Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

"Social Drinkers," Are You 1/3 Drunk? 2/3 Drunk? Or Legally Intoxicated?

Summary:  Let’s say you’re a 120-pound woman and consider yourself a “social drinker, but never a drunk." You consume a couple of beers by the pool, or two glasses of wine over dinner, or a couple of mixed drinks in the evening in a fairly short time frame. Your blood alcohol percentage an hour after those two drinks is 0.08 and you are legally drunk (source: Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission website). Drunk after two drinks?!! Yes, and if you drive, you will go to jail for DUI (driving under the influence). If you’re a 160-pound woman, an hour after three drinks will see your blood alcohol at 0.09 and you too will be legally drunk. A 140-pound man will reach the legally drunk threshold an hour after 3 drinks, and it’s 4 drinks for a 200-pound man. [Note: These numbers will vary from person to person and are not to be taken as legal advice. Nothing in this article is to be taken as legal advice.]
I do realize that there are some variables, but these average numbers were taken right from the Commission’s published tables. The point I want to make, and strongly, is that a 120-pound woman can be legally described as inebriated after just two drinks in a short period of time. For a 200-pound man it might be four drinks. For our discussion of this topic today, we’ll select a statistical midpoint — three drinks — as a danger threshold for being labeled a drunk.
My question to social drinkers today is this: are you often 1/3 drunk (one drink)? 2/3 drunk (two drinks)? or an all out lush (three drinks)? Your answer to that question is urgently important in light of the Bible’s clear condemnation of drunkenness in the light of eternal consequences.

Galatians 5:19-21, ESV
  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Take another look at that list. It is clearly describing conduct that is abhorrent to the Lord. How abhorrent? Sufficient to qualify for the Holy Spirit-inspired judgment that “those who do such things [drunkenness is on the list!] will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Will one drink make you a drunk? Most likely not, according to the blood-alcohol charts I’ve seen. But, depending on your gender and weight, will it put you 1/4, 1/3, or even 1/2 the way to drunkenness? Yes! It is beyond me, even mystifying to me, why a Christian who wants to please God would engage in conduct that leads him or her along the road to the divine judgment stated in our verses above.

How about two “social” drinks? Well, now we are flirting with serious danger. For a fairly small woman, the alcohol in just two drinks, taken over a short period of time, can make her legally drunk. For a typical-size man, it might be 3 or 4 drinks.

Why would a Christian flirt with drunkenness? Especially in light of the Bible’s judgment of drunkards as “not inherit[ing] the kingdom of God”!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11  Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Again we are told that certain “wrongdoers” (including “drunkards”) will not inherit the kingdom of God. And here the apostle Paul makes it even clearer, when he says, “That is what some of you were. But…” And he goes on to say that now that they have come to Christ for salvation that conduct is over, it is in the past (“…some of you were”). Now as saved followers of Jesus Christ, they have been “washed … sanctified … justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Look at some of the conduct condemned in the apostle’s list: sexual immorality, adultery, homosexual practice, thievery … and drunkenness. As a former and regular drinker of alcohol until my mid 20s, I know all the excuses, the main one being typically something like this: “I don’t get drunk; I just have a few cold ones,” as if using hip phrases excuses conduct that leads too many Christians right up to or over the threshold of being a drunk.

Sad to say, social drinking — which I am pointing out is anywhere from partial to almost full drunkenness — has become an epidemic among American Christians. I won’t belabor this point. If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because the Lord is speaking to your heart. Let’s just look at one final, biblical exhortation from the apostle Peter.

1 Peter 4:3  For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

I admit it. I once was a boozer. An addicted alcoholic, or what some call a "sot" or "souse"? No. A wino or “wine-bibber”? No, but mostly because I preferred beer and occasional “hard” liquor. In my late teens and early adult years, before coming to the Lord for salvation, I did “what pagans choose to do.” Specifically, I was on occasion fully drunk and often partially or nearly drunk (for a man my size, 2 or 3 drinks; for a smaller woman, that’s 1 or 2 drinks). When I got saved, I realized that Jesus came to earth and died for us to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Lord in His mercy put it into my heart to obey the biblical exhortations like Peter’s which said to me, “You’ve spent enough time living like the heathen, in drunkenness and other sinful conduct.” I saw that God wanted me to forsake even the pathway to inebriation, not to see how fine a line I could draw short of it.

To my Christian brothers and sisters who participate in “social drinking,” I appeal to you to seek the high road … to say to yourself, “that’s enough! I’m done doing things that the unsaved routinely do” … to determine to abandon any conduct (here, drunkenness) that, as our Scriptures above declare, could cause you to forfeit your entrance into the kingdom of God.

I have written more extensively elsewhere on some additional biblical reasons for choosing the high road of abstinence from alcohol. I invite you to investigate this topic more deeply at my two sermons:

Should I Stop Drinking Alcohol or Be a ‘Social Drinker’?

Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

Thank you for taking the time to read my appeal with an open heart. I really do appreciate that. Personally I have found nothing but blessing in choosing the teetotaler route and putting alcohol out of my life these past 45 years. I am confident that you will find that choice to be a blessing for you too.

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Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.