Posts Tagged abstinence

Why I don’t drink

It somehow happened that I effectively became a teetotaller. Except for an occasional sip of wine (usually proffered by someone else), I consume no alcohol. I have no religious reason for such abstinence – Jesus famously turned water into wine, after all. My choice is a (possibly exaggerated) reaction to the countless people who consider getting wasted a sensible way to pass the time.

Reasons I don’t drink

  1. my liver loves me for it (yes, yes, I know a small amount of alcohol is good for you, but see the next point).
  2. I am staging a protest – the one who doesn’t drink gets noticed, possibly ridiculed, or complimented, or perhaps just curiously probed as to his motives. All this is good and makes it known that I support a more sensible way of life.
  3. Drunk people are not funny or interesting. They’re pathetic and disgusting.
  4. Being drunk makes you a danger to yourself and others. (Surely I do not need to elaborate)
  5. Drunk people do stupid things like dance on tables and hooking up with strangers.
  6. I have a bad enough memory as it is; I don’t need to wake up with a hangover wondering what I did the night before.
  7. I can feel honourable, misunderstood and superior, and relish every moment of it.
  8. Drinking in excess is vulgar, uncultured, and childish.
  9. Alcohol is expensive. Copious amounts of alcohol are more expensive.

These reasons are all well and good, but the number one reason that I do not drink is this:

10.   I am absolutely terrified of not being in complete control of my every action.

I do not understand why people seek the release of drugs and alcohol. I do not see why they want to give control of their life, even if temporarily, to the intoxicating influence of these substances. From an economic perspective I cannot judge them, of course – let them do what brings them the most satisfaction.

I have been under the influence of valium (or something similar) once or twice in my life when I had to undergo operations. I hated every second of it. I was aware of my mind numbing, of my will to control myself subsiding, burying itself somewhere, going to sleep and refusing to wake up. It was an artificial calm that came upon me – a calm caused by the inability of my fearful, jittery self to communicate with the rest of me. It was horrible.

I admit that there is nothing inherently immoral about being drunk or stoned (Go lock yourself in a padded room where you can’t do anyone any harm when you want a smoke). But to me it seems that seeking this release from your life, from your responsibilities, is just setting aside, temporarily, things you need to deal with in any case. Go watch a movie – that seems a far more sensible means of temporary distraction.

To always be present, to always be responsible for everything you do, this seems to me a far nobler way to live. I cannot hope to convince anyone else of this – but neither can anyone else convince me otherwise.

Arguments I have heard:

  1.  Aren’t you curious? Yes, I am very curious. I’m also curious as to how dying feels. Not going to try that any time soon.
  2. I only drink until I’m tipsy, just to be more sociable. If you need alcohol to loosen your tongue – perhaps you should go see a psychologist rather than say stupid things to other drunk people.
  3. It’s fun, for everyone. Good for you. Go have “fun”.

For more or less the same reasons as mentioned above, I will not do drugs and I will not allow myself to be hypnotised. I seriously do not understand why hypnotists get any volunteers. What on Earth are they thinking? (The only experience they get out of it is people telling them after the fact how stupid they looked. Who wants that?) As for all those people who sensibly use alcohol, that is to say, in moderation, I have no quarrel with you.

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Let’s talk about abstinence

Here follows a gratuitous (and poorly gimped) picture in a shameless attempt to capture your attention:

40-Year-OldVirginMoviePoster_lambchop

Now for some serious life-thoughts. The 40-year-old virgin , I am led to believe, is a movie about a man in his forties who is still a virgin. I have so far refused to watch the movie – mainly because the title seems suggest being a 40-year old virgin is somehow shameful.  This post is, however, not about the movie. It is about this: people are taking longer and longer to get married, and if they’re Christian (in a more-or-less traditional sense that is) they are taking longer and longer to have sex.

These Christians (at least in the Western world) live in a society in which the average age of losing one’s virginity is probably below 20. To be 30 or 40, single, still waiting for mr(s) right, can feel shameful.  It is not the same as a taking a vow of celibacy (as Catholic priests do) because the intention was never to abstain from sex completely: it was to wait for marriage. And there is perhaps only cold comfort in the knowledge that you have acted according to your highly cherished beliefs.

By the secular one may be viewed as pitiable for being unable to “get laid”, or as stupid for not making use of (or finding) opportunities to engage in a clearly pleasurable activity. Within the church community you may be surrounded by younger couples (some even with Children), churchgoers who pity you (behind your back) for still being unmarried, and well-meant comments such as “I can’t believe some guy/girl has snatched you yet” or “I can’t believe you’re still single” probably don’t help.

I take the above comments from the blog I kissed my date goodnight1. in which a 32-year old woman reflects on her experience with Christian dating. With Christianity in decline in the Western world, the pool of eligible partners for these long-time singles shrinks (unless they are willing to consider inter-religious relationships). The Christian dating process (if you consider Christian dating to be viable at all) seems to have additional complexities. The common way dating is portrayed on television and in movies (that is American television and movies) in which dating seems to go hand-in-hand (so to speak) with sex can put off devout Christian singles.  Indeed there is even a book I kissed dating goodbye (which I have not read), which outlines an alternative closer to traditional courting for Christians.

I know little about dating, so don’t read my blog for dating advice. The truth is, though, dating is probably the best way for these singles to meet potential partners. And indeed,  Christians seem to have found ways to adapt the secular dating methods. I often find, on biblegateway.com that I am presented with advertisements for Christian dating sites, none of which I have used, at least not yet. However, I am single, and I may be single for a while still. I may yet turn to dating sites, speed dating, or some other nifty dating gimmick.

One “solution” to the problem of “40-year-old virgins” is, of course, to just change your opinion about pre-marital sex and join the world – date like you’re in the movies. Better yet, date like you’re in Grey’s Anatomy (those doctors have a lot of sex). One could even try to justify it Biblically (the outrage).  But I don’t think this is the way to go.

I am a single man, waiting for that one special person. The idea of uncommitted sex fills me with dread. (The book SuperFreakonomics informs me that in 1930s America 20% of men lost their virginity to prostitutes , which is horrifying. Now 70% of men have sex before they marry, which is not much better). For now at least, I am committed to the lifestyle I have chosen. If you are waiting too, you are not alone.

1. Disclaimer: the I kissed my date goodnight blog is about dating, not about sex. I do not presume to know anything about anyone’s sex life other than my own

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