Why I Don’t Drink

I have to admit this a bit of a departure from the normal type of post.  It’s less political in nature, which is fine.  It’s also quite personal.  It will let you know a little more of what I believe, and while I can guarantee it will not be a popular opinion, that’s alright.  Sometimes what you believe isn’t shared by the majority.  Yet, I trust you’ll consider what I write and maybe understand where I’m coming from.  The subject today is simply: “Why I Don’t Drink.”

In today’s culture, I dare say that if you don’t drink alcohol, you’re considered strange.  It seems booze is everywhere, at every event, on every occasion.  It seems like everyone’s doing it, seeing no problem with it, and marveling at those who do.  It seems the number of those of us who refrain is shrinking.  It seems society (and even the church) has become much more accepting of it than it once did.  But let me say at the outset – and please hear me on this – if you drink, I don’t think any less of you.  Nor do I think I’m somehow better because I don’t.  I hope you extend the same courtesy to me.  This is about why I don’t drink, not why you shouldn’t.  These are simply my convictions, and the reasoning behind them.  There are actually several reasons I don’t partake.

1. Family History

I tend to think how people view alcohol stems strongly from how their parents viewed it.  If they grew up in a home where it was accepted and consumed in moderation, they will tend to have a favorable view of it.  If someone had an alcoholic parent, that may change their view of booze.

In my case, I had parents who had deep convictions against the consumption of alcohol.  My mother’s father was a drunk who ruined her childhood, and abused his wife and children.  One of his sons also became an alcoholic who drank himself to death.  One of his sons struggles with it to this day.  It has been a generational curse.  My father meanwhile was raised in a conservative family, and so hated the stuff that as a broadcaster he refused even to advertise it.  He turned down prestigious job opportunities because he would not compromise.  These were incredibly influential in forming my own convictions.  But they are far from the only reasons.

2. Practical Reasons

There are many things you don’t have to worry about if you never consume alcohol.  Doing things in public you will regret, doing things you won’t remember, the misery of hangovers, even putting yourself or others in danger while intoxicated are among them.  There are detrimental effects to the body by consuming alcohol.  Of course there are the dangers of drinking and driving which not only puts you at risk but other innocent people as well.  A close friend of mine in college was put in the hospital, suffered long lasting injuries, as well as the total loss of his new car because someone else decided to drink to excess and get behind the wheel.  It wasn’t fair, but it’s the kind of thing that happens when you consume a mind-altering drug.

Then there is the very real danger of becoming addicted.  At one time the statistics said that one out of every eight people that takes that first drink will have lifelong problems with alcohol.  I do not wish to play with such fire.  If I were to order a glass of water at a restaurant, and the waiter told me that one out of every eight contained poison, I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t drink the water.

3. Biblical Reasons

I’m an evangelical Christian and as such I regularly read the Bible, and I believe what it says.  Over the years I’ve found that it has much to say on the subject of alcohol.  And almost none of it is good.

“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” – Proverbs 20:1

“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.” – Proverbs 23:30-31

“[I]t is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.” – Proverbs 31:4-5

“Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” – Proverbs 31:6-7

It has even stronger warnings for those who make a habit of drinking to excess.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” – Ephesians 5:18

“Do not be deceived…drunkards [among others]…will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -1 Corinthians 6:9-10

“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.– Galatians 5:19-21

One might take issue and say, “What about all the other references to wine throughout the Bible?  Jesus even turned water into wine!” If you study the subject closely, you will find that the word wine was used both for juice that was fermented and juice that was not.  The wine of the old and new testaments that was fermented had very low alcohol content compared to what is consumed today.  So strong is the drink of our day that even the most pagan individuals in Biblical times wouldn’t touch it.  But don’t take my word for it.  Look it up for yourself.  The late Pastor Adrian Rogers outlined this quite well.

Again, I feel the need to pause and to repeat myself.  I’m not trying to preach to you, not pointing a condemning finger in your direction.  I’m simply giving you what I know and what I believe.  This is a first person account.  Ok? Ok…

4. Seeing what it has done to society

How many families have been broken up over alcohol?  How many marriages ended, wives abused, childhoods ruined?  How many lives have been lost to drunken driving?  How many lives lost to liver cancer, and other diseases caused or made worse by alcohol consumption? (An estimated 88,000 people die each year in alcohol-related causes according to the NIH.)  How many people have thrown away their lives and destroyed others because they couldn’t control their cravings for alcohol?  So I say to myself: “Why would I want to have anything to do with a substance that would do that to people?”  Why?

5. Temptation

I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to do enough wrong things.  I don’t need one more.  The aforementioned Dr. Rogers once said that he was asked in a restaurant if he would like an alcoholic drink.  Rogers replied, “No thank you.  I’m in danger of becoming an alcoholic.”  The waitress was taken aback and apologized profusely.  Rogers added that he didn’t drink and never had.  That if he did, he may want more and more, and eventually become an addict.  Not surprisingly, the waitress went away offended.  But that illustrates one major reason why I don’t drink.  I never have to worry about drinking too much, and eventually ruining my life or someone else’s.

It’s not that I’m against having fun.  Far from it.  I’m just against doing foolish things.  And based on what I just laid out, for me to drink would be foolish.  I want to enjoy this life I’ve been given, living it to the fullest and living for the One who gave it to me. I don’t want it to be cut short or ruined so much as I can help it.  You can call me old fashioned or even needlessly fearful, but this is one area in which I don’t see eye-to-eye with the culture.

I have friends I’ve discussed this with, and while they patiently listen, they tell me that they don’t have a problem with drinking and can’t imagine ever having one.  I certainly hope they are right, as I remind them that most likely no one who has developed a problem thought they would either.  But it may not be them; it may be their children, or friends who took their first drink at their own influence.  I don’t think I could ever be comfortable with that scenario.  If those I love go down that road, may it never be because I led them.

Hopefully in this post I’ve given you an accurate picture of what I believe, and also maybe something to think about.  I hope that you can at least look at what I’ve laid out and say, “You know, that at least makes a lot of sense.”  Perhaps you’ll consider it and maybe even wrestle with the question, “Is it worth it?”  If nothing else, I hope you can now understand why I don’t drink.

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In Pursuit of a Civil Pursuit of Truth

Is it just me, or does it seem like political discord is at an all-time high? Even after the election last fall, after most of us vowed to forget it and move on with our lives, we can’t seem to stop arguing and bickering. Pointing fingers of blame at our political opponents, and in a passive-aggressive way, at our friends, family and others who support those politicians or their political party.

But I think we may be able to move past this, and probably not in the way you think I’m going to say. Because here’s the thing: it’s OK to disagree. It’s OK to debate. It helps us learn more about those we disagree with, their positions, our own positions and the issues we’re discussing. I don’t believe you should simply not talk about politics or controversial issues. But the key is that we have to get past the disrespecting and maligning of those with whom we disagree. The election of 2016 perhaps helped me understand this in a more real way. Because there are people I know, love and respect who hold to positions I could not agree with less. I think they are good people, who want good things, despite believing what I see as antithetical to what they say they desire.

If you disagree with me, I am so thankful that you are reading this, and that you would consider my point of view. Because I have been reading and listening to yours, and it helps me understand better what you believe and what has led you to the conclusions you have made.

Here’s another key point: I believe we almost all ultimately desire the truth. If we don’t, then there really is no reason to have a rational discussion. But if the truth is what we want, then we should desire to seek it out, and have the courage to engage in honest discussion to help us get there. Because, as fallible human beings, we may not have arrived at the truth, no matter how much we say we want it.

But we have to stop disrespecting and dismissing those who don’t agree with us. To say that those who see it a different way want dirty water and starving children, or communism and the destruction of the country doesn’t help anyone. It’s also not true. Our friends from the opposite political side likely want a lot of the same things we want. It may be, though, that the positions they hold and those they support will not take us there. It may be that they have been deceived by those they are listening to. And there’s where learning needs to take place.

That’s really what this blog is all about: to help contribute to finding the truth. I’m not here to malign anyone or to be combative. I write to use what I know to logically, rationally and respectfully persuade. It does no one any good to yell and scream, and make outlandish accusations. Even if you are right, you will not win anyone to your position.

So know that I respect you if you don’t agree with me. And I will do my best to present my point of view in a way that you can at least understand and consider, even if you decide to reject it. Let’s continue to pursue the truth together, even if, and especially if we don’t agree.