During the past month (30 days), 26.4% of underage persons (ages 12-20) used alcohol, and binge drinking among the same age group was 17.4%.
Nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade.
Among underage drinkers (ages 12-20), 30.8% paid for the alcohol the last time they drank – including 8.3% who purchased the alcohol themselves and 22.3% who gave money to someone else to purchase it. Among those who did not pay for the alcohol they drank, 37.4% got it from an unrelated person of legal drinking age; 21.1% received it from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member.
High school students, and Jr. high students, are involved in alcohol. If you are a student pastor than you have students in your youth group that are faced with the pressure to drink or are currently drinking. Parents, your children are either faced with the pressure to drink or are currently drinking.In many churches, and families, the method we use to keep students away from alcohol is this: don’t drink, it’s sin! I, personally, do not drink and believe it is best to stay away from it. But just telling students to not drink because it is sin does not work! In his book, Youth Ministry by the Book, Roger Glidewell correctly states that “We cannot just lay down ironclad rules and expect that to suffice. Young people need to be equipped with principles behind the rules that will guide them in the gray areas of life.”So how should we teach our students about alcohol?
Teach students that underage drinking is breaking the law. Even if you are on the social drinking side of this issue, we all know that if you are under the age 21 it is against the law for you to drink. We need to teach our students that God expects us, and commands us, to obey the laws. In Romans 13:1-7, the Bible makes it clear that God has placed governing authorities over us to in force laws. In that passage it says that if we disobey those laws we are actually disobeying God. Students don’t need to learn that underage drinking is against the law and disobeying that law is actually disobedience towards God.
Teach students that in most circumstances it is not wise. I personally abstain from drinking not because I believe it’s a sin to drink, but because I believe it is not wise. I believe this is the approach we need to take when teaching students. Throughout the Bible we see that leaders are told to abstain from alcohol because it is not wise and we see that we should abstain if it will cause a fellow believer to stumble. Students will be better equipped to deal with the pressure to drink if we teach that it is not wise instead of jumping the gun and telling them to not do it because it’s sin. John Piper said, “Alcohol is deadly in our culture.” I agree with Piper and believe students need to know it is simply not wise.
Be careful teaching students it is a sin. Through study, research, and thinking I do not believe drinking is a sin. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture we drinking is called sin. I do see where Scripture makes it clear being drunk is a sin. I don’t believe drinking is a “deal breaker” and should cause division between Christians. I do ministry alongside many who believe drinking is ok in moderation and I do ministry along side people who think it is straight up sin. If your study of Scripture and research leads you to believing drinking is a sin than you should hold to that conviction. But do not hold that conviction on others. Don’t teach students your conviction, teach students the Scriptures!