As we approach the holiday season with its festivities, the topic of social drinking becomes particularly prominent. There are individuals who question the association of alcohol with the Christmas celebration of spiritual innocence, of Christ Jesus' unparalleled triumph over worldly passion and selfishness. Perhaps you have questioned this yourself.
But sometimes people feel that the world so associates celebration and sociability with drinking that it would be unsociable not to join in.
During my early college years I drank moderately on social occasions and wasn't much concerned about the effects of drinking on my life. One year at that time I lived in a country where wine accompanies nearly every meal. Toward the end of college, though, I was beginning to think more deeply about the whole question of drinking. I had become interested in Christian Science and had experienced a wonderful physical healing through prayer. I wanted to understand more about how this healing had come about.
I learned that to heal spiritually requires high moral and spiritual standards. It requires purification of thought and a way of life free from addictions or anything that supports them. A friend who had experienced many healings through prayer in Christian Science talked freely of her total abstinence - or as she referred to it, total freedomm - from alcohol. She said that she would never accept a drink, because she felt it would inhibit her freedom to be her God-inspired self! She said that she viewed herself as God's satisfied image and that she didn't want any false sense of being ''relaxed'' through alcohol to spoil or blur the clarity and peace she felt to be inherent in her God-given identity. She also didn't want even marginally to support consumption of alcohol because of the tragic suffering it causes in so many ways.
I really admired her and began to see that the qualities that made her such a welcome friend came from God, who gives each of us what we truly need. Alcohol simply can't provide the satisfaction and love and acceptability we really want. These things derive from God alone.
For a while I felt awkward refusing a drink. I rationalized that I was a ''temperate'' user of alcohol, that I didn't ''misuse'' it. But I continued to feel uncomfortable about drinking. Ambivalence had led me just to accept a drink and hold it in my hand without actually drinking it. I began to see, though, that the real issue wasn't just a matter of notm doing something (drinking) but of actively doingm something. It was a matter of exercising my spiritual freedom and God-given qualities, of living in harmony with my actual selfhood, which, expressing God's nature, is spiritual, not physiological; fulfilled, not unfulfilled; perpetually loved, never left out.
For me, spiritual freedom, including the freedom to heal myself and others through prayer, was becoming more and more precious. I wanted my understanding in this area to be preserved and to grow. On the basis of this honest desire, I made the clear choice for total abstinence - total freedomm - from alcohol. Now I'm reminded of the Psalmist's song, ''Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.'' n1
n1 Psalms 145:16.
My desire to feel secure and at ease and to grow in spiritual understanding has been met, and continues to be. Certainly, freedom from social drinking has not limited in any way my ability to be sociable with others; just the opposite. I've never again felt defensive about turning down a drink, and neither do I feel self-righteous. Freedom from alcohol has helped me develop the self-discipline needed for growth in Christian faith, including the ability to help and heal others through prayer.
''Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy n2 in the Christian Science textbook. ''Truth makes man free.'' n3 Surely anyone who honestly desires to be peacefully free of social drinking canm be free of it - permanently. And be satisfied. The integrity one expresses in this way may strengthen another and result in many blessings, not only during the holiday season but far beyond.
n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 225.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Abstain From all appearance of evil. I Thessalonians 5:22