In one of those statistics so massive that it is hard to comprehend, Gallup reports that 187 billion liters (there are 33.8 ounces in a liter) of beer are drunk across the world each year. There are 24 billion liters of wine drunk globally each year. The U.S. ranks second in beer consumption and first in wine consumption, with no reports of hard liquor even included in this report (Andrew Soergel, US News, 10/2/14). Not only is alcohol a common feature at holiday parties and family events this time of year, it is woven into the fabric of just about every event you can think of in society.
The Washington Post relates that 33 million Americans are problem drinkers, which amounts to 14 percent of our population. Almost 69 million Americans report that they had been problem drinkers at some point in their lives, while 40 percent said they had engaged in binge drinking at least once in the past year (via Associate Press, 6/8/15). Whereas we can so often get caught up in debates about social drinking, we may be ignoring the fact that a sizable number of Christians—whether new converts or longtime members—struggle with serious problems with alcohol. This is startling, given the Bible’s clear teaching and warning about drunkenness (cf. Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3).
The Bible warns us about at least four clarion facts regarding alcohol:
- Alcohol can be addicting (1 Tim. 3:3,8; Titus 1:7).
- Alcohol can be enslaving (Titus 2:3).
- Alcohol can make one reckless (Eph. 5:18).
- Alcohol can be costly (Prov. 23:29-35).
It seems wise to think about these sober warnings God communicates to us through Scripture. There should be a vigilance, in view of eternity, about a substance that not only can but endlessly has done so much harm to individuals, their families, and society. May we wake up to the problems alcohol is already causing in too many homes, including the homes of those trying to live the Christian life. May we help each other to overcome any obstacle that bars the way to heaven. Nothing here is valuable enough to sacrifice what awaits us there.