinking and had no one to blame but myself. With no one to hold me accountable, I continued to drink to the point of death. At the same time, the truth is I would have given drinking up completely if I had been forced to. That is the truth. My family was more important than drinking. If that was the case, why didn’t I simply quit drinking anyway? Because what Paul says is true. The wages of sin is death. Once entangled, it takes a great shock to change. After another ten years of drinking, it took not one but two near-death experiences before I finally turned to the Lord. When I did, I was saved.
Throwing the drunken husbands out won’t cure every husband, but it will cure some. My guess is if it was the norm for society to do this, most would give up drinking before it became a serious problem. There simply is no penalty now until the natural course of sin destroys not only the drunkard but the family as well. If the family, and society, was swift and harsh in dealing with alcohol abuse, you can be sure that far, far fewer would become a problem drinker. As it is, our society promotes drinking. Sadly, so does the church.
Tomorrow we’ll look at it from the family’s perspective.
Father, keep unfolding this.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers