Alcohol is the problem

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James Standish reflects on the dangers of alcohol after investment banker James Longworth was sentenced last week to a maximum of four years and 10 months for a one-punch attack on Sydney bouncer Fady Taiba in 2013.

The most loving, Christian thing we can do is to avoid this scourge and teach others to as well.


Why do Adventists teach total abstinence from alcohol? 

First, as Anthony MacPherson ably demonstrates in his article “Is wine fine?”, the wine available today is far stronger than in the ancient world and thus far more likely to intoxicate. The Bible says intoxication is sinful—and can even keep us out of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:10). So, following the Bible, we avoid modern wine and other products designed to intoxicate. 

Second, we live in cultures where alcohol is indisputably the most devastatingly destructive drug in society, fueling abuse, violence, crime and untold heartache. The most loving, Christian thing we can do is to avoid this scourge and teach others to as well.  

Third, even “moderate” drinking is deeply dangerous. A Harvard study published this year found that just one drink per day substantially raises cancer risk in women. If we want to reduce the rate of breast cancer and other diseases that rob kids of their mothers, wives of their husbands, parents of their children, we have to start by eliminating alcohol from our diet. And, of course, no one knows if they will have an alcohol problem until its too late. 

Finally, it is all about Christ-like unselfishness. Would any of us wish our parents drank alcohol knowing it fuels domestic violence and causes cancer? Would we want our kids to drink knowing it fuels high risk behaviour and violence? Do we wish the people who work for us drank knowing alcohol is a major detriment to productivity? Do we want our doctor, lawyer or driver to drink, knowing it inhibits judgment? If the answer is that we don’t want anyone else drinking, why would we think it is the Christian, selfless thing for us to drink?  

Christ gave us an example of an alcohol-free life. As Christians, let’s follow Him.


James Standish is Communication director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

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