"The effects of alcohol on your heart can be immediate, triggering an irregular rhythm called atrial fibrillation or AFib, according to new state-of-the-art research." - CNN
"In this cohort study of 19887 participants from the Health and Retirement Study, with a mean follow-up of 9.1 years, when compared with never drinking, low to moderate drinking was associated with significantly better trajectories of higher cognition scores for mental status, word recall, and vocabulary and with lower rates of decline in each of these cognition domains." - JAMA
The study analysed 599,912 current drinkers in 19 countries, none of whom had a known history of cardiovascular disease, and found an increase in all causes of death when more than 100g of alcohol was consumed every week.
In my view, the Bible is just ambiguous enough on the topic of beverage alcohol to put the question in the category of matters of conscience. But matters of conscience are not matters to “leave alone;” they’re not excluded from the call to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).
These issues call for respectful challenging of one another’s assumptions — and for pondering the path of our feet (Prov. 4:26).
So, I offer here a few thoughts, mainly with two groups of people in mind: those who are trying to decide what sort of stand they ought to make in their own lives, and those who are looking for ways to communicate a no-drinking position to others they care about.
I’m aware that most of the moderate-consumption advocates I know won’t find this at all persuasive, so in that sense, it’s not an entry in “the debate.” But in another sense, it is: some of the undecided and open minded may find something here that bears fruit later on.
A strong wisdom case begins by pointing out a few facts and dismissing some distractions. For brevity’s sake here, just the facts.
Today I am going to take a stab at applying convictions and preferences to the subject of drinking. Let’s begin with convictions.
A conviction is a belief or value we embrace as a crucial part of what we stand for and who we are. It is very different from a preference—or merely assenting to a belief or value.
For the believer, there are two levels of conviction. The first level—the deepest level—involves biblical conviction, although some deep convictions may extend beyond the Bible (e.g., a soldier surrendering his life for our country’s freedom). Our biblical convictions should be first and foremost. Where the Bible is emphatic, we must be clear and take a firm stand. This does not mean we must demand others to take that stand, but we certainly must urge fellow believers to follow what the Word actually says. This is not necessarily what we think it says, but what it actually says.
The difference between a biblical conviction and a preference is that we would suffer loss rather than disavow our biblical convictions. It may mean we lose a job, flunk a class, or be ostracized. In some nations, it means imprisonment or even death.