“Knowing When to Say When”

By Burl Young

One of the most conflicting signals I have ever seen given, is presently being given by a major beer company. After spending millions of dollars encouraging people to drink, they are now attempting to gain respectability by telling their customers that they must at times drink in moderation. They are doing this with the slogan, “know when to say when.” It will be the purpose of this article to show that the real time to say when is before you begin.

In our country there are countless numbers of injured, maimed and murdered individuals who have had their civil rights violated by the drunkard on our highways. With proper research it can be shown that these drunkards are costing millions of dollars and are doing countless damage to lives and property. All of the above costs and damages can be eliminated by knowing when to say when. The time to say when is before you begin.

We should say when before we begin because drinking intoxicating beverages is a sin before God. The Apostle Paul says, “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” If we say “when” before we begin, we will never be lost because of drunkenness. This alone is proof enough to not partake of the evil brew.

Another reason to say “when” before we begin, is the heartbreak that strong drink may cause. The likelihood of divorce is closely associated with drinking. Not every time, but often, those that would not otherwise be unfaithful to their spouse will be during an intoxicated state. Therefore if one loves his spouse, he will not drink intoxicating beverages. He will say when before he begins.

We should also say “when” before we begin if we want to maintain respect in the community. As hypocritical as it may seem, other drunkards are less tolerant with their peers than the general populace. Often times we have seen a drunkard laughed at when he was unable to function and unable to conduct himself in a respectable manner. The very ones who drink, have little or no patience for one out of control. They should say when before they begin.

Still another reason to say “when” before you begin is a monetary one. Even if you are not a Christian, you should seriously consider the consequences of drinking before taking the first drink. No one ever sets out to become an alcoholic (one who will not quit drinking), but does so after he becomes accustomed to its effect both mentally and physically. If that drunkard had not taken the first drink, he would not have become a drunkard at all. If he had only known when to say when. The time to say when is before you begin.

I will now examine what the Bible says about knowing when to say when. It is apparent that otherwise strong Christians are having a hard time learning when to say when. Even though many times not imbibing themselves, they defend those what choose to take a little wine. What would ever cause a person that loves the Lord, his Church and other Christians, to be foolish enough to advocate something that Paul, Jesus and virtually every New Testament writer opposes? The same passages that condemn drunkenness, also condemn effeminacy, idolatry and adultery. Could the person involved in that activity continue to do so as long as he did not do it a lot? We know when to say when, we must say when before we begin.

But even if the above argument were not true, (which it is) there is still another reason that one must not begin to be a drunkard. That reason is the influence that a Christian must have to influence others. Surely, one would not appreciate the stench of strong drink on the preacher’s breath as he entered the pulpit! Can you imagine the influence a godly elder would have in trying to counsel the ungodly after himself drinking a simple glass of wine? Even though not intoxicated, he would no doubt have lost his influence with those people. Actually, he knows when to say when. Of course, it is before he begins.

In conclusion, if all would say “when” before they begin, there would be no market for the rotten garbage, none would be killed by drunken drivers and not one elder, preacher or other godly person would lose his influence and finally his soul because of it. Let us not give respectability, credibility or any other thing of value to the plague of drunkenness. Yes, as Solomon asked long ago, “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?” The answer is, they that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine (Prov. 23:29, 30).

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 14, p. 429
July 19, 1990