Monday, October 11, 2010
Alcohol had affected me very dramatically on several different occasions. My earliest recollection was when I was the tender age of seven. I saw the devastation of alcohol first hand in my wonderful, big brother Paul, who I adored and looked up to, but he had a drinking problem. His drinking started like so many others…just one beer now and then for a social event…maybe some wine coolers before bed…but then the subtle bite of alcohol grabbed him into full-time abuse.
When my brother, Paul, was 15 he totaled our family car. When you are seven you can’t fully comprehend the dangers and implications of a car wreck that leave the car totaled, but the badly damaged car sat in our driveway for quite a while and I knew that the mangled car in our driveway had something to do with my brother and alcohol.On another occasion my brother beat up my mother, because she wouldn’t let him come in the house because he was drunk. She had the door cracked just enough to tell him that he couldn’t come in, only to have him bust down the door and beat her up. My step father (my biological dad died when I was 14) tried to pull my brother off my mom and he called the cops. Once again my brother was taken to jail.
On another occasion, I had been praying for my brother quite a bit and he agreed to go to church with me. I was so excited that Paul had finally agreed to go to church with me. With excited expectation, I drove to where he was living (which was a construction site since he was homeless) to pick him up for church. As I was walking across this gravel construction site to where my brother stayed, when I got about 10 feet away from him, he comes out slurring his speech and his genitals exposed. I got really, really scared and began to run back to my car and took off out of there. With tears streaming down my face and my excitement turned to hopelessness, I drove to church. At that moment, a piece of my heart closed off towards my brother. That incident gave me a life-long lesson of the pain of alcohol. It was a very long time before I could pray for him again. My faithful prayer partner continues to pray for Paul and his salvation which means so much to me, but the years of pain he has caused our family makes it hard for me to pray for him.
As moms we must be aware of the growing threat that alcohol is to our children. You may be thinking, “But Naomi, my children are in pre-school – I don’t think my kids are drinking.” Thankfully the young ones aren’t, but pre-schoolers are affected by adults who have alcohol issues. Here are some serious statistics:
Rhonda Anderson, Co-Founder of Creative Memories., in her speech to a group of ladies said:
· More than one million children a year are victims of child abuse and alcohol has a strong link to the abuse.
· Alcohol is a leading cause of death among youth, particularly teenagers.
· More children are killed by alcohol than all illegal drugs combined.4
· An estimated 480,000 children are mistreated each year by a caretaker with alcohol problems. 9
· The World Health Organization estimates that about 76 million people throughout the world suffer from alcohol-related disorders.
· According to recent studies, it has been discovered that approximately 53% of adults in the United States have reported that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem.
· The overwhelming majority of youth (74% of 8-17 year-olds; 74% of 8-12 year-olds; 74% of 13-17 year-olds) cite their parents as the primary influence in their decisions about whether they drink alcohol or not..
· Women are more likely to die of cirrhosis of the liver and violence caused by alcohol abuse and die 11 years earlier than their male counterparts.
There is a mistaken belief that the onset for drinking is 12 to 13; this is not the case. Pressure to use alcohol begins much earlier. We should not accept the glamorization of alcohol as acceptable. Children need to internalize a positive sense of self-esteem. This is vital in the development of peer resistance or refusal skills. Children who feel good about themselves are more successful in dealing with pressure to drink. http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/
Alcohol related problems are growing and are becoming frequent with Christian kids and adults. What can we do to protect our kids (and ourselves) so we don’t become one of these alcohol statistics?
What does God’s word have to say about it? To give you some background, the person speaking in the verse is King Lemuel’s mother. Lemuel is another name for King Solomon. And we know that Solomon’s mother is Bathsheba. This is what she said to him:
“Kings and leaders should not get drunk or even want to drink. Drinking makes you forget your responsibilities, and you mistreat the poor. Beer and wine are only for the dying or for those who have lost all hope. Let them drink and forget how poor and miserable they feel.” (Proverbs 31:4-7 CEV)
Bathsheba had some powerful words for her son. We must teach our kids to pay close attention to her opening words. “Kings and leaders should not get drunk or even want to drink.” We believe that everyone is a leader. As the parents of our children, we were the leaders of our family, as you are in yours. Our kids were leaders in the respect that we wanted them to be good role models to the kids around them. Therefore, we concluded that as leaders we would not get drunk and even more specifically we would not drink alcohol at all.
Tim and I told our three children, “If you never take one drink of alcohol, you will never become an alcoholic. It will never get a foot hold in your life with zero use. However, if you start drinking at all, you open the door to the possibility…the possibility that one day, something will cause you to drink too much, too often. Perhaps you’ll have a relationship issue or a work problem that will seem too huge and the Lord may feel distant – like He is not hearing you. Then maybe the only comfort you see available is the alcohol.”
We didn’t want our kids to turn from the Lord and use alcohol as their crutch. We didn’t want them to succumb to all the other issues alcohol could bring, so we challenged them with Bathsheba’s words, “Be a leader and don’t drink at all.”
Jamie gave a brief testimony. He told of how at age 17 he had consumed so much alcohol that it had burned a hole in his stomach (imagine, only 17)! Laying in the emergency room suffering from the stomach pain, he cried out to the Lord. He repented and asked Christ into his life and the Lord miraculously healed his stomach. He didn’t say at what age he started drinking but to have that kind of damage at the age of 17, he either started young, really drank a lot or both. Praise the Lord, what a great guy he is today!
I often hear people say, “The Bible clearly says not to get drunk (which is correct), but it is ok to drink some alcohol because after all, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast.” The original Greek word used for wine in that passage represents both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. One commentator said, “Jesus did not turn water into alcoholic wine at the wedding. John 2:10 says the people had already “drunk freely” or “had their fill”. Since people were already very full of drink, Jesus would certainly not provide more alcoholic drink that would nearly guarantee that the people would drink and become drunk.”
That commentator’s conclusion that Jesus did not make alcoholic wine does seem to make sense – the heart of God does not want people to be drunk. Which then continues the question, should we drink alcohol at all? Please know that I am not here today to tell you what to do in regards to alcohol or to judge you on your personal choices – no, not at all. I simply offer another Biblical perspective along with my story, and the conviction Tim and I had for our family as something to consider. If parents don’t drink alcohol, it does not guarantee that your kids will never be tempted to get drunk or abuse alcohol. But your abstinence would set a high standard as the leader of your family.
As a youth deacon, I have had to confront teens who are using drugs. Their response has been, “What’s the difference between me getting high and my parents drinking?” Besides the fact that one is legal and one is not, there really isn’t much difference. In many ways I feel that it is hypocritical to tell our kids, “Say no to drugs”, while we sit in our lounge chairs drinking wine coolers and beer. Your kids follow in your footsteps more than you may realize, so the choices you make about alcohol will impact them.
I want to share one more scripture verse from Ephesians 5:17-18 LB: “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life…” I want to emphasize the words, “Don’t act thoughtlessly”. I simply ask you to put thought and prayer into the decision you make about alcohol.
Something needs to be done on an individual level with this growing issue of alcohol abuse in our country. What would the Lord have you do???