The Spiritual Roots of Alcoholism

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Isn’t it interesting to notice that when the human race gets into trouble it involves eating and drinking.  For Adam and Eve possibly an apple (many in the Middle East believe the fruit was an apricot) {Gen 3:6} and for Noah {Gen 9:20-21} it involved new wine.  So it should not surprise us that statisticians believe 95% of all families must face alcoholism at some point.  That seems dangerously close to the 3-5% plus or minus rule which means probably every single family faces this issue.

Every family faces alcohol abuse

However, even that is a false notion since the spiritual roots of alcoholism are evident even in the driest of families; abstinence has no appreciable effect on the spiritual problems that erupt into overindulgence or drowning one’s sorrows in booze.  Certainly food and drink are required for human life, always available, and generally cheap.  That is the perfect medium for temptation.  And as far as God’s law is concerned, there are no demands that people not drink wine.

Church rules to the contrary came out of political situations, primarily after the American Civil War which produced excess drinking in Southern survivors.  Our religious model, Jesus, even produced huge vats of it for a local wedding party.

Temptation reveals what’s inside us

But why was the Perfect Couple tempted?  From the text we know there was dissatisfaction with what God had told them generated by a clever snake who suggested that God was unfair and trying to keep something good from them.  Noah’s case is different; we have no clue why he was unhappy. Maybe a year and a half cooped up in a floating ark with smelly animals and his relatives was the trigger.  Today we can see causes much more clearly, and they cross all of mankind everywhere, since we know alcoholism a major issue in all cities.  If you spend any time with alcoholics you will note the following common traits.

  • unforgiveness which leads to bitterness, the chief cause of unhappiness and an issue for everyone alive
  • self pity (whining)
  • regrets, persons focused on a past which cannot be changed
  • inactivity, joblessness; people who lose a job frequently become involved in addictions because of too much time on their hands
  • self-will
  • bragging, while under the influence, of how smart or brave or rich or attractive they are.
  • overindulgence
  • excessive sleeping to avoid self examination
  • getting into arguments and physical fights
  • fear of failure and failure itself
  • blame (your boss, your spouse, your parents, your friends, your banker, your teacher, God, your genes, your __________)

Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Cask of Amontillado , a perfect picture of how these sins entrap us.  A man dies in a wine cellar with what he craves; all his indulgence leads him to a self-imposed early grave.  What could be more plain than that.  It is a creepy story but the reason Poe’s work lives on is that he jabs a push pin into human behavior.

The scriptures are not causes; they are symptoms.

Proverbs 20:1  Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (See #8)
Proverbs 21:17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich. (See #7)
Proverbs 23:20  Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; (See #7)
Proverbs 23:30  Those who linger long at the wine (See #4)
Proverbs 31:6  Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart. (See #1)

Ecclesiastes 2:3  I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. (See # 6)
Isaiah 24:9 They shall not drink wine with a song; Strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. (See #1)

God calls the Church to be a Change Agent in this world; too many modern American congregations are social clubs.  Getting down to the sweaty business of personal change and changing the world around us is tough.  It calls for taking a public stand and not hiding problems which is what we want to do.  But as always, God starts with us, not someone else.

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