By Rev. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
April 14, 2022
This week Governor Roy Cooper declared April 2022 as Alcohol Awareness Month in North Carolina. The Governor said, “It’s important for people to know the dangers of misusing alcohol. Alcohol Awareness Month is an opportunity for families to have honest conversations about underage drinking and highlight the strong work of community organizations across our state.”
April is Alcohol Awareness Month nationally and is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). Since 1987, its purpose has been to create awareness about the causes and treatment of America’s number one drug problem: alcohol.
The Christian Action League joins Governor Cooper in recognizing Alcohol Awareness Month in our state. The ‘Talk it Out’ program works to prevent underage drinking, and it’s just one reasonable effort among several in North Carolina to help minimize the risks that come with drinking.
However, I don’t know of any organizations in the state other than the Christian Action League, which address the inherent dangers of alcoholic beverages.
The primary emphasis of other groups is to stress the importance of drinking responsibly. But research by scientists at Oxford University have concluded that there is no such thing as drinking responsibly. There is no safe share of alcohol that doesn’t adversely affect the processes of the brain. Scientists at the University of Washington have said that their research was clear – there is no reason to believe alcohol consumption has any productive health on the body. Instead, it is one of the causes of mass mortality globally. Responsible drinking is not to drink at all.
I’m glad these different groups are doing something, nevertheless, I believe Dietrich Bonhoeffer expresses the more excellent way. Bonhoeffer said:
“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”
In other words, what good does it do if the Governor highlights the importance of so-called responsible drinking, but then signs legislation the North Carolina General Assembly passes that removes critical guardrails to curb alcohol-related harms? That’s what happened in the last session of 2021. Massive reforms were made to the state’s alcohol policies that significantly loosened restrictions. These initiatives were solely industry driven and will unquestionably harm public health and safety over time.
Stressing responsible drinking without responsible drinking policies is an exercise in futility.
The increasingly popular libertine concept of allowing alcohol to be treated like any other legal commodity, making it more accessible, and pulling out the stops will only work against us. It’s not enough to simply provide help for those who find themselves victims of alcohol misuse. It’s not enough to simply punish those who commit an alcohol-related crime. That approach is helpful to a degree, but it doesn’t effectively address the core of alcohol harms. We’re just spinning our wheels, making a little traction here and there, until individually and corporately, we come to grips with the truth. Alcohol itself is not a benign entity. Figuratively speaking, there are potential demons in that bottle and in that glass.
I know making these arguments within the sound of contemporary ears is considered foolish. Nevertheless, I share about this often and willingly suffer any shame and marginalization which may come with it. Why? Because abstinence from alcohol always works to protect and preserve life. No other approach to drinking is more effective.
Abstinence by adults is also the best influence on youth not to drink. Although the quote is more than 40 years old, consider what the late Baptist preacher W.A. Criswell said concerning the best way to combat underage drinking:
“Alcohol is a drug…When we work to get our youngsters not to use drugs and the finest people use them all the time, how on earth can one turn to the youngster and say, ‘Under no condition are you to find yourself a victim of drugs’…
“The curse of America and the world is a thousand times more widespread in alcohol than it is in heroin or opium of any kind. The curse of the drug problem is the liquor traffic…A thousand times better is it for the man to say, ‘I may be able to carry my liquor…without personal harm; but for the sake of these youngsters, these teenagers…I will not wound the body of Christ; I will not partake for his [their] sake. I will not drink.'”
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Eighty percent of teens say their parents are the biggest influence on their decision of whether or not to drink.
There are several admonitions in the Bible against drinking and not just getting drunk. But it would take an entirely separate article to explain them. Instead, let me share this one profound thought.
John of Kronstadt was a Nineteenth-Century Russian Orthodox priest at a time when alcohol problems were rampant in his country. Kronstadt sought to make a difference, and he would tell every poor soul caught in alcohol’s vice grip: “This is beneath your dignity. You were meant to house the fullness of God.”
The Christian Action League echoes that same message during Alcohol Awareness Month.
That message is don’t drink. As a child of God, it’s beneath your dignity to be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs to any degree. You are always called to be filled with God’s Spirit. Abstain, you will not regret it.
If you are struggling with alcohol, seek help. Turn away from your sins and trust Christ for deliverance. He will quench your thirst for alcohol with the living water that only he can give.