A Sober Decision

Posted by Jeff Iorg on with 1 Comments

One of my former assistants was a recovering alcoholic. When we celebrated her 25th year of sobriety, she made this observation.

“When I tell people why I gave up drinking, they congratulate me.  When you tell people you don’t drink, they think you’re judgmental.  That’s backwards to me. Why do people pat a person on the back who nearly destroyed her life with alcohol and criticize a person who never started drinking in the first place?”

Menacing Wine Glass

She went on to thank me for an “alcohol-free” workplace and for requiring students to abstain from using alcohol as part of being role models for others. Our alcohol abstinence policy is controversial for some. They believe social drinking is essential to building community, cultural relevancy, and relational connectedness. It’s not, but those are myths many people believe. They condemn drunkenness, but usually advocate for moderate drinking as healthy and socially responsible.

Well, turns out that’s not the case.  A recent major report – based on combining data from almost 1300 studies involving 28 million people globally – reached the following conclusion: no amount of alcohol use is healthy.

According to the lead author of the study, Max Griswold of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, “Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increase with any amount of alcohol.” He added, “The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to shed light on how much alcohol contributes to global death and disability. If everyone cut their alcohol consumption in half, we could save a million lives globally.”

Benefits of alcohol abuse are illusionary. Real results are tangible – vitality lost, relationships mangled, families destroyed, and health care and social service systems struggling to clean up the damage. Sometimes, simple solutions are best: stop using alcohol. You – and everyone around you – will be better for it.

The USA Today Article is here.


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Scott Longwell Aug 28, 2018 2:29pm

Dr Iorg,
I agree with you that sobriety is best for pastors and laypeople. However, I think SBC Clergy and laypeople have a much more noticable issue than alcohol: Gluttony. In a paper for DMIN 427, during my DMIN Studies at GGBTS I wrote,

"We have Christian leaders in our own denomination, railing against any amount of alcohol consumption, who are so fat, they have not seen their own feet in twenty years. Alison Buckholtz quoted this study in a Washington Post article on March 28, 2006, “A national survey of more than 2,500 religious leaders conducted in 2004 by Pulpit and Pew, a research project on pastoral leadership based at Duke Divinity School, found that 76 percent of Christian clergy were either overweight or obese, compared with 61 percent of the general population.”

The Scriptures are clear that gluttony of any kind is a sin. Solomon makes it clear in Proverbs where he writes, “Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite,” (Prov. 23:2-3, MSG). Later in the same chapter Solomon writes, “Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags (Prov. 23:20-21, MSG).
Healthy and strategic leaders know that you cannot teach people about truths that you are not willing to personally model. Christian leaders must find time to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep so they can lead in a way that pleases and honors God and therefore, be a model to those who are relying on and following their lead."

It is important for our pastors to be examples both spiritually and physically to those we lead. I would like to see you write a blog post on that. Thanks you for your leadership at Gateway!