God is very clear that drunkenness will keep a person out of heaven. “The deeds of the flesh are … drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you … that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21; cf. 1 Cor. 6:10; 1 Tim. 3:8; 1 Pet. 4:3).
In case we need more tangible reasons to avoid alcohol, God describes the circumstances of several drunks. It’s hard to find anything positive about the influence of alcohol on their lives.
Noah—Deprived of His Dignity (Genesis 9:18–29)
Noah was a faithful man, saving his family from the flood. But some time later, he got drunk and “uncovered himself” before passing out in his tent. When Noah’s son Ham entered, he saw the nakedness of his father, and was cursed forever.
Drinking oneself into a stupor is neither sophisticated nor glamorous (Prov. 23:29–35). While the specifics of Noah’s and Ham’s situation may be a bit foggy, there are plenty of other obvious ways that today’s children are brought to catastrophe by the drunken condition of their parents.
Lot—Deprived of His Morals (Genesis 19:30–38)
Lot is called a righteous man in 2 Peter 2:7. But after his family escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and after his wife turned into a pillar of salt, he was alone with his daughters. These worldly women desired to commit incest with their father, and so they planned: “let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him.” And when they had gotten him drunk, “the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose”; likewise the younger. Moab and Ben-ammi were the resulting children.
Alcohol can totally strip away even the most righteous person’s inhibitions, and deprive him of his moral senses. I doubt Lot would have done those things sober.
Amnon—Deprived of His Reflexes (2 Samuel 13:23–29)
David’s son Absalom desired to kill his half-brother Amnon for an earlier crime. He waited two years for a good opportunity. He struck “when Amnon’s heart was merry with wine,” and he could not defend himself.
Alcohol can deprive drivers of reaction time, deprive walkers of awareness of their surroundings, and deprive partiers of good sense. According to stats in USA Today, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that over 100,000 deaths a year involve alcohol, including about 20,000 from diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, and about 50,000 from accidents. Alcohol contributes to 83% of fire deaths, 72% of aggravated assaults, 70% of sexual abuse, 69% of drownings, 60% of deaths and injuries from falls, 54% of violent crimes, 50% of murders, 50% of fatal car accidents, 50% of spouse abuse, and 40% of child abuse deaths.
King Ahashuerus—Deprived of His Respect for Others (Esther 1:1–22)
“It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, for they will drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4–5). After becoming ruler of the earth, King Ahasuerus held a seven-day banquet at which “drinks were served in golden vessels … and the royal wine was plentiful.” On the last day, “when the heart of the king was merry with wine,” he attempted to display his wife’s beauty before all the people. She refused this order, and he revoked her title as queen.
The influence of alcohol can cause someone to vandalize, speak rash insults, and even become violent. The aftermath can be difficult to undo when sobriety returns.
King Belshazzar—Deprived of His Reverence for God (Daniel 5:1–6)
One night, Belshazzar held a great feast for a thousand nobles, and “when Belshazzar tasted the wine,” he ordered the holy items captured from God’s temple brought in, so that he and his concubines could drink from them. Suddenly, the hand of God wrote words of judgment upon the wall, and that same night Belshazzar was slain (5:30).
Spirits and spirituality do not mix. Nadab and Abihu and the priests of Israel were destroyed for drinking before worshipping (Lev. 10:1–10; Isa. 5:11–12, 28:7–8). “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” (Eph. 5:18).
A Servant—Deprived of His Sense of Responsibility (Luke 12:45–47)
The master in this parable had some slaves who obeyed him conscientiously. But one slave “began to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk.” The master soon returned, and found him in a drunken condition and his stewardship untended. He quickly cast him out.
Too many men deprive their families by blowing their paychecks at the bar on Friday night. Some go so low as to abandon the responsibilities of life—a job, a family, a house—to escape into the haze of drunkenness. Their lives often quickly fall apart.
Let’s heed the warning and avoid the risk of alcohol altogether. There are so many alternatives. Many who have tried to sample it “as it sparkles in the cup” find themselves “stung like a viper” afterward (Prov. 23:29–35). —John Guzzetta