Friday, July 26, 2013

Drink, Don't Drink, It's a Choice (aka it's 3 am, do you know where your free will is?)

And then I stayed up until an ungodly hour writing a post.

Susanne linked to this article on her Facebook and I made the mistake of following it to read it.

Go read it, I'll wait.


As you see, the article is simply a list of reasons why the author does not drink.

Good for her. There's no law that says that everyone has to drink. I know plenty of people who simply don't like alcohol (the taste) or are allergic to certain kinds (my grandmother is allergic to...I'm going to say tequila, but I could be wrong) or don't like certain kinds of alcohol (me - wine and champagne taste like rotten fruit, I don't care what you say and the only good beer is a German beer).

I know people who don't drink because they don't like what it does to them or what they've seen it do to others.

I know people who don't drink because they believe that God has commanded them not to.

There's nothing wrong with any of this.

I just wanted to clear that out of the way first. I am not advocating or demanding that everyone drink *now* because of Reasons.

So why are you writing this post, Amber?

*points* That's you guys, right there. Because I know you're asking that question.

Because while I respect her choice not to drink (for whatever reason) I feel like her stated reasons are not the hard hitting 'facts' that she seems to think that they are. And I feel as if, in spite of what she says, she does not respect the decisions of other Christians to drink.

If what she lists as her first reason is true (for her) then she *can't* respect their decision. I'll get there in a minute.

The second half of this post will (maybe) be more about some of the comments on that original post. We'll see. I've been rage composing responses to those comments for a while (in my head) so we might not get there if I can't get my emotional response under control. *thinks calm thoughts*

Right. Here we go.

"* The Bible says not to be drunk, and the line between having a drink and having too many drinks is just too fuzzy. Drunkenness, or being controlled by alcohol (even for a short time), is something that Christ died to set us free from. To me, drinking after He did that would be like being released from jail and choosing to frequent the jail parking lot."

The Bible *does* say not to be drunk. It says it a couple of times. It condemns *drunkenness*, not *alcohol*. There's a distinction there. And the line is not all that fuzzy. One drink does not make the average person *drunk*. One drink does not remove the self control of the average person. 'Too many drinks' is the point where your self control goes out the window. Where you can't walk straight. Where you can't stand up if you lean down. Where you say and do things that you are ashamed of when sober. 

Christ came to free us of sin (I'm not fond of the phrasing here because Christians continue to sin - Christ hasn't freed us from sin, He's established a path to lead us *away* from sin and offered us forgiveness for when we stumble). *Alcohol* and the moderate, controlled ingestion thereof is not a sin. The sin is in the *excess* that results in drunkenness. It *is* destructive to our bodies (the temples of the Holy Spirit), it *is* destructive to our souls (excessive drinking leads to a break down of the higher functions in our minds, the parts of us that control common sense, motor control, brain to mouth filter). *Drunkenness*, not *alcohol*.

Let's go with an easy parallel. 

Gluttony is a sin, I believe we can all agree on that, yes?

One cookie does not constitute gluttony. Eating *all* the cookies does constitute gluttony.

One drink does not constitute drunkenness. Drinking all the time, or in binges, does.

The Bible is massive. Even in the smaller part, the New Testament, there is plenty of room for a condemnation of drinking in and of itself. It doesn't exist. Christ drank. Christ was accused of being a drunkard. His first public miracle was turning water into wine for the wedding in Cana.

If drinking is a sin then Christ Himself sinned. And encouraged and enabled others to sin.

"*I don’t want to contribute financially to an industry that capitalizes on the pain, neediness, and addiction of anyone. I know too many people whose lives have either been ruined or forever altered by alcohol. Though many people are able to drink without becoming addicted, I wonder how many people, without realizing it, have come to depend on alcohol as a social crutch, trading in Christ-centered or even people-centered relationships that might have been for ones that revolve around the consumption of a substance."

Okay. I'm assuming that the author grows her own food, makes her own clothing from scratch, doesn't own a vehicle or use public transportation and-

Basically she must be Amish.

We can do our best not to support companies in any industry that mistreat their workers or have ties to questionable countries/groups/philosophies. But it's impossible to check every part of every product for moral perfection. 

She should probably stop tithing to her church, because one never knows what that money is *really* being used for. Don't missionaries capitalize on the pain and need of the people they proselytize to? Seems shady to me.

And I don't know how many people she thinks use alcohol as a social crutch. I've yet to see any pair or group of people anywhere who have nothing to talk about except for their drinks.

"* Alcohol dulls sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Alcohol creates spiritual static, making it hard for me to discern what God might be saying to me, and I never know what He’s going to say or when. Missing a divine appointment because I chose to drink, for me, would be like letting someone drown because I’m busy watching TV."

I'm going to need some sort of a reference for this one. Since the author, by her own admission, has never taken a drink I don't know how she's reached the conclusion that alcohol blocks the Holy Spirit. All I can do is cite Jesus and the Apostles, who all drank and didn't seem to have any 'static' from it.

I could also talk about all of the religious traditions in which mind altering substances are used as a way to open oneself up to the universe/gods/God and make it *easier* to touch the will of the Divine, but I suspect that those would be shunted to the side as paganism.

"* I don’t want to exclude anyone or hinder relationships. People who do drink often exclude those who don’t drink when they gather socially. I like peanut butter, but I don’t let it keep me from spending time with friends who have peanut allergies. I simply don’t eat peanut butter when I’m around them. The effects of drinking often carry over into the next day, causing others to feel as if they are less important than the drinking experience to the one who chooses to drink."

My social circles include people who drink and people who don't drink. Never have we excluded one group or the other from an activity or get together based on their alcohol related opinions. If we're getting together at a restaurant, those who drink will have a drink. Those who don't, won't. No one gets excluded. At home based parties or get togethers, there is always a *variety* of beverages to be chosen from. I have a friend who is allergic to tree nuts. I don't not serve items that have tree nuts in them, I just make sure she knows which dish she shouldn't eat and have a substitute for her. (I also struggle to remember that she is *not* allergic to peanuts, which just seems odd to me. But then again, she's my friend, so what do you expect?) 

I have friends who are vegetarian. I don't not serve meat when there's a group of people over, I just make sure that there are vegetarian options! 

No one is excluded! It's like magic!

If I had local Muslim friends I wouldn't serve them pork! But I'd serve non-Muslims pork! It's not rocket science!

re: the hangover bit. I will admit that I've never been hung over. My alcohol tolerance's pretty high. I have been 'can't walk a straight line, or even stand up totally straight, there was some slight listing to one side but I swear the floor was tilted, hugging everyone in the restaurant, kneel down to pick something up and can't get my legs to work' drunk. And I've woken up the next day just fine. So all I know from hangovers is from the outside. They don't look like a hell of a lot of fun. They have yet to make me feel like I am less valued than the alcohol that was consumed the night before. They do incite lectures on why we don't drink to excess, but that's mostly because I'm me and I have a captive audience at that point.

"* I don’t want to point others, particularly my children, toward anything that could potentially become a problem for or hurt them."

Excellent. I assume that the author is raising her children in a hermetically sealed environment.

But on a serious note: I'm by no means saying encourage your children to drink and smoke and have wild sex parties but if all you do is say 'NO. This is *bad*.' and don't give your children any exposure to something then they won't develop coping mechanisms for it. They won't know how to deal. There is also the chance that by making alcohol something forbidden (and I admit to making an assumption here) and not allowing discussion of it and it's good and bad points, that you are fomenting a rebellion involving secrecy which can lend itself more easily to addiction - the very thing you were trying to avoid.

"* If I chose to drink, it would be for me, to fulfill my own desires and purposes, which is where every sin issue I’ve ever had has started. I just don’t want to go there."

I personally see nothing wrong with doing something, within reason, because I desire it or it serves my purposes. Assuming that there is nothing intrinsically evil (or illegal) about it, of course. But the author doesn't want to drink because, I'm thinking, it doesn't serve or elevate Christ or Christianity in her mind. Okay.

"* If I broke off a piece of the Loritab, Darvacet, Percacet, or Vicadin in my cabinet every time I felt the need to relax, people would say I had a problem. I struggle to see how that is any different than pouring a glass of whatever when I feel the need to chill."

The key here is what is moderation and what is excess. What is necessity and what is indulgence. I have a coworker who has been on a steady prescription of anti-depressents and anti-anxiety medicines for four years. She takes these daily because she and her physician have decided that this is what she needs to be a functioning version of herself. Is she sinning by taking these drugs to save her life?

There are three bottles of vodka in my freezer. Every so often I have a little bit of one of them after a very long and stressful day. I have a drink, I don't *drink to the point of insensibility*.

"* I just don’t need it. As a Christian, every freedom is mine in Christ. In fact, the spiritual yard that the Father has given me to play in is way too huge for me to worry about whether or not to set foot in the 10X10 plot of freedom that is social drinking."

 Okay. *shrug* Again, not saying that you have to drink. This is, in my opinion, the best reason listed for not drinking. She doesn't want to. Excellent. Others do sometimes what to have a drink. This is also good.

"* I want to be set apart. The Bible doesn’t say that no one can ever drink, but God does tell several individuals whom He sets apart for higher tasks not to consume alcohol. There has to be a reason for that. On some level, He must value abstinence from alcohol, and, hey, if God is taking volunteers for higher tasks, sign me up!"

God tells different people a lot of different things in the Bible. 

Moses *saw* God, or got as close as any human being ever did to seeing God. There was, as far as I can recall at 3 am, never any instruction for Moses to not drink. 

Jesus *is* God, and He drank.

This last reason smacks, to me (but again it's early/late so...ymmv) of wanting to be 'special'. I've been there. It's a little slice of Holier Than Thou

"So, there it is. Do with it what you will, friends, but I felt I had to share. Let me say again that I do not think less of those who drink. It does make me sad, however, when I scroll through my Facebook and Twitter feeds and see that so many young Christians I know are constantly posting pictures of their alcoholic drinks and dropping the names of imported beers and mixed drinks they’ve consumed. What are they trying to prove? If they really believe drinking isn’t an issue, then why the show and tell?"

 Perhaps they post these pictures because they believe it isn't an issue. I know that I've posted pictures of cocktails occasionally. Not because I'm showcasing my 'sin', but because they were pretty or unusual. There is an artistry to bartending which, since then author has never had a drink she has likely never been close enough to appreciate.

And....nope. Still not un-ragey enough to deal with the comments.

Except to say this: There are at least two claims that alcohol is a cause of rape, incest and abuse.

No. The *cause* of rape (and I'm including incest under rape since I'm assuming that the commentators aren't imagining scenarios where a couple of family members get consensually, mutually drunk and then have sex) is rapists.

Are those rapists sometimes drunk? Yes.

Are their victims sometimes drunk? Yes.

Correlation does not equal causation.

A rapist rapes because they choose to do so.

An abuser abuses because they choose to do so.

I grew up with an abusive step-father. He drank, he took drugs. Neither of those things made him abusive. He was abusive because he took joy in the power he had to control us.

He feels slighted and unappreciated by the world around him and he turned that into pain and rage against women and children who had no defense and nowhere to go.

He was abusive because there is something fundamentally wrong inside of him. In his soul, in his brain chemistry, in his wiring. Whatever you choose. The alcohol did not make him abuse us, it did not take away his choice or his will.

Saying that the alcohol causes this behavior is one of two things, both of them insulting. You're either blaming the victim for being victimised or you're excusing the perpetrator by saying that the alcohol totally changed him, that he was a puppet to the will of the inanimate drink.


  1. This was long, but well worth the read. (I didn't read the article. "Ain't nobody got time for dat!")

    I've seen people use alcohol as a social crutch the way Raj does in Big Bang Theory. In that they don't like who they are sober, they assume others won't either, and therefore get drunk in order to socialize. There are people who have problems coming up with something to do with their friends that doesn't involve alcohol.

    I found a scripture that could be interpreted to mean that alcohol blocks the Spirit (KJV)
    Prov 20:1 "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
    I'm sure there are others, but I think it falls under the concept that one loses control and awareness when drinking to excess.

    I don't know where she got the idea that people who drink exclude people who don't. To my understanding, everyone loves a DD. That whole quote of hers makes it sound like she's insecure and needs a new group of friends. I'm surprised she didn't go on about being able to remember what happened the next day. (It's one of my pet peeves when people give that as a reason for not drinking, as though having a drink or two erases every bit of memory from the night before.)

    Thanks for giving me enough highlights to make me realize I shouldn't bother reading what you did. I tend to get judgemental about people who judge others without recognizing that's what they're doing. And that's not acting like Jesus at all.

    1. I don't post anything in *forever* and then I post a novel. It is my way.

      Ah...I didn't think about people in the Raj sense of a crutch. I see what you're saying, yes, maybe that's what she meant. Which is unfortunate, in those cases, really. But they need more assistance than just, 'Don't drink.'

      Proverbs 20:1 - I don't know that I would read that as an indication that alcohol blocks the Spirit. It seems (to me) to be talking more about the behavior of people who drink. Which is what you say, but I'm missing the obvious tie to blocking of the Spirit. After all, there's an emptying of self that is indicated for being filled with the Spirit and mood altering substances can be good for that.

      Not that I'm advocating alcohol as a path to holiness. :)

      Funnily, one translation renders Proverbs 20:1 as 'Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler' in which case I'm safe, since I hate both of those drinks. Bring on the hard liquor! ;)

      I got that feeling too, about her friends. But I didn't want to come off like I was attacking the author, since I don't know, you know?

  2. Good points. I did sort of get the impression that although she says she's fine with other people drinking, she thinks they shouldn't. There was a comment somewhere in there about how by writing this maybe she'd be able to be a witness for others or something like that. Seemed to be more of an "I'm not judging you, just your sin" sort of vibe there. And like you, I felt that a lot of her arguments come from a misunderstanding of what alcohol actually does and how people think and act while drinking. I know my mom has no idea what alcohol is actually like. When my sister started college my mom sort of cornered me while the three of us were having lunch together and wanted me to tell my sister how alcohol makes you say and do things you don't want to do. And I just froze because I couldn't honestly say that. It doesn't. But I didn't want to make her mad or sound like I was encouraging my sister to drink, either.

    I wonder if maybe she thinks people who drink exclude those who don't because her friends in particular are tired of her "totally not judging you but I don't drink because I'm a Christian and don't need a crutch" attitude. But that's just speculation and it's equally possible that the drinkers she knows are jerks. Or that everyone involved is very nice and respectful and they just don't want to offend her with the drinking so they're being overly cautious. Lots of possible explanations, and I've never been with a group that excluded people who don't drink.

    By "social crutch" I didn't think she meant that they talk about drinking but rather that drinking helps them to be social. Take me for example. You certainly couldn't call it a crutch in my case, because I don't drink often at all and I socialize plenty without it. But when I have had a drink or two and get a bit of a buzz, a lot of my awkwardness goes away and I can speak more easily. I don't get hung up on everything else going on and I forget to be shy. I can see how to some people (especially those who don't drink, like my mom and the person who wrote this) it might look like a crutch, but for me it's not much different from having a cup of coffee or an aspirin.

    In my experience, hangovers have little to do with how drunk someone was the night before. My nurse friends tell me a hangover is just severe dehydration and the best thing to do for it is drink lots of water. That makes sense to me because on nights when I was really drunk but kept drinking water and had a good time, I was fine the next day. The two times I went to a bar with friends despite how bad I was feeling and wound up crying all night, I had terrible headaches the next day even though I hadn't been drunk at all. That is not really related to the overall theme of this post, just an observation.


      how alcohol makes you say and do things you don't want to do.

      This. Look, I fall into the in vino veritas camp. Alcohol doesn't possess you and make you do things you don't want to do. In *excess* it removes your higher judgment and your concern for social laws and lets you do the things that you really want to do.

      Hey, if she's one of those constantly harping on other peoples' behavior that she doesn't like, then I can totally see her drinking friends not inviting her because they just don't want to ruin their get together with her lecture.

      Hmmm...I'm generally a very physically reserved person. On top of being more likely to sit back and listen to everyone else. A little alcohol and I do feel more comfortable randomly hugging people. :) I'm a tipsy hugger!

      Huh. Maybe that's the key. I'm like a freaking camel of water. I don't drink like that anymore, so I can't say I'll test it but I don't remember drinking more or less water having an affect on my feeling the next day. I am a freak of nature! :D

  3. I'm glad you posted your thoughts on the article. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for staying up so late to write it. :)


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