Where other churches and synagogues hold events with alcohol, our church does not. Local clergy have difficulty believing me when I tell them that Christian Scientists generally do not drink alcohol at all. It is an anathema to them that this could be true, but it is.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discover and founder of Christian Science has this to say on the topic, “The cause of temperance receives a strong impulse from the cause of Christian Science: temperance and truth are allies, and their cause prospers in proportion to the spirit of Love that nerves the struggle. People will differ in their opinions as to means to promote the ends of temperance; that is, abstinence from intoxicating beverages. Whatever intoxicates a man, stultifies and causes him to degenerate physically and morally. Strong drink is unquestionably an evil, and evil cannot be used temperately: its slightest use is abuse; hence the only temperance is total abstinence.”
Those are strong words, and the standards of Christian Science admittedly are high. But the advantages of this approach easily out weigh what little is given up. Mrs. Eddy goes on to remark, “From this it follows that business men and cultured scholars have found that Christian Science enhances their endurance and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness and an ability to exceed their ordinary capacity. The human mind, imbued with this spiritual understanding, becomes more elastic, is capable of greater endurance, escapes somewhat from itself, and requires less repose. A knowledge of the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man. It extends the atmosphere of thought, giving mortals access to broader and higher realms. It raises the thinker into his native air of insight and perspicacity.”
There are many rewards of being a Christian Scientist, and for me being sober, while simultaneously full of joy and zest for life is one of them. I am not missing anything at all but gaining an immensely cherished clarity born of intentional purity. Meanwhile, I am freed to pursue so much else that is healthier and vastly more satisfying.
I have cultivated a connection with God that goes beyond intuition to what I would call spiritual sense. It guides me well in all things, from what color to paint next on my canvas, to building meaningful community, to what to say or think in any situation, to lucid answers to any conundrum I encounter, and also to being genuinely helpful to others.
Because I am attentive to it, I have an ongoing, real relationship with ever-present, all-powerful, infinite Love that is God. An eternal friendship has developed that is deeply valued and palpably present, which has become a priority, because it is based on mutual love, respect, and appreciation. Without interference from any substance that would at any time muffle the discernment of this rapport, my relationship with the divine has unexpectedly grown and blossomed into my biggest blessing.
I therefore earnestly desire to be very careful to not mask, obscure, or suspend that precious conscious connection to the one divine Mind that made everything. And this is why I do not partake of alcohol.
I have known alcohol to break up families and marriages, cause violence and bad judgement, and even kill when drunks get behind the wheel. I have known people who have dangerously compromised themselves morally and physically while inebriated, all in the name of having fun. That doesn’t sound like fun to me, nor do the other prices drinkers pay in terms of hangovers, embarrassing themselves, indiscreet conversation, unhinged lack of alertness, and the undermining of one’s integrity.
But I have also known people that supposedly drink “responsibly,” that feel that previous paragraph does not apply to them. Back in college, before I became a Christian Scientist, I was one of them. But I have to say, that since I began not drinking alcohol ever at all, life that was good enough before, has gotten better.
I am now so vigilant about abstaining from alcohol that even as a dedicated chef, I avoid or change all recipes that include wine in the sauce, even though I know the alcohol content cooks out. I refuse to support the industry even in the smallest way.
Instead, I want to be attentive to the divine in my every here and now, never having my awareness blunted, never escaping reality or dulling my encounter with it. To say I desire to “pray without ceasing” as Jesus recommended, sounds grandiose, but I do always want to be sharp and ready to reflect as much of the divine character as I can in any and every moment, always willing rather to be uplifted spiritually than materially.
Once you’ve experienced the clean living high of a well connected bliss, you will not trade it for anything. Try feeling under the influence of the Creator of joy itself. I do not think you need something outside yourself to have a good time. It is a lie that would suggest that you do. You can let loose on the dance floor of life without stimulants because you are actually made for joy. You are already complete and wonderful, with no additions needed.
And I can choose my path of practiced purity without judging you at all for whether you drink or not. I might wish you didn’t think you need it or want it, but at least I know you ultimately don’t and won’t. I know you won’t be drinking alcohol in heaven, and you’ll know there that there is no point or need for it.
I’m just endeavoring to live heaven on earth right now– as is suggested in the Lord’s Prayer– as best I can. Why stupefy myself while waiting for heaven to come at some other time when I can here and now approximate it through clarity and devotion?