Yeah, I’ve been there. I know the unwritten rules.
NEVER sit at the table of nerds for lunch.
NEVER let that ugly Mickey Mouse sweatshirt your Grandma gave you leave the closet.
And NEVER, I mean NEVER, let your mom drop you off at school, a dance, or a party–EVER.
I also know what happens when one of these rules in broken: there are some serious social consequences. Fear consumes us at the thought of being mocked, laughed at, or dare I say, thrust into outcast society. So how come social consequences scare us, while real life physical consequences never enter our minds, or worse, drive us? This is high school; I remember it well.
Drinking in high school; it happens. Well, actually, it doesn’t “just happen.” Alcohol is the “drug of choice” for teens. That doesn’t surprise me, and I’m sure it isn’t a surprise for you either. At my high school, I am fairly confident that out of my graduating class of 67, I was one of ten or fifteen that hadn’t drank alcohol. (I guess that’s where social consequences come in again. If you don’t go to the party and drink, they won’t like you.)
I’ll be honest: Personally, the thought of drinking in high school scared me to death. I had too much to lose. The thoughts that flooded my mind were, “If I get caught, I’ll get kicked off my sports teams, let my parents down, and risk losing college scholarships.” I was too proud to lose all that. But believe me, there were plenty of times that I tried to justify drinking: “If I experiment with it now, then I’ll know why it is so bad,” “If I go to the party, I’ll be able to witness to a whole bunch of people that need Christ,” and the most ridiculous justification of all, “Jesus turned water into wine, so it can’t be that wrong.” (SIDEBAR: Let’s clarify one thing, drinking isn’t wrong; drinking underage is wrong and getting drunk is wrong, but we’ll talk about that later.)
Now, being the incredibly wise…cough…cough..19 year old…cough that I am today, I’ve found some truly life-altering consequences of underage drinking; we have a lot more to lose than basketball or our reputations. May I share my wealth of wisdom?
- Every year, about 1900 people under 21 die in car crashes that involved underage drinking.
- Alcohol is a factor in about 1,600 homicides and 300 suicides for people under 21.
- 40 percent of people who start drinking before age 15 will become alcohol-dependent sometime in their life.
- Find more cold, hard facts at www.NIAAA.com
Whoa. And we’re more concerned about how we look in front of people? Drinking isn’t just a fun thing to do on the weekend. It isn’t a way to ease our troubles. It isn’t just something to experiment with. When we use alcohol stupidly, we’re flirting with death.
Wait, wait, wait a second. Aren’t we forgetting about somebody? No, not ourselves, and certainly not “other people.” I’ll give you one hint-He’s the “water-into-wine” guy. Yeah, what does God has to say about all this?
Paul writes in Romans 13 about submitting to authorities (you know, like the
U.S. government); check it out sometime, it’s pretty sweet: “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” (vs. 1-2). God set up authorities to keep us protected and also to show us how we ought to live. In the first commandment, God instructs us to “have no other gods before me…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3, 5b). God desires for us submit to Him and do His will above our own will and even above the will of our friends. All the time.
Several times throughout Paul’s letters, he reminds the people of this notion. Take, for instance, Galatians 5: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (vs. 19-21a). Drunkenness is the worship of alcohol. It is neglecting who we have been made in Christ.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We were bought at a price. Christ spent His life to buy us back from sin. Redemption from our life of sin came through the cross. How many ways can we say it? Our lives were not cheap, yet we spend them cheaply through nights of “fun” and careless decisions. Those careless decisions include underage drinking, indulging our sexual desires, spending every penny we have on the things of this world. You know, we don’t have to live this way. The spiritual consequences are far too great.