No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. 1 Timothy 5:23
One drink is too many and a thousand is never enough. For the alcoholic, even one drink is often disastrous. Still, I can’t begin to tell you how many problem drinkers I’ve met who, after a time of sobriety, have convinced themselves they could have just one. I’m fine now. My friends can have just one drink with dinner. I think I can too. Maybe they do have just one . . . a couple of times. Once that threshold is crossed though, it’s only a matter of time until they lose control. For the alcoholic one drink is never enough. Eventually it turns into one after the other until something bad happens.
The problem of course, is that there are normal people – normies – who can have just one drink and walk away. One drink doesn’t make them lose control. One drink doesn’t turn into ten. One drink doesn’t end up with regrettable decisions, wrecked cars, destroyed marriages, and jail time. Those of us who’ve been addicted don’t understand normies, but we envy them. And eventually, most of us start thinking that we can be like them. I can control it this time. I’ll just have one.
Today’s passage doesn’t help our one drink thinking. In it, Paul told Timothy that he should partake of a little wine. For whatever reason, Paul prescribed alcohol for the sake of Timothy’s frequent digestive ailments. Apparently, Timothy abstained from all alcohol, which Paul didn’t feel was healthy. The problem for those of us who want to be able to have a drink, is that in today’s passage, Paul actually endorsed drinking. If it was good for Timothy and if Paul commanded it, then it can’t be wrong, right? We want so badly to be normal – or maybe we just want an excuse to drink – that we look for anything to justify our behavior.
No one is truly normal though. We all have different things with which struggle. One may struggle with alcohol while another struggles with food or shopping. We may not like our struggle and we may not feel it’s fair when we see others who don’t struggle with that thing. Justifying a return to our self-destruction simply because others can do it though, isn’t helpful. If we desire to be free from slavery to our struggle, then daily, we must do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from it. Yes, some people can drink, but if that’s our struggle, then we’re not one of those people. In seeking the new life, we must leave behind the old one, even if others seem to be able to enjoy it.