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.

Image via Wikipedia

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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Do Rolling Stones Make Good Marriages?

Most of us have heard the proverb “A rolling stone gathers no moss” which has a dual interpretation aptly phrased by Mareli Csabai in her blog Stirring Lines (link):

A person who never settles in one place will never be successful.
A person who does not keep active will grow moldy.

In this proverb we find two useful lessons for marriage.

In the first sense stop rolling and settle in to be dedicated to your spouse. The verdant moss is a testimony to your devotion.

Moss

Image via Wikipedia

In the second sense keep rolling and moving to devotedly pour effort into the health of your marriage. The cleanliness of your stone is a testimony to your devotion.

So which is it? The beauty of language (or is the frustration!) is both interpretations are valid. I prefer the angle of being grounded and fruitful and in this view I have good company as GK Chesterton said in his book “Heritics“:

The rolling stone rolls echoing from rock to rock; but the rolling stone is dead. The moss is silent beause the moss is alive.

Chesterton criticized world travelers of having dead souls as they rolled from place to place, never rooted and grounded in a community where planted in proper context the soul is full of life.

I hear wisdom offered to those rolling echoing from relationship to relationship, because their souls are thirsty and starved, comparatively dead next to those peaceful and alive, devotedly grounded in a lifelong marriage.

A devoted, lifelong marriage enables the two united souls to go beyond surviving bouncing from relationship to relationship to thriving in the one relationship!

Do rolling stones make good marriages? No, I do not believe they do.

  • How are you rolling along? Are your activities strengthening or draining your marriage? Are you pouring love into your spouse or are your efforts divided extra-maritally whether people or activities?
  • How are you growing moss? Is your devotion strengthening or draining your marriage? Are you devoted to your spouse or is your devotion divided extra-maritally whether people or activities?