Christians differ in their attitudes toward alcohol. Some Christians believe that we have freedom to consume alcohol in moderation. Others hold that the Bible forbids all consumption of alcohol or that, even in the absence of a clear command to abstain, it is so dangerous and so likely to lead to addiction, that it is downright foolish to drink. Regardless, all Christians hold that drunkenness is a sin and that this sin relates to the loss of control. A drunken man loses his sense and his self-control. As Solomon says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
On Monday I attempted to anticipate some of the cost to the church if young Christian men continue to spend their youth embroiled in the pursuit of pornography. Solomon warns that pornography is sapping them of their strength. In their strongest and most energetic years, in the years when so many promises and possibilities lie open before them, they are giving it all away to pornography. It saps them of strength and it saps them of life.
In that same passage Solomon asks, “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” He describes this sexual captivity as a kind of intoxication, a form of drunkenness. Do not give up self-control and throw yourself into the arms of another woman, whether those arms are real or simply pixels on a computer screen. Do not invest your strength where it will be wasted. That is the very height of stupidity.
But it is not only illicit sex that is intoxicating. The same Solomon who would forbid getting drunk on wine or strong drink, and the same Solomon who would describe the stupidity of getting drunk on illicit sex, would command a different kind of intoxication. “Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love (Proverbs 5:19).”
He does not criticize or downplay the presence of sexual desire and the longing to find sexual fulfillment. Rather, he admits it, celebrates it, and shows that to direct that energy toward adultery, fornication or pornography is to completely misuse it. His solution is simple: Put your sexual desire to the best use of all. “Rejoice in the wife of your youth…be intoxicated always in her love.” Donald Spence-Jones interprets this way: “The teacher, by a bold figure, describes the entire fascination which the husband is to allow the wife to exercise over him.”
Go ahead and lose control. Go ahead and get intoxicated, but get drunk in the love and passionate pursuit of your wife. What wine does to your body, let your wife do to your affections and desires. Let her captivate you. Let her fascinate you. Let her have that kind of power over you, that kind of control, that kind of ownership. Be addicted to her. When you are with her, when you are in her arms, let yourself go and just enjoy God’s good gift of sexual pleasure. Jim Newheiser says it well: “The man who has to look away from all the other female breasts put on display in our culture can freely enjoy his wife’s breasts. The wife may delight in being desired and being overwhelmed by the love of her husband. Their sexual thirst can be quenched in a way that pleases God.”
Pornography, adultery, fornication and all other sexual sin distort a good desire for a bad use. By its very nature this desire was intended to be intoxicating. That intoxication delights God, and is meant to delight us, when it is directed to the pursuit of marital intimacy. So go ahead and drink—drink of the love of your wife. Go ahead and drink to intoxication—get drunk in her love. But do not drink, and do not get drunk, in any other love.