“Do not get drunk on wine…”
Alcoholism starts by following someone’s example and taking the first drink. Everyone enjoys years before ever tasting alcohol, so running the serious risk of drinking it – unknowingly becomes a major decision. The Bible therefore warns, “wine is a mocker and strong drink is raging…” (Proverbs 20:1)
For our understanding, for centuries alcohol has been the world’s most widely used addictive substance. As an example, at this time in the United States an estimated one in twelve adults are currently problem-drinkers. Since a sizable portion of the national population does not drink, how can we assist our many friends and loved ones who either already are or are on the way to becoming alcoholics?
Globally, alcoholism’s underlying genetic problem is physical in nature, however it becomes increasingly spiritual over time as its damages occurs. Those realities will be addressed during this series.
Explained physically, alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins within the brain. They temporarily create pleasurable sensations of well-being. Depending on one’s genetics, over time actual changes in the brain’s chemistry and function can occur if its reward and pleasure centers are continually overwhelmed. This results in the strong cravings to repeat the same experience, so alcohol is predictably desired in greater frequency.
The Bible explains that we are, “… fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14) and there is a percentage of the world’s population whose personal genetics are not compatible with alcohol. For that sizable number of the world’s inhabitants, moderation is not a realistic option. This problem has a physical root with a strong spiritual dimension and God will faithfully assist all those who want and therefore intentionally choose a lifestyle of sobriety.
The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) The word all includes the experience of day-by-day sobriety and victory over addiction.
Either bottled or filtered water is already available in every nation, so the use of fermented beverages is no longer needed for safety reasons. It is now simply social in nature. Coffee, tea, fruit juice, milk, and a wide variety of other drinks are enjoyed world-wide, so wisdom has become the guiding issue. Because of today’s understanding of alcoholism, genetics, and the Bible’s dozens of verses warning about the danger of, “…wine or strong drink…” (Leviticus 10:9) – abstinence is currently the safest decision.
Alcohol not only affects the lives of those who drink it. It also impacts the lives of their family members, friends, and even total strangers who simply drive on the same streets and highways. The Lord Jesus taught us the Golden Rule which says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31) This clearly includes having concern about everyone’s safety and personal happiness.
The issues of Christian love and concern are tightly interwoven with our personal example. If we set the wrong example and others follow it, then their resulting regret will eventually become ours as well!
Our children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces should all be safe following in our footsteps. As a result of our unwise decisions, we can easily damage and contribute toward the serious pain experienced by those who – love, trust, and need us. The Bible therefore encourages us by saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
The many who are able to drink alcohol socially in moderation are greatly blessed, but they also have a sacred responsibility to care for the needs of others. The Bible teaches, “…consider one another as more important than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) Our example is far more important than most Christians understand, so let’s pray for the strength of character not to be a stumbling block to those in the next generation.
By Billie Hanks Jr.