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Alcoholism, Wine, Drunkeness

Shepherd of Hermas

For as vinegar and wine, when mixed in the same vessel, do not give the same pleasure [as wine alone], so grief mixed with the Holy Spirit does not produce the same entreaty [as the Holy Spirit alone]

For empty jars quickly become sour, and the goodness of the wine is gone. So also the devil goes to all the servants of God to try them. As many, then, as are full in the faith, resist him strongly, and he withdraws from them, having no way by which he might enter them. He goes, then, to the empty, and finding a way of entrance, into them, he produces in them whatever he wishes, and they become his servants. -ibid

Clement of Alexandria

“Use a little wine,” says the apostle to Timothy, who drank water, “for your stomach’s sake;” most properly applying its aid as a strengthening tonic suitable to a sickly body… and specifying “a little,” lest the remedy should, on account of its quantity, unobserved, create the necessity of other treatment.

I therefore admire those who have adopted an austere life, and who are fond of water, the medicine of temperance, and flee as far as possible from wine, shunning it as they would the danger of fire. It is proper, therefore, that boys and girls should keep as much as possible away from this medicine. For it is not right to pour into the burning season of life the hottest of all liquids – wine – adding, as it were, fire to fire. For hence wild impulses and burning lusts and fiery habits are kindled; and young men inflamed from within become prone to the indulgence of vicious propensities; so that signs of injury appear in their body, the members of lust coming to maturity sooner than they ought. The breasts and organs of generation, inflamed with wine, expand and swell in a shameful way, already exhibiting beforehand the image of fornication. -ibid

And, besides, it suits divine studies not to be heavy with wine. “For unmixed wine is far from compelling a man to be wise, much less temperate,” according to the comic poet. But towards evening, about supper-time, wine may be used, when we are no longer engaged in more serious readings. Then also the air becomes colder than it is during the day; so that the failing natural warmth requires to be nourished by the introduction of heat. But even then it must only be a little wine that is to be used; for we must not go on to intemperate potations. -ibid

“Be not mighty,” he says, “at wine; for wine has overcome many.” The Scythians, the Celts, the Iberians, and the Thracians, all of them war like races, are greatly addicted to intoxication, and think that it is an honorable, happy pursuit to engage in. But we, the people of peace, feasting for lawful enjoyment, not to wantonness, drink sober cups of friendship, that our friendships may be shown in a way truly appropriate to the name. -ibid

Wherefore also Noah’s intoxication was recorded in writing, that, with the clear and written description of his transgression before us, we might guard with all our might against drunkenness. -ibid

“For wine,” says Androcydes, “and gluttonous feeds of flesh make the body strong, but the soul more sluggish.” Accordingly such food, in order to clear understanding, is to be rejected. -ibid

John Chrysostom

For wine was given us of God, not that we might be drunken, but that we might be sober; that we might be glad, not that we get ourselves pain. “Wine,” it says, “maketh glad the heart of man,” but thou makest it matter for sadness; since those who are inebriated are sullen beyond measure, and great darkness over-spreads their thoughts. It is the best medicine, when it has the best moderation to direct it. The passage before us is useful also against heretics, who speak evil of God’s creatures; for if it had been among the number of things forbidden, Paul would not have permitted it, nor would have said it was to be used. And not only against the heretics, but against the simple ones among our brethren, who when they see any persons disgracing themselves from drunkenness, instead of reproving such, blame the fruit given them by God, and say, “Let there be no wine.” We should say then in answer to such, “Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine maketh not drunkenness; but intemperance produceth it. Do not accuse that which is the workmanship of God, but accuse the madness of a fellow mortal. But thou, while omitting to reprove and correct the sinner, treatest thy Benefactor with contempt!” When, therefore, we hear men saying such things, we should stop their mouths; for it is not the use of wine, but the want of moderation which produces drunkenness, Drunkenness! that root of all evils. Wine was given to restore the body’s weakness, not to overturn the soul’s strength; to remove the sickness of the flesh, not to destroy the health of the spirit.

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