Fair warning – the following article is a bit blunt.
But the season calls for bluntness. Not the season of peace, good-will and giving. We are instead referring to the season of revelry which descends upon some during the end of the year holidays. This is not a new thing. Men have, since just after the creation we would guess, sought out any excuse for drunkenness and lechery. Holidays seem particularly prone to the behavior. This is one of the reasons why, when our forefathers first landed on this continent, they outlawed Christmas. Literally.
The pilgrims had a very bad opinion of the festive season, viewing it not only as an unscriptural addition to the Gospel message, but having also grown disgusted at the wanton carousing and drinking that so often accompanied the celebrations in England and other parts of Europe. Thus, celebrating Christmas was made a criminal offense in several of the colonies. It wasn’t until the beginnings of the 19th century that Christmas celebrations were fully accepted in the young United States. Though many attempt to project a spiritual air to the Christmas season, it is clear that the practices of 18th century England are not too far removed from the practices of 21st century America when it comes to revelry and the holidays. It is just another excuse to get drunk and high. But, and this is the blunt part, the Bible teaches us that Christians who want to go to heaven should have no part in such behavior.
Drinking and drunkenness is suitable for people who are going to hell and don’t care, but for those who are children of God, it has no place in any celebration or other activity. There are actually several passages of the Bible which admonish against the use of alcohol (and other drugs) as a beverage, but to keep this simple, one shall suffice. Proverbs 31:4-7 reads as follows: “It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” (NKJV)
Let us first note that kings and princes are told that it is unsuitable and wrong for them to ever drink intoxicating beverages. They have duties: duties to the law and duties to doing the right thing. Mind altering substances are going to interfere with those duties, and perhaps cause them to be done wrongly. This admonition is of particular relevance to Christians who have been told by God that they are both kings and priests in God’s Kingdom. (Revelation 1:6). This degree of honor is true of all Christians, not just a select few. Peter reminds his readers that they are a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). If you have been saved by Christ, then you are a child of God, an adopted heir of the immortal Lord, a brother to the King of kings, and God expects great things from you. (cf. Romans 8:14-17) If this is your calling, you should walk worthy of the calling.
It is not suitable for kings and princes to drink. On the other hand, the Scriptures are quite clear that drunkenness is suitable for the “perishing.” The original context of the proverb likely refers to criminals about to be executed for their crimes, such as rape or murder. Alcohol was used to dull their pain and make the death more humane. But the application is made broader by the context of scripture, wherein the perishing refers to those who are lost in their sins, separated from His grace and destined for hell. (cf. Romans 6:23; Luke 13:3; Revelation 21:8) The message is quite clear. If you are lost in your sins, going to hell, and don’t really care enough to change and seek the salvation God offers, go ahead – drink, get drunk, carouse, and try to pretend that everything is fine. But if you are a child of God, a prince in the Kingdom of God, and have been promised a throne and a crown of your own in His eternal home: you have better things to do with your time and your mind.
If you are interested in learning more about how to be a child of God and receive the hope and joy that comes with His promises, the church of Christ invites you to worship and stud with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.