Old Enough to Drink?

A collection of over 100 college presidents are lobbying congress to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.

Their reasoning is that binge drinking “has become a significant health issue.” Binge drinking is exacerbated by the difficulty students under 21 have in getting access to alcohol. Removing the “forbideen Fruit” mystique from alcohol may, they argue, lessen its attractiveness.

Jim Winkler, of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, counters with his “word from Winkler” in the weekly e-newsletter titled “Faith in Action.”

WInkler suggests that “The presidents should also have raised important questions about deeper problems in our society that lead so many to find escape from reality through alcohol.” He also recommends the campaign against alcohol advertising in college sports, linked here.

Expecting young people to be responsible just because they can buy alcohol legally is naive. Expecting them not to drink just because they aren’t old enough to buy for themselves is also naive.

Winkler hits the nail on the head by steering the matter toward the desire to “find escape from reality through alcohol.” We are a society on a quest for an escape from reality; whether it is alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, chocolate, fried fatty foods, or a “rapture.”

What the church, followers of Jesus, the people of the Kingdom of God, have to be offering is a way of living in the world that doesn’t need escaping.

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4 thoughts on “Old Enough to Drink?

  1. I’m remembering the beer ad (Miller?) I saw once: “Think when you drink.” Admittedly “think” and “drink” rhyme, but from my perception of those who drink, thinking is neither the motivation nor the outcome.

    I have to agree with you that the college presidents seem rather naive.

  2. I saw part of an interview with someone connected to part of the presidential campaign that was discussing the difference between individualism and narcissism.
    Individualism is about drive, expression, and responsibility.
    Narcissism is about desire, self-absorption, and satisfaction.
    Several of those same attributes can be interchanged but I think it goes to a person’s motivation to reveal the intention.
    Both directions or the subtle combination of both are played out in a society that has responsibility to individuals and community.
    The question of whether or not to drink and how much can turn into the same type of dilemma.
    How an 18 or 21 year old deals with questions of freedom is the result of years of issues before the legality of drinking comes into play.
    Those of us that live, serve, and deal with youth and young adults should be ready to help them toward a realistic and healthy self-image and place in society.
    Of course that can be tough when we could still be working those same issues out ourselves.
    That leans toward a connected sense of effort that puts us together rather than on either side of a legal issue.

  3. I was raised not to drink. Secretly I found my parents’ arguments less than compelling. In college I drank some but felt guilty about it — conflicted between not thinking it was wrong (and wanting to be an independent adult) and wanting to please my parents. Now I keep wine in the cabinet but only drink occasionally. I came out of the closet (or kitchen cabinet) fifteen years or so and raised my kids that drinking is not wrong but 1) there are good reasons why we restrict alcohol use with minors and 2) we should not abuse it or use it to get drunk. My parents predicted we were raising a bunch of alcoholics. So far that has not happened — in fact, my now-18-year-old is more staunchly anti-alcohol than I ever was. He has seen too much abuse of it while he was in high school. I happen to think that our attitude may have actually helped him avoid alcohol — because we didn’t treat it like something that made you independent or grown-up.

    Our Romanian friends have wine with almost every meal except breakfast. They also think poorly of drunkenness. There are no laws against minors drinking in Romania, but somehow their society discourages alcohol abuse. I don’t know what their alcoholism rates are like, nor if they even calculate alcoholism in the same way we do.

  4. I’m still caught up in the mindset that acknowledges 18 to be of legal age to vote, enter into binding contracts, marry, and serve in the military. The only “adult” thing restricted from this 18-21 age group is access to alcohol. We are trusting this group to help elect this nation’s leaders, contribute to the GDP, and defend this nation. We are telling them that they are now adults and are expected to act like adults. Then we turn around and treat them like supervised children by restricting a single, adult privilege.

    I also acknowledge the reality of statistics, so I don’t believe I am being naive in saying: let them drink. I don’t believe that my family’s life is in more or less danger because of this. The kids who don’t drink anyway won’t start drinking just because it’s legal, and the kids who do drink will always find a way.

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