Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.Ephesians 5:18
In yesterday’s post, we began to consider why we should avoid drunkenness. Ephesians 5:18 answers this question by pointing to one result of inebriation, namely, debauchery, or “vicious indulgence in sensual pleasures.”
The Apostle Paul had no doubt witnessed the causal link between drunkenness and debauchery. Alcohol abuse was a pervasive problem in the Greco-Roman world, and it was often associated with immoral behavior, even with pagan religious rituals.
The connection between drunkenness and debauchery, so common in the first century A.D., is also common today. People get drunk, in part, because of the sensual pleasure associated with inebriation itself. But, part of the “fun” of drunkenness is the freedom that comes when one’s standards are lowered. Sometimes this means nothing more than excessive silliness. But, often, drunk people engage in sensual pleasures that they would consider wrong when they are sober. Sometimes they do so as agents of inappropriateness. Sometimes they are the victims of indecent, abusive behavior.
I think, for example of two young women from my church in California. One got drunk at a party and engaged in sexual activity that she would have avoided if she had been sober. This was bad enough, but the fact that somebody took a picture of the event and circulated it around school was terribly traumatic. (This was before the age of online social media!) Her high school experience was ruined by what happened that night. Another high school girl was at a party where others were drinking. Though she did not indulge, she ended up the victim of sexual assault, after which she became pregnant. Her life was forever altered by what happened to her at that party.
These days, we hear a lot about sexual misconduct on college campuses. Much of this happens in the context of alcohol abuse. One recent study found that 80% of sexual assaults on campus were associated with alcohol. The pain associated with debauchery is all too real to its victims. We who follow Yahushua Mashiach can avoid much of this trauma in our own lives by choosing not to abuse alcohol or put ourselves in contexts where drunkenness reigns. Yet, even more, we can help others by watching out for them. We can offer healing love to those who have suffered because of what they have done or what has been done to them. We can contribute to the establishment of wise policies to protect students and others. We can help shape an alternative to the “party culture” so common today, one in which we delight in God’s gifts without misusing them. We can, by our words and deeds, point to a better life, the abundant life found in Yahushua Mashiach.
(Mark D. Roberts)
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you experienced, either in your own life or in the lives of others, the negative results of alcohol abuse? Have you experienced or witnessed God’s healing in such circumstances? How might God use you to bring his grace to others or to create a community in which alcohol (and people!) are not abused?
Gracious God, we need your help when it comes to alcohol abuse. Some of us need your help in our own lives. Others of us need help to bring healing and hope to others. May we live so as to experience the very best you have for us. And may we be channels of grace to others, even as we create communities of sober celebration and grace-filled wholeness. In the mighty name of Yahushua, Amen.