Drink Responsibly…Really?!

My wife and I were going to eat lunch in a nearby restaurant when a popular sign posted on the door caught my attention; it read: “Drink Responsibly.” I guess you have also seen this notice posted in restaurants and convenience stores. Maybe someone, a friend in school or a relative, has repeated something like this. With so many signs and people suggesting drinking alcohol “responsibly,” you would expect this to be a possible task, right? Can you really drink alcohol responsibly?

Thinking Responsibly

Imagine that there is a field full of hidden mines all over, and someone suggests to you that you only need to be responsible to walk through this field and not get hurt. I guess you would refuse to walk on it. Why? Because no matter how responsible you think you are, you just do not know when a mine will explode! In fact, if you act responsibly, you will not take the first step on that field.

Some people say “drinking responsibly” is doing it in moderation. They advocate social drinking; you may find advocates even in the church! They usually compare this to eating, and, as you can stop eating when you feel full, they say you can stop drinking before getting drunk. However, the difference between food and alcohol is that food does not impair your mind, and that is why you can make the conscious decision to stop eating. On the other hand, “[a]lcohol directly affects brain chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters—the chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body that control thought processes, behavior and emotion… What this means for you is that your thought, speech and movements are slowed down, and the more you drink the more of these effects you’ll feel.”[1]

You do not have to be a genius to realize that, if something is altering your brain, then it is robbing you of the ability to make responsible decisions—which you make with your brain! This is why the expression “drink responsibly” is an oxymoron; there is nothing responsible in drinking alcohol. The truth is that a responsible person will avoid drinking the first sip.

But what about those people who claim that they can drink alcohol and stop before getting drunk? Are they examples of people who have mastered the “art of drinking responsibly”? Absolutely not! They are still acting with lack of responsibility by drinking a known drug that is deteriorating their minds—getting them drunk—even when they may not reach a level of obvious impairment. A driver can choose to speed, claiming he knows when he is to stop before losing control. Although he may not have a wreck for years, he is still acting irresponsibly by speeding. Additionally, the fact he has not had a wreck does not guarantee he will never have one. “Drinking responsibly” is just a foolish expression to get naive people hooked with this poison.

Thinking Biblically

The Bible is an anti-alcohol-consumption book. This should not come as a surprise, since everyone knows about alcohol’s dangers and consequences. Biblical instructions are for our own good (Deuteronomy 4:40; 6:3; Jeremiah 42:6; Ephesians 6:2-3), and the teachings on alcohol clearly reflect this eternal truth.

In a very well-known Old Testament passage, King Solomon wrote, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul warned, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation” (Ephesians 5:18). Many other warnings against alcohol are found throughout the sacred text (e.g., Leviticus 10:9; Proverbs 23:29-32; Isaiah 5:11,22; Habakkuk 2:15; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The idea of “drinking responsibly” or with “moderation” is foreign to the Bible. The word “wine” is used in two senses: according to the context, (1) it may refer to grapes or grape juice and therefore it is approved, or (2) it may refer to fermented wine and therefore it is prohibited. We are to be careful not to jump to conclusions to approve alcohol when finding the word “wine” in the Bible. Interestingly, the advice of a wise inspired writer and king was to not even come close to alcohol: “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31-32).

Thinking Further

If I told you that I have something that you will like but will potentially impair your sound mind and body, cause you several diseases and hangovers, harm your liver and other organs, affect your mood and character, break your good relationships, ruin your studies and future career, get you addicted, and rip you off of lots of money, would you be thrilled to try it? Of course, not! That is why TV commercials will show images of young people having fun and drinking, but will hide real-life images of drunk people on the streets, sick people in the hospitals, and dead people in cemeteries due to alcohol use.

In our real world, more than 3,000,000 deaths are annually attributable to alcohol consumption; alcohol contributes to over 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions; and among people between the ages of 15 and 49, alcohol is the first leading risk factor for premature death and disability. In the U.S. alone, nearly 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes; more than 30% of annual driving fatalities is due to alcohol-impaired driving; and almost 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are annually assaulted by another student who has been drinking.[2]

If you think responsibly, you will see that alcohol consumption is not worth the risk. Alcohol’s consequences—in this life and especially in the next (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)—greatly outweigh any passing pleasures you can obtain from it. Be responsible; stay away from alcohol!

[1] DiSalvo, David (2012), “What Alcohol Really Does to Your Brain,” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/10/16/what-alcohol-really-does-to-your-brain/#794fda8c664e.

[2] “Alcohol Facts and Statistics” (2017), NIH, https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholFacts&Stats/AlcoholFacts&Stats.htm.