Today we started level 2 lockdown in South Africa. As a country, lock down has already lasted 145 days … the longest lock down period anywhere in the world. Apart from other concessions, bottle stores, pubs, shebeens and restaurants may now sell alcohol to their patrons. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you cannot drink alcohol, but in numerous places it speaks of caution against overindulgence and drunkenness. Take the following four passages as an example:
Ro 13:13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1Ti 3:2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1Pe 4:3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
Each of these passages shows that drunkenness is normally coupled to other evils. In other words, drunkenness is a friend of every other immorality that influences society negatively.
Many years back, I was called to a particular prison by the commander of that section of the prison (this illustration has been used before, but it is worth repeating). I use the term ‘prison’ because in those days that is what it was called. Once I arrived, the commander informed me that one of the inmates attended our church. Actually, he and his wife would visit various churches for nine months at a time, draw whatever help they could get, and then move to the next church. The husband and wife were drinkers, and on a certain day they were drunk. He accused her of having an affair, poured paraffin over her and set her alight. Once she was burning, he realized what he had done and ripped the lounge curtain off its rail and wrapped it around her in an attempt to extinguish the flames. This, however, added fuel to the fire, and by the time the ambulance arrived, she was pronounced dead.
On 5 August, another incident took place where a man doused his partner with paraffin and set her alight. Neighbours said that the partner constantly abused her. Another said the man arrived home drunk that day and had a terrible argument. He added that the man drank a lot but did not know where he got it as alcohol sales were banned. After two weeks in ICU, the lady succumbed as the burns on her upper body were extremely severe. There are many more stories that could be told about the effects of alcohol on people and their relationships and what follows when arguing takes place.
Today, we popped in to see good friends who have a pizza outlet. Next to them was a pub/slot machine place that closed down during lockdown. People have taken over the premises, converting and renovating it into a restaurant. With level 2 of lock down starting today, the restaurants may sell alcohol to their patrons (as mentioned above). Whilst we were there, a number of people came for drinks and were disappointed because the restaurant had not opened yet! Our friends told us that the reason for these people coming to them for drinks is because the bottle stores close at 5pm and they missed the opportunity!
Few people are aware that when too much alcohol is consumed, the liver could be damaged. The liver’s function is to break down harmful substances in the body. Damage to the liver leads to hepatitis, jaundice and cirrhosis, which is the buildup of scar tissue that eventually destroys the organ. Alcohol may cause kidney, bladder and prostate inflammation. After a drink is swallowed, the alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the blood (20% through the stomach and 80% through the small intestine), with effects felt within 5 to 10 minutes after drinking. It usually peaks in the blood after 30-90 minutes and is carried through all the organs of the body. The result could be difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times and impaired memory. Clearly, alcohol affects the brain. Some of these impairments are detectable after only one or two drinks and quickly resolve when drinking stops. Drinking too much puts you at risk for some cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast. It can affect your immune system. If you drink every day, or almost every day, you might notice that you catch colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don’t drink. Jenny and I visited a lady who attended church more than thirty years ago. She was totally yellow and her husband told her she had yellow jaundice. The truth was … she was an alcoholic. She had cirrhosis of the liver. Her husband fed her ‘spirits’ daily … and alcohol in such huge doses is poisonous. We led her to the Lord a few days before I told her she was dying (since no one else would).
I want to repeat … the Bible does not ban alcohol, but it does place a restriction on consumption. This is the reason God tells us, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery … instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18); “Behave decently … not in … drunkenness” (Rom 13:13); the acts of the sinful nature includes drunkenness (Gal 5:19); and an overseer (pastor, elder, church leader) must not be a drunkard (1 Tim 3:2).
Dear God, help me to be a person who refrains from giving the devil an opportunity by excessive drinking that could ruin my life and seriously harm other’s lives. I want You to be glorified in my life. For Jesus sake, Amen.