The Benefits of Being Alcohol-free

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BY DANAE RITTENOUR, a college student 

i grew up in an Adventist home. I’ve had a Christian education. None of my friends drink alcohol. At first, choosing to abstain from drinking seems like a distant issue. But when I think about it further, it is an issue that has touched my life. Not drinking is a conscious choice I have made. I recently had a friendly debate with an Internet friend who held that “drinking in moderation is quite harmless.” In fact, “Christians who go around saying you should never touch alcohol do more harm than good.” Because I see myself as one of those Christians, the comment got me to thinking. I felt that I disagreed, but why?

I came up with several reasons, but one reason was especially close to my heart. Although I have been blessed in growing up in a home without alcohol, alcoholism is a problem for some members of my extended family. I see broken homes--and broken children, angry and hurting, who didn’t choose the environment they’ve had to deal with. I see the weakness of the individuals themselves, who can’t (or don’t) choose to break free from their addiction. I see shame, poverty, bondage. When I see the anguish it causes, how can I condone even a slight use of alcohol? My choice to abstain from alcoholic beverages is not for myself alone, but for my future family as well. I will not, with God’s help, ever start such a cycle of pain.

Right now, as a young adult and college student, I can already see how this choice has benefited me. It has kept me out of a negative peer group. Instead, my friendships have been uplifting (and awesome)! Choosing this environment has protected my purity. Also, I don’t risk my life stepping into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver, nor drive that way myself. I’m able to put more effort and ability into my studies than some of my peers, whose partying habits haven’t benefited their education

The greatest question to me is not if it is wrong to drink alcohol, but rather, “What decision does God want me to make?” In addition to how alcohol would affect me as a person, I have a responsibility to others. A text that comes to mind is, “Shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” (1 Cor. 8:11, NKJV).* Maybe I wouldn’t become an alcoholic, drop out of college, and live on welfare, but what does my example say to those around me?

I can think of more than one friend who is in a position of easily being led into a harmful lifestyle, and the very thought of my influence dragging them lower--even slightly--makes the issue very real and sobering. Through God I want my choice in this matter to bring me, and others as well, only closer to Him.

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