Is Alcoholism a Sin?

A beer commercial says it all. Without qualms, the ad paints a festive environment where beer overflows and women flaunt their beauty.  It conditions the mind of the young to associate beer with beautiful women and seduces them to seek life in fun-filled parties.

Commercials such as this have already done enough damage in the Philippines where men are taught to drink beer or gin at a young age.  They are taught to drink beer or gin as if nothing else could make them as happy.  They are told to drink beer or gin as if it it is a macho thing.

Liquor is said to be the most abused substance in the Philippines. While there remains to be a concrete study on the effects of alcoholism, many index crimes such as homicides, physical injuries and sex-related offenses involve alcohol. Adding to these are the numerous accidents caused by drunk driving. 

Countless families are ruined and being ruined by alcoholism.  Children look with fear and hatred at their drunk fathers.  By the time these children grow old, they become drunkards themselves and scare their own children.  It is a continuous cycle.

Worse, the government and the media conspire to promote alcoholism.  The country's largest corporation is a beer conglomerate. The government has substantial stake in this conglomerate while TV and radio stations count it as their biggest ad client.  To please the conglomerate, the media lure the youth to the party atmosphere of being drunk.  They suggest that parties cannot be complete without beer.

In 1995, Filipinos consumed 146,000 bottles of wine, making them the top wine drinkers in Asia. A more shocking report is that Filipinos consumed 1.25 billion liters or 3.9 billion bottles of beer in 1998 alone. In the year 2001, beverages comprised nearly 2.3 percent of the average Filipino's expenditures.

A 1994 survey conducted by the University of the Philippines showed that almost 5.3 million or 60 per cent of Filipino youths were drinking alcoholic beverages. Of the total, 4.2 million were males and 1.1 million, females. A conclusion was that there were more alcoholic drinkers than smokers among Filipino youths, who were starting to drink alcohol at the age of 16 or 17 years old.

Contrary to what TV commercials portray, getting drunk with alcohol brings more trouble than joy.  The Bible even warns us against the dangers of drinking beer, gin, wine and other alcoholic beverages.

And it is not as cool as the TV commercials project.  The apostle Peter described drunkenness as a pagan practice.  "For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do - living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry" (I Peter 4:3). Orgies now refer to wild parties characterized by drunkenness and sexual perversion.

Many people who are guilty of the charge arrive at a common excuse: they only taste wine and do not get drunk, which could be valid.  Such an excuse, however, has been exploited to justify their inseparable attachment to alcohol.  

The Lord Almighty knows who are guilty of drunkenness and condemns them.  Drunkards and bartenders alike would shudder upon hearing this: "Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks" (Isaiah 5:27).

Who are the drunkards?  They are the ones who spend a lot of time with wine.  "Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine" (Isaiah 5:11).

God gave this warning because alcoholism is a sin.  "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like" (Galatians 5:21).

Alcoholism leads to other sins. "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).  Alcoholism also leads to trouble. "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.  Do not gaze at a wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.  Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.  You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging.  They hit me, you will say, but I am not hurt! They beat men, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?" (Proverbs 23:29-35)

Alcoholism leads to deeper poverty. "Listen my son and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.  Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags" (Proverbs 23:19-21).

Finally, alcoholism leads to eternal punishment. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

While it may really be hard to avoid alcoholism, we can find freedom from this sin through Jesus Christ our Lord.  "Let us behave decently, not in orgies (wild parties) and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:13-14).

The Bible warns that if we continue to live our old life in sin, we will get the punishment that we deserve. See, the day of the Lord is coming - a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger - to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it (Isaiah 13:9).

Paul said that when Jesus Christ returns to Earth, "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). God loves us so much that "He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). He sent His son Jesus Christ from heaven to die as a man for our sins. By dying on the cross, Jesus Christ redeemed our sins and now offers us a new life.

So if you want to find life, find it in Jesus.

Bible verses were quoted from the New International Version (NIV).

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