For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, November 2, 2009

An Argument Against Alcohol – Revisited

I’ve been doing this blog thing for about 2 ½ years now and a couple of things stand out. One, there are actually people out there bored enough to read this. And thanks to the little tracker widget thingy, I can even see where some of you are. And two, the number one thing that is being read is an article I wrote over two years ago regarding “An Argument Against Alcohol.”

I must say that I’m shocked that this is the article folks find so fascinating. I’ve written about all sorts of personal and theological and political issues, but the biggest response, the most hits, involves this observation that really was sparked by a NASCAR race. It seems that especially in Europe and the UK, this is a popular destination in my little blog world.

So, I’ve been rethinking the whole thing. I’ve re-read my comments and tried to decide if now, two years later, I still feel the same way. And the answer is yes. Some of the comments received on that post reflect some misunderstanding. It’s not my position that Scripture forbids the consumption of alcohol in and of itself. Need I remind you of the whole water-into-wine episode?

No, my argument was, and still is that it is wiser for the Christian to abstain for valid Scriptural principles other than an outright ban on alcohol. Chief among those principles is simply the issue of thinking more of others than yourselves, and seeking to not be a stumbling block to others.

The truth is that alcohol consumption is a problem for millions and the cause of problems for millions of others. Here are a few facts on alcohol/alcoholism I came across:

•Annually, more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. alone are caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

•Nearly 18 million Americans (8.5 percent of adults_ meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

•Approximately one in four children in the U.S. under 18 years old is exposed to alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence in the family.

•Alcohol is the top drug of choice for children and adolescents.

•Each day, 7000 children in the U.S. under the age of 16 take their first drink.

•More than 35 percent of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms such as binge drinking by age 19.

•Alcoholism costs the U.S. between 40 and 60 billion dollars per year.

•Alcohol–related crashes (i.e., those in which a driver or pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration greater than zero) account for 41 percent of all fatal car accidents

•Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes.

•There are more than 100,000 Alcoholics Anonymous groups worldwide.


Since we know the ill effects of alcohol, and we know that so many of our brothers are struggling with the issue, why would the caring, mature Christian wish to flaunt his “right to drink” just because there is no direct ban in Scripture? Why do we not consider:

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (Rom 14:20-21, ESV)

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. (1Co 8:9, ESV)

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1Co 10:23-24, ESV)

Why is this such a big deal? Why is the consumption of alcohol such an attraction among Christians that we are willing to ignore the health and well being of so many around us just to “partake?” Again, I’m not arguing the “cleanness” or “uncleanness” of alcohol in general. It’s not a sinful beverage on its own. But can we not see that it’s simply wiser to abstain for the sake of others?

OK, bring on the response. (I hope, if anyone is still reading this!)


Tina A. said...

So well said, Scott. This is heavy on my mind this morning. We had a church member come before the church yesterday and ask for help. He is entering alcohol treatment. He has a young family and they are struggling. It broke my heart. It's so much bigger than any of us realize. He talked about how he can hardly escape it - it's everywhere. It would be so easy for a decision one of us makes to adversly affect him and his little family. Thanks for writing this.

drhambrick said...

As Calvin said: "For the weaker brother, we shall abstain, for the Pharisee, never."

scott said...

Tina, we'll be praying for that brother.

Paul, exactly. And since Tina's comment proves the point that we may never even know that weaker brother is among us until it's too late, it's wiser to just stay away altogether.

Tim A said...

Scott, I appreciate you stand of alcohol. I think you know that my stand is much the same maybe stronger.
Scripture does speak of drunkenness, and where do you begin drunkenness? One beer, two beers, three, four? One drink of wine, two, three, etc.
The best policy: If you never take a drink, you won't get drunk.

Scott said...

Amen, Tim. Thanks for stopping by. Wish more in the convention saw it this way.