|Below, is an article which appeared in the Canadian Revivalist. Special thank to Dr Frank McClelland for permission to let this article be published on bethanyfpc.org
THE DANGERS OF ALCOHOL
'By far the most devastating of drugs - wrecking families and friendships, impairing health, filling Jails, hospitals, and morgues.'
Is this the view of some enthusiastic anti-drink campaigner? No! It is a statement from the February 1992 issue of the respected National Geographic magazine in an excellent article on the use of alcohol.
Of course the Bible has an even more telling statement,
"Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? ...... they that tarry long at the wine.” Proverbs 23: 29,30.
The consumption of intoxicating beverages in 1990 cost United States society an estimated $136 billion, and more than 65,000 lives, 22,000 of them on the roads alone. A bewildering array of intoxicating drinks exists from the multitude of beer brands, wines innumerable, to the different spirits from different countries.
All have one common factor - the presence of the substance alcohol.
THE HISTORY OF ALCOHOL
The word alcohol is derived from the Arabic, Al - Kohl, finely ground antimony used as an eye liner, hence an exotic substance. It appears the Babylonians and Egyptians were the first to discover that if they crushed grapes or moistened and warmed grain the resultant liquid was intoxicating.
Note the presence of the word toxic in intoxication. Toxic means poison, and even the medical use of the word intoxication refers to cases of poisoning by means of a drug.
Be very clear about it - Alcohol is a POISON ! In Bible times they used 'new wine' or 'must' which initially was not intoxicating but would, with fermentation, quickly become so. They also used fermented wine, (witness the drunkenness of Noah and Lot recorded in Genesis 9:21 and 19:33)
THE MAKING OF ALCOHOL
What exactly is alcohol?
It is one of a family of organic compounds that contain Hydroxyl (OH).
There is Methanol - wood alcohol that if ingested attacks the optic nerve and causes blindness.
There is Isopropanol - rubbing alcohol used to ease muscular pains.
There is Ethylene Glycol - used as an ingredient in antifreeze.
Drinking alcohol is Ethanol, or Ethyl Alcohol, and is used also in lacquers, varnishes, hair sprays, perfumes, mouthwashes etc. A surprising fact is that alcohol is actually the excrement of yeast consuming - fermenting - the sugars in fruit etc.
Yeasts are single cell, living fungi which produce as natural excreta alcohol and carbon dioxide. Of course for industrial use alcohol can be produced by other means.
Natural fermentation produces a liquid that is between 5 - 10 % alcoholic with a maximum of about 14%. In order to concentrate alcohol a process of distillation is required where the liquid is boiled, cooled and condensed to produce spirits as in Russian vodka, Dutch 'jenever' or gin, and the Irish 'Uisce beatha' or whiskey.
Distillation was not developed as a process until the Middle Ages. That means wines mentioned in the Bible could not be more that 14% alcohol, confirming the correctness of Proverbs 23:30 about those who "tarry long at the wine. ”
How much more dangerous are the spirits of this age.
THE METABOLISING OF ALCOHOL
In the normal metabolism of the human body foods are digested mainly through the stomach, being changed into substances that can be utilized by the human engine.
ALCOHOL IS A SUBSTANCE ALIEN TO THE BODY and cannot be dealt with in the normal manner.
It is a poison that is directed for disposal to that most wonderful of human chemical factories, the liver. All the liver can do is break down the alcohol into water and carbon dioxide for discharge from the body.
When the liver is called upon to handle this toxin its regular functions are somewhat interfered with while it deals with the unwanted intruder.
Prolonged drinking leads to liver damage which is why many alcoholics suffer and die from cirrhosis, where the liver is severely scarred.
THE MISERY OF ALCOHOL
Note again the quote at the head of this article that alcohol is "by far the most devastating of drugs - wrecking families and friendships, impairing health, filling jails, hospitals, and morgues.”
Alcohol is miscible - it mixes easily with water - and goes quickly into the bloodstream which is mostly water. It enters the brain, numbing nerve cells and slowing their vital messages to other parts of the body. Heart muscles strain to cope with alcohol's depressive action. (Alcohol is also a depressant).
Nerve centres in the brain governing speech, vision, balance and judgment go awry. Excess drinking can lead to unconsciousness and even death from respiratory failure.
When an expectant mother drinks, in a few minutes the alcohol is coursing through the bloodstream of her unborn child. Heavy drinking can lead to the deformities of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Even moderate drinking can leave unseen mental scars and the poor innocent child is made to suffer for its parent's wrongdoing.
A recent example of alcoholic misery comes from Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (reported in Christian News, 3rd Feb 1992). An unidentified WELS pastor wrote, "It took an hour to get drunk but 20 years to get sober. I lost my wife, my kids, and my calling in the parish ministry.”
The story of the Lutheran pastor (mentioned above) is made even more tragic when you consider his further testimony,
"It wasn't until I went off to college to BEGIN MY STUDIES FOR THE MINISTRY that my alcoholism got off to a running start. Friday nights were spent IN THE BARS.”
"Seminary was the next stop. My use of alcohol continued and EVEN INCREASED.”
He further bears this testimony, "No one admonished me or confronted me about my alcoholism.”
That is the sad but inevitable result of taking the liberty or licence approach to drinking.
Every drunkard starts off with one drink.
What a shame when that one is encouraged by those in the church who see no harm in social drinking.
The line between 'right' and 'wrong' use of alcohol becomes hopelessly blurred for when does social drinking pass into the realm of addiction?
The Free Presbyterian Church, by a clear cut policy on the non-use of alcohol is delivered from that problem.