Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Note on Alcohol for Church Friends and Others ~ Food for Thought

I read Animal Farm, by Geo. Orwell one morning last week.  It’s available free on line and is very instructive even for politics today.  A short book.

I noticed an alcohol theme in Animal Farm.  Had the farmer not been such a lush, he would’ve remembered to feed the animals;  the farm would not have fallen into disarray,  and the animals might not have rebelled.   Based on this experience, the leader-pigs of the farm  made a commandment to not use alcohol at all  (like evangelical churches and old time Methodists did)   It was  one of 7 commandments –and then the pigs start to behave as the farmer did –and start drinking.  They become corrupt and self-centered –as the farmer did  –and next thing you know, they change the commandment  to not drink unto excess!   Apparently not aware that they were doing that.   So even  with this secular author, drinking is portrayed as a slippery slope issue.  

For sure, the  Bible emphasizes avoiding drunkenness more than abstinence.    There were probably few year-round beverage choices, perhaps a risk of contaminated water,  and it  may have been the only temporary anti-depressant and pain reliever available –and “a little wine for the stomach’s sake”  was recommended by Paul.   Sure enough, Johns-Hopkins said moderate drinking may prevent H Pylori bacteria-caused ulcers .  That research hospital  also said antibiotics will take care of the bacteria and warned non-drinking  people to not start drinking for ulcer prevention as they said there are more potential problems from drinking.  The much touted health benefits of daily wine for the heart have been clarified by European study which said that NON-ALCOHOLIC wine has more anti-oxidant health benefits –and reduces blood pressure –more than does alcoholic wine. They said it’s the grapes themselves that have the most benefit and the alcohol reduces that benefit.

Of course, wine didn’t have to be fermented in the Bible to be called “wine.”  The “new wine”  is unfermented –and should be put in new wineskins which can expand when the wine ferments.  The  new wine is the fresh grape juice that tastes much better than alcohol.   (Yes, I’ve tasted –thought ewwwww! )  So maybe the wine of the wedding miracle was really flavorful and rare like “new wine” –which is only available at harvest time.    Most don’t agree with me on that, believing the wine of the wedding and the wine of the wedding feast of the Lamb in Heaven someday –are same as the intoxicating, prized, aged wines of today.  Time (Eternity?)  will tell! 

For people, alcohol  causes so much trouble in society, affecting judgment –and the drinkers don’t notice that their judgment is affected and don’t know they are drunk –as noted  one wife of an alcoholic , speaking up in a S.S. class.   My husband said no amount of pleasure from drinking was worth the horrible things he saw in ER from traffic accidents caused by alcohol.    

In fact, as per-capita consumption of alcohol increases in America, so does societal dysfunction and poverty with addiction –in addition to the  carnage on highways.

 The  great Christian evangelists and reformers in history preached abstinence –and that teaching thru-out our family line has protected many of us from having an alcohol problem.  That’s  why the Free Methodist Church still recommends it for members –though it no longer “requires” it for them –realizing that drinking itself is not biblically forbidden –though there are warnings about it –but does it sometimes pave the path to  poor judgment, regrettable sinful acts, emotions and  attitudes,  liver disease, drunk driving and  pre-mature entrance to Eternity?   Is there still good reason for the Christ-follower  today to set a pattern of abstinence for future generations?  Is  drinking  an avoidable stumbling block for the weaker brethren (including youth)  –which WE avoid for THEIR sake? 

Perhaps abstinence is   self-denial for many good reasons  which ought not be difficult for us  --not like chocolate abstinence would be….   ;  )  But keep perspective:  chocolate, a guilty pleasure for the calories,  doesn’t cause all the dysfunction that alcohol does!  (It, too, has antioxidants.)   God has given us many pleasures that don’t affect judgment , behavior and relationships the way alcohol can.  

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible