Drinking alcohol

by Nathan Bailey

Lots of people ask me why I don't drink alcohol. It's quite simple, really, I think it tastes disgusting. Actually, I've never had much cause to drink it, the smell has always been nauseating enough to put me off.

Well, there was once, when I was in Japan, and someone handed me a glass of water. I was quite thirsty, parched, in fact, and gulped it down. Turned out it was sake (rice wine). Can't say that experience endeared me much towards alcohol. *blech*!

There is more to it than that though. Why don't many Christians drink alcohol? And, if there was an easy answer for that, then why do many Christians still drink alcohol? Well, like many issues in Christianty, there remains some disagreement about the correct state of affairs.

There are two views: Some say that since Jesus made wine at the wedding, and Paul encouraged Timothy to drink to assist his health, there are good Biblical grounds for drinking. Others argue that such wine was of a quite different sort, and that we should follow the example of the Old Testament -- as priests who are continually on duty, we should not be drinking.

Personally, I don't think there is enough evidence in the Bible to support either argument to the exclusivity of the other. However, I don't think that lets us sidestep the issue altogether.

First and foremost, I don't drink because I like to be 100% in control. This is somewhat like the law for priests who were on duty. For the period of their duty, priests were not to drink wine, similiar to many employee guidelines of today. You have to ask: "Why did/do such guidelines exist?" Surely it must be because alcohol does affect us, even a little bit.

Of course, drink driving laws and the 0.05 BAC limit clearly indicate that drink does have an affect on people's ability to think clearly, to make rational decisions, to judge space and distance, and thus to drive. There is the question, however, of how much alcohol is required before a "significant" effect results, to which I would be inclined to ask "What is a 'significant' effect?"

Obviously, alcohol affects us -- even from the first drop, it affects us. Before that even, the first whiff will affect our biological system. Indeed, this is why many people drink it. Sure, the first sniff, the first sip, or maybe even the first glass may not be enough to cause "significant" results, but how alert would you like to be in a crisis? 95% or 99% or whatever you claim -- is it enough? If you drove, with your BAC well under 0.05, and then had an accident, could you convince yourself that the alcohol was not at fault? That you could not have avoided the accident, had you been fully sober?

Perhaps you might be able to console yourself. But what about if someone was dying by the side of the road, and you were having problems remembering your CPR lessons? Would you be able to convince yourself that your memory would not be better if you were 100% sober?

That's one aspect. There are other reasons I don't drink. Health reasons, for instance. Some studies have (apparently) shown that one drink a week (or so) actually improves ones health -- ostensibly killing excess bacteria or something like that. I can't comment on that, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not about to join in on any trials of my own accord :-)

However, there are certainly a lot more studies that do show that excessive alcohol has very bad effects on peoples' health. Personally, I'd prefer to avoid the slow poison, and not pickle my brain and make swiss-cheese out of my liver. If your occasional drink is making you healthier than me, then I wish you all the best of luck :-) But just remember how long it took them to finally decide that cigarettes really were totally unhealthly. And why aren't pregnant women supposed to drink, at all?

Finally, there is another reason I do not drink -- for the example that I set. Whilst I may be capable of stopping after one or two drinks, those who follow my example may not be. Since I intend to be in a position of leadership in the future, it will be fair to presume that others will look at me and say "Well he is doing it, so it must be ok [for me to do it]". Personally, I don't want that kind of responsiblity, with regards to drinking. I don't want someone who is weak-willed to fall into a life of alcoholism just because they followed my example, but without my ability for restraint. Worse still, perhaps I am one of those who does not have the ability for restraint (it can be a chemical dependency). I'd rather not find out.

The easiest way to avoid temptation is to flee it. So I ain't playing with fire. No alcohol for me, thanks!

Further reading

Read about overcoming secret sin, self pity and other essays on Christianity - covering hell, sex, drinking, gambling, smoking and tithing!

© Copyright 1997-2012, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract references the original URL, http://polynate.net/christianity/, so that people can find the latest version.
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