Just waking up and thinking of a cup of coffee or maybe a plate of greasy eggs? Do you even remember what happened last night or how you got those bruises? Maybe you’re in bed with someone right now, someone whose name you never bothered to ask, someone you met at a dark party or walking down the street at 2am… Do you dare slip back the covers and try to glimpse the face of that person snoring so slavishly? If you’re a man, what would you do if you pulled the pillow away to discover an unkempt goatee on the person beside you? If you’re a woman, what if it was heaving, perspiring cleavage? Anything can happen when you’re a needy drunk.
For centuries, wine was an integral part of Christian ceremony and celebration. We were told how the blood of Jesus is incarnate in the frothy juices of luscious grapes rightly blessed. But overindulgence in anything is a sin and today the sin of overdrinking is epidemic in America. “Run away from infantile indulgence,” as 2 Timothy 2:22 warns us, “Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God.” Children are the worst offenders, particularly teens and college students (1,825 die each year from drinking, according to one study). It seems like a rite of passage for them to drink to mental obliteration, as if they need some excuse to be sexually promiscuous and intensely loud in doing so. They have forsaken wine for cheap beers and grain alcohols, their vodkas and whiskeys and odd creations like Jägermeister and Jell-O Shots. Marketers are no less to blame, for in crafting sugary drinks that mimic the fruit punches of adolescence they are giving our young people plausible deniability for their transition into full blown libertines. The life of the Bowery Bum beckons these young and irreligious hedonists.
But God is righteous and in His love He gently reminds these youngsters that they are crossing the line into reckless sin. Hangovers! It’s as if He is beside them, sitting on the edge of their beds in the morning beating into their heads with a rubber hammer– beating into them the idea that they are terrible people for their drunken and obnoxious ways. You men who spent the night prowling the depths of your failed ego for something to prop up your limp sense of manhood, God is there telling you that the firm embrace of Jesus is all you need to make you stand tall and righteous. You women, with those vicious, gossipy empty caverns of feminine frustration, the Lord is thrusting you back to consciousness with the overwhelming Love of the Creator to fill you! That is, in essence, why the hangover is there beside you in your musky morning sheets. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings,” –1 Peter 5:9.
The caveat here is that YOU are the one ultimately responsible for what you did last night. Why did you drink so much? Why did you feel you needed to drink so much? Do you really think you’re fun when you’re a drunk? Do you think people don’t notice how obnoxious you are when you start screaming stories no one wants to hear and telling everybody that they’re your best friends forever? And when you start feeling that emptiness inside and you feel the throb of libido pulsing along with your disco music, do you honestly believe a brief (and often fruitless) carnal encounter will make you happy? 1 Samuel 15:23 teaches us, “Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols.” It is truly the love of your Creator you crave, not some frantic bathroom groping with a coked-up teen. Your lips need to wrap around the verses of the Good Book and not the possibly venereal appendage of a bushy-chested man you met in a public park. And what if you got so irrigated with alcohol that you had a same-sex act? How could you handle the shame knowing that you let the grungy male genitalia of one of your college buddies rub against your face like the teddy bear you snuggled with as a child? How can you repent for letting the firmness of another speed down an avenue otherwise used solely for the excavation of human waste? Yes, in the darkest hours of last night, maybe in some fraternity basement, maybe in front of all your friends, you became a pathetic spectacle as Satan drove his sports car up that autobahn to your soul and you (yes you!) whimpered out for more and more!
For women after hours and after cocktails, things often go too far. They start with the seeds of mental experimentation planted by their liberal professors and then egged on by desire and a loss of moral inhibition, they turn to soft feminine bed sharings. “Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem,” The Song of Solomon notes, “Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you’re ready.” With so many of the boys around them indulging in their own egos, testing out the limits of effeminacy and bodily excretions, these coeds get drunk to convince themselves that they are ripe and ready. But sadly, instead of marriage, they find themselves in the bitter grasp of lesbianism, unable to break free from that muscled Sapphic grip. It seems like an easy answer to the confusion of their own bodies, hormones and estrogen raging through their gentle brains, they steady themselves on a close friend, maybe the girl they share their dorm rooms with. The night gets later, they have stripped down to their collegiate underwear and suddenly a bare and vibrant chest rubs mistakenly, something grows pert and a long fingernail traces the outlines of lust on another’s back, reaching around to the stomach, exploring a sacred crevice where such beautifully polished nails are never meant to go. From there, wet lips may meet, fluffy comforters hide graceful legs pressing masculinely hard… A friction fecund and forlorn erupts and a life forever damned ensues… Was it worth it? No matter how much yoga you do or how many margaritas you drink the next night, you’ll never be able to forget that you wiped your body across the slimy countertop of sin like a rancid, damp rag.
Children, please remember that your sickness of lust will not be cured by a night in some strange, crusty bed. Nor will it be cured by a lifetime of jumping from one crusty, bug-infested bed to the next. You may have forgotten what you did last night, but hangovers are there to remind you that whatever it was, it was bad. You young people will get old and crusty yourself someday. The crust forming in the corners of your eyes and lips, the ear hairs growing, the wrinkles of your face matching a broken antique soda bottle inexpertly repaired, your pores opening up like the craters of the moon, the blue veins of your nose flashing like a lighthouse, directing all those other bulky ships of hedonism into your ports… No, the aging alcoholic savaged by corporeal desire is a not a pretty sight.
“And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.” –Numbers 16:32-35.