Should I Quit Drinking Alcohol? Teetotaler or Social Drinker?
- Summary: Are you a drunkard? Of course you should stop drinking! Probably most would agree that you should forsake the booze and go on the wagon. Are you a “social drinker”? Now that’s a different situation. I hope in the next few minutes to give you some convincing reasons to choose to abstain from alcohol.
Right at the outset I will acknowledge that I was a regular drinker of alcohol until age 27. Then a good friend, who had been an addicted alcoholic, opened my eyes with the story of his own experience of chronic drunkenness, along with some profound insights from the Scriptures. So in 1971, as they say in my ancestral Irish homeland, I decided to "take the pledge" and have not regretted giving up alcohol in all the years since then. If you have even the slightest doubts about whether or not to drink alcohol, I urge you, please, to read my heartfelt appeal. I offer these Scriptures and my comments, not to criticize, but to encourage you towards a decision that, in my case, has made the last 45 years far better than my first 27.
Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
KJV: ...whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
- •• Wine will mock you, make a fool of you.
•• Beer leads to brawls, fights, and arguments.
•• Alcohol will deceive you. If you’re saying, “It won’t”, then you may be deceived by it already.
Proverbs 31:4-5, KJV It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
- •• Alcohol can cause you to lose sight of God’s word, to “forget the law”.
•• Alcohol can impair your good judgment.
Leviticus 10:9-10 Then the Lord said to Aaron, "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die....  You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean."
- •• Alcohol will impair your ability to “distinguish ... between the unclean and the clean.”
- •• Alcohol will blur the lines between the holy and the common.
- •• Alcohol will rob you of a clear head.
Isaiah 28:7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
- •• Boozing will make you err in vision, stumble in judgment.
•• You can be “swallowed up” by alcohol.
•• It can lead you “out of the way”.
Micah 2:11 If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people!
- •• This reminds me of the misplaced “Christian liberty” message!
•• “Plenty of beer” — that just the right “prophetic” message for many Christians today.
•• Sadly, many believers have bought into this “liberty” message in our 21st century.
2 Samuel 13:28-29a Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him...." [29a] So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered.
- •• Getting “high” can render you vulnerable to violence, even death. For example:
- • drunk driving fatalities
• muggings of alcohol-impaired people
• date-rape of those impaired by alcohol
Isaiah 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.
- •• This is a classic description of the addictive nature of alcohol. God says, "Woe" to such.
- • They start drinking early in the morning.
• They are still boozing late at night.
• They become “inflamed” with wine, to the detriment of their family and friends.
Luke 1:15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
- •• The great prophet John the Baptist was instructed to be a lifelong teetotaler. That was associated with his being...
- • “great in the sight of the Lord”
• “filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth”
- •• He is a great example for those wondering: "Should Christians drink alcohol?"
Genesis 19:32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.
- •• Alcohol often opens the door to sexual immorality and even perversion (here, incest).
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
- •• Again, sexual immorality (“debauchery”) is a common result of drinking alcohol.
•• The antidote (“instead”) is to be “filled with the Spirit” and to live accordingly.
1 Timothy 5:23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
- •• “...because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” — the wine was being used medicinally.
•• Paul wrote to Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine...”
- • Timothy was a teetotaler (“only water”). That’s good.
• Water in many parts of the ancient world was contaminated.
• In that context, the apostle Paul said that “a little wine” would help Timothy's stomach problems.
- •• This was a very specific, limited context — a small amount of wine for medicinal purposes — and is not a general encouragement to social drinking, as some have erroneously read into this verse.
Romans 14:21, KJV It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
- •• Here the Bible lists three significant reasons for a Christian not to drink alcohol:
- • Not to cause your brother to stumble
• Not to offend your brother
• Not to weaken your brother
In my early adult years, alcohol was causing me to experience many of the negatives mentioned above. Then a Christian friend showed me the following verses in the Bible. It is this Scripture portion that broke through to my heart and caused me to “take the pledge” in 1971. The insights in these verses overcame all my arguments I was using to justify my drinking. After reading them, I stopped drinking alcohol and am still “on the wagon” 45 years later. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I have never regretted it. Here is the Scripture portion that turned me.
- •• Proverbs 23:29-35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
I have tried to present a convincing case from the Scriptures for you to make the decision to quit drinking, to decide to abstain completely from alcohol. Now permit me to digress from the relevant Bible verses to some very basic, practical reasons to stop drinking. I submit these for your consideration.
- •• My wife and I for several years were season ticket holders for our local college's football games. Many fans come into the stadium having drunk significant amounts of alcohol in pregame parties and tailgaters. And that turns some of them into loud, foul-mouthed fans during the games. Their “right” to drink sometimes takes away from our gameday experience, as we sit and listen to loud, alcohol-fueled rants, frequent F-bombs, and other profanity. And this goes on — thanks to their pregame drinking — even in the presence of ladies and youths.
•• Alcohol breaks up families, as any divorce attorney or family court judge can attest.
•• Alcohol leads to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. For example, the National Institutes for Health states that about one half of the cases of sexual assault on a woman “involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both.”
•• Drunk drivers kill and injure thousands of innocent people each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2010 in the USA, 10,228 people died in drunk driving crashes.
•• Even a few “social” drinks can make you a legally drunk lawbreaker. For example, according to one blood-alcohol calculator, a 130-pound woman who drinks three beers in two hours will be over the .08 limit that many states use to define drunk driving. You might be thinking, “Well, if I drink just two beers, then I’m safe?” My reply to that would be, “Why would you want to do something to make yourself two-thirds drunk!” On the personal level, that’s one reason why I won’t even drink one beer — I have no intention of being fractionally drunk!
•• Alcohol fuels crime. A 1996 study by the Dept. of Justice stated that of the convicted offenders serving time that year, about 36% had been drinking alcohol when they committed their conviction offense.
Here are some additional data that I quote from an article I co-wrote in 1992. It is evident that the problems noted then still exist today.
- •• In 1987, one of every four Americans said that drinking had been a problem in their homes. Four of every ten Americans (41%) report having suffered physical, psychological, or social pain as a result of someone else’s drinking (Prevention Express magazine, September 1991).
•• In ten years, 59,000 Americans died in Vietnam. In ten years, 235,000 Americans died on U.S. roads from accidents involving drunk drivers (Dave Roever video).
•• There are 25,000 murders and suicides a year in the U.S. that are influenced by alcohol. One half of all people arrested have a drinking problem (Encyclopedia Americana).
•• Among native Americans, most tribes consider alcohol and other drug problems to be their most important health issue.
•• State trooper George Dahl in Bethel, Alaska, says, “There is no serious crime without alcohol.”
•• In Alaska in 1987, 58% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol related.
•• Alaska’s child sexual abuse rate is six times the national average. 78.9% of perpetrators of sexual abuse and 63.3% of the perpetrators of incest were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offense.
•• Among the health problems increased by alcoholism are liver damage, some heart diseases, stomach ulcers and gastritis, malnutrition, cancer of the mouth, esophagus or stomach, brain damage, and damage to a developing child in the womb. The lives of alcoholics are typically shortened by 10 to 12 years.
•• Just recently (2014), it has been proven that drinking alcohol leads to faster mental decline in men's reasoning and memory.
It is my sincere hope that the combination of biblical wisdom and practical statistics that we have examined will help you to seriously consider the question: “Should I stop drinking alcohol?” My prayer is that you will do as I did in 1971 and make a clean break from social drinking. It has been 45 years now for me, and I haven’t missed it one bit! I’ll close by repeating the Scripture that inspired me to make the change. My sincerest hope is that the Lord will speak to your heart as he did to mine.
- Proverbs 23:29-35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
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©2012, 2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.