Symptom of Worldliness: Social Drinking (VI)

Harry Ozment
Nashville, Tennessee

The practice of social drinking is a symbol of worldliness. Alcohol and the world have been identified with each other for ages. Social use of intoxicants has been accepted in this nation for quite some time. We must be careful not to permit a loose attitude toward this sin to leak into the church.

The problem of alcoholism is certainly great in America. The Kentucky State Department of Health says: "The United States has the highest known rate of alcoholism in the world. France ranks second and Sweden is third." Dr. Marvin A. Block, vice-president of the National Council of Alcoholism, estimates that the nation has 5,000,000 alcoholics. The problem of alcoholism should be of concern to every parent and young person, for the Kentucky State Department of Health states: "The heaviest drinking is being done between the ages of 18 and 24, according to available information." One sin that causes alcoholism and that is symptomatic of worldliness is social drinking. The church should be alerted to the dangers of letting this sin creep into its membership.

Invariably, in a discussion of this sort, the social drinker will try to defend his use of alcohol with Jno. 2:1-11 (where Jesus turned water into wine) and I Tim. 5:23 (where Paul commanded Timothy to use some wine for medicinal purposes). These passages are commonly used to justify social drinking. In the first place, using alcohol for medicinal purposes and using it for social purposes cannot be put on a parallel. In the second place, the light wines of the Bible times cannot be compared with the alcoholic beverages of today. According to scholars, the "strong drink" of the Bible was a beverage with 51 percent to 8 percent alcohol content--and this "strong drink" was condemned (Prov. 20: 1; 23:31-35).

Now compare this with the intoxicants of today: whiskey, gin, and brandy reach potencies of up to 90 percent, fortified wines contain a potency of above 20 percent, ale is 10-14 percent alcohol content and beer is 6 percent alcohol. Beer also has a hypnotic-' type narcotic called "lupulin," which is in the marijuana family of hop plants (according to the International Narcotic Research Foundation). Therefore, it is ridiculous to try to defend the social use of today's intoxicants by the Bible. J. W. McGarvey states: "The liquors of this land in the strength of their intoxicating properties differ so widely from the light wines of Palestine that even the most moderate use of them seems immoderate in comparison." (Fourfold Gospel, p. 118)

Now that we have established that the Bible does not defend social drinking, the next question should be: Does the Bible condemn social drinking? I believe that it does on several counts, for social drinking:

(1) Destroys spirituality. Isaiah said, "And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands." (Isa. 5:12) Social drinkers have no interest in godly matters. A person who drinks socially is more interested in not offending his neighbor than in not offending God. The use of alcoholic beverages produces an indifference to religious matters and destroys all serious thought. Paul said, "And be not dunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." (Eph. 5:18) One cannot put alcohol in his body and at the same time be filled with the Spirit.

(2) Leads to more and greater sins. Human experience has taught that social drinking leads to alcoholism. Not a single drunk on Skid Row meant to be there when he took his first drink--but the social drink led him on and on to drunkenness! Dr. A.C. Ivy has said, "When a person starts to drink occasionally, he or she takes a 1 in 9 chance of becoming a heavy or addicted drinker and chronic alcoholic. There is no way of telling in advance which drinker will become an alcoholic."

There is no end to the list of sins that have been committed because a person had alcohol in his body. The National Voice declares that alcoholic beverages are "responsible for 37 percent of pauperism, 45.8 percent of child destitution, leading to juvenile delinquency. It is responsible for 90 percent of the cases of cruelty to children." (April, 1955) Solomon said, "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter strange things." (Prov. 23:31-33) This principle is illustrated again and again in the Bible. When Lot was drunk, he committed incest with his daughters. When Noah was drunk, his spiritual senses ~were deadened to such an extent that he committed the sin of immodesty. Is it' any wonder that the wise man said, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Prov. 20: 1)

(3) Harms the body. Paul said, "What, ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify in your body, and in your spirit which are God's." (I Cor. 6:19-20) Paul is simply stating here that anything which harms the body is a sin before God. Social drinking falls under this condemnation. The stated: "It is recognized as a by all leading scientists. Increases rate by 80 percent over normal, and life expectation of the average man 8 years. Responsible for 22 percent of to hospitals for the insane (April,, 195'5) The Nashville Tennessean of 19, 1968 carried the following ' "A specialist in alcohol research said yesterday that even 'social drinking' may result in a 'great deal of damage' to the brain. 'When the level of social drinking is such that he feels very happy, a man is beginning to kill a few brain cells,' Dr. Melvin H. Kinsely said. 'The damage is permanent.'" The evidence is over-whelming--intoxicants harm the body and therefore should not be used.

(4) Destroys the home. The home is a divine institution and should be regarded as sacred. Jesus, in speaking of the home, said "Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matt. 19:6) The user of alcohol, however, does not possess even the slightest regard for the sanctity of the home. Authorities state that 50 percent of divorce cases have listed drinking as either the primary cause or a contributing factor.

In view of the above facts, any Christian who would indulge in social drinking, or seek to defend it, is very foolish indeed!

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 37, pp. 10-11

July 30, 1970