The Drinking Issue

Over the months that we have been ministering here in Lake Havasu Jerry and I have come into close contact with a great number of people who struggle with alcohol and other drug addictions. Of a certainty these experiences have caused me to think closely about alcohol and its addictive properties. Consequently, more than at any other time in my life I have looked intensely at the social consequences of these addictions, and in significant depth I have studied the biblical teaching surrounding this issue.

The wisdom found in the holy Word of God is unimpeachable and irreproachable, and we are not at liberty to disobey God’s laws–certainly not because of human reasoning and traditions. If then, I will approach this venerated book with a searching mind and a righteous attitude I should be able to understand God’s Voice in this regard and inculcate His teachings into my own thinking. The next step for me would be to share my understanding with those around me who also are questing and needy. Obviously, the scope of this site does not encourage a thorough study on the subject, but I do want to speak to a few points.

** The bible teaches against drinking alcoholic beverages.

“Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” Proverbs 23:31

Yayin is a Hebrew word for wine, and could refer to either fermented or unfermented wine. Obviously, in this case, the word refers to fermented wine–“It moveth itself”–and we are commanded not to look at it lustfully. This is referring to alcoholic wine.

** Jesus did not create intoxicating wine.

But, some object, did not Jesus create wine at the wedding party? Yes, He turned the water into wine, but surely the wine he created was of the non-intoxicating variety. Jesus knew of this scripture in Proverbs–indeed He was responsible for its being written, for II Peter 1:21 says:

“…holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Jesus was well aware of this scripture, and given His holy and righteous nature, He could not act in a way that was contrary to these words. Read what Dr. Henry Morris has to say on this subject.

“In view of the long trip from Bethabara to Cana, it is probable that Jesus and the disciples arrived late to the wedding only to find that the guests had exhausted the wine supply and had “well drunk” (literally had “become drunken”–John 2:10). ‘Have well drunk’ is one word in the Greek (methuo) meaning simply “are drunk” and is translated with this meaning in every other instance where it is used (Matthew 24:49).

…These six waterpots (normally used for washing feet) when full would contain about 150 gallons. [Jesus ordered them filled with water, and turned the water into wine.] This much additional intoxicating wine would certainly be too much for guests who were already drunk, and it is inconceivable that Jesus would provide such. This “good wine” had been miraculously created by the Creator and was brand new, with no time to ferment and become old, intoxicating wine. The Greek word oinos was used for the juice of grapes in general, the same word for both unfermented and fermented wine, with the context determining which. The decay process, utilizing leaven (always in Scripture representing corruption) to convert good fresh wine into old, intoxicating wine, could not have acted in this case because Christ Himself had created the wine in its originally intended form before sin and decay entered the world. In this form, it was certainly the best wine, having all the health-giving, joy-inspiring character it was created to exhibit in the beginning. It was probably the same wine which Christ will provide in “that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29), and it will certainly not induce drunkenness.” (Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defenders Bible – notes)

The ancient sage, Chrysostom, born in A.D. 344, says,

“Now, indeed, making plain that it is He who changes into wine the water in the vines and the rain drawn up by the roots. He produced instantly at the wedding feast that which is formed in the plant during a long course of time.” Bible commentary, p. 305

** Israel did not drink strong drink during their 40 years of wandering

“Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 29:6

** Jesus knew of Habakkuk 2:15

“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and maketh him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

** Priests were forbidden to drink wine or other strong drink. Jesus is our high priest.

“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die.” Leviticus 10:9

“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God…” Hebrews 2:17

** Even society acknowledges alcoholic as being harmful.

For the first time alcoholic beverages have been listed as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its “Report on Carcinogens” 9th edition.

The majority of crimes are associated with alcohol. According to CADE, Alcohol is a factor in 85 % of college rapes. Alcohol damages the brain, and rapes the body.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes the range of abnormalities in children born to mothers who consumed alcohol during pregnancy and is a lifelong disability involving considerable personal and social costs. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most well known of the range of disease and is also the most severe. FASD is characterized by prenatal and/or postnatal growth deficiency, facial anomalies, and neurological dysfunction or mental retardation (Diagnostic Guide for FAS and Related Conditions, 9). Children with full blown FAS are the extreme end of a larger spectrum of effects that lessens in magnitude as the alcohol intake of the mother decreases (Braun, 1996). Children whose mothers drank moderately (1 to 3 drinks per day) are prone to numerous learning disorders like slower reaction times, poor attention capabilities, and lower intelligence (Braun, 1996). FASD has surpassed Down’s syndrome and Spina Bifida as the leading cause of mental retardation in the United States and is the only one of the three that is preventable.

** The media is known to be less than accurate in reporting, and may present alcohol in an undeserved favorable light.

June Russell writes extensively of that issue here. Reports of Wine’s Benefits Go Unchallenged by Media

A few days ago, Jerry and I entered the home of newly-found friends. The man lay sprawled on the couch, his drawn and suffering wife hovered over him and over us. On the table beside the couch were used-up beer bottles and a partially emptied whiskey bottle.

“I’m sick, Pastor. I’m really sick,” the man said, looking at us with red, glazed eyes.

We talked, cried, cajoled, prayed and finally got him into our car and, with his wife, drove four hours to another state where was a rehab center that had a bed for him and that would admit our handsome, young friend.

In a sad stupor, he rode in the front seat with Jerry, rousing from time to time to engage in drunken and slurred speech. At the facility, we finally got him from the car and into the admitting place. Now, though, he had changed his mind, and refused to be admitted. We spent a couple of hours, trying, along with his wife and with the staff to convince him to stay. He became more and more adamant and enraged. His wife was crying, pleading, and at one point screaming at him. He had been drunk for days.

Finally, we loaded him back in the car, retraced our tracks and drove the four hours to Lake Havasu, and into the driveway of their house. It was now past midnight.

“Sorry, Pastor. Thank you…sorry. Maybe I’ll go later.” He staggered into the house.

Edit: Monday evening–Our friend has admitted himself to a rehab center. Please pray for him and for his wife. These are very trying days for both of them.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

My other blog is here.

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About Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 78 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She has been married to Jerry for 60 years. They have 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)
This entry was posted in Alcoholism, Bible, Christianity, Deuteronomy, Devotionals, Fallen Man, God, Hebrews, II Peter, Jesus, Leviticus, Proverbs, religion, Word of God and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Drinking Issue

  1. anglhugnu2 says:

    Ever notice how the more you rail on an issue the more the issue never gets solved or even gets worse. We like to harp on all the laws for why something is or is not right. But, we rarely tend to the wound that causes the bleeding in the first place.

    An addictive behavior, whether it be chewing on our finger nails or drinking our self stinking drunk is a far greater problem than assuming a person is disregarding the law of God and being downright sinful. To assert sinfulness to be at the core of the problem will never result in long term solution for the one who is addicted.

    People do damage to the lives they live because the personal issues and (dare I say) demons they feel they have call for their needing some physical form of “medication.” Each and every solution, whether it be alcohol or drugs, sex, or some other form of life taken to an abusive level is all done in the name of how these addicts view or THINK their life to be. Eventually, if untreated, their illusions of what they THINK life to be will literally kill them. Then and only then….I would say….it was sin they never truly recognized how truly beautiful and great their life was…..In this manner, I am associating ” a sin ” with what is sad.

    I am under no illusion of changing your perspective on how you would like to view those person to whom you minister. I applaud your willingness to walk into the dark places where the addicts or alcholics seek temporary housing (so to speak) at the bottom of a bottle.

    I just wanted to share with you something vital to remember as you love those persons who believe no love to ever be apart of the life they live. The love you share with the God you know so well is very foreign to the one’s you touch. Each, I would imagine, would love to know what it means when you say “They are loved….and loved RIGHT NOW” by God.

    It is good you will be there at a moment when they use whatever version of the phrase “There has got to be a better way” they choose. And, The Way you know is The Way that hath brought you thus far.

    God Bless….

    AngllHugnU2
    Author of IM with God

  2. Shirley says:

    Good evening, Angll–

    Thank you for visiting my site. Hope you are here often.

    I feel extremely incapable of helping many people with whom I have come in contact, and often am not at all sure what to say, and wonder if I am doing everything right. One thing, though, I am quite sure of: I love these people, I tell them that, and I tell them that God loves them…just as they are. I would never think of approaching them in any other way, for that is the basis of this salvation message. God loves us all at our lowest, most sinful state…and we’re all “sinners,” saved by the grace of God. I have no illusions otherwise.

    The point of my post is not to “rail” on anyone, merely to share my study of the Bible, that bears out that alcohol is a “mocker.”

    God is our hope, our redeemer, our deliverer. Yet, I know He also uses people. I want to be one who can help someone find deliverance from their addiction.

    Pray for me.

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  7. Michael says:

    I just had a conversation with a close friend of mine about the effect’s of alcohol and their beliefs. They made an interesting comment that I would like to pass on. The priest at their church just got released from rehab.If you can become a slave to it in this setting it makes clear sense to stay far far away.

    The incredible strength of alcoholic chains amazes me. More puzzling is its wide acceptance–even among Christians. Although I believe they do, I cannot begin to imagine how sincere people can think that Jesus miraculously turned out such a drink–a drink that routinely wreaks such havoc. Such an action seems completely incompatible with His holy nature.

  8. HG says:

    My dear Sis. Buxton ~
    I am in no way an expert on this subject. I don’t even pretend to be extremely knowledgeable. But – I do have some experience, because I’ve worked alongside my husband for many years as he ministers to recovering addicts through our church ministry. One very difficult lesson that we’ve learned the hard way – you can not provide help until the addict sees his need for help.

    It makes no difference how badly his (or her) loved ones want to provide help – the addict must be ready to accept help. This is THE most difficult idea to explain to the family! As you so capably described, the addict is usually unaware of how much pain and suffering they are causing those who love them.

    We continue to hold you and the church in our prayers. I’ll pray especially that you’ll have wisdom in dealing with this poor soul and his family.

    Love to You!
    HG

    So true. The very sad thing is that this young man knows he needs help and had agreed to go to the rehab center when we took him last week…but changed his mind.

    Do keep praying. He has said again he knows he needs help, and they are making another effort at his admission today. I grieve with these people–feel like wailing and screaming. I hate satan for the misery he inflicts on people. Detest alcohol.

  9. helenl says:

    And yet, the serious Christian must contend with these verses, too.

    “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. . . .” Matthew 11:19

    Since Jesus was “a friend of publicans and sinners,” did he not also pig out and drink wine?

    “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” I Timothy 5:23

    Verses also mention that deacons ought not use much wine,which implies they may drink a little.

    These verses, too, are the Word of God, inconvenient as they may now seem.

    We do not detest sugar because it could kill the diabetic. No, we know moderation is the key. The same is true of alcohol. God hates drunkenness, but Jesus (God in the flesh) knew how to party. The alcoholic must never use alcohol. But he/she is responsible for his own behavior, as are we all. Others can support and uplift, but we must all answer for our own sin, even if we are alcoholic.

    Helen, I don’t believe the bible teaches contradictory doctrines, nor do I think Jesus was a glutton or a drunk. More than once He was accused of things of which He was innocent.

  10. helenl says:

    But what do you do with I Timothy 5:23? Explain it away?

  11. Shirley says:

    No, Helen, I would never try to explain away a scripture. And I don’t have a problem with saying, “I don’t know the answer” if someone asks me something I’m not clear on. I’ve done it many times.

    Some Bible scholars think it is not clear here in I Timothy whether the word wine in this verse refers to a fermented drink or an unfermented one. (Recall that some of the words that are translated wine in English could refer to both unfermented and fermented wine.) What is clear is that Timothy had been drinking water and during that period of time the water was often impure, and the water was bothering his stomach.

    “Stop drinking water,” Paul told Timothy. “Drink wine, now.” If the wine he was prescribing for Timothy was fermented, he was prescribing it as a medicine. It definitely seems to be something Timothy was not already doing.

    For what it’s worth, that’s my understanding of the subject. Hope it helps.

  12. helenl says:

    I’ve heard that before, Shirley. But I just don’t see how it squares with Jesus being called wine-bibber. If Paul meant this as medicine (for Timothy and maybe anyone else with a similar digestive problem), surely it was wine (fermented). Grape juice would help the stomach, would it?

    I don’t think it’s clear enough to condemn all drinking of alcohol. I do think the whole situation is problematic. One verse does not contradict another. I agree with that.

  13. Shirley says:

    Helen, there is a very old song you may know. “We will understand it better by and by.” We probably won’t care a lick about it when we get to Heaven, but if we think about it, we can ask for clarification. 🙂

  14. helenl says:

    Amen. I love that song.

  15. helenl says:

    And you, Shirley.

  16. dean says:

    Sis.Buxton and all…. If any of you want to help those in the bottle… keep at the issue. Alcohol is a destroyer. In moderation…It destroys moderately. How anyone longing to be like Christ would attempt to justify alcohol consumption is beyond me. I love working with those in the bottle. I have been blessed to know the despair, and blessed to share the secret. Peace

  17. Shirley says:

    Dean–you’re unknown to most of the people who read here. Do you feel comfortable to elaborate on your story?

    …”blessed to know the despair”…a bittersweet statement if ever there was one.

  18. dean says:

    I thought you’d never ask!! haha. I never shrink from telling
    my story. I am an alcoholic. I have been sober since Jan.8, 1995. I was raised in the church. I felt a call of God on my life, and yet I fell. I left the church, but I never left my love for God. The first taste of alcohol set me off. Alcoholism runs in my family, there are several potential problem drinkers on both sides. After many years of suffering, causing others to suffer also, I finally was READY for help! I have a very dear friend who recognized my problem and asked If I would like to go to a meeting. A couple of days later, I asked God to deliver me. My upbringing and you and Bro. Buxtons teachings made the recovery period very intense. I recognize Jesus Christ as my higher power. Always have….always will.
    By his grace and eternal Love I am not the man I use to be. I am not exactly where I want to be, but you should see where he brought me from!! So now I work with those who are not as fortunate as me. Those who didnt have my upbringing, or my mothers prayers. So what do I really feel about alcohol? If you can drink and maintain a close walk with God, you are a better person than me. I am glad I am a alcoholic, I have met many wonderful people,I would have never met otherwise. It has brought my family closer to me, and allowed me to know what I am talking about, when dealing with so afflicted individuals. Like others who are in recovery, I awake each day asking God to give me the strength to stay sober for the day. And when I retire for the evening, I love to thank God again for the strength he gives. Does my story sound familiar to other readers of this blog?? Thank God for the blood!! Peace

  19. Shirley says:

    Dean, dear Dean–

    At the moment, I’m so struck with emotion and my eyes are so filled with tears that I can hardly respond to your post.

    Thank you for your honesty, for your love of God, for your family and for Jerry and me. Your words are precious to me, and I suspect to multiplied others.

    Remember this as you fight your way back to the pinnacle where you belong and where you will ultimately reside: “The gifts and Callings of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:29 One version says the gifts and Callings are irrevocable. You, Dean, are yet called to do God’s work.

    My love and belief in you always–

  20. dean says:

    P.s. did you ever hear George Younce sing “Thanks to Calvary!”? It was written for me!!!!! Peace in Christ

  21. Michael says:

    Dean, You make my heart and my prayers go out to you.I know the things you are fighting and the doubt that flood’s your mind every time you make or think about making that ultimate desision.I fought it for twenty plus year’s. If I can do anything call. Peace to you Michael

  22. Frank says:

    Why do you not take the Bible at face value? You either believe in the Bible and what it says, verbatim, or you do not. Does it say that Jesus turned the water into wine? Yes, it does. There is no confusion here. It was alcoholic wine; were it not, the Bible would say he turned it into grape juice. Who do you think you are to put words in God’s mouth?

  23. Shirley says:

    Good evening, Frank

    Thank you for visiting my site. I do appreciate it.

    No, I would never attempt to put words in God’s mouth. Certainly my study and discussion of this matter was not to irritate anyone, rather I had hoped it to be helpful.

    From my studies I have learned that “the Greek word oinos was used for the juice of grapes in general, the same word for both unfermented and fermented wine.” Thus it is altogether appropriate to consider the wine which Jesus created non-alcoholic.

  24. helenl says:

    And at the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine, they had drunk up the inferior grape juice and then Jesus made some superior grade? A likely story.

  25. radha says:

    at the time of Jesus the wine did not existed yest. also He turned the water in juice and the hebraic word is the same for wine and juice.

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