Some Christian denominations take no stance on the issue of alcohol drinking — allowing believers to make the decision for themselves.
On the one hand, Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine. On the other hand, in Ephesians 5:18 we read, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Denominations such as the Seventh Day Adventists, the Baptists, the Nazarenes and the Salvation Army all believe Christians should abstain from alcohol.
The Bible is clear that we should avoid a lifestyle of drunkenness.
Yet even across secular America today, people are embracing the sober lifestyle for its health benefits — and that includes millennials.
As the culture puts a higher value on health and wellness, there’s been a global decrease in the total number of drinkers since 2000. The World Health Organization says that people who drink have declined from 47.6 percent down to 43 percent; the biggest culture changes are emerging in Europe, particularly Russia and Eastern Europe.
Millennials, in particular, have a waning interest in consuming alcohol. Although millennial consumers aren’t sprinting away from alcohol as they did with tobacco, they are choosing to drink somewhat less. This is due, in part, to their general aversion to wasting money on consumables. Millennials generally prefer to spend their money differently than older generations do.
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Additionally, young people may be moving toward consuming less alcohol because they’re increasing their consumption of marijuana — as the drug has become easier to access legally in the United States.
Choosing sobriety, especially if one has struggled with addiction, may feel like missing out on a party. Alcohol shows up when people want to celebrate, relax, dine out — even mourn.
That’s why support systems are key for helping people who enjoy alcohol but know it’s bad for them. They need others around them to acknowledge, “Yeah, this can be really really hard. I’m wrestling with it, too.”
Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous offer powerful communities to support those pursuing sobriety. Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program born out Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, holds meetings at churches nationwide. However, the AA and/or Celebrate Recovery communities may not be the right groups for people who are interested in drinking less but who aren’t alcoholics.
Alternatively, people who identify as alcoholics may want auxiliary support aside from their 12-step meetings to help them in their recovery.
There are many wonderful thought leaders today who discuss sober living on their podcasts, in their books and in their online communities.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Russell Brand: Brand has been extremely vocal about his sobriety; he published a book called “Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions” in 2017. The book explores AA’s philosophies but reframes the 12-steps in a more modern and humorous tone.
Dax Shepard: The actor has been sober since 2004. He hosts the weekly hit podcast “Armchair Expert” and the topic of abstaining from alcohol comes up often on the show.
Anne Lamott: Lamott is a beloved Christian author who speaks frequently about her sobriety. Her New York Times best-seller “Help Thanks Wow” offers modern prayers through a very authentic lens.
Nadia Bolz-Weber: Bolz-Weber rose to prominence as an edgy and counter-cultural Lutheran minister. She’s been sober since 1996 and speaks frequently about abstaining from alcohol. Check out The New York Times best-seller “Pastrix” for a great introduction to her work.
The Seltzer Squad: There are many great podcasts that discuss sobriety, but we particularly love this one.
Historically, the CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has promoted healthy moderate drinking recommendations. Men should consume no more than two drinks daily; women should consume no more than one drink daily.
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However, a robust study published in The Lancet in 2018 recommended even lower alcohol consumption than that.
Notably, men were advised to reduce their consumption to one drink per day.
Having more than seven drinks a week begins to erode one’s health. If someone drinks an average of two glasses a day, statistically that person is cutting his or her life short by six months.
At 3.5 drinks a day, the person has shaved five years from his life.
The Seventh Day Adventists have been studied for their remarkably long lifespans. This Christian denomination believes they should treat their body as a temple — and that means abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and meat consumption. The more one drinks, the less the body is honored as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
While the Bible doesn’t specifically command believers to abstain from alcohol, it certainly seems that God wants the faithful to avoid drunkenness for both spiritual and health reasons.
One thing is clear: As our culture shifts toward drinking less and celebrating people who chose sober lifestyles, we’ll all be healthier as a result.
Talitha Baker is a writer for Lightworkers, whose mission is to create engaging, uplifting and inspirational content.