An Adventure in Proverbs Chapter 20 - What's the deal with drinking?

This is such a great quote, its profound but it also just sounds funny to me.  Beer is a brawler!

Proverbs 20:1

"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
    whoever is led astray by them is not wise."  - NIV

"Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome—
    a staggering drunk is not much fun."  The Message

There has been much debate over drinking amongst Christians over the years. On the one hand the scriptures are very clear that we aren't to abuse alcohol or get drunk (Don't get drunk on wine, but rather be filled with the Spirit. -  Ephesians 5:18). Yet on the other hand, Jesus turned 100+ gallons of water into fine wine at a wedding party. (John 2)

On the one hand we are free in Christ, everything is permissible, and Jesus served wine to his friends at the last supper.

Yet on the other hand we see Noah's drunkeness (Genesis 9) lead to his downfall, and throughout the grand plot of the Bible drinking rarely if ever leads to anything good. So, what's the deal?

In my work with high school people over the past 25 years this topic has come up as much as any. Unfortunately, high school people make the error of judging their (and everyone else's) spiritual maturity by whether or not that person consumes alcohol. Of course, in some ways they are correct, because there is very little high school drinking that doesn't intentionally end in drunkenness or extreme drunkenness. However, whether or not you drink or not is not necessarily a good barometer on your spiritual condition as is illustrated in the above mentioned scriptures.

So Jesus drank wine. Fact. Hard to argue that he didn't. So if Jesus did it, it must be ok for you to do it too, right?

Yep.  Of course the big differentiator is this. Why are you drinking wine (or beer or whatever)?  If the purpose is to get drunk then Ephesians is pretty clear, don't do that, but rather let God's Spirit bring you the joy or relief, or relaxation, or whatever it is your trying to drink away.  But.....

What's wrong with getting a little drunk (or heck, a lot drunk)?

Good question, what IS wrong with a little bit of partying and getting crazy every once in a while (as long as your not struggling with alcoholism)?

My take is this..... I think all of God's laws/commands/guidelines/ are meant to be practical and beneficial for you and I. So when God says it's not a good idea to get drunk it's for our own protection.  "But what about if I don't drink and drive, etc?"  I think this goes beyond physical safety. God is concerned about that, obviously, but I think he is equally concerned with all the subsidiary damage that drunkenness can cause as well. 

We've all been around people who did things, said things, promised things, tried things while they were drunk that they never would have dreamed of doing, saying, promised or tried when they were sober. I think this is the MAIN REASON why God asks us to abstain from getting drunk, because we cause harm to others and ourselves when we are in that state.

Think about how much heartache could be avoided in relationships if people didn't say, do, promise things when they were drunk. We all know stories that start with "I had too much to drink and then...... " or end with "...none of that would have happened if I hadn't been drunk", so avoiding that state of potential poor decision making is just a better way to live. 

One last thought on this.... the victims of drunken behavior are nearly always innocent bystanders, family members, or those we are in close relationships with, oftentimes women and children. In my own experience, I'v seen drunkenness affect people in romantic (non-married) relationships more times than I can count, and this always results in pain, heartache and emotional scarring for both parties.  If we could somehow magically end drunkenness forever it would be a huge benefit to women and children and our own relationships.   

PS - I don't have statistics on women and children being the victims of drunkenness, but I think with all kinds of abuse that takes place in our world that it is safe to assume that drunkenness only exacerbates those situations.