Alcohol and Anguish

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David R. Brumbelow's picture

Another, of many, great reason to stay away from alcohol. 

David R. Brumbelow

Jeffrey Dean's picture

Why is this on Sharper Iron? .  In light of his sister-in-laws death this blog is just in bad taste and bad form.   I would encourage him to climb down off the soapbox and attend to those wounded by emotional and physical trauma.    Perhaps he should be encouraged to seek his own healing.  This second blog is an example of what not to do after a traumatic event invades your life.     

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Perhaps there is enough time in a day to tend the wounded and soap box a little as well.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jim's picture

Ambivalence about Alcohol

Selected quote:

… unless you’ve looked into the dull eyes of a husband who just an hour ago lost the mother of his two young children to a drunk driver—unless you have some real life experience with the dangers of alcohol—I don’t want to hear about your liberty to drink. I certainly don’t want to hear you encouraging others to drink. It’s time to grow up in your discernment and compassion and to be a warner rather than a tempter. Alcohol abuse is one of the defining sins of our day. It’s life, not theory. We can’t afford to be ambivalent about it.

L Strickler's picture

IMHO, this is on Sharper Iron because Steve Hafler is a missionary/pastor loved and respected by many in the community of faith. It is on SI because the issue of Christian liberty and alcohol has been debated here.

Steve warned about alcohol; his family has been seriously hurt by a drunk driver; he warns again, and rightly so.  There is Christian liberty, yes, but there is also foolish selfishness.

May the Lord comfort the Haflers and Tara's family. 

L Strickler

Jeffrey Dean's picture

Maybe you are intimate with the situation and Mr Hafler, but I read a blog that makes an accusation yet unfounded by evidence (or even a citation).  And I read it with the knowledge that this tragedy has struck Mr. Hafler's family hours before.  I'm having trouble reconciling the need to immediately climb back on the soapbox to say "see, I told you so."   

Posting this blog is an a avoidable misstep.  You have used the unspeakable horror of this woman/mother/wife's death to promote more blather and bother over nothing.  Mr. Halfer can be somewhat excused because he is undoubtedly stressed and in shock.  SI could have shown restraint.    

Jim's picture

@Jeff: Not going to debate this aggressively - we may just need to disagree (hopefully agreeably!)

The blog posts are:

  • Timely 
  • Not sourced by S/I ... it's not like S/I invaded a private family situation
  • A warning 
  • Points readers to the need to pray for the family 

My 2¢

Michelle Shuman's picture

Jeff  -- Did you even look at the dates on the two blogs the man wrote or read the content.  He wrote one on 9/17 about alcohol and what he and his family had observed/experienced.  Then a week later his sister-in-law is injured and later dies in a wreck committed by a drunk driver and he lets people know the news.  Soapbox?????  I hardly think so.  This precious family and many others like them need our prayers and support. 

 

Years ago my husband's youngest brother was severely injured and later died as a result of his own driving drunk.  I was not in the family then, but now as I watch the other siblings drink I can't comprehend how important alcohol is to a person that they would risk their own life and well-being of their family to partake of a liquid.  Tea, juice, water etc work just as well to quench thirst and no wreck, death, abuse, etc have ever been attributed to them.

Michelle Shuman

JNoël's picture

Pornography may be the rock star issue of 21st century Christianity, but alcohol has been and will continue to be a far greater problem, especially as it is increasingly being accepted in the name of Christian liberty.  Don't tell me what I can't do, I have liberty.

Is that Christian liberty or Americanist liberty?

 

V/r

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Charlie's picture

JNoël wrote:

Pornography may be the rock star issue of 21st century Christianity, but alcohol has been and will continue to be a far greater problem, especially as it is increasingly being accepted in the name of Christian liberty.  Don't tell me what I can't do, I have liberty.

Is that Christian liberty or Americanist liberty?

 

V/r

Considering that in the entire history of the Christian church, the only prohibitions against alcohol occurred in the English-speaking world in the modern era, and gained the most momentum in history in the United States, I would say that the prohibition rather than the liberty is conspicuously American. 

 

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

JNoël's picture

Charlie wrote:

Considering that in the entire history of the Christian church, the only prohibitions against alcohol occurred in the English-speaking world in the modern era, and gained the most momentum in history in the United States, I would say that the prohibition rather than the liberty is conspicuously American. 

 

Why might prohibition have gained so much momentum in the US?  What might be so unique about our country that a cry for abstinence became, for a time, a popular solution?

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

JNoël wrote:

Why might prohibition have gained so much momentum in the US?  What might be so unique about our country that a cry for abstinence became, for a time, a popular solution?


Mass production? The fact that alcohol became so readily and cheaply available in large quantities, where before moderation was largely enforced by a relative lack of supply would certainly contribute to the idea that outlawing it might be the easier solution.

Dave Barnhart

Jeffrey Dean's picture

Sure Michelle, I was aware of the timing of the two blogs.  The first had the same inane content that has been spouted for the last century or two:  alcohol is evil.  It espoused what essentially is an opinion not in agreement with Scripture.  It is an opinion on par with: guns are evil, ban guns.

My objection (and I thought it was clear) is that this man chose with hours of the accident to run back to his blog and post another "I told you so" diatribe on alcohol filled with condemnation and accusation.  My further objection is that SI chose to post the second blog which is just bad form.  Profiting/using tragedy to push an agenda never smells right.

L Strickler's picture

Turn of the century pamphlets issued by Northern Baptists mention that alcohol and mechanization don't mix well.  Work place accidents were a problem.  Also there was no "safety net" for the families made destitute when dad regularly stopped off at the bar on payday and didn't leave before most of his money was gone.  Some books tie the growth of these problems to urbanization.  When you no longer live in the ancestral town, but are anonymous in the city, there are fewer people to call you to account for sinful excess.

L Strickler

Dan Miller's picture

"First, it’s not about recreation, but about mission."

Scripture teaches and encourages recreation in moderation and mission.

"Second, it’s not about what’s on the table, but who’s at the table."

Scripture teaches us concerning who to spend time with and teaches liberty concerning what is on the table.

 

"Third, it’s not about social liberties, but about needy people."

Liberty and love for other people are both taught in Scripture.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

It isn't right to hold certain Scriptural principles up against others. The pain that comes from the harm of sin seems to spur believers to turn to various forms of monk-ism. The flesh is corrupt and drinks to excess, leading to the ruin of life and lives. But the human tendency to 'deal' with it is to eliminate the option of any alcohol, even though it may deprive us of something God created for our enjoyment.

"Search their ways and principles to the bottom, and you will find that it had no other root but this mistake, namely, that attempting rigid mortification, they fell upon the natural man instead of the corrupt old man, -- upon the body wherein we live instead of the body of death."
- Owen, John (2010-08-15). The Mortification Of Sin (p. 12).  . Kindle Edition.

It might seem that loss of something like alcohol is a very small price to pay in exchange for the prospect of preventing the type of loss that the blogger painfully describes. And I would tend to agree. But it isn't what God has said. And as monk-ism it is a false attempt at mortification.

Michelle Shuman's picture

But the human tendency to 'deal' with it is to eliminate the option of any alcohol, even though it may deprive us of something God created for our enjoyment.

God created alcohol?  Where in scripture do you find this?  I'm inclined to think this is something God allowed man to invent - like He allowed man to come up with pepperoni, cheese, methods to abort babies, make telephones, and on and on the list goes.

I understand that God doesn't say specifically "Thou shalt not drink alcohol."  But he definitely commands against being under the control of alcohol. 

Three questions:

1.  Why are people so defensive of something that takes control over the body and mind to the point that individuals abuse others, don't provide for their families, and even kill others (intentionally or unintentionally)?

2.  How much is too much?  Where do you draw the line saying that alcohol is now in disobedience to God's commands?

3.  What does alcohol do for a person even in small amounts that makes it so important?  Why not just drink tea, juice, water, etc if its only about flavor and not about something more?

Michelle Shuman

Dan Miller's picture

1.  Why are people so defensive of something that takes control over the body and mind to the point that individuals abuse others, don't provide for their families, and even kill others (intentionally or unintentionally)?

Defensive? I hope I didn't seem so. In fact, I agree that the loss of alcohol would be a small price to pay for the reduction in risk to society. I'm just arguing that doing that is not Biblically commanded. Further, since it is monk-ism and false mortification it can be dangerous to the soul.

2.  How much is too much?  Where do you draw the line saying that alcohol is now in disobedience to God's commands?

 

Good, tough, necessary questions. 

3.  What does alcohol do for a person even in small amounts that makes it so important?  Why not just drink tea, juice, water, etc if its only about flavor and not about something more?

Sure, ok. Again, small price to pay, I suppose. But God through nature makes more delicious juice than Welch. 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I also received an email challenging my observation that Scripture calls alcohol a gift from God. I won't debate that here. Maybe it's better to warn both sides of that one that each might be biased and to be careful with the Scriptures.

My main point was to say that for most sins, there is a human method for restricting temptation. Some groups employ strict methods, erecting barriers and buffers between them and temptation. That I am calling monk-ism and I'm warning that it does nothing to kill the flesh. 

“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

-Col 2:21-23

Even if you disagree with me (as the emailler did) that alcohol is God's gift, be careful in your abstinence.

Michelle Shuman's picture

Dan:

There is so much I could say, but just a few things that I'll finish up with.

1.  You are being defensive when you start calling names - abstinence as "monkism."  Until I read your comments, I didn't know my soul was in danger because I don't drink alcohol. 

2.  No one has or ever will answer these questions legitimately because each person's body handles alcohol differently.  I think we really don't know when we reach the point of intoxication and quite often aren't really honest with ourselves about this.  It is more like every man doing what is right in his own eyes and we see where that got the children of Israel.

3.  I suppose then you drink spoiled milk.  After all, spoiled milk comes about the same way wine does - a product taken from nature and then allowed to sit until it becomes something other than what it was originally.  Of course, spoiled milk doesn't give the same "buzz" that I understand alcohol does.

Several years ago, I came off of a pain killer that I was on because of knee surgery with complications which had caused me to be on it longer than usual.  It was no fun.  On it, I didn't think I was addicted.  I really don't think I need to tempt myself with something else that is so easily addicting.  In addition, what kind of testimony would I be to those of my acquaintances who know what it means to be drunk and the damage it does to lives - especially those who have broken the addiction and now have nothing to do with it.  What kind of relationship and testimony would I have by throwing my "liberty" in their face and drinking even one drink.  The spiritual needs of these people is too great a cost for me to do my own thing - especially when there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that says "thou shalt drink alcohol or you're a sinner and putting your soul in danger."

 

 

 

Michelle Shuman

Jim's picture

Partial response to Michelle who said ...

After all, spoiled milk comes about the same way wine does - a product taken from nature and then allowed to sit until it becomes something other than what it was originally

 

Comment: There are a lot of products that employ fermentation as a process step: Bread, sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, some pickles, salami, pepperoni, worcestershire sauce, buttermilk, et cetera. Not trying to make the pro-wine argument but it is dangerous to use the "fermentation is bad" argument unless one is consistent and eschews all fermented products.

And if you've tried to make any of the above from scratch (eg bread or yogurt as we have), one can attest that some craft and science are involved.

Dan Miller's picture

1. I guess I understand how you took "monk-ism" as an insult. I didn't mean it like that. I'm sorry to have come across that way. 

I think of monk-ism as the method of avoiding sin by radical avoidance of temptation. Applied to the logical extreme, this is a monastery (at least in the very early days). But we also apply that type of thinking without going that far. 

That is why whenever we say that [something] is mandatory because it helps us avoid some sin, and that [something] is not forbidden in the Bible, I call that monk-ism.

 

2.  No one has or ever will answer these questions legitimately...

Yeah, like I said above, these are admittedly tough questions. But important ones. When Christians live in community and talk to one another, this is really not that difficult in real life.
 

3. Spoiled Milk? Yeah - When done well, I call it Greek yogurt. It's really yummy with honey.

Seriously, I did not mean to imply that abstinence was dangerous per se. But it can be attended by dangers. Keep your abstinence and watch for the dangers, if you understood them.

Michelle Shuman's picture

I think both of you know exactly what I was talking about, but in case there is some confusion - I was referring to milk that is allowed to sit and go bad on its own.  That stuff will make you sick!!! I was not talking about yogurt, cheese, etc where processes are used to manipulate the milk into something else that might include added bacteria, etc.  I love that stuff.  

As I said before, God doesn't come out and say that you can't ever touch alcohol.  Good thing since cold and flu season is upon us and we'd be in trouble without cough syrup.  I just believe that because of the addictive nature of the drink and the problem that it brings - all of which God directly commands against - the best use of my freedom and liberty is to choose to be freedom from any possible consequences by not partaking.  I personally know people who have been adversely affected by it and I certainly don't want to go there either in my life or by being a bad testimony and perhaps damaging the name of Christ.  Only eternity will tell what God really meant for us to do and we'll each give account of ourselves. 

Michelle Shuman

Jim's picture

Points of agreement:

 

  • Who said: "God doesn't come out and say that you can't ever touch alcohol". My response. I agree
  • Who said: "the best use of my freedom and liberty is to choose to be freedom from any possible consequences by not partaking". My response: I agree it is a liberty issue. I'm glad you have made this choice - it is a commendable one!
  • Who said: "the addictive nature of the drink and the problem that it brings - all of which God directly commands against". I agree that alcohol abuse is a major problem in and that drunkenness is sin. Here's an example from La Crosse Wisconsin: Oktoberfest in La Crosse: A party town tries to sober up (this is a really good read)
  • Who said: "I personally know people who have been adversely affected by it and I certainly don't want to go there either in my life or by being a bad testimony and perhaps damaging the name of Christ". Agree on all points. I can add to that: cocaine, marijuana, quaaludes etc (of course these are illegal)
  • Who said: "we'll each give account of ourselves". Agreed

Possible points of disagreement:

  • I would not forbid another to drink. My view: It's between them and the Lord. If another abused it and I were in a position to intervene, I would
  • I wouldn't use the fermentation is bad argument. Sounds like perhaps we agree on this
  • I don't believe that Christians who drink in moderation are necessarily a bad testimony. In fact they may be a good testimony by their moderation
Keith Robertsson's picture

First, up the thread the remark was made that total abstention as the default position for Believers is an uniquely American position.  Secondly, the question came up as to why.

 
I'll attempt to speak to these two concepts.  I can't be exhaustive but here's a start.
 
In my experience, yes, total abstention as a default position is uniquely Anglo-American position .  In other countries, the acceptable position ranges from moderation on a daily basis to only wine for the Lord's Supper commemoration.  In no country, that I know of, is drinking to even modest impairment considered acceptable. 

Now, as to why, for a long answer I suggest a viewing of Ken Burns' PBS series Prohibition.  In the series, you'll find total abstention and Prohibition came about from a variety of sources.  Two made the biggest impact.  One was the shift on the American frontier to distilled spirits among the working class.  So, Americans took to drink various brands of whiskey.  In other countries, beer and wine were/are the beverages of choice.  Distilled spirits are expensive enough to be drunk only on a special occasion.  The other source was the American saloon system.  Saloons were fairly unregulated by modern standards.  For the most part, there were no minimum age limits or mandatory closing hours.  In many places, saloons, became the 19th century of modern crack houses.  In other words. saloons were not anything like the modern bar or night club.

The following is definitely my opinion.  What gets lost in this discussion is the why question.  Why do people drink to moderate impairment and beyond?  Years ago, I sat in a alcohol abuse education class.  The teacher's basis was there's only a couple of atoms difference between the anesthetic ether and beverage alcohol.  His point was people who abuse alcohol are trying to escape reality by self anesthesia.  For some, the level is the minor numbing of Novocaine.  Others seek complete oblivion.

Charlie wrote:
SNIP

Considering that in the entire history of the Christian church, the only prohibitions against alcohol occurred in the English-speaking world in the modern era, and gained the most momentum in history in the United States, I would say that the prohibition rather than the liberty is conspicuously American. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Keith,

The abstinence argument routinely argues against straw men, as you have done. None of those arguing against total abstinence are arguing in favor of "moderate impairment." It's a straw man. This is not an either/or discussion. One swallow does not moderately impair, so there has to be some middle ground between total abstinence and impairment (which everyone agrees would fall under the biblical prohibition of drunkeness).

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Keith Robertsson's picture

You misunderstood my post.

I wasn't arguing for total abstention (TA).  I was arguing for TA being uniquely American.  I was trying to give reasons for why it is so.  Under other circumstances, I would say there's nothing wrong with

  • a half cup of zinfandel with a spaghetti (pasta) dinner or steak or roast beef. 
  • a bottle (preferably Guinness stout) or pint (preferably half Guinness stout and half ale) of beer.

But, this world is at it is.

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Sorry Keith. Your last paragraph particularly made it seem like you  were providing  an either/or scenario.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Rob Fall's picture

Sorry for the fat finger.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Keith Robertsson's picture

Sorry about that,  That's what I get for trying to reduce a one hour class from thirty years ago into one paragraph.  What I was trying to say is: it takes somne deliberate thought not to self medicate.

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

Sorry Keith. Your last paragraph particularly made it seem like you  were providing  an either/or scenario.