By Julie Yee

The off-on-off Oktoberfest Better Beer Festival in the Klang Valley has attracted endless debates with raging emotions from religious gurus to politicians to drinkers/non-drinkers to internet critics. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, Malaysians have a host of things to spew on social media. Telling the authorities to MYOB, they should instead go after the Mat Rempits, the sexual perverts, the corrupted politicians, etc and leave those who wish to drink alone.

As Christians, let’s not be so quick to hit the “ Like” button.

When I was growing up, I often hear our mothers lament, “Three things that can ruin a man’s life are drinking, gambling and womanizing. These days, not only do men drink but women do too. I realize there is much truth in the old saying. We stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, anxiously waiting for our spouse and teenage children to return from their social events for fear that they got drunk and got into a road accident. There is no guarantee that those who attend church services regularly do not drink, gamble, smoke, or party around.

Since the latest hype is on the beer festival, let’s share some of the likely reasons why people hit the bottle.

  1. First-time experience. Fresh into college or university, or when they start working, young people face a dramatic change in terms of independence, freedom, social and emotional needs, and finding their own values.
  2. Curiosity due to influence from role models. Family and friends are the primary role models whether knowingly or unwillingly. Travelers often head to the duty free shops at airports upon their return to purchase liquor for themselves or others. Aren’t we sending out the wrong message to our children even if we are buying them for other people?
  3. Peer pressure. Almost everyone wants to fit in the social circle, to feel accepted and be part of the social setting or environment.
  4. Relieve stress. For some people, “happy hours” is their favourite time when they can unwind after a hard day’s work and destress.
  5. Culturally and easily accessible. In Munich where the Oktoberfest started, it’s a 2-week celebration and being the country with the most breweries, you can understand why. Beer is cheaper than Coke and it is readily available. It is also an acceptable norm to drink socially.
  6. Forget their problems. Those who are perishing and in bitter distress drink to drown their sorrows (Proverbs 31:6).

To drink or not to drink.

You might quote I Cor. 10:23-24 ““All things are lawful (permissible) for me, but remember NOT all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but NOT all things edify.”

But then again don’t forget I Tim 5:23: “Yes, use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” In certain situations such as the confinement of new mothers, alcohol is consumed and used to prepare dishes for health purposes No one blinks an eye or take offense. And as far as I know, no mothers have become addicted to drinking from their consumption of alcohol during their confinement month!

Here are some ill effects of drinking or getting drunk:

Forget duties and responsibilities. Kings, like Lemuel for instance, were admonished not to drink, lest they forget what has been decreed and deprive the oppressed of their rights (Prov 31: 4-5). We read of kings who became weak due to drinks and were manipulated by those close to them and their empire were overthrown. I have seen how a man’s career went from high to low; his children hate him and his wife was reduced to depression after years of bashing from him.

Dishonour the temple of God. If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. (1 Cor. 3:17 -20).

Introduced to drugs, ecstasy pills, etc. When you drink in social events or parties, sometimes drugs and ecstasy pills are introduced.  You may be vulnerable and your innocence gets snatched away, just like that.

Sexual immorality. The daughters of Lot sinned when they plotted to sleep with their father by making him drink wine. (Genesis 19:32-38).

Trade their bodies or family for drinks. “And have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine” (Joel 3:3).

Stumble in giving judgement. “These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment” (Isaiah 28:7).

Addiction. “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands” (Isaiah 5:11-12).

Shame yourself.  “Woe to him who makes his neighbours drink—you pour out your wrath and make them drunk,   in order to gaze at their nakedness!”(Habakkuk 2:15-16).

So to our husbands, sons and daughters, remember the admonition from the scriptures. The family of the Rechabites was a fine example. When pitchers full of wine and cups were set before them, they remembered the commands of their father, Jonadab the son of Rechab. “We have obeyed the voice …. in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters in Jeremiah 35:8.

You can make the right choice.