By Lewis Willis
The problem becomes more critical with each passing day. The domestic and civil havoc it is producing is unmeasured and immeasurable. And, there seems to be no significant national outcry against it.
The problem is alcoholism. The latest figures I have seen come from the The Proclaimer, edited by Leon Odom in Midland, Texas. He said there are ten million alcoholics in America today! I would assume these are admitted alcoholics. Just how many million more there are who think they do not have the problem would be impossible to estimate. Odom reported that a Gallup Poll taken in 1977 found that 71% of American adults (almost three-fourths of the population) consume alcohol to some degree. This means that approximately 165 million people in this country can be classified as occasional, moderate, or heavy drinkers. Odom noted that this means that 1,000 people “reach the alcohol dependent stage every single day.” In 1972, the Royal Society of Medicine in Great Britain reported that, of the 50,000 people killed in traffic accidents each year, 28,400 are alcohol related. Each day we hear of another major traffic accident claiming the lives of innocent people because some drunk is on the street trying to drive a car. Occasionally a train accident is reported in which the engineer was drunk at the time of the accident. How long will it be before we read of a major airplane crash because the pilot was drunk? In 1972, there were 60,000 non-highway accidental deaths in this country and alcohol was involved in 34,800 of them. In 1972, Americans were spending $21,700,000,000 for alcoholic beverages. (The above figures are from an article by Garland Elkins, entitled, “What Liquor Costs.”) Johnny Richardson of the East Florence Church wrote (6-84), “Alcohol Destroys Internally, Externally, and Eternally.” He was absolutely right in this observation.
The tragic effects of alcoholism are destroying the moral fiber of this great society. Most social programs address the symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself. A suburb of Cleveland recently tried to get the drunks off the street by setting up road blocks to test drivers for alcohol consumption. There was such a furor over these police tactics that the chief of police called off the action after only one weekend of effort. Since almost three-fourths of the people drink, they naturally would cry out against such actions. The bar owners complained that their businesses were being destroyed. And, the 25% of people who do not drink can only wring their hands in frustration.
One would think that religion would address such a desperate problem with all of its might. However, such is not the case. The Cleveland Plain Dealer (8-4-84) printed an Associated Press article about what a Catholic church in Miami, Florida intends to do about it. They recently built a building with a partition separating the new parish hall from their parish bar! The church is St. Henry’s Roman Catholic and the bar is called Henry’s Hideaway. At St. Henry’s bar, you can get “scotch on the rocks or plain cranberry juice,” along with “a few holy words” from the Reverend James Reynolds, the parish priest and bar proprietor. He said he set up the place to provide his parishioners with “wholesome conversation and merrymaking.” He explained that God made us body and soul, and we should socialize . . . I think God intends us to have a good time on earth.” In the average bar, prostitution and homosexuality are available in order to have “a good time.” I wonder if this priest intends to incorporate those activities with his bar and contend that “God intends us to have a good time” engaging in these things as well?
“The venture has the blessing of Edward A. McCarthy, archbishop of Miami.” He wrote to Reynolds and said, “It seems to me you are pioneering in something that may prove very effective pastorally.” So, the bar obviously has the approval of the archbishop of Miami! Reynolds said his effort is to bring “country-club living to the average parishioner . . . our jobs as priests and spiritual leaders is to inspire the people and assist them in their problems and afford them the opportunity to be joyous.” This dumb jokes does not have enough sense to see that he is inspiring people to joyously develop the problem of alcoholism, and, he is not alone in his stupidity! Every week we can read of local churches of various flavors that are conducting drinking parties. This is part of the natural outgrowth of a “social gospel concept” which tries to meet the needs of people. If three-fourths of them are drinkers, then most churches are going to cave-in to the desires of such people. Instead of helping to solve the problem, they help perpetuate it! Therefore, the national tragedy will find no solutions within those religious organizations.
It is a matter of grave concern that many within the Lord’s church see nothing wrong with having a social drink. Having a beer or two every now and then is viewed as innocently as having a cup of coffee every now and then. Some preachers and elders simply see nothing at all wrong with social drinking. These things seem to mushroom, instead of going away, so we might just as well expect to see some church of Christ (?) conducting beer drinking activities one of these days. It will not matter at that time that Solomon wrote, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20: 1). Nor will it mean anything that Paul said “be not drunk with wine” (Eph. 5:18). 1 doubt that it will even matter with some that they cannot go to heaven when they practice “drunkenness” and the “revellings” of the social drinking party (Gal. 5:21).
I was just thinkin’. if we continue our efforts to conform to this world (Rom. 12:1), how long will it be before right thinking people will view us with the same disgust with which they view the Catholic church in its systematic production of more drunks who are going to be turned loose in our homes and on our streets? I think I’ll do all I can to expose such messes and those who create them!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 23, pp. 718-719
December 6, 1984