By Luther Bolenbarker
It is extremely hard and rare when in our perusal of the daily newspapers or any other news publication that we are not confronted by headlines and advertisements in which alcohol in beverage form is the subject or primary cause for the article being written. In fact alcohol, when used as a beverage, has become such a problem in our society that our government publishes a publication sponsored by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (tax supported) which deals with alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The May 1977 issue deals with the growing concern about the destruction alcohol is causing our nation, especially among our youth and women. In the years since that issue, the problem has not diminished, but rather, has increased. Surely, no thinking person can deny that alcohol is a very serious problem.
Karl Marx, the founder of communism, once called it a “capitalist evil” and Russia is now being over run with alcoholics and is having to fight its havoc.
An honest look at beverage alcohol reveals its dangers for everyone. No one is immune to its dangers and effects, not even. Christians. Probably everyone of us has family, or friends who are caught in the snares of alcohol. As I work in my office, almost daily alcoholics, with seemingly the saddest stories in the world drop by looking for another buck or two in order to get another bottle. Yet in the face of all we can visually see, some say, “It won’t hurt me.”
One who uses alcohol as a beverage disregards the wisdom of the Bible. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise . . .” (Prov. 20:1). The opposite of wise is dumb, so what does that make a drinker according to God’s word? “It is not for kings . . . to drink wine . . . lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4). Isaiah 28:20 warns of its effects on stability and vision. Habbakuk 2:15, 16 warns that one not tempt his neighbor and be the cause of his downfall. A reading and study of Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:7; and Proverbs 23:29-35 would also serve to solidify the harmful effects of alcohol when used as a beverage.
The question of “wine in the Bible, used by Jesus” often is raised. Its use then as a beverage and/or a medicine does not begin to parallel the use of hard liquor today. Bible scholars tell of two distinct Hebrew words (yayin and tirosh). One refers to fresh juice primarily and the other to a fermented wine causing drunkenness that was denounced. It should also be noted that at times the word “wine” was used to refer to fresh juice still in the cluster or on the vine (Isa. 65:8).
Alcohol as a beverage harms the body and impairs its productivity. In the Bible, it appears that wine was used for healing and medicine (Luke 10:34; 1 Tim. 5:23). Its use, rather abuse, today has an undeniable harmful effect on the body and is classed as the number one drug problem instead of a healing agent. If it were used today as a medicine, some would never be sick again in their lives! Documented sources are inexhaustible showing highway deaths (50,000 w ), mental illness and diseases all related either directly or indirectly to alcohol when used as a beverage.
Beverage alcohol causes suffering to its users and to their victims, who most of the time are innocent. It has made many a man or woman worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8) because of their neglect, unconcern or abuse of their families and friends. When an area has a riot or civil disturbance or even election day, one of the first stores to close is the liquor stores. People in places of authority know that where there is no fuel to fan the fire, it goes out. It is known that alcohol can and often does influence passions and trigger destruction. A “meek and mild, law-abiding” citizen when sober seems to lose all sense and reason when under the influence of alcohol. Ask any policeman or judge who has experienced dealing with family disturbances and divorces, and they will tell you that beverage alcohol is the main cause of law enforcement problems and the higher taxes required for alcohol rehabilitation programs. A recent government survey reported that alcohol, “. . . accounts for over 1/2 of all arrests in our nation.” In some communities the rate is higher and is rising and more shocking. Think of this: over 300,000 men and women now in our federal prisons could be on the streets, free if it were not for beverage alcohol!
What can the Christian do? Be convinced that there is a difference worth enjoying between the hard, useless life of a drunken reveler and a life. of spiritual peace and service to one’s community, God and His church. Be informed, not deceived, by the pleasures of sin for a season. Look beyond the bottle to the “gutter or jail” and ultimately Hell. Resist the advertising and morally lax climate that surrounds us and which will swallow us up if we do not. Abide by the law of God and man. Study and teach the issues of truth taught in the Scriptures which forbid drinking and drunkenness; especially do this for your own family. Pray and insure that your conscience and influence are in order (clear).
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Alcohol has many defenders but no defense.” This is still true today. The following article from U.S. News (4/26/82) shows the priorities of our lawmakers: Recall of Dangerous Products: “A recall by the Food and Drug Admin. of 55 Million cans of Alaskan Salmon, because one person died of botulism in Belgium.”
Perhaps there is hope yet (but I doubt it) for a recall of all the cans and bottles of alcoholic beverages that will be the contributing factor in over 50,000 deaths in 1983, and all the other problems which it causes. If not, then at least the hypocrisy and ulterior motives of all its defenders will be clearer than ever.
Don’t let alcohol “bite” you (Psa. 23:32) and cause pain and grief to others!
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 3, p. 75
February 3, 1983