Choosing not to drink

A Christian Science perspective.

Recently I went to a local fish market to buy some fresh lobsters and crabs. As I was paying the bill, the young fisherman who waited on me said, “There’s nothing like a hot steamed lobster and a cold beer.” He then added, “Actually, I don’t drink anymore, and I feel so much better about myself. My life has definitely changed.”

I told him about a man I know who gained his victory over alcoholism and also found his life dramatically changed. He now has a full-time job that enables him to pay his rent. He has bought a new musical instrument for teaching his pupils, and he is in the process of reading through the Bible.

The young man at the fish market was so happy to be free from drinking that his face glowed with gratitude. His eyes were bright and focused.

People choose not to drink for different reasons. They may have learned from others, whether from family, friends, or their religious training, that drinking is not good. That’s all they need to stay sober. Others have had to go deeper and have found their own reasons not to drink.

These deeper reasons can be found in understanding our relationship to God as our creator. Cherishing our spiritual identity, knowing that we reflect only God, good, as explained in Christian Science, not only conquers temptation, but also the belief that it takes incredible human effort to gain self-control and dominion. True dominion is divinely instilled in each of us. God, divine Love, has created each of us, and we are the expression of this Love, the manifestation of God and His goodness. As this divine fact is realized, any temptation to depart from that loving relationship to God, our Father-Mother, becomes powerless. In reality, we couldn’t depart from our relationship to God, even if we wanted to.

This spiritual awakening instills in us a natural self-control and individual dominion in thought and action. A growing understanding of our true selfhood as ideas of God helps us see and experience God’s government of our daily lives and behavior. God’s man – the real man, a term that includes both manhood and womanhood – possesses control, self-respect, and dignity.

Those who want to gain their freedom from alcohol, or other substances, often find that it requires determination and persistent effort, but more than just human willpower. The road to recovery can begin with a desire to value one’s self as God’s beloved child, and to feel content with that spiritual relationship. God, divine Mind, has given to every single man and woman the idea of self-respect and conscious self-worth.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explained the pitfalls of getting drunk, as well as the great benefits of preserving self-respect and conscious self-worth. She wrote: “The depraved appetite for alcoholic drinks, tobacco, tea, coffee, opium, is destroyed only by Mind’s mastery of the body. This normal control is gained through divine strength and understanding. There is no enjoyment in getting drunk, in becoming a fool or an object of loathing; but there is a very sharp remembrance of it, a suffering inconceivably terrible to man’s self-respect” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 406-407).

People may have many excuses for drinking. They might find that it brings a sense of ease in social situations. Some might find it an easy escape from daily problems or responsibilities. For others, it may have escalated into an uncontrolled habit. These human reasons for drinking are like thieves that try to steal one’s peace and freedom. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus warned against behaviors that would attempt to corrupt our true spiritual freedom. He said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20).

Regardless of the reason behind it, the alcoholic habit can be identified, addressed, and conquered with God, divine Mind. God’s power to transform us is always greater than human reliance on a material substance. Mankind’s inherent spiritual desire for dominion and self-worth has behind it a divine strength that enables us to find complete freedom over the variety of reasons for drinking.

Whatever impels us to go higher and claim our God-given freedom is a blessing, not only to our lives but to those around us. We express more dependability, unselfish care for others, and productivity in whatever work we do. A higher sense of self-respect not only gives us true freedom and peace of mind, it also enables us to be more loving and useful in life – whether as fishermen or professional musicians.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.