One of the biggest dilemmas facing Christian teens today is how to handle the pressure to drink alcohol. The issue of drinking continues to be debated among Christian denominations (some abstain while others recommend moderation), yet that debate can create some confusion for Christian teens. Here are some facts, scripture, and truths about alcohol to help Christian teens to make Godly decisions:
Some Interesting Statistics About Teens and Drinking
Per the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, there are 3 million teens suffering from full-blown alcoholism. That number does not even include the millions more that have an unmanageable drinking problem. Also, teens that begin drinking before age 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who wait until they are 21.
A far greater concern is that alcohol is a major factor in the 3 leading causes of death for people age 15 to 24 - car crashes, murders, and suicides. The fact that alcohol contributes to the leading causes of death should be of more concern to Christian teens, because it doesn't mean that the teen who is harmed has to be the drinker. For instance, 75 percent of rapes happen when at least one party is under the influence of alcohol.
What Alcohol Does to Christian Teens
Alcohol has very specific effects on the body. Here are some of the effects that alcohol has on everyone who drinks it:
- Dehydration. Most people don't realize that alcohol actually pulls water from the body and the brain. In fact, it is actually dehydration of the brain that causes the typical hangover.
- Dulled senses. If you drink your five senses just don't work the way they would when you are sober.
- Decreased reaction time. One of the reasons alcohol use is a major cause of fatal accidents is because people cannot react as quickly when they are under the influence. If you drink you will not be able to think as quickly in questionable situations.
- Impaired judgement. One of the first things to go when you drink is your judgement. Your inhibitions decrease and you are more likely to make poor decisions.
- Impaired memory. When under the influence your memory is not very good, yet long-term use causes even further memory damage.
- Weight gain. If you are one of those Christian teens concerned about your weight, then drinking alcohol should be avoided. Alcohol is pure sugar and slows down the metabolism. It also causes hunger as the sugar is digested, so you may end up eating foods that cause even further weight gain.
While the above effects happen in everyone who drinks, extreme drinking can also cause coma or death. The body can only ingest so much alcohol before its systems start shutting down. Even long term use has some ugly effects such as cauliflowering of the nose and ears, loss of long term memory, heart problems, obesity, premature dementia, loss of bladder control, and slurred speech (even when sober).
Legal Issues Associated with Teen Drinking
While all of the physiological effects and statistics about drinking sound scary, many Christian teens adhere to the philosophy, "Well, it won't happen to me." Most of us like to believe that those bad things won't happen to us. It is for this reason that legislators in many countries have created a legal drinking age. Thus, if you are under that drinking age (in the U.S. it is 21), you cannot purchase or drink alcohol legally.
So, what does that mean for Christian teens? Well, the Bible says that Christians are to follow the law of the land. If you are breaking the law by drinking when you are not of legal age, then you are also not doing right in God's eyes.
Romans 13: 1-2 - "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." (NIV)
What Else Does the Bible Say About Alcohol?
Much of the debate over drinking comes from the known effects of alcohol. Many denominations feel that the effects of alcohol pull people away from a relationship with God, so they ban any use of alcohol. Others feel that drinking in itself is not sinful (after all, Jesus turned water into wine), but that excessive drinking can be sinful. Whether you adhere to one philosophy on drinking or the other, you need to know that God is with you, helping you to make the best decisions for you.
Ephesians 5:18 - "Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you." (NLT)
1 Corinthians 10:13 - "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (NLT)