Summary: There are addictions that destroy us, like too much wine or other intoxicants, and addictions that make us better. We need to become addicted to the good and throw away the bad, each of us becoming musicians for God
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord
Do Not & Do
Many recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of drinking a small amount of wine on a daily basis. It is best had with food, and in very small quantities. A slew of benefits including reduced chance of death by cardio vascular disease and stroke, lower colon cancer risk, reduced or slowed development of brain degenerative diseases, and reduction of risk of diabetes, depression, and even cataracts are all associated with imbibing about 2 or 3 ounces of wine for ladies and about 4-5 ounces a day for men. Any amount more than that and the benefits disappear and a collection of negative impacts on your health ensue. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_wine). Jesus and His disciples drank wine on at least two occasions-both would have involved eating food as well. The problem is when you go beyond a few ounces. More than one glass of wine and your liver is no longer able to process the alcohol properly. Alcohol is a poison-it is toxic. More than a glass and the alcohol can actually enter your brain and change the way it functions, slowing response speed, reducing fine motor skills, and negatively impacting higher level reasoning. For this reason, a person who has had more than one glass of wine (or can of beer, or shot of hard liquor) is impaired to the point their driving skills are affected. With three or more glasses, most people are legally drunk (http://dui.drivinglaws.org/drink-table.php#). But the negative health impacts start once you go past one glass a day. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Effectsofalcohol.aspx
Paul, here, is not talking about having one glass of wine a day, or one or two glasses on a special occasion. He is talking about going past that. Please see how serious the consequences are, it leads to debauchery.
I had to look up what debauchery means. Synonyms include wantonness, profligacy, and wastefulness. Wastefulness I can understand, but the others don’t help much. The Greek word is frightening, it is a-sotia. It means un-savable. Have you ever had a friend who had a problem with drinking too much? Some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction (http://search.proquest.com/openview/ff752c08890f5fff2744a3082aa23f83/1?pq-origsite=gscholar http://search.proquest.com/openview/ff752c08890f5fff2744a3082aa23f83/1?pq-origsite=gscholar http://www.alcoholjournal.org/article/0741-8329(93)90054-R/abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1981.tb04890.x/full http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1996.tb01695.x/full)
Once you are addicted, your brain is re-wired so that breaking the addiction is extremely difficult. You can actually get to the point that the addiction takes over your life. I think maybe this is not limited to wine.
Any unhealthy addiction tends to lead to debauchery. Some people are addicted to food, some to sex, some to being in love, some to entertainment. Any of these addictions can be potentially devastating. I think Paul is talking about a principle. The principle is, replace the destructive addiction with a constructive addiction. Runners get addicted to runners high. Weight lifters get addicted to The Pump. High academic achievers get addicted to getting A’s. These are all, in most cases, healthy addictions. They replace unhealthy addictions. And the replacement Paul Suggests is particularly fun.
Get Addicted to Spiritual Music
“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to each other in hymns & psalms & spiritual songs, singing & making melody in your heart to the Lord”. This seems much better than being filled with wine, or any other intoxicant. Paul invites every believer to become a musician. In fact, he seems to associate spirituality and singing. To be clear, there is quite a plethora of garbage music available in the world-there was in Paul’s time as well. That’s not the kind of music Paul is advocating.
He’s recommending we start singing to each other, and even speaking to one another in lyrics. I find myself doing this quite often. Someone asks “can we . . .” I love answering with the song “All Things are Possible”. When someone describes an impossible situation, I can’t help but think of the song “God will make a way, when there seems to be no way”. Almost opposite of drunkenness, music has a multitude of benefits. Musicians have 50% more white matter (the connective stuff) in their brains. They are less prone to brain degenerative diseases. Singers, specifically, have a life benefit, living an average of two years longer than their peers. Musicians are less prone to violence, and are better socially adjusted than the general population. Music seems to be a tonic, like small amounts of wine, but much better. The benefits do not diminish or reverse with increased amounts of music.
And please notice. Paul is writing to a church, not a music school. Yet he encourages everyone to make up new songs to sing to the Lord. Did you do this when you were a child? I did. I don’t remember the songs I used to make up when I was 4 of 5 years old, they were probably rubbish. But I remember the joy of inventing songs to sing to God. Try it. Open your heart to receive His Spirit, then sing back to Him the joy He places in your heart.