Alcohol, Addiction, etc.
Alcoholism, by Dave Brown
Beating Your Addiction, by Dave Brown
Biblical Wine: Blessing or Curse?, by Paul Earnhart
Drink Responsibluy???, by Allen Dvorak
To Drink or Not to Drink, by Sewell Hall
Wine is a Mocker, author unknown
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by Dave Brown
From the Indiana Star (April 5, 1994): "Lipetsk, Russian -- Worn out by the battle for survival, powerless in the face of overwhelming economic and social upheaval, more and more Russians are finding solace in the old fashion. ... Here in Lipetsk, a typical city of 500,000 and center of a region of 1.2 million, doctors estimate that nearly half the adult male population is alcoholic. And this is a place where they are trying to do something for it."
We used to hear that anyone who took their first drink had a 1 in 16 chance of becoming an alcoholic. Later this was increased to 1 in 10, much like playing Russian roulette with your life. Now we see in some cases its more like flipping a coin.
This tells us several things. The first is about the fate of a society in which any reference to the true and living God has been outlawed since about 1917. The good news is that they are beginning to move in the right direction. (What direction is the USA moving in?)
The second is that alcoholism is not an inherent disease which afflicts a predefined proportion of the population. As much as our beer commercials condition us to believe otherwise, alcohol is an addictive drug. True, some might be more inclined toward addiction than others. But, as with any other addictive drug, the only safe way to avoid falling under its spell is to abstain from it altogether.
Mature Christians have no problem with this evil. If for no other reason, they abstain from all alcoholic beverages in deference to those who might be negatively influenced by their example (Rom. 14:21). While the bible mentions that there are times when drugs can be used for medical reasons (1 Tim. 5:23), the strict restriction of drugs to this use rarely makes addiction a problem.
Recognize that alcohol use is a symptom as well as a cause. Like many Russians, users are dissatisfied with their natural God-given state of mind. Alcohol use is highly correlated with marital problems, child abuse, homicide, traffic deaths, and all kinds of other socially unacceptable behavior. If people would not try to relieve their discontent with alcohol, they would not commit such irrational acts, which they later regret so much (Prov. 23: 29-30).
God gives us a solution to despair: "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord ..." (Eph. 5: 18-19). If we are wise, we will accept it.
BEATING YOUR ADDICTION
by Dave Brown
All of us have weaknesses of various types and degrees. In some sense our bad habits are the junior cousins of physical or psychological addictions. We can learn much from those who have beat addictions to drugs (which include the two most common and destructive to our society: alcohol and tobacco).
The first step to beating the problem is the recognition that although the solution is within your control, it will take help from God and others to accomplish. In the case of the alcoholic, it might require help from others who have gone through the same process themselves (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous).
In the case of most sinful habits it will take the understanding and constant provocation ("to love and good works") of our fellow Christians (Heb. 10: 24-25). This is a major reason for gathering ourselves together on a regular basis. When we fill ourselves up with love and good works there is no room for the devices of the devil.
Another major component is the concept of recovering. The addict must never, ever consider himself to be recovered. Once an addict always an addict. However, he can exist free from the consequences of the addiction by being in a state of constantly improving recovery.
We too need to have this attitude if we are to successfully fight the consequences of sin. The apostle Paul made it quite clear: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10: 12).
Of course, the most effective countermeasure to any addiction to abstain from the thing which causes it in the first place. The most compelling reason to abstain from sin is that you might just enjoy it. For, if you do not want to enjoy it, repeat it, and ultimately get addicted to it, why do it in the first place?
Biblical Wine: Blessing or Curse?
By Paul Earnhart
The Bible’s treatment of wine can, on the surface, be very puzzling. Proverbs warns, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler and whosoever is led astray by them is not wise” (20:1), and “it is not for kings, O Lemuel, to drink wine, nor for princes to say, where is strong drink?” (31:4). So also Isaiah: “Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink” (Isaiah 5:22). In these verses “wine” and “strong drink” are strictly forbidden.
On the other hand, the same Solomon who warned men to stay away from wine in Proverbs 20:1 urges his readers in Ecclesiastes 9:7 to “eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart.” Even more significant, Jesus miraculously provided wine to a wedding feast in Cana, and Paul urged ‘Timothy to “use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). So wine in the Bible is seen both as a blessing and a curse.
This apparent discord has precipitated many a dispute among Christians. What are we to make of it? The solution to this seeming contradiction has to lie in the differing meanings attached to the word “wine” in the Bible. That the normal meaning of “wine” in both Old and New Testaments is that of the fermented juice of the grape seems evident (Arndt& Gingrich, p. 564), but it is not without exception. The two words most translated wine in the Old Testament are also used to describe juice fresh pressed from the grape (Isaiah 16:10; 65:8).
It may well be that the positive biblical references to wine are speaking simply of the juice of the grape. But another important distinction needs to be observed as well. The Bible treats wine in two ways, as a drug or social drink (bad), as a food or table drink (good). Some have suggested that the only difference between the two is in the amount one drinks and not in the nature of the beverage. The extra-biblical evidence does not point that way.
The wine used as a table drink in the ancient world was not pure wine, but was liberally diluted with water. It was a family food, not a social beverage. The wine was customarily stored in large pointed jugs called amphorae, and from these jugs was poured into large bowls called kraters where it was mixed with water (Greek for unmixed or pure is akratos). From there it was poured into cups. The ratio of water to wine varied, perhaps with the strength of the wine. Homer mentions a ratio of 20 to 1 (Odyssey). In the first century, Pliny refers to the mixture in the same district as 8 to 1 (Natural History). The fullest source of information is Athenaeus (A.D. 200) who in his The Learned Banquet quotes earlier writers who spoke of mixtures of 3 to 1, 4 to 1, 2 to 1, 5 to 2, and called 3 to 2 “strong”. Mnesthus of Athens observed: “Mix it half and half, and you get madness; unmixed, bodily collapse.” Plutarch, early in the second century A.D., said, “We call a mixture ‘wine,’ although the larger of the components is water.” In both the Greek and Roman world, to drink unmixed wine was considered intemperate (Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 71).
The Talmud states that the wine of the four Passover cups was to be three parts water to one part wine (note also Maccabees 15:39). Justin Martyr (A.D. 150), speaking of the Lord’s Supper, wrote, “bread is bought, and wine and water…” (Apology I, 67, 5). Clement of Alexandria (late 2nd cent.) said, “It is best for the wine to be mixed with as much water as possible…(Instructor II, ii, 23.3-24.1). Hippolytus (A.D. 215) and Cyprian (A.D. 250) speak of the same practice. (Most of the above information from “Wine as a Table Drink in the Ancient World,” Everett Ferguson, Restoration Quarterly, 3rd Quarter, 1970, and “Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times,” Robert H. Stein, Christianity Today, 6-20-75).
The ancient world knew nothing of distillation, of the modern alcoholic drinks that are 40-50% alcohol. Their wines were a maximum of 14% alcohol and Palestinian wines no more than 8%. Unless diluted with three or more parts of water, even pagans considered them strong drink to be avoided. The purpose of that dilution was to make the wine a harmless non-intoxicating table food. By these standards every modern alcoholic beverage from beer to whiskey is strong drink. Christians should avoid all of them. Surely the Bible’s demand for sobriety must be more stringent than that of ancient paganism.
But what about carefully diluted wine as a table drink today? The problem for the Christian in America is that we have no tradition of wine as a table food. Since the beginning, alcohol has been used as a drug, a “feel good” beverage, and the use of the most innocent non-intoxicating wine would likely be perceived that way by others. We’re living in a drugged society where God’s child must walk circumspectly, neither bringing an occasion of stumbling to others (Romans 14:21) or shutting hearts against the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Better it is by far that we avoid even the most diluted form of beverage alcohol so that our “good” may not “be evil spoken of” (Romans 14:16) and Christ may be exalted.
by Allen Dvorak
Public image can make or break a business and thus businesses must be interested in promoting a positive image of themselves and their products or services. I believe that public image is exactly why during the holidays the beer companies become concerned with people exercising “self-control.” They run television commercials that warn us to use alcohol with caution. “If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t ride with someone who has had too much to drink.” “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”
I believe such commercials give good advice-as far as they go. Please forgive my sarcasm, however, if I observe that these companies who are so concerned with people acting responsibly are the same ones who sell a product, which, by its very nature lends itself to a “lack of self-control.” That is like giving a red-hot poker to a child and telling him not to bum himself. Why give it to him in the first place? Makes no sense to me.
I agree that it is important to know when to stop drinking. The safest time is before you begin! The American Medical Association has said. “There is no minimum BAC (blood alcohol concentration) which can be set at which there will be absolutely no effect.” Ethyl alcohol is an intoxicant: it is a poison and even in small quantities affects one’s moral judgment and physical reaction time.
The commercials do not advise people to refrain from alcohol. That would be the sure way to avoid the suffering that alcohol causes. However, the commercials are funded by companies who make money selling alcohol—and the more people drink, the more money these companies make. For beer companies to lead the fight for self-control is like putting the fox in charge of guarding the hen house.
The commercials suggest that one should not drive while drunk. The impression left is that I can get totally drunk, but as long as I do not drive a car, society tells me that I am a “wise drinker.” Makes no sense to me. What about all the suffering caused by those drinkers who do not drive? Alcohol lowers inhibitions, meaning that drinkers will often do things that they normally would not. That includes sexual immorality and domestic abuse. Instead of humorous commercials, perhaps the beer companies should show pictures of people and families destroyed by “the brewer’s art.” Those commercials would not sell much beer, but at least they would give a clearer picture of’ the fruits of alcohol.
Satan has always specialized in lies (John 8:44). The idea that one can drink and be acceptable to God as long as he/she doesn’t get totally drunk is a LIE.
Do people really drink most alcoholic beverages for taste? Or do many people drink for the “buzz,” that feeling of gaiety that permits them to disregard responsibility or problems. Must we be “anesthetized” against the reality of life by the use of alcohol or other drugs in order to enjoy ourselves?
[Editor's comment: In summary, the only way to drink alcohol responsibly is to not drink it at all. The idea that a person CAN drink responsibly is a very easy sell to someone who wants to do it. Satan is subtle, but we are not ignorant of his devices. Anything that convinces someone that their evil can be "responsible" has to be a much greater evil than that which they are inspiring.]
To Drink or Not To Drink
by Sewell Hall (Christianity Magazine, February 1989)
For many years, controversies have been common among Christians regarding the use, of alcoholic beverages. All who believe the Bible must agree that drunkenness is sin (see Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; et. al.). But what about moderate use of alcohol?
Progress toward full agreement may best begin where we now agree. Since all agree that drunkenness is sin, let us explore another question: “Why is drunkenness sin?” Perhaps it is enough to say that God has forbidden it; yet there must be some reason for that fact. Can we not agree that drunkenness is a condition inconsistent with the sobriety enjoined upon all Christians? (See Romans 12:3; 1 Timothy 2:9; 3:11; Titus 2:2; 1 Peter 1:13; et. al.) Now, just how much alcohol is required to produce the undesirable characteristics? That is the question.
As the alcohol content of the blood increases, different parts of the brain are affected. A pamphlet published by the United Tennessee League lists the following consequences produced as the various parts of the brain are affected. Note that these are not in order.
A Loss of color perception
Loss of distance perception
Depression of respiration
Failure of circulation
C Dulled or distorted sensibilities Unsteadiness of movement
Inability to write
Loss of technical skill
D Removal of inhibitions
Loss of self-control
Weakening of willpower
Feeling of well-being
Dulling of attention
E Disturbance of equilibrium & coordination
Which of these would most seriously threaten the character of a Christian? Would you say B? It does include death; drinking to this extreme would be suicide—destroying the life God has given us. This is the last stage of drunkenness, the effect of an alcoholic content in the blood of .25 to .50 percent. Some people do not consider a person really drunk until he reaches this point.
Of the others, which most seriously threatens the character of a Christian? What about D? Inhibitions, self-control, willpower, proper estimate of one’s true spiritual strength, judgment—all of these are extremely important in maintaining good character in the face of temptation. At what point are these affected by alcohol? The answer is extremely significant. The frontal lobe of the brain is that part of the brain that controls these functions and it is the first affected by alcohol. As little as .01 percent in the blood begins to impair these functions so important to godly living.
In other words, the very first effect of alcohol is to make one feel a little freer to do things he would not otherwise do and a little less able to say “No” to things he would normally refuse; to make it a little harder to stand for what is right or even to know what is right. Under the least influence, vulgarity seems a little less vulgar; obscenity a little less obscene, sin a little less sinful, and morality a little less urgent. The temper is harder to control, lust is more difficult to avoid and one feels he is a little more capable of resisting temptation than he really is. Yet, at this point, neither the State nor society would consider him drunk. Of course, the more one drinks, the more pronounced these tendencies become. But can the Christian afford even the least weakening of his moral armor in these days of such powerful and common temptations?
The State does not consider one drunk until he reaches the next set of conditions, those described in C. Their concern is with physical and mental ability to drive a vehicle safely. By that time, the ability to make moral decisions has already been affected and it is with this that the Christian is most concerned.
There are other good reasons for avoiding alcohol: one who does not drink will save a bundle of money through a lifetime; his health will be better; he will never become a “problem drinker”; he is much less likely to find himself getting into trouble in bad company.
Regardless, then, of what the Bible may say about alcohol per se, it is good to avoid it altogether. “Whoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
Wine Is A Mocker
I drank for happiness and became unhappy.
I drank for joy and became miserable.
I drank for sociability and became argumentative.
I drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.
I drank for sleep and woke up tired.
I drank for strength and felt weak.
I drank for relaxation and got the shakes.
I drank to make conversation easier and slurred my speech.
I drank for confidence and became doubtful.
I drank for courage and became afraid.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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