Why The Wine?

Why The Wine?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Noah plants a grape vineyard (Gen. 9). 

He makes wine. 

He gets drunk. 

When did he plant the vineyard? 

It wasn’t before the destruction of the world. There’s no time for vineyard planting when you’re focused on the end. 

He didn’t get drunk while on board the ark, either. There’s no time to get drunk when you’re well aware that God is literally keeping you afloat! He could hear God’s power in the storm and see it all around him in the form of water when he peers out of the window of the ark. 

He planted the vineyard after the rain stopped, the water levels lowered, and when there was dry ground to plant on. 

Why the wine? 

While scripture doesn’t give us an exact reason we can use some reasoning. Maybe he drank his fill in order to forget or deal with the traumatic event that he just survived. Maybe the reality of the situation finally set in and the ordeal had finally caught up with him. 

Perhaps he drank the wine to simply distract himself. It could be that in his mind he had fulfilled his purpose and accomplished his mission. What else was there to do? Lastly, maybe he became drunk to celebrate the fact that he and his family survived what nobody else did. All of these reasons are possible and even understandable. But none of these excuses were acceptable or pleasing to his Savior. 

Trouble seems to come knocking when we lose our sense of purpose and mission. I think Noah would agree that we’re more easily distractible when we believe we have the time to be distracted. Noah’s real purpose in life was not to build an ark. It was to live righteously, as he was doing just that before God even approached him. A righteous man listens to God and speaks on behalf of God as Noah did when he built the ark and preached to the world around him. His mission wasn’t over when the ark landed in the mountains. According to Genesis 9.28, Noah had 350 years of life remaining after the flood. His celebration and relief, like ours, is promised to be waiting for us after our lives on earth are completed. Noah still had a mission and purpose, but he had just forgotten what that was. Let’s learn from him and be mindful of why we’re here— to live within the grace of God (Gen. 6.8). 

Dispiriting Truths About Spirits

Dispiriting Truths About Spirits

Neal Pollard

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.

What’s So “Social” About It?

What’s So “Social” About It?

Neal Pollard

“Social” is an interesting word. It can be a noun, as in “church social,” referring to a gathering of people to socialize. Usually, it is an adjective–“social studies,” “social club,” “social butterfly,” or “social grace.” “Social” modifies another word to form a phrase normally found only in the restraints of religious discussion. The phrase is “social drinking.” Social drinking implies situations such as guests in the home, friends at a meal or bar, or business dinner or party where a typically smaller amount of alcohol is consumed than occasions where drunkenness is typical. Certainly, this is an emotional issue for some either adamantly for or against its practice. In the spirit of fools going where angels fear to tread, please allow me to consider with you a few questions about “social drinking.”

  • What constitutes the limit on social drinking? In other words, when does one cross the social line in social drinking? If one of the drinkers has two rather than one, is it still social drinking? Three rather than two? Four rather than three? When is it excessive? Who, of the other drinkers, is to be the judge of that? Often, there are those in the “social drinking” crowd who try not to miss a shot, glass, or refill. For all the sippers, there are guzzlers, too. What makes four wrong and one right?
  • What positive social messages does it send? Sophistication? Success? With social drinking, what is the Christian hoping to achieve? A soul-winning opportunity? A Christlike influence? A demonstration of the transformed life (cf. Rom. 12:1-2)? Or, is it simply a way of conforming, bowing to the social pressures of a worldly-minded culture? Is it ever simply a way to seek the acceptance, approval, and advancement of secular friends, co-workers, employees, and employers (Jas. 4:4)?
  • Are there negative social implications? What message does it send to non-Christians or new-Christians, to whom we would share scripture’s condemnation of drunkenness (Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Th. 5:7-8). Furthermore, the landscape is continually changing. Social drinking, to teenage and college party-goers, stretches all the way to bald-faced drunkenness. It is not uncommon to hear stories of “social drinkers” dead of alcohol poisoning on frat-house floors. Can we envision a preacher gesturing carefully during his sermon with his shot of whiskey? Or an elder pleading with a wayward Christian to come home, laying down his beer long enough to pray with them? Or the church fellowship, with a deacon in charge of bartending?

Let us be careful endorsing something so fraught with potentially negative side-effects, socially as well as physically. Certainly, you will ultimately decide which side of the ledger social drinking falls on. But, consider this a loving plea. Be careful with the precious commodities you possess as God’s child–your influence, your example, your holiness, and your righteousness. “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Rom. 15:2).

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