By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
My theme is: “The destructive and deceptive nature of alcoholic beverages.” It is an indisputable fact that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is wreaking havoc around the world. But not just in distant places. Someone who lives near you and me knows this firsthand. They might be suffering the consequences of their own abuse of such beverages, or of someone else’s abuse of them.
Alcoholic beverages are destructive. They are linked to many harmful and deadly accidents. But not just automobile accidents. Consider a few examples: People fall off ladders when under their influence. They trip and hurt themselves when walking. They accidentally shoot themselves, or someone else. Alcoholic beverages are often linked to murder, rape, and incest. They are linked to violence against family members, marital conflicts, and divorce. They contribute to job loss, and the poverty that sometimes goes with it. Many persons now locked up in our jails, prisons, and mental hospitals are there because of alcoholic beverages. The same is true of many in our hospitals and nursing homes. And how many thousands of persons have been laid to rest in our cemeteries because of alcoholic beverages? More could be said about the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages, but enough has been said.
Alcoholic beverages are also deceptive. An honest alcoholic will tell us that they did not intend to become enslaved to alcohol. It happened slowly, one drink at a time, one day at a time without their realizing what was happening. These persons might never have gotten stumbling drunk, but they have become addicted to alcoholic beverages. Now, they can’t live without them. Or, if they have gotten help to quit drinking it, they still must struggle with temptation to return to their destructive habit. And sometimes the temptation gets the best of them.
Bible-believing churches and Christian organizations need to warn about the destructive and deceptive nature of alcoholic beverages, and they need to help those with problems with alcohol. When Bible-believing church leaders and Christian organizations simply tell their members, listeners, and supporters to “drink responsibly,” they are unintentionally contributing to the problem. And here is why: it is very easy to go from the moderate consumption of alcohol to its immoderate consumption. Millions of “problem drinkers” can affirm this to be a fact. Telling people to drink alcohol responsibly can easily influence someone who might never have taken a drink in his or her life to have a drink to be sociable, or to relax after a hard day of work, or to cope with some stressful situation, and that first drink can lead to another, and another, and a thousand other drinks by one who has now become a problem drinker. Then, too, parents with young children at home might hear a Christian leader say moderate drinking is okay, and then act on it. And their children might then learn to follow their example, who might then become enslaved to alcohol. And how about someone who struggles against alcohol who is sitting in a church service and hears the pastor or Sunday school teacher say it is okay to drink moderately? He or she then might think they can do just that, and not go back to their old habit that had enslaved them. So, they have a beer or a glass of wine or a shot of strong drink, and it isn’t long and they are right back to their former addiction to alcoholic beverages.
Here are some statements and warnings about the destructive and deceptive nature of alcoholic beverages from the Old Testament’s Book of Proverbs;
Chapter 20, verse 1 says,
“Wine is a mocker,
Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
Chapter 23, verses 20 and 21 says,
Hear, my son, and be wise;
And guide your heart in the way.
20 Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions?
Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger long at the wine,
Those who go in search of mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it swirls around smoothly;
32 At the last it bites like a serpent,
And stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
And your heart will utter perverse things.
34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:
35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt;
They have beaten me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
( Biblical quotes were from the New King James Version, and were taken from this website: www.biblegateway.com. “Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”)