Alcohol in Your Marriage: Yes? No?

In your marriage do you accept alcohol or reject it?

I think GK Chesterton’s thoughts on alcohol in his book “Heretics” make a lot of sense:

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it … but drink when you would be happy without it …. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.

This image shows a red wine glass.

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Many people’s experiences and habits of alcohol are bad simply because it is too much. They have not learned moderation. The dangers of alcoholism are known and the other half of the bell-curve is teetotaler-ism which has dangers including pride, legalism, misunderstanding God, and health issues!

I grew up with a mixture. I’ve seen hard-bitten alcoholics and known a few recovering alcoholics. My grandparents and parents drank in moderation until my pre-teens when my parents stopped drinking. In my mid-teens they started again, which threw me for a loop. As I sorted the pieces out I learned to drink in moderation.

My wife grew up in a family with the history of alcoholic relatives and her parents almost never drank, so there was no consistent counter-balancing example of drinking in moderation. My parents gave her that example.

Man’s wisdom aside, what does God say?

In the Bible, God forbids getting drunk, meaning intoxicated, and states those who make a habit of becoming intoxicated will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ first miracle was making high quality wine at a wedding for people who had already drunk all there was and were perhaps intoxicated. This rescued the newly married couple’s reputation as running out of wine would have been social disaster. Were they poor, bad planners, surprised at the number who attended, did not think people drank so much, or was this just for the glory of God? Whichever it was, Jesus saved the day!

For thousands of years wine has been a regular part of mankind’s diet partly because pure water and cities do not peaceably coexist. Wine is water purified and fortified, a drink and a medicine. The daily wine may have had a lower alcohol content. Timothy was a teetotaler (perhaps he thought it would appear more holy?) who developed stomach issues and illnesses so his mentor Paul prescribed wine as the cure.

Jesus drank wine, and was falsely accused of being a drunkard! I see that as evidence of His passion to share the Father’s love and message by going to where the hurting were. But Jesus went beyond accepting wine as a cultural drink. He made wine the symbol of the new covenant, the representation of His blood shed for us for our salvation. He commanded His followers to regularly remember His blood shed for us by drinking wine. And He said He will drink wine when the kingdom of God comes.

My wife and I drink in moderation at appropriate times, and to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And as Chesterton put it we drink irrationally and enjoy the ancient health of the world.

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