By Jack H. Kirby
We are in the Christmas holiday season as all are aware, I am sure. This is the season of travel, visiting, exchanging gifts, or perhaps just sitting around the fire with the family at home. We wish each of you a pleasant holiday season, and a safe one. We trust you will not let the many activities and the hustle-bustle of the season crowd out your responsibility to God. His children have the responsibility of worshiping Him each first day of the week and giving of our means to support His cause.
The Bible gives no occasion to cause men create special worship services at some other day of the week, and bind it as Christ’s birthday. Any informed person knows or can find in any encyclopedia that December 25th is not Christ’s birthday. It is a fact that we do not know when it is. This is important because it was never intended that man remember Christ’s birth, but we are to remember His death instead. The only thing important about His birth is the fact that he was born of a virgin. This is the fact that most people deny, or fail to emphasize. We are commanded by Christ Himself to remember His death until He comes again (1 Cor. 11:23-26). This highly commercialized age of ours has perpetrated this holiday under a religious guise simply to sell more merchandise and make more money.
One strange thing to observe, at least to us, is this: with all the religious meaning that men have attached to the secular holiday, most ,people celebrate it in a way so foreign to the principles of Christ. To many people, Christmas is not Christmas without their whiskey, vodka, or gin. While they maintain a belief (although false) that this holiday is a celebration of Christ’s birth, they do it in a drunken condition much against Christ’s teachings.
In Gal. 5:19-21, the writer lists several kinds of sins. He says that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Among these sins is drunkenness.
Much has been said and written about the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages are usually classified as: (1) Distilled, including whiskey, gin, brandy, etc. (2) Malt, including beer and ale; and (3) Vinous, or wines. All of them contain ethyl alcohol, which is a habit forming, narcotic drug, a poison which is harmful to every form of life. Distilled beverages are usually 45% to 50% alcohol. Malt beverages are of lower alcohol content, beer usually having 4% to 6% and ale about 1 %. Wine is usually from 10% to 14%; but fortified wines may run 20% or more by reason of the addition of more alcohol.
The average “drink” of beer, wine, or whiskey contains about the same quantity of alcohol (by weight), although the amounts of liquids differ. So the drinker can get practically the same effect from a 10 ounce bottle of 4 1/2 % beer or 2 1/2 ounce glass of 20% wine, or 1 ounce shot glass of whiskey. And if he drives, the pedestrian he hits will be just as dead.
While many individuals deplore drunkenness, they at the same time uphold social drinking. Yet it has been established that one drink has its influence on the brain and that, as a result of one drink, one is in a degree of drunkenness. One does not have to be what we call “dead drunk” to have his inhibitions weakened by alcohol. A small amount is enough to make a fool out of an individual, or result in a serious accident. Alcohol is a depressant and dulls the brain almost immediately after taking it internally. .It requires no digestion, enters the blood stream immediately and reaches the brain in less than two minutes.
The fruits of alcohol should be enough proof for any right thinking person to abstain from it. The latest figures I have seen stated that there are 60 to 70 million people in these United States who drink – 60% of the adult population. Four to seven million Americans are alcoholics, about one out of every sixteen drinkers. Three million more are problem drinkers involving them in business or marital problems or accidents. These alcoholics and problem drinkers have approximately thirty-five million relatives suffering heartache and injury because of alcohol. More arrests are made for drunkenness than for any other breach of law besides traffic violations. Alcohol is a factor in at least half of all the more serious crimes committed, according to a survey of 13,000 convicts. Drink is the largest single factor in marriage breakdowns according to a study of 7,000 broken marriages. Yet, in spite of these things, heavy, addicted drinkers are increasing by over 250,000 yearly. And the alarming thing is that one recent survey revealed that approximately one-half of all college students had their first drink at home (a bad example set by father or mother, or both).
Many a moderate drinker has set the example that made an alcoholic out of some weaker person. Paul said, “It is good not to eat flesh or drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth” (Rom. 14:23). Every person who has become an alcoholic did so unintentionally by first taking a “social drink.” Becoming an alcoholic is not in the plans of the person who takes his first drink. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). Alcohol deceives, particularly young people.
Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Prov. 23:29-32).
The social drinker – not the drunk – is the biggest problem on our streets and highways, especially during holiday seasons. The social drinker often shows little or no sign of being under the influence of intoxicating beverages. Many social drinkers have mastered the technique of being able to walk straight, talk coherently and give every sign of sobriety while they are in an intoxicated condition. However, no matter how sober the social drinker may appear, it is a scientific fact that his critical judgment and ability to react quickly in emergencies are seriously impaired after only a few drinks.
Contrary to popular belief, coffee or other stimulants will not overcome the effects of alcohol. Only time and body processes will accomplish this. A full stomach tends to slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream, but it does not keep the alcohol from reaching the brain. It only delays it.
When alcohol enters the stomach, it is absorbed through the walls of the stomach and the small intestine into the blood stream. The blood carries the alcohol to all parts of the body which contain water, including the brain. In the brain, alcohol depresses first the area of higher function, which includes judgment and social restraint. It then attacks the simple motor functions, reaction time and vision. Balance, coordination, and sensory perception are the next faculties to be impaired. Special studies made by safety experts show that more than half the drivers involved in fatal accidents had been drinking.
A recent development is to treat drunkenness as a disease – maybe it is a disease, but it is also sin and caused by sin. Are stealing, gambling, cursing, etc. diseases? Drunkenness is sin and, as such, must be repented of. People do become sick and diseased who drink alcoholic beverages, but they become sick or diseased after they start drinking. They were not sick before and then started drit;king as a result. The important thing is never to start drinking – never take that first drink.
A few years ago the San Angelo (Texas) Standard Times had a bold front page headline story called “Boys, Beer, Bullets; Night Brings Death.” The story concerned three 13 year old boys and one 12 year old who robbed a service station, shot the attendant to death with a .38 caliber pistol and then wrecked their car in a chase with police. They had stolen the car from a Catholic priest’s home, and that is where they got the beer. They found five cans in the refrigerator and a case and a half on the back porch. The death of the attendant and the car wreck were the result. How far have we come when young boys can steal enough beer from the home of a religious leader to cause such a tragic occurrence.
And yet many people say, “Oh a little beer won’t hurt you.” Or, “one toddy or cocktail won’t kill anyone.” Yes, it can, and the police records are full of the evidence. Young people – resolve to abstain from all alcoholic beverages, and older people – do not urge nor lead the young by your example to become drinking individuals. Remember that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 47, pp. 757-758
November 29, 1979