Not A Drop to Drink

Bryan Matthew Dockens

Drunkenness, though widely practiced among the worldly, is recognized by students of scripture for the immorality it is (Romans 13:11-14; Galatians 5:19-21; 1st Peter 4:1-3). Many take this to mean only that drinking to excess is forbidden, but drinking in moderation is tolerable. Careful consideration reveals otherwise. Paul advised Timothy: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities” (1st Timothy 5:23). Consumption of alcohol is permitted in limited quantity only for remedial medicinal effect. Otherwise, “drink only water”. Timothy abstained from wine entirely until his chronic ailments prompted the apostle to authorize an exemption. By the exception, the rule is proven. Solomon warned: “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31-32). How may one rightly imbibe, even a little, when inspiration plainly says not to look at the stuff? What begins as admiration for a fine vintage ends in self-inflicted harm. The “Slippery Slope” is a legitimate concern, so stop before you start! If it be so that some drinking is permitted while complete intoxication is all that’s prohibited, then one must determine the threshold at which he crosses from moderation to excess. Experimentation is the only way to accomplish that. Through the experimentation process, one would actually experience drunkenness before he could know how much is too much! Sinning is not a good way to learn how not to sin. Moreover, excess cannot be established with precision. There’s falling-down drunk and there’s blurred-vision drunk, passed-out drunk and slightly-uncoordinated drunk, and slurred-speech drunk, but it’s all drunk. Even a little drunk, kind of buzzed, tipsy, call it what you will, is still drunk – and drunkenness is sin. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). Do not subject yourself to the mockery of wine and strong drink.