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News for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Explore the Bible
April 27: Avoid Alcohol and Drug Abuse
By Aubrey Hay
retired, TBC staff

Focal Passage: Proverbs 20:1, 23:19-21, 29:35; 31:4-7

This lesson from Proverbs warns against the excessive use of alcohol, and although illicit drug use is not mentioned, the warning is the same for the use of any mind-altering substances. Our writer returns to the theme of acting wisely. The choice to use mind-altering substances is a foolish choice and their use causes one to act foolish. The Holman Bible translates “Wine is a mocker and beer is a brawler and whoever staggers because of them is not wise” (20:1). The encouragement once again is for one to chose wisely concerning the uses of alcohol.

Our country is awash in alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control close to 80,000 deaths a year are directly related to alcohol (from Spring Adult Commentary by Robert Bergen). Statistics for 2006 alcohol- related problems show that they cost the American economy $223.5 billion dollars. Further, an estimated 17.6 million adults suffer from alcoholic abuse. Among adult American males 70 percent consume alcohol, while 60 percent of women are drinkers. Binge drinking, where one drinks enough to get drunk, is astounding. One in six adults in the United States goes on a drinking binge four times a month. Beer ads dominated the Super Bowl with their appealing pitch, as they do at most sports events, extolling the pleasure that comes from drinking. This picture brings a sense of reality to the matter of alcohol abuse. It is not the clamorous fun-loving harmless activity the sellers of alcohol would have us believe. The sad thing is their audience is the youth of our land, who may well develop an addiction that will ruin their lives.

Proverbs is blunt and to the point: “Don’t gaze at wine because it is red, when it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper” (23:31-34). This is not a popular position to hold; it is old-fashioned, and narrow-minded. It is an uphill battle for parents and for churches to offer alternatives to combat this national problem, but it is a battle that must be fought.

Proverbs offers us a vivid picture of the person under the influence of alcohol. “Your eyes will see strange things, and you will say absurd things. You will be like someone sleeping at sea or lying on top of a ship’s mast” (v. 33). The writer describes what happens with the loss of mental perceptions, “… they struck me, but I feel no pain! They beat me, but I do not know it! When will I wake up? I’ll look for another drink” (vv. 34-35). Surrendering of one’s control over seeing, thinking, speaking, and acting, is described in humorous fashion as a warning to those who think drinking is harmless. In saner moments, who would want to be so deprived of basic control of what you see, say, and do?

The strongest defense against alcohol/drug abuse is the home, and in the writer’s example, the mother. King Lemuel had such a mother. The king is unknown to us but the mother’s advice is timeless. In a sense she says alcohol so impairs one’s senses that it makes him unfit to rule. If it is true of kings, it is true for everyone. Lemuel’s mother should be an example for parents too. The battle against alcohol and drug abuse must be waged in the home. Unless a child develops a realistic attitude about alcohol and drugs early, he/she may accept the examples seen on television and movies, which picture drinking as a “with it” lifestyle where it is not only the acceptable thing to do, but it is fun as well. We must start early, if we have any chance of protecting our children.

— Hay, a former pastor and retiree from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, lives in Dyersburg.

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