No Good Drunk

The first man to get drunk that we know about was Noah. He’s given credit for consummate obedience in the matter of the ark, he’s given credit for cultivating science in the matter of the vine, and he’s given no free pass in the matter of his overindulgence. He sinned, albeit in the privacy of his tent, because he drank too much.

We ought to appreciate Noah’s viniculture. As the psalmist sings, God causes plants to grow that man cultivates for wine that gladdens man’s heart (Psalm 104:15). Drinking wine and beer and strong drink can be done for God’s glory; the Israelites were commanded to do it as worship during certain festivals (Deuteronomy 14:26). The goodness of fermented grain and grapes is something that not everyone is persuaded of, and it’s worth more attention at another time. But what must be received without question or qualification is that drunkenness is always wrong.

God prohibits it in both Testaments, before and after the coming of His Son (Ephesians 5:18). Drunkenness is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:21). Drunks are listed among sinners who cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

The reason for the prohibition is that drunkenness scotches the image of God in man. It disrupts, if not ruins, relationships and it impairs ability to fulfill responsibilities. Drunkenness is a state of control by something else when, for Christians, we are to be controlled by the Spirit.

Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, is no good god. The best he offers is forgetfulness and, even that is temporary and incomplete. As Jim West has written, unbelievers drink to forget but believers drink to remember and to give thanks to God for specific gifts. That can’t happen when the brain is foggy. Drunkenness is not funny and it is not godly, not ever.

Getting Accustomed Again

Noah was 600 years old when the rain came down and the floods came up. He spent one of our entire lifetimes just building the ark. That project kept him busy, but life was basically the same for him until the day the Lord shut him in safety. A year later when he disembarked, life was similar and yet it could not be the same as before.

As Christians, we learned one way of living before the way of salvation. Some spent a long time in the world’s workshop, others less. But length of life in sin isn’t an excuse for staying in sin; we are all called to leave the old and live in the new. Naturally this is difficult. We have to relearn how to talk, how to relate, how to work, how to worship. We had ways of going about it before, now we have to get accustomed to going about it like Christ.

Some persons want to get on the ark and get off again with everything the same as before. They want salvation from sin and to keep living in ways that required their salvation. They might as well try to stay dry while giving a bath to a pack of lions.

The church is the people relearning to walk. We don’t always take every step in the right direction, but we keep coming together as fellow-citizens of Christ’s Kingdom to renew our training in faithful obedience. The communion meal is part of the program reminding us to give thanks to God who sent us a Savior from the flood of judgment we deserved.