Alcoholic drink

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An alcoholic drink is a beverage which contains ethanol (C2H5OH), which is an addictive psychoactive depressant, although the initial effects may resemble that of a stimulant. Alcohol consumption tends to lower inhibition, slow reaction time and decrease dexterity. Over-consumption can result in loss of consciousness, coma, or even death. Alcohol has been found in society for thousands of years and in some cases was used in a medicinal capacity. Alcoholic drinks come in a multitude of varieties.

Beer

Beer is a drink produced through the fermentation of malted grains and the addition of hops. Hops give beer its distinctive bitter taste. There are also many types of beers available, each with its own unique brewing method and history. The most popular type of beer in America is the pilsner, noted for its light golden color due to the use of lightly roasted grains. Gaining in popularity are other types of beer such as porters, lagers, wheat-beer, and ales.

Beer was discovered independently by many societies in the past[1]. In ancient Egypt, beer was used to help provide the calories needed and keep the lower classes happy [2]. Within Christianity, beer was often made by monks who used the heavy ales to ease hunger pains while fasting[3].

Wine

Wine is usually made by the fermentation of grapes, but can be made using other fruits, or other parts of plants. Wines, like beer, come in a variety of types with different bouquets and flavors. In ancient times there were many gods of wine that were worshipped[4] (Bacchus, Dionysus, and Geshtin for example). As wine was part of the holy traditions in both Jewish and Christian customs it was important that this wine was not blessed for other gods (which would make it unclean). Kosher and sacramental wine was watched to be sure that it was properly handled and no idolatry was preformed with it[5]. Some branches of Christianity believe that wine was transformed (and continues to be transformed) into the blood of Christ during communion.

Liquor

Liquor is derived from fermented grains or other plants with a high starch content, that are then distilled to increase the alcohol content. Liquors such as rum, tequila and vodka are derived from molasses, agave and grain or potatoes respectively. Some liquors are aged for years to improve flavor.

Biblical References

The Bible speaks of consumption, or over-consumption, multiple times.

According to Proverbs 31:6-7 the Bible recommends giving alcohol to those who are dying or depressed, so that they can forget their misery, although in nearly all other places drinking is heavily discouraged.

It is written:

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" [6]

And similarly:

"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" [7]

The Bible is not clear in these point whether Heaven would be closed to all who became drunk, or only those who drank regularly. However, further Biblical evidence points to the sinful nature of the demon drink:

"The Lord instructed Moses: '…When a man or woman makes a special vow, a Nazirite vow, to consecrate himself to the Lord, he is to abstain from wine and beer… He is not to eat anything produced by the grapevine, from seeds to skin, during his vow'" [8]
"Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself" [9]
"But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb" [10]

Noah, singled out by God as a just man ("But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." Genesis 6: 8-9) still indulged in strong drink.

"And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent." [11]

Most biblical scholars agree that occasional wine is not spiritually harmful, but drunkenness, and certainly regular drunkenness, constitutes sin; as it takes you out of your normal state of mind and alters your will and ability to make good decisions. Not to mention the potentially serious physical ramifications of alcoholism which include liver disease as well as an increased risk of heart disease (but not when consumed in moderation).

Jesus himself was not opposed to the consumption of wine- one of the first miracles recorded in the Gospel of John has him turn water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2). It can be assumed that the guests had already been drinking immoderately, since they had consumed all the alcohol available to them. Matthew 11:19 also refers to Jesus being called a 'glutton and a drunkard', possibly unfairly. Some biblical scholars argue that the alcohol content of wine in that day was negligible compared to the wine of today.[12]


In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul counsels:

"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."

Alcohol and Mormons

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) follow a law of health known as the Word of Wisdom which includes abstaining from alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol and Islam

Islam is less ambiguous regarding its intolerance for alcohol, as evidenced by the following verse:

"O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed." (Koran 5(Al Ma'idah): 90).

Consumption of alcohol is banned in several countries including Iran and Saudi Arabia, in similar fashion to "dry" counties in the United States. However, penalties for infractions are more stringent and in conformity with conservative moral standards in Islamic states. [13] [14]

Alcohol and depression

Alcohol is often an easy but false solution in case of sadness, desperation or depression. This easily leads to chronic alcoholism and self destruction. A much better solution in case of need is the Church, which doesn't judge but is always willing to help one to find joy and meaning in life.

See also

References

  1. History of Beer, Fosters Australia
  2. Ancient Egyptian Alcohol, thekeep.com
  3. Beer in the Middle Ages, Eat Online
  4. Wine, Religion, and Gods, Wineintro.com
  5. What Makes a Wine Kosher?, Gems in Israel
  6. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  7. Galatians 5:19-21
  8. Numbers 6:1-4
  9. Daniel 1:8
  10. Luke 1:13-15
  11. Genesis 9:20-21
  12. http://www.streetdirectory.com/restaurants/articles/67/wine/the_wine_of_israel_and_wine_in_biblical_times.html
  13. Alcohol: Legal Status
  14. Alcohol consumption in Saudi Arabia