Straight out of the exhortation to use our time wisely we are confronted with quite possibly the single biggest self-induced excuse for sinning sexually:
“For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is. And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
(Ephesians 5.17-21, NET)
Building on the case for sexual morality (v.3) and being distinct from those around who routinely indulge in immorality (vv.5-14), Paul now tackles one leading cause or incitement of sexual sin: do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery…
A study in America has shown that around 14% of unwanted pregnancies can be associated, in some way, to alcohol consumption ¹. Simply and generally speaking, being drunk lowers our sexual inhibitions and can lead to us contravening all we have read in Ephesians 5 so far and making regrettable decisions ². There is a clear connection between being drunk and sexual immorality.
The fact that these Scriptural exhortations can be backed up with scientific research shows us the true wisdom of the Word.
Instead of drinking to excess (drunk) we are to fill ourselves with the Spirit. Rather than seeking out immoral and potentially life-changing sexual encounters because we have drunk too much, we ought to seek out friendship and fellowship that is life-affirming and always life-changing: in a positive way (vv.18b-21).
Let’s be clear: Scripture never uniformly forbids the consumption of alcohol (Ecclesiastes 9.7, Psalm 104.14-15, Matthew 26.29, 1 Timothy 5.23, for example), but it does prohibit us from being drunk (v.18, 1 Corinthians 6.12). For today’s Christian, it is a matter of conscience (1 Corinthians 10.23-33).
If that line of drinking / being drunk is crossed, it’s not the unforgivable sin but it does reveal to us people and places, settings and circumstances that you ought to avoid next time around. As the Lord through Paul says here:
“…do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is.”