Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 23 – Why I Don’t Drink

“Buy the truth and do not sell it;

get wisdom, discipline and understanding.”

Proverbs 23:23

I have never had a sip of alcohol in my entire life.

There.

I said it.

Call me a straight edge, brown-noser, goodie two shoes, or whatever other cheese ball line you want to come up with, but it’s true.  If I showed up to a party in High School growing up I was looked at like an undercover ATF agent because everyone thought something had to be up.  I honestly was just there to hang out, but I had this sense I made everyone else uncomfortable as their underaged hands held their red plastic cups filled with warm beer.

I really wasn’t there to bust anyone, but I also wasn’t going to be swayed in my stance by anyone either.  The line I’ve used since I can remember when someone offered me a drink is “I’ve been offered drinks by girls way cuter than you so why do you think you are going to be the one to break me?”

It usually gets a laugh and eases the tension.

However, the reason I don’t drink may be a surprise to you because it’s NOT rooted in a spiritual conviction.  When I read the Bible I don’t see a judgmental stance on drinking that condemns you to hell if you do.  For heaven’s sake Jesus’ first miracle was to turn a bunch of water into wine at a party, so clearly God isn’t looking down on an open bar at a wedding.

Beyond the fact that I have an addictive personality and alcohol would be a bad combination with that personality type there also is something else.

Here’s why I don’t drink.

When I was around 11 or 12 years old I had a close friend named Heidi.  Heidi and I were very close and she had an older brother Jon and older sister Jenny who I looked up to.  I didn’t spend tons of time with them or go hangout a bunch because they were older than me, but I vividly remember admiring them.  They came from a great family with awesome parents.  John and Jenny were great athletes, good looking, popular, kind, and polite.  A lethal combination of awesomeness if you ask me.

One of the most vivid memories I have of them is watching them cheer Heidi on at her softball games at Timberline Little League fields.  They loved each other and their sister dearly.  To watch them light up when they saw Heidi was something memorable.

Sometime during the late Spring of my 6th grade year, Jon and Jenny went to a concert in North Dakota.  When they were driving home a drunk driver crossed the line and hit them head on killing them both.  It was one of the most painful things I have ever been close to; not just because of how it affected me, but how it affected Heidi and her family.  I remember sitting in the pews at the funeral just feeling this heaviness, sickness, and pain that didn’t make sense.  Even going back to school seemed wrong as we played on the playground.  I remember Heidi retelling how crushed her parents were when the police came to the door and told the family about the accident.

The reason it didn’t make sense was because this haunting question lingered in my mind.  “Would Jenny and Jon still be alive if that guy decided not to drink?”  It was in that moment that I decided that I would never be the reason that someone had to open a door to an officer telling them their son or daughter was dead because of me drinking.

After that moment, not drinking was easy.  In fact you could say that moment sobered up my soul before it ever had the chance to get drunk.

Again, I’m not passing judgment on anyone that drinks. I realize that the person who made the choice to drink and drive killed Jon and Jenny, not alcohol.  I hang out with plenty of people I love and care about that handle drinking in a Godly and mature manner.  Some even drink with me around and don’t look at me like a monster with 9 heads. :)

However, I do know people that alcohol has destroyed their lives.

  • I’ve seen fathers lose their kids because the booze was more important than his babies.
  • I’ve seen women that do, say, and act like anything other than a Godly woman and end up in the arms of men who don’t love, cherish, or care about them.
  • I’ve seen men that perpetuate the cycle of abuse and addiction in their family, but laugh it off by saying “that’s just the way I am!”

As a person with a degree in Biology and Physiology I understand the medical benefits behind a marginal amount of alcohol.  However, I also know that excess alcohol numbs your brain, destroys your liver, discolors your skin, and literally can change your brain chemistry into a total different person.

This isn’t a 21st Century phenomenon though.  Solomon also witnessed this in ancient times and writes about it in the lines of Proverbs 23.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

    Who has strife? Who has complaints?

    Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?

Those who linger over wine,

    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.

Do not gaze at wine when it is red,

    when it sparkles in the cup,

    when it goes down smoothly!

In the end it bites like a snake

    and poisons like a viper.

Your eyes will see strange sights,

    and your mind will imagine confusing things.

You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,

    lying on top of the rigging.

“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!

    They beat me, but I don’t feel it!

When will I wake up

    so I can find another drink?”

- Proverbs 23:29-35

God desires for us to be in the mind He created us to have.  A clear, fully functioning, focused on Him in all things mind.  I’ve found both personally, academically, and spiritually that drinking in excess causes this mind to become cloudy and hard pressed to focus on anything, let alone God.  I’ve never heard anyone barfing their guts out in a musty bar bathroom while singing worship songs as a way of praising God.  :)

I see Solomon’s words as a sobering reminder of what happens when a good thing becomes a God thing.  When we allow something given to us by God to be stewarded responsibly and turn it into a destructive habit that destroys our life.

Paul has a way of giving us some guardrails, if you will, when it comes to things like this.

“Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” - 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

This blog is not about beating people up or telling people not to drink.  This blog is essentially what Paul is trying to say.  Know yourself, know those around you, and know what God is telling you is right.  To do as Solomon says in Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.”

If you are able to keep alcohol within the guardrails God designed, I say “Have another on me!”, but if you are in a place that alcohol has become your God, please get help.  Consider reaching out to organizations like Celebrate Recovery www.celebraterecovery.com, www.aa.org, or others that can help.

Live your life with a conviction to worship God in all that you do and allow your life to be a reflection of His love.  Don’t live in a haze that risks your life and others.  God never intended for us to live through the lenses of Beer Goggles, but through the perfect 20/20 vision of Christ and His wisdom.

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