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THE SOBERING TRUTH ABOUT INTOXICATING DRINK

Comedian Milton Berle told about a man who read about the evils connected with drinking. His response — he gave up reading. Some people tend to treat the Bible that way. Though it may make us uncomfortable, the Bible still brings a strong and vigorous warning about the dangers connected with drinking.  A sobering passage on what we know as booze is Proverbs 23:29-35 where Solomon was seeking to warn his son (23:15, 19, 26) about the dangers connected with intoxicating drink. How long has it been since you read that passage? In verse 29 Solomon asks six straightforward questions: "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?" Verse 30 gives the expected answer: "Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine." The largely unaccepted part of Solomon's inspired advice about drinking comes in verse 31: "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." Our culture's answer to the dangers and destruction and death cause by alcoholic beverages is, "Drink responsibly" and "Don't drink and drive" and "don't drink if you're under 21 years old." But the Bible's message, at least in this instance, is, "Don't drink." Don't even get started. Why? Because alcohol is deceptive. What looks so good when it is "red" and "sparkles in the cup" and "swirls around smoothly" is not so good when it leaves the cup and enters human stomachs and livers and blood vessels and brains. In the end it bites and stings, and the effects it leaves behind are as toxic, painful and deadly as a serpent's venom.

Solomon's warning is not an easy sell these days. Many in our culture seem to be in denial of the deadly and destructive nature of alcohol. In a Newsweek article about drinking entitled "The Drug That Pretends It Isn't" (Newsweek, April 10, 2000, p 88), Anna Quindlen put her finger squarely on the alarm and the popular appeal of intoxicating drinks. She wrote, "Car accidents, date rapes, domestic violence — and it goes so well with Chinese food and pizza!" She insists we should own up to the fact that alcohol is "a mind-altering, mood-altering drug, and that lots of people should never start to drink at all." A fair question for Christians who argue for social drinking is this: could you hold a Bud Lite or a martini or a glass of brandy in one hand, a Bible in the other, and expect your 15 year old child or grandchild to take you seriously as you read Solomon's sobering warning about intoxicating drink in Proverbs 23:29-35?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ