I have only been intoxicated two times in my life. Both were while I was in High School running from God and His plan for my life. Both are times I regret and experiences I cannot change. Thankfully these two occasions are only memories and serve as life lessons to me and those I desire to help. Although there have been numerous decisions that I have regretted through the years and addictions I have struggled with, the decision to quit drinking (before I ever really started) is not one of them. Here are a few reasons “Why I Quit Drinking (Before I Ever Really Started)”:
- My flesh longs for pleasure and satisfaction apart from God. There are many things people run to for pleasure and satisfaction apart from God—alcohol, comfort foods, immoral relationships, etc. Alcohol would only serve as yet another cheap substitute for God in my life. I already run to too many broken and empty cisterns to quench the thirst as it is. There is no need to add one more alternative.
- Untold children have been harmed and scarred for life due to alcohol use and abuse. My wife has seen and experienced things in her life that I cannot even begin to comprehend as a direct result of the use and abuse of alcohol. These memories cannot be erased from her mind and the scars cannot be removed from her soul. Alcohol served as a contributing factor to these horrific experiences. My children have suffered from my imperfect parenting, but I am thankful they have never suffered anything as a result of an intoxicated mom or dad.
- If my children decide to use or abuse alcohol it will never be because they followed my example. I have the responsibility to be an example to my children. If I do not want them using profanity, disrespecting others, dishonoring God, harming their body (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit), and having sex outside of marriage, etc., then I have the responsibility to teach them not only with my lips, but also with my life. Since I have absolutely no desire for my children to ever experiment with alcohol, and possibly fall prey to its addictive nature, it is incumbent upon me to set the example in this area.
- I understand that the wine referenced in the Bible and the alcoholic drinks available today vary in large degree. First, when you see the word “wine” in the Bible it could mean non-fermented juice of the vine or a fermented beverage. The context must determine the type of beverage being referred to. Second, the alcoholic content in ancient beverages was far less than the alcoholic content of today’s beverages.[i] Fermentation was often impeded and alcoholic beverages were often watered down to prevent intoxication. Distillation (to boost alcohol content) was not invented until the Middle Ages, long after the Scriptures had been written.[ii]
- I have many more choices than my biblical counterparts. In Bible times beverages were very limited. Water sources were often polluted. Milk was available from a variety of animals, but refrigeration was not. Keeping the fruit of the vine from fermenting was challenging, but not impossible. However, today I have hundreds of non-alcoholic, non-intoxicating beverages available to me. I can drink all of these without harming my influence, clouding my judgment or compromising my self-control.
- Alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and addiction. Ken Idleman, former president of Ozark Christian College and pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, Indiana notes:
No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, “I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!” No one says, “It is my ambition that someday I want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.” Yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life…. It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds its way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.
One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, MO, was with a young man facing a 28-year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8-year old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, “I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.”
Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin?
A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that . . . Tragically . . . he tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.[iii]
- I have absolutely no desire to support an industry that has caused untold heartache for millions of people. More than 55% of highway deaths are alcohol related. There are more than 17 million alcoholics in America alone. Alcohol use and abuse has left death, disease, disability and fractured relationships in its wake.[iv]
- Drunkenness and other sins resulted both times I decided to drink alcohol. It is crystal clear from Scripture that drunkenness is a sin and that drunkenness is often accompanied by other sins (Proverbs 23:20-21, Romans 13:13, I Corinthians 5:11 & 6:10, Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:21).
- I do not want my senses clouded, and alcohol use clouds ones senses. This is a scientific fact[v] and is one of the reasons why God did not allow the priests to use any alcohol while preforming their priestly duties (see Leviticus 10:8-11). While one may argue this makes it ok to have alcohol when not performing their priestly duties, why would a Christ follower ever want their senses clouded? Repeatedly in the New Testament we are commanded to be “sober-minded.” The idea of being sober minded is the idea of thinking seriously and clearly about things. Alcohol use dulls these senses and impairs rational thinking.
- Since alcohol use clouds the senses, decisions made during under the influence of alcohol are not the same ones that would be made under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 clearly says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Our choices should be “Spirit” influenced, not “spirit” influenced (the word “spirit” is often used as a synonym for alcohol).
- My alcohol use may negatively impact others. Even if I did not have an addictive personality and even if I could be content with one glass of low alcoholic wine, those whom I influence and who look up to me may not fare so well. This is what led Paul to say: “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romans 14:21, see also Romans 14:19 & Habakkuk 2:15).
- Scripture warns me about the addictive and destructive nature of alcohol.[vi]
- Proverbs 20:1-Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
- Proverbs 23:29-35-Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”
I have witnessed first-hand the dangers associated with alcohol use and abuse. Both of my grandfathers used and abused alcohol; as a result they left painful memories with my parents as well as other members of my family. Two of my brothers used and abused alcohol and suffered relational, physical and spiritual harm as a consequence. One of my brothers was tragically gunned downed in cold blood, in a bar, where he was drinking alcohol. Thankfully my other brother turned from his drunkenness and sin and found forgiveness and grace in the arms of the Lord Jesus Christ who set him free from his addiction.
There will be many things I will regret when I stand before my Lord. There are many things I have done in my life and things I have struggled with that I regret. However, I have never regretted, nor will I ever regret, the decision I made as a teenager to quit drinking after those first two experiences. Apart from my own salvation in Christ and my marriage to my beautiful bride, the decision to live an alcohol free life is one of the best decisions I believe I have ever made. I have been in the ministry since 1996 and have met multitudes of people who regret their first drink, but I have never met anyone who said they regretted abstaining. I can’t imagine anything I have missed in my life because of my decision, except more regrets.
If you would like to know more about how Christ can set you free from any addiction, including alcohol, please contact us. We would be glad to point you to the “fountain of living waters,” the One who can quench the thirst of your soul.