America is Becoming a Land of Intoxicants

America is Becoming a Land of Intoxicants

The dictionary defines an intoxicant as “that which produces feelings of pleasure or happiness in a person.” America is becoming a land of intoxicants. The enormous success of science and technology has given our culture a comfortable lifestyle and a sense of security. The illusion of self-sufficiency is constantly reinforced by Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and even many churches.

In the meantime, our culture is rejecting the words of Ephesians 5:15-18 despite the evidence that they are true: “Look carefully how you walk. Do not act thoughtlessly, but like sensible men. Make the most of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. You can not afford to be reckless but understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t get your stimulus from wine but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.”

America is becoming a land of intoxicants lagging behind other countries in recognizing the destructive nature of substance abuse. The American entertainment industry pushes alcohol. Even country music, which used to emphasize the negative effects of alcohol, is now saturated with promoting it as a way to pleasure and happiness. The destructive nature of alcohol is astounding. Biotech Investor’s Journal for September 2021 published a research report on the harm caused by alcohol compared to 20 other recreational drugs. Alcohol ranks # 1 in harmful effects, far beyond LSD, Meth, Crack Cocaine, and Heroin.

Some countries have recognized the serious consequences of alcohol and have passed laws to control it. For example, Scotland and Sweden have passed stringent laws to mitigate the use of alcohol. In America, the maximum blood alcohol content allowed for a motorist is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or .08%. In Scotland, the limit is .05%, with penalties of the automatic loss of license, fines up to $7000, a criminal record, and possibly a prison sentence. In Sweden, the limit is .02%.

Alcohol’s impact on humans is well documented. Negative effects on reaction time, perception, and balance are outward products of alcohol use, as are inhibition and impaired decision-making. Now the accepted use of marijuana is adding more pain to the human experience.

For some who claim to be Christians, their religious experience may be an intoxicant. The desire to find an intoxicant in Church has led to the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God will supply wealth (materialism) to His children. Other intoxicants for some religious people are emotional experiences of speaking in tongues or even out-of-the-body experiences.

The Bible’s description of successful Christian living involves recognizing that Satan controls activities on Earth (1 John 5:19). If we are looking for heaven on Earth, we are in for disappointment and pain. The Bible indicates that the influence of Satan is all around us. (See 1 Corinthians 15:33; James 1:27, 4:4; 2 Peter 1:4, 2:20; 1 John 2:15-17.)

As America is becoming a land of intoxicants, people learn that using intoxication to find pleasure and happiness doesn’t work. However, being a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:14-15) brings contentment and satisfaction that not only leads to a meaningful existence on the Earth but ultimately to eternal joy and happiness with our Lord.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Tolstoy and Stupefacients

Tolstoy and Stupefacients

One of the most famous authors on the world literary scene was Leo Tolstoy. He is probably best known for War and Peace but is well respected for his other novels. In 1890 Tolstoy wrote an essay titled, “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” For Tolstoy, “stupefacients” were anything that interfered with the rigorous application of a person’s conscience, and he believed they caused most human problems. Tolstoy’s list of stupefacients included wine, beer, spirits, narcotics, and tobacco.

The Bible agrees with Tolstoy. Numerous Old Testament passages tell of trouble coming from the use of alcohol. (For example, see Genesis 9:20-24, Leviticus 10:9, Deuteronomy 29:6, and Judges 13:4-7.) The condemnation of alcohol use in passages like Proverbs 20:1 and 23:21 make it clear this is not God’s will for us to stupefy ourselves with alcohol. There is no product of humanity that has caused more misery, ill health, disruption, and violence than alcohol.

So here we are in 2021, legalizing another stupefacient. We already see the ill effects of the use of marijuana, and yet 70% of all Americans support the legalization of recreational pot. Nearly 80% of people in the 18-29 age category support it. Celebrities like Willie Nelson, Cheech and Chong, Woody Harrelson, and Bill Maher have promoted marijuana as a way to find peace in a confusing world.

People made similar claims about alcohol when prohibition was the law. The promoters of alcohol won, and the result of the legalization of alcohol brought in tax dollars. At the same time, it has cost far more in alcohol-related accidents, broken homes, and broken lives. The legalization of marijuana is also riding on the claim of increased tax dollars.

Tolstoy was a Russian writing in the late 19th century, and he was unsuccessful in turning Russia away from the use of stupefacients. The Russian Republic was destroyed and replaced with Communism with dictators like Lenin and Stalin. The question is, “Will America survive our 21st-century involvement with stupefacients?”

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data for this came from an article by John M. Crisp titled “We’ll Survive Legal Weed.”

Alcohol and Marijuana Data

Alcohol and Marijuana Data

We see articles in the media about the benefits of using alcohol and marijuana, but the actual data does not support those claims. Here in Michigan, marijuana was approved for recreational use in January of 2020. The state has just released data for OWI (Operating While Impaired) cases since that time. The state records show a 73% increase in “cannabinoid-involved” crashes in 2020.

Another area of concern is the increased use of alcohol. There have been reports that drinking in moderation is beneficial to the body. A study by researchers from the University of Oxford seems to dispute that. The study of 25,000 people who reported alcohol intake shows disturbing effects of any amount of alcohol. The study focused on the effect of drinking on gray matter in the brain, involving regions that process information. The study showed that the more people drank, the lower their volume of gray matter. Gray matter decreases with age and dementia but adding the effect of alcohol speeds up the process.

The conclusion of the Oxford research was there is “no safe level of drinking.” The researchers say that damage to the brain is greater than damage from having a high BMI or smoking. Of course, there are other concerns, such as the effect on the heart and lungs, but drinking is a significant factor as far as brain damage is concerned.

Distilled alcohol and marijuana are recreational drugs that were unknown in the time of the Old Testament. Distillation has given alcohol greater potency, and the production of new sources of THC for recreational use is a more modern production of drugs used to escape the problems of life.

God’s solutions to human struggles have never involved anything destructive to humans. As our culture has become more atheistic, people have looked for substitutes for spiritual help and support. The use of alcohol and marijuana has resulted in an increase in mental problems of all kinds.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: USA Today Network for 6/7/21 and The Week for June 11, 2021 page 21.

My Brother Jim and Alcohol

My Brother Jim and Alcohol

We have frequently pointed out that a massive percentage of the pain and death people experience is directly related to their choices in life. If you don’t believe in God, what do you use for support when you hit the usual frustrations in life? My brother Jim bought into my parent’s atheistic beliefs. For much of his life, he lived as an atheist.

When my youngest brother grew frustrated with the everyday struggles of life, alcohol became his tool for coping. That caused him to be unable to help others or find meaningful companionship. When he struggled with his normal sexual drives, he did not believe that marriage was the only way those feelings could be satisfied. My brother’s marriage failed because of his alcohol use, and it also seriously affected his relationship with his two sons.

My brother Jim was fired from his first teaching job because his alcohol use affected how he dealt with his students. One of his sons and I pleaded with him to realize what alcohol was doing to him, and gradually he began to move away from his addiction. He eventually got involved in Alcoholics Anonymous, started studying the Bible, and carried on extensive conversations with me about the existence of God.

I finally convinced my brother Jim to go with me and a group of 50 Christians as we toured the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, and the Canyonlands. In addition to showing evidence that the Bible accurately describes Earth’s history as revealed in these places, we all engaged in singing hymns, praying for one another, and studying God’s Word. At the end of the trip, my brother admitted that he could not be an atheist anymore and that he saw the validity of Christianity.

What do people in our culture do to relieve the pains that come in life? The use of drugs, including alcohol, has skyrocketed in my lifetime. Developing a relationship with God and working with those of like faith to establish a realistic approach to failure and frustration is not on the radar for much of our culture.

As people reject God, ridiculing the Bible,
and questioning its relevance to the struggles of life, the problems they experience have grown. The ultimate result of this is a massive increase in health issues related to drug use and an enormous rise in legal problems, including prison terms. More than half of the prisoners studying our correspondence courses are in prison because they abused drugs.

Unfortunately, the use of alcohol and the destructive nature of my brother’s early atheistic beliefs had consequences on his relationships and health. He had marginal relationships with family, had few friends, and never found the kind of joy that Christians have when they follow God’s Word. In addition, his health had been compromised by his use of alcohol. On May 28, he died from all the damage alcohol had done in the past. Living the Christian way of life is essential to give the hope of eternal life and to give us the very best things that this life can bring. My brother Jim is a case history that demonstrates that fact in vivid, realistic terms.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Faith or Lack of Faith in God

Faith or Lack of Faith in God

Yesterday we looked at the definition of the word “faith.” The Bible defines faith as the foundation (Greek “hupostasis”) of our lives (Hebrews 11:1). We mentioned that we all have faith in gravity. We also saw how the scientific faith that light is a wave and not a particle had to change as new evidence became available. All of us have foundations that rule our lives, and faith or lack of faith in God is one of them.

Even our understanding of what God is affects us in a variety of ways.* In the distant past, people thought of gods as physical beings that looked like humans. Roman and Greek gods were humans with superpowers of one kind or another. Some people today still view God as a human with human emotions and desires. Experiences in life can weaken or destroy that kind of faith. When someone rejects faith in God because of a tragedy in life, the root cause of that rejection is a flawed concept of what God is.

Faith or lack of faith in God can determine the foundation of our lives. The question that we must ask is, “What is the foundation (faith) on which I base my life?” For my father, who was an atheist, the foundation of his life was education. His father was a minister, and that faith did not appeal to him as a way to build his life. Instead, he pursued the highest level of education possible, achieving a Ph.D. in philosophy at Columbia University under one of the leading educators in his field. Then he became a full professor at Indiana University and was recognized as one of the top experts in his field.

After a long career with numerous awards and recognitions, my father retired. Did all of these achievements and recognitions provide a foundation for him? A regular activity for my father was to engage in a cocktail hour. He dealt with the stress and frustration of his work by drinking. My father was not socially active. He went to social affairs only because he had to, and alcohol was the foundation, the lubricant which enabled him to function socially.

Shortly after his retirement, my father developed leukemia. Going through the brutal treatments available at that time was tragic and agonizing to watch. The end of his life was a constant battle to survive, and the treatments eventually killed him. Death was the ultimate tragedy because he died without hope of anything better.

The other problem with my father’s faith was what his foundation did to and for my mother and my two brothers. My mother was forced to become the social director of the family. Social events were her life, and achieving recognition from her peers was her foundation. After my father died, she became the leader of the retirement center where she lived. She commanded the respect of everyone there, including the management and staff. This became her foundation, and her faith was that it would continue. When she suffered a stroke and was moved to the care center, she was not even allowed to eat with her peers, much less play a role in the retirement center’s social events. She was so mortified and miserable in her new situation that I had to move her 200 miles from the retirement center to a facility near me. She was miserable there as well.

My parents had a dependence on alcohol as a foundation for life and a faith that it would make everything else function normally. This rubbed off on the rest of the family. Like many people in today’s world, the negative destroyed not only my father’s faith but my mother and brother’s faith as well. Faith or lack of faith in God will determine the course of your life. In tomorrow’s discussion, we will look at how we can build a workable faith.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

*For John’s discussion on “What Is God?” go to DoesGodExist.tv and watch program 8 in the video series.

Seeking Peace in THC, Alcohol, and other Drugs

Seeking Peace in THC, Alcohol, and other Drugs

As our culture drifts farther from God, drugs become a substitute for spirituality. The drug receiving the most attention at the start of 2020 is marijuana. The compound in marijuana that causes users to get high is THC. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs does not fill the spiritual void.

The United States farm bill passed in 2018 mandated that plants containing less than .3% THC would be considered hemp. Those plants containing more than .3% would be regarded as marijuana, which remains, for the moment, an illegal, controlled substance. People now use cannabidiol (CBD) in a wide range of products, including pain medications, stress relievers, and sleep enhancers. THC is also found inadvertently in some products, and there is no way to tell the difference between THC in CBD oil and in recreational marijuana.

In random drug testing, THC may show up even if the subject only used a CBD oil. If the employer has a policy of firing anyone who tests positive for THC, that person would be dismissed. USA Today (January 21, 2020, Section B 1) carried a story about a school bus driver in Salt Lake City who was fired because she tested positive for THC. She had used CBD to help her sleep and to relieve stress.

Research may lead to some beneficial applications of THC, when used carefully and in a controlled way. The massive demand for cannabidiol products and the pressure to make recreational marijuana legal is an indication of the unhappiness and misery that people in our culture are experiencing. When we were traveling in Ireland several years ago, our guide commented on how unhappy people are there as alcohol has replaced faith in God. The same thing is happening in America today. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs is no substitute for God, but massive numbers of people have turned to these faith substitutes. A brief “high” is no substitute for lasting, faithful joyfulness.

The Bible is full of references to the desire God has for us to experience joy and happiness. The Psalms encouraged followers of God to be joyful. (See Psalms 5:11, 63:5, and 149:5-6.) In Luke 10:17, when the disciples found they had the power to help people, they “returned with joy.” In John 16:20-24, Jesus talks about finding “joy that no man can take from you.” In Romans 15:13, Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Galatians 5:22 tells us that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

People look for peace, joy, happiness, and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs is not a long-term solution. The fact that I can be content, at peace, and able to find joy and beauty in spite of the massive problems I have experienced, builds my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. No drug high of any kind gives the lasting contentment that I find in my relationship with Christ. I have looked in both places, and the evidence is clear.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

What Is Wrong With…?

What Is Wrong With...?

We get a lot of questions that contain the phrase, “what is wrong with?” The idea seems to be that there is a religious issue involved in the social practices of today, but many people don’t understand what it is. Parents have asked me to tell them how to explain to their child that tattoos are biblically wrong. Others have written that being overweight is a sin and that eating foods that are not healthy is biblically wrong. Another question involves whether the Bible condemns vaping. The use of alcohol has been an issue for a very long time.

The current mantra of our culture is, “What I do with my body is up to me. What is wrong with…?” The Apostle Paul wrote something about that:

“Do you not know that you are God’s sanctuary, and that God’s Spirit has his home in you? If anyone desecrates the temple of God, God will bring him to ruin. For the temple of God is sacred, and that is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

When we use the Bible to decide a moral or religious issue, it is essential to look at the context of the passage. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 3 to a congregation of people whom he says are carnal, not spiritual (Verses 1-3). Verse 9 finds Paul telling these carnal people that as Christians, they should be fellow-workers with God and that Christ must be their foundation (verse 11). What is wrong with the way they were acting? Paul’s chief complaint with the Christians in Corinth is that their carnal nature has produced a power struggle (verses 3-8).

The message here is spiritual, not physical. Paul is not saying that if you vape, God will send cancer to destroy you. God’s message and outreach to a lost world come through His workers here on Earth. In Acts 2:38, Peter promised God’s Spirit to Christians. Engaging in things that defeat God’s outreach to others can cause them to be lost. We need to take care of our bodies and do so in a way that enables us to be God’s workers to reach others.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8 that we sin against others when we do something or eat something that causes them to be lost. I can’t be the influence that God calls me to be if I am immersed in the excesses of the culture in which I live. How I dress, what I eat or drink, and what I do is essential to my witness. I implore Christians to avoid vaping or drinking alcohol or eating unwisely for that reason.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Genes and Addiction

Genes and Addiction Ozzy OsbourneSince the first sequencing of the human genome in 2003, there have been exhaustive studies of links between the human gene structure and addiction. Discover Magazine published a report on genes and addiction (November 2019 issue) with a summary of the current findings.

The magazine focuses on Ozzy Osbourne, the singer/songwriter and reality TV star who is sometimes called “The Godfather of Heavy Metal.” He is famous for going on binges of alcohol, Vicodin, cocaine, and other drugs that would kill most humans. He has survived to be 70 years old. The question is why Osbourne was able to survive all of this abuse for such a long time. One major factor seems to be a mutation in the ADH4 gene. The ADH4 makes a protein called alcohol dehydrogenase 4, which breaks down alcohol. The researchers have concluded that Osbourne is six times more likely to have an alcohol dependency than the average person because alcohol has a minimal effect on him.

The question arises of what are the links between genes and addiction to alcohol and other substances. The Food and Drug Administration says that one in every 12 adults in the United States suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence. Americans spend $200 million a day on alcohol, and 100,000 people die each year from accidents linked to alcohol. People of East Asian descent have an increase in heart rate when consuming alcohol. That effect is called “Asian Flush” or “alcohol flush reaction.” Researches have also found genetic links to anandamide, which is a brain chemical that affects mood and anxiety. Marijuana doesn’t affect people with mutations that alter the amount of anandamide in the brain.

This newfound information tells us a lot about how mutations have shaped how we behave in our consumption of different chemicals. Obviously, if a person doesn’t consume the chemical, the mutations are not an issue. For some people, this information enables them to justify blaming God for their addiction. There are drugs like disulfiram, which cause people to have an unpleasant reaction to the consumption of alcohol. However, using a drug to counteract a destructive drug is a poor solution to the overall problem.

The mutations that have caused all of this are man-made. The mutations are linked to a variety of human enterprises, including the distillation of alcohol. In the distant past, addition was not much of an issue, because the chemical effect of undistilled alcohol is minimal. Alcohol is a drug, and it needs to be identified as such. God has not caused the mutations, and humans are responsible for virtually all of the drugs that are causing so much pain and destruction.

So there is a connection between genes and addiction, and science is looking for ways to change the human genome to exclude the mutations. The biblical solution is to form a relationship with God that leads us away from the destructive forces around us. At the same time, we need to reach out to those who are struggling with their addictions and help them find a way out of their lifestyle of abuse. Walking in the light (1 John 1) involves a conscious change that leads to a new life (Romans 6). God did not lead us to destructive lifestyles, but He will help us build a newness in our lives if we are willing to turn things over to Him.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Homosexual Behavior and God

Homosexual Behavior and GodPerhaps the most inflammatory issue of our day is the question of homosexuality. The reason this becomes a religious issue is that the Bible is quite clear that homosexual behavior is not acceptable to God. Passages like Romans 1:24-28 are hard to misunderstand.

Our local mayor, who lives a homosexual lifestyle, campaigned to become President of the United States. He stated, “God made me that way (gay).” I have many gay friends who are adamant that they did not choose to be gay. I do not claim to have all the answers to this explosive issue, but there are some facts and some misunderstandings from people on all sides of the issue.

It is essential to remember that Christians must love and have compassion for everyone, no matter their sexual orientation. The vitriolic treatment of homosexuals by some in the Christian community is not only uncalled for, but it is also sinful.

It is also important to realize that LGBTQ individuals are not a personal threat to you. The drug abuser is. For many years we had two neighbors who were a homosexual couple. We had another neighbor who was an alcoholic. The homosexual couple were good neighbors. They respected us and our children as well as our privacy and our property. The alcoholic damaged our property, threatened my children, and refused to help or even allow good things to be done in the neighborhood. You are much better off if your neighbors are gay than if they are drug abusers.

A third point to remember is that God does not cause homosexual behavior. With due respect to Mayor Pete (as he is known), God did not make him that way. We have published numerous articles over the years about the causes and consequences of sexual orientation. (For examples click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE). The bottom line is that many things lead to homosexual behavior, and no one knows all of them. We will look at some potential causes tomorrow.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Alcohol and Health Exhaustive Study

Alcohol and Health
The most exhaustive study of the long-term effects of alcohol has been released by King’s College, London, and the Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom. The study included 28 million people in 195 countries and included 694 separate studies. The research shows a strong connection between alcohol and health.

The report stated that “no amount of alcohol is safe to consume.” It went on to say: “The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous – alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.”

The study shows that alcohol is the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease. Overall 2.2% of deaths in women and 6.8% of deaths in men come from alcohol-related cancers. The study also gives data for drinkers in different countries. Denmark had the highest usage with 95.3% of the women in Denmark and 97.1% of the men regularly using alcohol. Pakistan had the lowest with 0.8% of the men and 0.3%of the women in Bangladesh being regular drinkers. A standard drink was 10 grams of alcohol. Ukraine had the highest amount of alcohol consumed–8.2 drinks a day being consumed by the men in Ukraine and 4.2 drinks a day by the women. The report dealt with alcohol and health. Data on traffic accidents and alcohol is in addition to these health problems.

Like many other issues, Christians have to look at their responsibility to take care of their bodies. First Corinthians 3:16 tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that God condemns those things that destroy the temple. The cost of alcohol goes far beyond the purchase price. Medical expense, psychological damage, treatment expense, and accident expense make alcohol the most destructive drug in our world today.

The study shows that 32.5% of the world’s population drink alcohol which adds up to 2.4 billion people. What does it take for our world to realize the cost and speak against the use of alcohol? How can Christians take an ambiguous position on this issue? The wisest man who ever lived said it well, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
–John N. Clayton © 2018
You can read the report HERE.