Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Last Thursday’s Life for Leaders devotion asked the question: What’s wrong with getting drunk? This question was inspired by Ephesians 5:18, the first part of which reads, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” I talked about how drunkenness lessens our ability to think clearly and thus prohibits us from making wise choices. Some of our poor choices lead to nothing more than harmless silliness. But other alcohol-distorted choices can bring on much pain and suffering.
Today, I want to stay with the issue of drunkenness a bit longer. Yes, I’m well aware of the stereotype of the Christian pastor railing against drinking. Though I’d rather not be stereotypical in that way, I am concerned about how the abuse of alcohol is hurting individuals, families, and our wider society.
These days, we hear a lot about sexual misconduct on college campuses. Much of this happens in the context of alcohol abuse. One recent study found that 80% of sexual assaults on campus were associated with alcohol. According to research done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, studies show that at least 50% of all sexual assaults involve drinking by perpetrators and/or victims. Adding to the pain caused by alcohol abuse, each day in the United States 29 people are killed by drunk drivers.
We who follow Jesus Christ can avoid much of this trauma in our own lives by choosing not to abuse alcohol or put ourselves in contexts where drunkenness abounds. Yet, even more, we can help others by watching out for them. We can offer healing love to those who have suffered because of what they have done or what has been done to them. We can contribute to the establishment of wise policies to protect students and others. We can make sure people who drink too much do not drive while inebriated. We can sponsor 12-step groups that help people become free from their addiction to alcohol and other intoxicating substances.
Moreover, we can, by our words and deeds, point to a better life than one that features inebriation, the abundant life found in Jesus Christ. For example, when I was in college, most parties featured excessive use of alcohol. In fact, the verb “to party” pretty much meant “to get drunk.” Some Christian friends and I decided to see if we could offer a positive alternative. We didn’t go around lecturing our tipsy friends, however. Rather, we threw parties that offered great food, delicious non-alcoholic drink, dancing, and plenty of conversation. We invited our friends to join us. I’m sure some thought our parties were boring. But others seemed to like them. One of my secular friends said to me, “At most parties I’m so wasted I can hardly think. But at your parties I have deep conversations with people. I like your parties. I’ll keep coming.”
Something to Think About:
Have you experienced, either in your own life or in the lives of others, the negative results of alcohol abuse?
Have you experienced or witnesses God’s healing in such circumstances?
How might God use you to bring his grace to others or to create a community in which alcohol (and people!) are not abused?
Something to Do:
One possible action step would be to support MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). You can learn more here.
Gracious God, we need your help when it comes to alcohol abuse. Some of us need your help in our own lives. Others of us need help to bring healing and hope to others. May we live so as to experience the very best you have for us. And may we be channels of grace to others, even as we create communities of sober celebration and grace-filled wholeness. Amen.