Drunkenness and Debauchery

The headline was sensational: “Help! I Just Accidentally Slept with 25 Men and I Don’t Know Who the Father Is…” Although I grieve for this young woman and her unborn child, I can’t help notice the word, “accidentally.” It is hard to learn from moral failures, if you don’t accept moral responsibility. I’m reminded of Theodore Dalrymple’s book, In Praise of Prejudice. No, Dalrymple is not a racist, and the book is not about that kind of prejudice. He notes that many people in our culture seem to lack the ability to prejudge certain actions as leading to bad consequences. They live in a moral fog, and they suffer painful consequences because they lack prudence — the ability to see moral danger ahead.

What was this young woman’s story? She became drunk. She watched porn with these men. She fornicated with these men. She became pregnant.

Scripture warns against drunkenness and calls it sin:

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11 ESV, emphasis added)

“… nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:10 ESV, emphasis added)

“…envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21 ESV, emphasis added)

But scripture also gives us a clue as to why drunkenness is bad. It is linked to debauchery: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery. . .” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV). This term probably doesn’t communicate with us very well unless we look it up. It means recklessness. Several translations attempt to convey the sense to English readers: “leads to reckless actions” HCSB, “ruin your life” NLT, “don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk” CEV. Drunkenness is wrong because it leads to a loss of inhibitions, which means a loss of moral judgment. Bad things tend to follow.

Although our culture attempts to stigmatize drunk driving, it seems over the past few decades there has been some loss of stigma attached to drunkenness. One piece of evidence is the fact that FaceBook is working on a filter to determine whether your posted picture is of someone drunk or sober. Drunk photos are getting people in trouble with their employers. Don’t be fooled. Salvation does hang in the balance. These two things do go together — drunkenness and debauchery.

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