I’ve heard it said in recent years that wine (I think it’s red) can be good for your heart. Of course, I’ve heard that about chocolate, sex, watching “educational” television and a slew of other things that are really just rationalizations. Let’s be honest. Alcohol causes way more harm than good. Often we just think it’s drinking and driving or abusive parents or wallowing in self-whatever with the bottle to drown out all your worries. One might say that’s enough reason to avoid the poison. Yet we allow for “social drinking,” whatever that is (please explain if you will!) In fact, that’s the only allowance many make – Christian or not. They agree that getting drunk or tipsy is not a good idea. Now, I hang out with people more often than you think that drink. And you might think that as a result, I judge them or don’t want to be around them. I do my best not to and I think succeed more often than not. I’m sad when they go too far (and it’s pretty easy to tell). I’m extremely disappointed if kids are there or someone who is a known alcoholic is present. And I’m certainly on guard for myself and others when folks might cross a line. Too much alcohol in someone can make them unpredictable (shocker, I know).
I’m told folks can handle their own and know when they’re intoxicated. I used to wonder how you knew when you were getting drunk, but honestly, I now understand. Having taken over a dozen meds with close to 30 different concoctions in the past year, I can tell you first hand that I sense if a drug is working or not and what symptoms are resulting from it (I just spoke with my doctor this morning about my most recent one & the pharmacy is compounding a new one for me while I’m in Seattle). One of the reasons why is because I’m a lightweight. My doctor says so repeatedly. I had to kick regular coffee out of my diet and go to straight decaf – really less of a big deal than I thought, but a tremendous result! It is amazing how I can tell the effects of a drug. But for those who say they can handle their own, I’m confused. You only know how much you can handle if you’ve gone over “what you can handle.” I talk with my doctor about stopping meds if the symptoms are not effective, but it was because I went over what I should have – sometimes I had to stop even before talking with her. I usually then pull way back and sometimes slow the dosage up again. But with alcohol, do you know? I mean, do you know with this new wine that you can handle 2 cups or three? Call me naive, because I am – having never drank alcohol in my life, but 2+2 is not equalling four here. And I’m willing to listen, I really am.
But have you ever cleaned up the urine or puke of someone who didn’t drink at a social gathering one weekend but the temptation of it threw them into a drunken tailspin the next? Or seen a kid whose gateway to drugs was the rebellious sipping of alcohol when mom or dad wasn’t looking? Or been part of a family who didn’t drink but were adult children of alcoholics? Or had a friend who said they were just a “social drinker” but you and/or others didn’t know how to tell them they were an alcoholic and it continued to get worse? Or had parents who drank and then stopped and your world changed?
That’s what happened to me. My parents quit cold turkey (at least they did when I was around). One week it was fetching my dad Meister Braus (yeah he was cheap and yeah I remember the spelling because I can see the can clear as a bell), the next it was gone! My parents were mocked by peers who didn’t understand why they stopped. They heard from friends that said my parents were judging them. They weren’t invited to certain gatherings. They were given the weird eye by folks who knew and folks who thought they knew but didn’t. All because they didn’t drink!
Their decision made me swear to myself that I would never drink. I saw the difference in my dad. I wasn’t as scared anymore. I longed to be part of a team that visited elementary schools with police officers in high school to tell kids that you can grow up and not drink. And the people I went with were awesome. We were committed to staying dry. I was committed for life. Yet I was saddened when they came back from college the next year. We got together and only alcohol was served – and we were only 18!
There’s something crazy about this drug that divides so many. No matter who you are reading this, you’re on one side. As a Christian and as a pastor, I know you’re supposed to use the Bible and argue that the proof of the wine in Jesus’ time was less and that we aren’t to get drunk according to certain epistles, yadayadayada. You can google all about that. There’s really no evidence to wine’s proof in Scripture and drunkenness is the only thing condemned, not any specific type. You cannot say honestly that the Bible says not to drink alcohol. My argument has never really been based on that. It’s been more based on reason. Experience. Wisdom, I hope. And I think (hope again) the Holy Spirit has intervened, but alcohol, even in moderation, just doesn’t add up to me. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again: alcohol causes so much more bad than good.
Sure, soda is also not the best health-wise, but I haven’t heard of too many marriages ending because of soda drinking, or car accidents caused by the Pepsi, or children being beaten because of the Sprite, or puking and other uncontrollable bodily functions because of root beer (though, I take that back – there were those burping contests when I worked with kids – I did see quite a bit of yacking there), or friendships divided, or a prescription label that says do not combine this medicine with soda. I’m not arguing for a beverage. I’m certainly not arguing for the prohibition. I’m arguing against a poison, home wrecker, murderer and more.
I think the pot is sufficiently stirred.