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Alcohol is Not Your Friend

I've heard it said that since drinking alcohol is not strictly forbidden in the Bible (whereas drunkenness clearly is), it's an acceptable behavior for Christians to enjoy, provided it's not a spiritual stumbling block for that individual. From a biblical standpoint, I understand the reasoning and would agree with the conclusion, except that...well, except that sometimes I think we miss the forest for the trees.

In ancient times, there was a religious sect called the Gnostics, and among their chief beliefs was the idea that the spirit was good, but the body was evil and unable to be redeemed. Therefore, those who espoused this philosophy engaged in all kinds of sinful and wicked behaviors, believing that what they did IN and WITH their physical bodies had no consequence on their spirit or soul.

I wonder if maybe this kind of thinking is still infiltrating the modern church to some degree, especially as it relates to alcohol.

"It doesn't matter that I'm drinking alcohol most nights of the week, and enjoying it so much that I almost can't imagine NOT having it, because... I obviously really love Jesus - as evidenced by my church attendance, my Bible study participation, my Christian music listening, my prayer time, and my friend group."

While I understand that the decision to drink or not drink is not a salvation issue, I do believe that it is an issue of spiritual alignment and integrity. How so? Consider the following effects that alcohol, even small amounts, has on the body (not an exhaustive list BTW):

  1. It damages your brain, altering mood and memory

  2. It stresses your liver, your major detoxification organ

  3. It destroys your microbiome (if you didn't know, grapes and grains are known to be heavily treated with chemicals)

  4. It disrupts your metabolism and encourages the body to store fat rather than burn it for energy

  5. It increases oxidative stress (basically "rusting" in the body)

  6. It raises cortisol, your stress hormone, as well as estrogen (How's that for manly?)

  7. It dysregulates your nervous system

  8. It interferes with the proper function of thyroid hormones

  9. It weakens the immune system

  10. It ruins REM and deep sleep (alcohol is a sedative, folks - not a sleep aid)

  11. It's a known toxin

  12. It's addictive

And lucky 13 for the vain ladies among accelerates skin aging, among other things.

Dr. Will Cole, a leading functional medicine expert, explains, "The healthiest amount of alcohol consumption is NONE. The more you drink, the more it shortens your healthspan and lifespan. The belief that daily alcohol consumption is good for you is based on the antiquated 'French Paradox'- - that low rates of heart disease in France was due to daily wine consumption. Although newer research found flaws in the research, people want to believe that moderate drinking improves health. Much of the research into the health effects of alcohol has been funded by the alcohol industry. Over 13,500 such studies have been paid for by the industry."

If you're looking for the resveratrol, just eat the grapes! Organic of course.

Wrinkled skin aside, doesn't it matter on some level what we are physically doing to our bodies when we consume alcohol? And don't those physical effects have significant impact on our spirit? I just don't think we can separate the two, especially in this day and age when only some 12% of the population is metabolically healthy. If you view yourself in that sliver of a minority, by all means, enjoy a couple drinks! But I'd guess the rest of us would be much better off with minimal to none.

Was there wine in Jesus' day? Of course. Does God's word strictly forbid the consumption of alcohol? No. But at some point we need to engage our God-given common sense and understand that our modern world and its toxic practices is not the same as ancient times. If you are struggling with your health (and most people, even most Christians, are struggling), it might be wise to limit or totally eliminate alcohol from your diet. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial, and I think we have to assume responsibility for the choices we make. Alcohol will affect your health, and not for the better. Aren't you kind of curious what not drinking might change for you?

Can you do it?

Will you do it?

If you find that abstinence doesn't enrich and improve your life in some way, you can always go back to alcohol. Isn't it worth the experiment?

Ask God if this is an area where He wants your attention. I know He will make it clear.

If you'd like to delve into this topic even more, I've written about it previously here and here.

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