19 January 2016

The Sparkling Cup: The Dangers of Social Drinking

“Do not look on the wine… when it sparkles in the cup.”  (Proverbs 23:31)

I have been asked by several people, “Is social drinking a sin?”  This is the wrong question.  When we ask the wrong question, we draw the wrong conclusions.  A much better question to ask is, “What does it profit?  Would social drinking make me a better person or help me influence others for God.  If not, then why am I doing it?"  The apostle Paul lived by the principle of making himself “a servant to all, that I may win the more.”  He lived to influence others for Christ.  Here are some of the reasons why social drinking is dangerous.

1. The problem of the addictive nature of alcoholic beverages. 
Most Christians agree it is wrong to get drunk, but what many refuse to admit is drunkenness is caused one drink at a time.  Alcohol is addictive and to certain people it is highly addictive.  We have all seen firsthand the affect of alcoholism on friends and loved ones.  I had a close friend that from the time he drank his first can of beer he couldn’t stop drinking.  The alcohol in one beer triggered something in him that caused him to drink until he passed out.  There was something in his system that made it impossible for him to handle alcohol and though he was a part of a good family, he became an alcoholic at a young age.  It would be wrong for me to put a stumbling block in his way by tempting him to do something he can’t handle.  “Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”  (Romans 14:13)  “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”  (Romans 14:21)

2. The problem of the Biblical cultural language.  
One of the arguments which continually arises in this discussion is why Jesus turned water into wine?  Culture is a language all of its own.  Jesus lived in another culture located halfway around the world two thousand years ago.  Drinking wine was a part of the Jewish culture for several reasons.  One was pure drinking water was not always available, so they discovered a way to sustain themselves by drinking wine.  Wine was also used for medical purposes.  Paul said to Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”  (I Timothy 5:23)  Paul was referring to Timothy’s digestive problems and told him he should use a little wine for medical reasons.  “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart.”  (Proverbs 31:6)  This Scripture clearly states alcoholic drinks should be used as medicine to alleviate pain.   Today medical science has discovered much better ways of helping those who are suffering, so there is no longer any reason for us to drink alcoholic beverages as medicine.

3. The problem of enjoying the drink. 
People drink wine because they like it.  What is it that causes people to pay a much higher price for an alcoholic beverage when they could drink a non-alcoholic beverage for a much lower price?  They enjoyed its taste and effect.  That is the main reason people drink wine today.  They are willing to take the risks and pay for some thing that gives them a buzz.  It makes them feel good.  It helps them overcome insecurities and have a good time.  But that is the danger.  We come to rely on something other than the Holy Spirit to help us with our weaknesses.  Wine becomes a substitute for the joy of the Holy Spirit.  Joy is listed as a “fruit of the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:22)  If we are experiencing the joy of the Holy Spirit in our lives, why do we need alcoholic beverages to make us feel good?

4. The problem of making bad decisions.
It is well said, “We make our decisions and then our decisions make us.”  We have the power of choice to make a decision, but we do not have the power to choose the consequence of that decision.  The consequences of the decision are included in the choice.  This is why we should try to make as many wise decisions as possible.  This principle applies to social drinking.  I might be able to control myself in drinking and not get drunk, but that is no guarantee that my children can do the same.  My decision may cost me great pain in the future.  Why should I risk the danger of something I don’t need?  As the apostle Paul said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  (I Corinthians 9:27)

What does it profit?