I have received many responses to last week’s Health Tip #659 titled “Alcohol – A Dangerous Addictive Drug.” Responses ran the gamete between agreeing with what I had written to disagreeing. Several of those letters are shared below:
“I am a Registered Nurse and as a nurse spend many nights wrestling with these poor drunks, continually giving them medications to help control their DT’s [delirium tremors], etc. It is a shame how people become ensnared by the liar’s (Satan’s) murderous attempt at destroying God’s human creation. I’m going to print this article and share it with others. Thank you for the best answer ever. I knew that God wouldn’t contradict Himself in Scripture, as He is perfect. I’ve never read such an in-depth explanation proving the bible is correct. THANK YOU!” Jane
Response on Facebook “Awesome explanation….thank you, I agree 100%” Joanne M.
“Excellent post George! I never was much of a drinker. I loathed hard liquor, and never really got much into wine. I did enjoy a couple of beers on a hot day, but I gave up alcohol, including beer five years ago, and don’t miss it at all. I much prefer fresh vegetable and fruit juices that I can make myself, or smoothies. And don’t swallow the hogwash that drinking wine will make you healthier. Any study that comes to that conclusion was most likely funded by the wine industry. Alcohol is a waste product produced by the bacteria which breaks down grape juice and turns it into intoxicating wine. I for one do not care to consume waste products.” IGF
Michelle writes: “Thank you for your article on alcohol. I couldn’t agree with you more and believe fully that alcoholic beverages are addictive and terrible for the temple of God (our bodies). However, how do you explain away what happened in John 2 after Jesus turned the water into wine?
“Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine’ and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:7-10)
Michelle continues: “Here it talks about ‘choice wine’ vs ‘cheap wine’ and having too much to drink and not being able to differentiate between the two after the good wine is served first. Seems to me that the master of the banquet is referring to the fermented stuff; this is the same ‘wine’ that Jesus turned the water into. In my opinion, that seems like a hard argument to sell based on this passage. Please advise.”
What is the miracle here? “Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water pots with WATER.” And before their very eyes Jesus turns the colorless water into a red color. Both grape juice and fermented wine are red in color. At the wedding feast, after they had been drinking red intoxicating wine and were already tipsy, and Jesus turns colorless water into a red liquid, would it not be natural in their drunken stupor to think that Jesus had made them more intoxicating wine?
And does not grape juice taste better than fermented grape juice [wine]? “Thou hast kept the GOOD wine until now.” The miracle here is not the wine or grape juice, but that Jesus took clear colorless water and turned it into another substance that was red like the color of wine.
And don’t give me that lame argument that grapes weren’t in season. Jesus didn’t have to have grapes when He turned that water into wine [grape juice]. All He needed was the water. This was a miracle my friend and Jesus didn’t need any help by having grapes available and in season.
If you will go to a concordance you will find that the word used for the “wine” Jesus made at the wedding feast comes from the Greek word “olvos oinos” which is translated “grape juice” in the English language. This is the same Greek word for wine used in I Timothy 5:23 where Timothy was told “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine [grape juice] for thy stomach’s sake and often infirmities.”
When you come to the word “wine” in the bible it can be translated from the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek words meaning grape juice, crushed grapes or fermented wine. This has caused much confusion.
Now we know that the author of the bible is God according to the clear teaching of II Timothy 3:16 where we read “All scripture is given by inspiration of God. . .”And in II Peter 1:21 we learn how this was accomplished “For the prophecy [scriptures] came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [wrote] as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
So shouldn’t the next question that needs to be asked regarding “wine” be, “would the same God who tells us in Proverbs 20:1 that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise,” then turn water into fermented, intoxicating wine at the wedding feast so that people could get drunk?
I have had some personal experiences with alcohol that I want to share, but before I do, I want us to take careful note of what God has to say about alcoholic beverages in Proverbs 23:29-35:
“Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright [that’s fermentation]. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”
Does not God give us in this portion of scripture a vivid description of the attitudes and actions of a person who has consumed a beverage containing alcohol? That first drink doesn’t necessarily produce all of these attitudes and actions, but different people have tolerance for varying amounts of alcohol. Some can start to display some of these attitudes and actions beginning with the very first drink while others can handle considerably more before these attitudes and actions manifest.
Please take careful note of the warning God gives concerning a beverage that require fermentation, which is required to produce the alcohol found in wine in verse 31. “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it givith his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.” Once again that “moveth itself aright” is talking about the fermentation process grape juice must go through in order to become intoxicating wine.
How much clearer a warning can God give concerning the evils of consuming beverages containing alcohol than we have just read above? Sadly, some Christians try to justify their alcoholic consumption by misusing verses in the bible that use the word wine when the correct translation would be grape juice.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES CONCERNING ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
My first wife Janet (deceased), had a dad who was an alcoholic, and a mother who was nearly so. Her dad died at age 53 of cirrhosis of the liver. Her dad had two brothers (Janet’s uncles) who were also alcoholics and they both died within three years of her dad’s death, both from cirrhosis of the liver. Besides their early and untimely deaths because of alcohol, the lives and marriages of all three of these individuals were a series of dysfunction, numerous divorces, and tragedy.
I had my first drink of an alcoholic beverage (champagne) in Janet’s home at the insistence of both Janet’s Mom and Dad, after being raised to shun alcohol. At our wedding, alcoholic beverages were flowing freely and members of Janet’s family encouraged me to loosen up by having additional drinks which I had. I can remember various members of her family trying to get me to stand coins on end and then good-heartedly laughing at me when I could not get them to do so.
As I have already said, I had not learned to drink alcoholic beverages in my home growing up and had remained free of alcohol even during my years in the United States Navy during the Korean War while most all of my buddies were indulging. In fact, I was assigned shore duty when our ship would hit port because I didn’t drink, and I was given the duty of guiding drunken shipmates back to the ship after their night on the town.
I remember while our ship was in port in Lisbon, Portugal, one of our shipmates who was known for a lot of drinking did not make it back to the ship one night and we could not find him in the houses of ill repute where we would usually find these drunken ship mates. The next morning we found him in a ditch with a hatchet in his head and his wallet missing.
But getting back to after having my first taste of alcohol in Janet’s home at the encouragement of her parents after my stint in the navy, I started to consume alcoholic beverages. While a Claims Adjuster with the New York Central Railroad following my wedding and while away from home, our manager would take us out to a bar after work where for hours we would drink beer. Lowenbrau was my choice beer. No, I did not like the taste of it the first time I drank it, but I soon started to like the way it made me feel.
I thank God that on May 29, 1957 at a Billy Graham Crusade rally in Madison Square Garden in New York City I was introduced to Jesus. That night I asked Him to come into my heart, forgive me for my sins, and be my Saviour. Thankfully Jesus took the desire for alcohol away and I have not had the desire for or had a single drink containing alcohol (beer, wine, or liquor) in over 50 years. If it hadn’t been for Jesus coming into my life, I might have ended up in a ditch like my drinking sailor buddy or dead of cirrhosis of the liver like my drunken father-in-law.
I have a very close friend who has a brother who was introduced to alcohol as a 13-year-old boy, and at that very young age was soon addicted. His life has been dysfunctional and tragic. He is 51 years old now, divorced, and has been in a nursing home for over a year unable to function normally or even take care of himself. Oh the tragedy of alcohol has led to so many tragic and wasted lives.
And how many parents dread the day their child goes off to college or military and are encouraged, some for the very first time, by other students or military buddies to drink alcohol. And how many young college girls, who had been protected by their parents for so many years while at home, lose their virginity after having a few drinks with others in their sorority, after alcohol has done its dastardly part to remove inhibitions.
As a pastor for many years, I dealt with hundreds of families that had their lives and marriages destroyed due to the effects of alcohol. Friends, it was a pitiful sight!
Permit me to ask a question. At what point does a person change from being a social drinker to becoming an alcoholic? Is it two drinks, or four, or six or…? The dictionary defines “alcohol” as “an intoxicating liquid.”
In Health Tip #658 we dealt with the subject of nicotine, where we learned that “a non-smoker who lights up more than 2 cigarettes in a row has only a 15% chance of remaining a non-smoker.” Why is this so? – Because nicotine is an addictive drug.
Alcohol is also an addictive drug, whether it comes in the form of wine, beer, or liquor. I have had many an alcoholic tell me they were not addicted and could stop consuming it anytime they wanted. But hardly did I ever find an alcoholic that wanted to or that could even if they wanted to stop their consumption.
Very few people find the taste of that first alcoholic drink pleasant or desirable any more than they find the smoke from that first puff on a cigarette desirable. But what they liked was the feeling of pleasure; they liked that feeling so much that they wanted to experience that pleasurable feeling again – and then again – and then again – until they had to have it on a regular basis. No one has ever become an alcoholic who never took that first drink!
Dear friends, do you really believe that God endorses the consumption of alcoholic beverages after he tells us in Proverbs 20:1 that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise,” and then warns us of the consequences of consuming alcoholic beverages in Proverbs 23:29-35?
You cannot deny the clear teaching of the bible concerning God’s stance on the consumption of alcoholic beverages. If God is so clearly against the consumption of alcoholic beverages in these verses, when you find a verse that appears to teach otherwise, perhaps these are the verses that need to be reevaluated, rather than trying to explain away the clear teachings of Proverbs 20:10 and Proverbs 23:31-35.
And you parents that consume alcoholic beverages, or keep alcoholic beverages in the house, need to take heed to Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” How would you feel if your child someday became an alcoholic and says they were introduced to alcohol in their own home? Do you keep beer, wine or liquor in your home and do your children see with their own eyes you indulging? I’m sure you love your children but please take heed to the example you are setting for them. You cannot tell your child to do what you say and not what you do and get away with it.
YOU SAY YOU CAN’T QUIT
Friend, you can do anything you want to if you really want to do it bad enough, especially when God’s help is available. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13). And stop using the bible to support your consumption of alcoholic beverages when God clearly says in Proverbs 20:1 doing so “IS NOT WISE”, and in Proverbs 23:29 says “LOOK NOT THOU . . . ”.
And if you are a young person I challenge you with this verse found in Ecclesiastes 12:1.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”