4 Signs Alcohol May Be a Stronghold in Your Life

  • Homer Purdy Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 4 Sep
man with head in hands battling alcohol addiction

Among some of the most controversial and frequently debated topics among Christians, the consumption of alcohol ranks high. While the Bible doesn’t clearly state whether drinking alcohol is a sin, it is widely accepted that Christians should avoid excessive drinking and getting drunk as Paul states in Ephesians 5:18.

Alcohol, however, is not just a controversial Christian topic. The addiction to (and abuse of) alcohol tears marriages, families, and lives apart, Christian or not. And while it may not be a frequent habit of yours to get drunk, there are ways to know if you’re on the path to a destructive addiction.

Understanding early warning signs of the increasing grip of alcohol dependence will help you make changes or seek help while it’s easier to do.  So, here are four ways to determine if alcohol has become a stronghold in your life.

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man defending his right to drink alcohol

1. You Defend Your “Right to Drink It”

It’s not uncommon for grown children to have to remind their parents of their adulthood. United States citizens can and should loudly defend their rights under the Constitution. The problem is that, while standing up for your rights and freedoms are important, it becomes troubling when someone uses their “right” to practice choices and engage in behavior that has the potential to be harmful to yourself and others.

Outside of Christianity, if someone approaches you with a concern about the level of alcohol you consume, and you respond with “I’m an adult,” or “I’ll do what I want,” or “It’s none of your business” it’s a good indicator of an impending problem.

Within Christianity, if Believer A approaches Believer B with a concern—whether their concern be about potential addiction or harm to their Christian witness—and Christian B responds by clinging to a Scripture or Biblical truth that defends their right to drink alcohol, it’s a good indicator that a stronghold is forming. Too many Christians dealing with a stronghold of alcohol will counter with claims about their “freedom in Christ” or accuse you of judging or condemning them.

Christian or not, if you’re unable to discuss even the possibility of abstaining from alcohol—if you won’t allow it to be an option—without becoming protective and defensive, it’s a concerning sign of a potential stronghold.

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man drinking alcohol while driving

2. You Go Out of Your Way to Have it

If you’ve ever driven to the part of town where you know you won’t run into anyone you know to buy alcohol, or have a secret hiding place in your home where you keep it, or ventured out after dark to buy some because you’re out, or the amount you drink in one sitting doesn’t matter—alcohol may have a potential stronghold in your life.

Kids who know that they’re not supposed to have a cookie before dinner, but sneak into the cookie jar, then run and hide to eat it, are fighting the fight of personal conviction. Whether you’re a Christian or not, if you’re nervous you might run into someone you know while buying alcohol and they’d have a negative reaction to learning about your purchase, then you have a lot to think about. If you truly believe that it’s your right as an adult, or as a Christian, to buy and drink alcohol, then what’s the reason for your secrecy?

Along those same lines, a kid that goes to the neighbor’s house and asks to ask for cookies, because the jar in their kitchen is empty, is dealing with some deeper issues. You might have a friend (or be the friend) who sneaks off to get a drink at a restaurant or has a flask that looks like a sports drink bottle or has learned how to brew beer in the kitchen or become an amateur vintner. If obtaining alcohol has turned into a challenge—a game—where you overcome the obstacles and win the prize of having a drink, you are looking at a potential stronghold in your life.

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serious multicultural conversation

3. You’re Constantly Mentioning It

Our obsessions have a way of frequently coming up in conversations.

It’s normal for a proud mother to go on and on about her child’s accomplishments. It’s normal for a teenage girl to continually bring up the name and attributes of the boy she has a crush on. It’s normal for a baseball fan to prattle on about their favorite team’s players or statistics. And it’s normal for a Christian to tell anyone and everyone about the One who died on the cross for their sins. So imagine what it says to those who know you and love you when you keep bringing up alcohol in casual conversation.

My mother used to quote Luke 6:45 at her children when they said something hurtful and tried to excuse it away with “just kidding.” In Luke 6:45, Jesus compares the fruit that a tree bears to the words a man says. Simply put, what you say reveals what’s in your heart.

It’s a safe and perfectly reasonable conclusion to come to that alcohol is a stronghold in your life if you keep bringing it up in conversation, despite the fact that you might say you’re just “joking” about it.

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woman drinking alcohol at outdoor restaurant alone and bored

4. You Can’t Imagine a Good Time without It

Have you heard of the term “dry wedding?” A dry wedding is one that does not offer alcohol or drinks containing alcohol during the reception. If you just read that sentence and reacted negatively, then point #4 might apply to you.

Dry weddings were likely a necessary creation to keep certain guests from misbehaving or getting out of control. If you’ve been to a dry wedding and complained about the lack of alcohol, #4 probably applies to you.

When a bride and groom decide to host a dry wedding, there are several reasons that might apply to their decision. Perhaps they’re both recovering alcoholics, or maybe their personal Christian convictions don’t allow for alcohol consumption, or conceivably it could just be a financial decision.

Whatever their reasons might be, if you’ve ever chosen not to attend a wedding after learning that it’d be a dry wedding, then #4 definitely applies to you.

The message here is not that drinking alcohol is bad, or even that having fun while drinking responsibly is wrong. The hard pill to swallow is admitting that you find it difficult or impossible to genuinely enjoy yourself without having a few drinks. You might justify it by saying it helps you “loosen up” or that it “takes the edge off” but the truth is that your struggle is a serious concern.

Birthdays, college graduations, vacations, work holiday parties, sporting events, get-togethers with friends—the list goes on and on for gatherings and events where people believe that alcohol is the only way to have fun or at least a bearable experience. If the thought of participating or attending these events without the consumption of alcohol is difficult for you, then you have to seriously consider that alcohol is a stronghold in your life.

So, if any or all of these signs are affecting your life...what's next?

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man dealing with addiction talking with honest friends

“I Think I Have a Problem.”

If you’ve read this far and any of these points have caused you to look introspectively at the role alcohol plays in your life, that’s a very good thing. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober-minded and watchful. Why? Because you have an enemy that is prowling, hunting, lurking, and waiting, like a hungry lion, for you to let your guard down, giving him the opportunity to pounce and devour your soul—rendering you into a hollow, emotionless, unfeeling zombie that can’t feel conviction anymore.

Being sober-minded is another way of saying clear-headed. In other words, think the way you would think without alcohol in your system.

The best and most effective way to determine if alcohol is a stronghold is to enlist the brutal honesty of a trusted and faithful friend or family member—someone who will tell you the truth, even if it hurts. Ask them to read this article. Ask them for their opinion about the role alcohol plays in your life, then be open to the necessary steps to change.

Hopefully, working together, you’ll break the bondage of alcohol in your life, before it becomes a full-blown addiction.

Recommended for You:

Alcohol Addiction Recovery: 8 Critical Commitments to Minimize Relapse

Is it a Sin to Drink? Should Christians Be Drinking Alcohol?

What Does Jesus Say about Alcohol in the Bible?

What Are You Addicted to? Warning Signs and Ways to Overcome

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

headshot of author Homer PurdyHomer Purdy is the Director of Operations of the ALIVE Radio Network, reaching the largest Christian market in upstate New York. Homer serves locally as a counselor, Bible teacher and minister and is a frequent missionary throughout the nation of India. Homer and his wife have five children and he is not allowed to watch the World Series unless the Dodgers are playing. His passion is to bring the Good News of the Gospel to the lost as well as to Christians who are struggling in their faith and to build the Kingdom of God one person at a time.

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