Saturday, February 22, 2020

What an alcoholic says to anyone who insists their drinking is harmless

Not only is pornography a big issue in society, but it is just as big an issue in Christian circles.  And the same trend is revealed with alcohol.  Alcohol advertising together with the societal impact of alcohol abuse shows just how troubled a relationship our culture has with alcohol.
I’m an alcoholic.  Yet, I haven’t had a drink since September 20, 2003.
I may not have stepped into the rooms of AA at all in the past 13 years, but there was a time when I would go to meetings four, five, six times a week.  Probably not so much to help me get over the drink!  Once I decided I never looked back.  But I have counted the number of times I’ve been at AA meetings and was invited to share.  On 160 occasions I started my ten minutes of sharing time in the customary way with, “Hello everyone, I’m Steve and I’m an alcoholic.”
When I say I’m alcoholic it means I don’t drink and will never drink again because I lost the right to drink — yes, to partake in even one!  I can tell you now, it’s not the stopping drinking that gives you the power for sobriety.  It’s everything else you do as far as the AA program of things goes.
I found, like millions before me, that when you put everything into it — boots and all — you succeed.  It works.  It simply does.  The program for recovery works on honesty, humility, unity with others on the journey, and a commitment to service.
But this isn’t about singing the praises of AA or Celebrate Recovery or the 12 Steps.
This is about the concern I have that our churches and Christian groups are giving ascent to a drinking culture more and more, year by year.  I see Christians going out and posting about the drinks they’re drinking.  I see them stocking up on booze (the rare Scotch’s they have and the souvenir beers they keep).  I see them scheduling “fellowship” get-togethers with drinks.  Particularly the younger set — anyone from the twenties to the forties.  I see them talking about their favourite drinks, bars, and local eateries — yes, I know, you have to have your Shiraz or Cab Sav with a luscious steak, or a Semillon blanc with your chicken or fish (that used to be my excuse too).
I know some who have discussed their drinking with me, and deeper down they know there is an issue with how much and how often they drink.  It’s become habit.  And it’s a slippery slope that ends up nowhere good, even if they insist that they’re only “moderate” drinkers.  Anyone who drinks every week, more than once a week, for every week of their lives has a problem with the drink.  I drank no more often than that.
It’s more about how we protect our right to drink, like we can’t survive without it.  Ironically, it’s those who insist they can go without it who often clutch hardest to their bottle.
We need to be honest.  If we drink for the effect — just to get a little tipsy — you know, to take the edge off — we’re dealing with our feelings in a way that’s not healing.  God’s not in on it.  It’s the same when we need to alter our mental state with anything.
There is only freedom in the purest joyousness of sobriety.
I’ve always told my daughters that if they can drink one or two (literally that amount and stop) every now and then (not weekly) and they were never preoccupied with wanting to drink, they had every right to drink.
Anyone who drinks more than this, in my view, especially if they’re Christian, is on the slippery slope, and they could be relying on the drink more than they rely on God.
Our drinking isn’t harmless.  It can slowly become deeply habitual and even ritualistic.  Of course, there are so many of us who are (or were) closet alcoholics.  In 2002-2003, I was a safety manager for an oil and fuel distributor breathalysing truck drivers every Monday morning and at other random times.  I would counsel them if they blew over and would be part of their performance management — all the while I knew I had a drinking problem, myself.  Utter hypocrisy, I know!
If we don’t tell on the sin, the sin will eventually tell on us, as Sy Rogers would say.
If you have committed your life to the Lord, and you drink, all I say is can you honestly ask God if change is needed?
From my experience, anyone who has to insist their drinking is harmless may well have a bigger problem than they think.
Oh, and by the way, I have a tougher stance again on Christians partaking in illicit, mind-altering drugs.
We must ask ourselves, what are we running away from?

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

No comments: