The Danger Zone

Read: Proverbs 23:29-35   

    Is drinking alcohol a sin?  In both secular and Christian circles you might get a variety of responses when asking this question.  Some might refer to times in the Bible when it is discouraged (as in Proverbs 23 and many others) and some might refer to times in the Bible when it is mentioned as a very common drink during biblical times (In John 2 Jesus turns the water into wine).  But everyone can agree that it has the potential to cause destruction in our lives.

For several years I have followed the internet blog, sermons, and ministry of pastor Perry Noble and Newspring Church in Anderson, South Carolina.  I appreciated his insights, thoughts, comments, and even referred to them from time to time in these midweek meditations.  I was very sad this past week when I learned this news as reported by the Greenville, South Carolina newspaper,  “The Rev. Perry Noble, who started NewSpring Church nearly 20 years ago, is no longer its senior pastor.  Early in Sunday’s 9:15 a.m. service, Executive Pastor Shane Duffey announced that Noble had been removed as pastor on July 1… after Noble “had made unfortunate choices,” and that the board members had confronted Noble on numerous occasions regarding his use of alcohol.”

It’s hard to know what all of the “unfortunate choices” were that led to this, but it is obvious that alcohol was a contributing factor.  In another news report I read that marital problems were also part of the issue.  The alcohol piece could have also played a part in that as well.  But it saddens me that alcohol has caused all of this pain and heartache for Perry, his family, his church, and many others.

We live in a world in which beer, wine, and other stronger alcoholic beverages are too often treated as a god instead of a beverage.  Often times people cannot gather, socialize, or have a celebration without them being present.  As a sports fan I am often times disappointed about the presence of so much drinking and drunkenness.  I am not sharing this to be in judgement of others, but I am sharing it because of the dangers this can have on individuals, families, children, churches, and society in general.

So many instances in the Bible suggest that it is better to avoid the danger zone of drunkenness.  In Genesis 19 drinking results in Lot’s debauchery and incest of his own daughters.  In Genesis 27 Isaac was drinking when he mistakenly blessed Jacob.  In 1 Samuel 25 Nabal, a rich man who opposed David and had lost his wife’s respect died after a drunken spree.  In Deuteronomy 21:20 it speaks of how drinking leads to stubbornness, rebellion, and gluttony which brings dishonor to parents.  One source says that there are more verses in the Bible about drinking and drunkenness than can be found on the subject of lying, adultery, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, pride, cheating, stealing, hypocrisy or even blasphemy.

When I was growing up my father had a very intentional way of letting me know about the dangers that drinking alcohol can have.  This was before we had a television with a remote control.  When an ad for alcoholic beverages would come on during commercial breaks he would get up out of his chair, go over to the television, and turn the channel until the program was back on the air.  Then he would go back over and sit in his chair.  He didn’t say a word but he didn’t have to.

The truth is, for some people the only way to avoid the danger zones of alcohol is to abstain from it.  Whether you agree or disagree about calling it a sin or not, I think everyone can agree that it is heartbreaking to see the destruction that it can cause.  I am going to pray for Perry Noble, his family, and his church.  Jesus can bring them through this and bring them to a brighter day ahead.  If you struggle with alcohol and would like to get help, I hope that you will reach out and find the help that you need.  God will forgive you and set you on a path of freedom from the chains of dependence and addiction.

Make it personal:  If you or someone in your family needs help in this area of life here are some organizations that you might want to look into.  Recovering Redemption, Celebrate Recovery, and Alcoholics Anonymous are just a few.  As Ed Stetzer said when commenting about the Perry Noble story, “You don’t have to suffer alone and it won’t end well if you don’t get help. You do not have to hide. Alcohol isn’t freedom, and hiding isn’t the way out. We can stand together in the power of the gospel and see the way forward in hope.”  And to that I say AMEN!

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church