The widespread phenomenon of binge drinking is the subject of a recent USA Today article entitled “College drinking is liberating, and a good excuse.” The gist of the article is that educating students on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption have not stemmed the tide, because students apparently perceive the benefits of drunkenness (lowered inhibitions and an excuse for bad behavior) as greater than the costs (hangovers, impaired physical, emotional, and sexual judgement, etc.).
“I think everybody’s aim is to get drunk on the weekend,” says Brandie Pugh, 22, a senior at Ohio University in Athens. “It’s not about the taste of the alcohol. It’s about the effects of it. It’s about the lowered inhibitions.”
Another OU student notes:
“Part of the thrill of it is you don’t know where the night is going to take you,” says Ohio University senior Holly Ningard, 20.
Alcohol is perceived as a good excuse for acting against one’s convictions:
Drinking allows young women to “act out being sexually assertive, carefree, liberated,” she says, and can be an excuse for their sexual behavior.
“If you have sex, you’re a slut, and if you don’t, you’re a prude — but drinking allows you to do both,” she says. “You can go out, get drunk, have sex and the next day say, ‘I’m still a good girl.'”
How should we help students who are drawn to the liberation and excuse for bad behavior that drunkenness provides, since mere information on the effects of alcohol isn’t helping?
Kevin Deyoung offers some wise commentary:
1. Know your enemy
I totally degree with DeYoung that for students at large state universities the most common temptations to sin are alcohol and sex (and they frequently go together).
2. Demonstrate a mature attitude toward alcohol.
Those who can legally drink should not talk and act as if alcohol consumption is the center of a vibrant, fulfilling social life.
3. Be boldly biblical.
Yes, help students see the connections between sowing and reaping: Bad things–really bad things–can happen to those who pursue weekly drunkenness (death or injury via drunk driving, STDs, etc.), yet “the Bible doesn’t just say, “Stop getting drunk because it will hurt you.” It also says, “Stop getting drunk because God hates it.” Passages like I Cor. 5:10, I Cor. 6:1, Eph. 5:18, and Rom. 13:13-14 all make this clear. The latter reads: “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
4. Show tough love.
5. Remind the Christians who they are.
Read DeYoung’s post for an unpacking of each point.