WHY I AM AGAINST LIQUOR
by Jerry Falwell
The most serious drug problem in America is not marijuana, LSD or some other drug. Alcohol, the most serious drug problem in America, has caused more physical, mental and psychological damage to more people, of all ages than all of the hallucinogenic drugs put together.
Most Americans feel liquor is acceptable in some forms, but I disagree. The following reasons tell us why drunkenness is wrong.
- God rejects drunkenness because it degrades human dignity.
The Bible teaches, “Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Intoxicating wine is contrasted with the filling of the Spirit. The author warns against the spirits of the bottle which intoxicate man and affect his walk, talk, and outlook on life. A drunken person has difficulty walking, slurs his speech and has limited eyesight. The author teaches that a person should not be controlled with liquor but should be controlled by the Spirit of God.
God warns, “Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:31-32). The Bible likens alcohol that makes one drunk to poison. “Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps” (Deuteronomy 32:33). Because of its danger, God gives the warning, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink; that putteth thy bottle to him” (Habbakuk 2:15). One commentary translates this word “bottle” to mean “an inflammatory poison.”
Again the Bible warns against drunkenness when it commands, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:13). Drunkenness was common in Rome, and Paul wisely exhorts Christians to avoid it.
Paul says drunkenness is a characteristic of the unsaved. Any person who drinks liquor should examine his soul, “Nor drunkards shall inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10). Here drunkards are classed with fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, thieves, covetousness, etc. Those who commit such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. This does not mean those who got drunk before salvation cannot be saved; nor does it mean those who slip and fall into drink after salvation will not go to heaven. God has such hatred towards drunkenness that it is a characteristic of the unsaved.
- Drunkenness destroys the body.
The Bible teaches that God made our bodies and He dwells in us (I Corinthians 6:19). Therefore, we sin against God when we harm our body with alcohol.
1) Alcohol can kill brain cells, depress brain centers and impair the learning process.
2) Alcohol destroys liver cells causing cirrhosis of the liver.3) Alcohol moves directly into the central nervous system impairing sight and hearing.
4) Alcohol irritates the stomach lining. Prolonged use can lead to ulcers.
According to the Nebraska Council on Alcohol Education, Inc., when a pregnant woman gets drunk, so does the child within her. “If she is an alcoholic, her newborn baby will suffer withdrawal pains. It is a fact that 52 percent of today’s alcoholics had alcoholic parents.”
- Drunkenness destroys the morals and integrity of our nation.
Anything that destroys our nation’s righteousness is sin and alcohol is an evil that has done much to erode our Christian heritage. Drunkenness leads to lawlessness and disrespect for our national goals.
Two out of every three Americans drink. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people become alcoholics every year. There are nine million American alcoholics. These are not winos on slum row; 95 percent of them are in homes, businesses or educational communities. There are an estimated 450,000 alcoholics between the ages of ten and 19.
Public drunkenness accounts for one-third of all the arrests each year, one-half of the murders and one-third of the suicides. Six out of every ten highway deaths are attributed to alcohol. One out of every two ninth grade students gets drunk at least once a year.
If we continue on our present course, more of our young will become alcoholics and more of our tax money will be spent on correcting the problems caused by alcohol. Our nation will lose its Christian influence.
- Drunkenness is contrary to the example set by Christ.
Christians are to follow the example of Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21). He never gave himself to drunkenness. The Bible tells us He did not sin (II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15). He always did the will of God. Therefore, we can say that Christ would not disobey the command of Proverbs, “Look not on the wine . . . ” (Proverbs 23:31).
- Drunkenness destroys self-control.
The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22,23). The word temperance has been associated with the anti-alcohol movement. Temperance means self-control. If a Christian is Christ-controlled, he will be self-controlled.
In I Corinthians 9:25, Paul commands that we be “temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” Temperate means a man has mastery over his passions.
The qualifications of a pastor in I Timothy 3:2,3 include: “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine.” The language is imperative, he must not be given to wine if he associates with the ministry.The New Testament uses the word sober on several occasions, but it did not mean “without alcohol,” as the word means today. The pastor must be sober (II Timothy 3:2). He was to be watchful, careful and controlled in his life. A Bible dictionary defines sober, “Of sound mind and good understanding, sound and intellect, discreet, prudent or wise.” Note that the deacons’ wives must be sober, I Timothy 3:11. Later Paul tells Christians to “be sober” (I Peter 1:13, 4:7). Because sober was a desirable quality, the word came to mean one who was not drunk.
- Drunkenness opens the door to other sins.
Alcohol is an anesthetic. It kills pain by producing a state of tranquilization. Drunkenness releases a person’s inhibitions and destroys his self-control. Hence, the drunken person, because his self-discipline is gone, will commit acts that he would never consider doing otherwise. The drunken person will commit sins that would embarrass him if he were sober. Drunkenness is not only a sin for what it is, but for what it allows us to do.
TWO KINDS OF WINE
The Bible implies there are two kinds of wine.
First, wine is described as a poison that will result in misery.
This is called the wine of violence (Proverbs 23:29,30),
strong drink (Habakkuk 2:5),
venomous poison (Proverbs 23:31; Deuteronomy 33:33),
sick with wine (Hosea 7:5),
wine of astonishment (Psalm 60:3),
full of mixture (Psalm 75:8),
the cup of trembling (Isaiah 51:17),
wine cup of fury (Jeremiah 25:15),
and wine of the fiercest of his wrath (Revelation 14:19).
Second, wine is described as a good drink and the consequences of its use are desirable.
It is called the best of the wine (Numbers 18:12),
wine for a sweet savour (Nehemiah 10:37),
new wine (Nehemiah 10:39),
the promise of prosperity in the land (Genesis 27:28, Deuteronomy 11:14),
cheereth God and man (Judges 9:13),
and finally, “maketh glad the heart of man” (Psalm 104:14,15).
After studying the Old Testament you will come to the conclusion that wine is both good and bad. This distinction is more than how much a person drinks. Some people think he is alright if he drinks a little and sinful if he gets intoxicated. A careful study seems to show that there are two kinds of wines in the Old Testament.
There are two words for wine (Yayin and Tirosh). The careless reader would assume that one word stands for good wine and the other for intoxicating wine. But this is not the case. The words are used interchangeably. But the fact that there are two words, imply that there is a difference (i.e., some wine is acceptable, some to be rejected).We should reject wine because
1) It brings violence and misery (Proverbs 23:29).
2) We should reject wine because it turns a man away from God (Isaiah 28:7).
3) We should reject wine because it destroys life (Proverbs 23:31; Deuteronomy 32:33; Hosea 7:5).
4) The fourth reason for rejecting wine is that its use leads to condemnation (Isaiah 5:22; I Corinthians 11:10),
5) We should reject wine because it leads to eternal ruin (Isaiah 51:17,22; Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 14:19).
On the other hand the Bible teaches the benefits of wine.
1) It was used as an offering to God (Numbers 18:12; Nehemiah 10:37; Leviticus 2:11).
2) Leaven was forbidden with all sacrifices (Exodus 23:18; 34:25). Since leaven was used to make wine intoxicating, we can only assume that intoxicating wine would never be used in offering to God.
3) A good result of wine, is that it quenches the thirst.
4) This applies the necessary refreshment to life (Genesis 27:28; 37; Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14; Proverbs 3:10).
5) And finally, wine was a symbol of spiritual blessing and a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 54:15; Judges 9:13; Proverbs 9:2; Song of Solomon 5:1; Ephesians 5:17).
DID CHRIST CONDONE WINE?
Many of today’s youth do not recognize the word teetotaler. It has been so long since prohibition and drinking is so prevalent, the word has lost its meaning. Recently I was in a restaurant and when the waitress ask if I wanted a drink, I said, “No . . . I’m a teetotaler.” She was so shocked, she thought I was against iced tea. The word goes back to England, when men of conviction drank tea only. They would not touch ale, the national drink, much less the hard stuff,
But today drinking is an epidemic. And the worst slander of all is when Christians use Jesus’ example to justify their drinking. Those who justify social drinking point to three incidences in the life of Jesus for proof for their position.
1) First, it is pointed out that Jesus served wine to His disciples at the Last Supper. They argue, “Even if Jesus served slightly intoxicating wine, it opens the door for social drinking today.” However, the opposite is true. There are these arguments against this position. First, the wine at the Last Supper could not have been intoxicating because if a Jew ate leaven before the Passover, he could not participate (Exodus 23:18; Leviticus 6:17, 7:12, 10:12). The leavening quality that fermented wine would have excommunicated a Jew from the Passover. Jesus, having never broken the ceremonial law, could have not participated in anything identified with the intoxicated wine immediately prior to the Passover.
2) Second, Jesus Christ who is God is the co-author of the Old Testament, therefore He would not contradict Himself when He said, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink” (Habakkuk 2:15).
3) Third, the argument of silence. The drink at the Lord’s Supper is never called wine. It is referred to as “the cup” of “the fruit of the wine.” God knows all things and kept the Holy Spirit from using the word wine because it would have complicated the picture today. We can build a strong argument for teetotalism.
A second argument by social drinkers is that Jesus created wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. But let’s get the whole picture. This first miracle in the New Testament was an act of creation to bring joy to the wedding guests, just as His first miracle in the Old Testament was an act of creation bringing joy to all those involved (Colossians 1:17).
Nature’s process to make wine (sweet) is by bringing water from the clouds into the earth, up through the vine into the grape, finally to be crushed into a juice. Jesus followed this process at the wedding although he speeded up the process into an instantaneous act. Making intoxicating wine involves allowing the grape to rot and adding man’s creative elements to produce alcohol. Intoxication was not the process of God, it was man’s addition.
God said, “Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright” (Proverbs 23:31). As God, Jesus could not have contradicted the command of Proverbs.
Finally, many of the commentators look at the verse, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). They see this to mean that fermented wine was brought in first while fresh crushed wine was brought in last. This was sweet grape juice, the kind that gave joy from the Lord.
The third attack is against Jesus’ abstinence. Some point to the verse that John the Baptist was a teetotaler but Jesus was a “winebibber.” They imply John could take not strong drink whatsoever, but a social cocktail must be alright since Jesus took a little of the strong drink. First, we have no record of Jesus ever tasting wine, not even sweet wine; although, He probably enjoyed good wine.
And second, the verse does not state Jesus was a “winebibber . The verse repeats a claim that by His enemies that Jesus drank. That claim is no more true than the claim that Jesus had a devil (John 8:48). Read the verse carefully, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber” (Matthew 11:19). In the context, Jesus is compared to John the Baptist who was a Nazarite. His vow prohibited even sweet wine.
The social drinkers argue that wine makes people happy, it makes people laugh and do silly things because it loosens their inhibitions. “Wine is fun,” said a teenager. The Bible never promises fun, but peace and joy. The Bible never teaches that happiness is the result of an artificial stimulant such as alcohol. True happiness comes from enjoying the provisions of God, such as, the beauty of nature, doing God’s will or partaking of the fruit He has provided, i.e. the fruit of the vine, the crushed grape.