The sayings of King Lemuel — an inspired utterance from his Mother (Proverbs 31, 4 – 8)

 

“It is not for kings, Lemuel — it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”.

 

Dear Readers,

 

What do you think about this advice from a mother to her son? I don't come from a royal family, but I remember my mother's advice well. And I have to admit: I didn't like each one of them.

 

On the other hand, what advice did I have for my child, my grandchildren? What was important to me to pass along for their lives? Parents and grandparents want their children and grandchildren to have a good start into their life´s journey. To help them to learn handling their life in a responsible manner. I think responsible parents do recognize the dangers of alcohol and drugs for their kids.

 

Of course, on the other side I must disagree with Lemuel's mother: Beer and wine (or other drugs) are not a solution for the one who has reached the end. Who can no longer cope with his life. Getting drunk may have been the only solution back then, more than 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, there was no professional marriage counseling . There was no social security. There were no lawyers and no social workers. So escape into intoxication may have been the only solution for many.

 

I was reading the other day that more alcohol is consumed in Germany during the Corona pandemic than before the pandemic started. Frustration about the lockdown is increasingly being combated with alcohol. Stress at work or with family can also lead to increased alcohol consumption. Financial worries, loneliness and depression are other causes.

 

Escape into alcohol or drugs is not a solution to problems, everyone should be aware of that. The danger of escape begins where I want to change a situation but cannot. This can result from enormous professional burdens which I cannot avoid. It can be difficulties in marriage or partnership. It can be financial problems.

 

In an essay written by a theologian I noticed the following sentence: 'What do we Christians say, what do we churches and theologians say, that politics cannot say or don´t want to say?´ Do we call the problems by their names? Can we speak up of the hope we have as Christians? 

 

Isn't the advice of Lemuel's mother still of importance today?  Our business, after all, is to stand up for the rights of others. To speak for those who cannot help themselves. To talk to those who are poor and weak. To protect them and help them to get their rights. And above all, to help them to get out of their addiction. That we search with them for solutions out of the crisis.

 

We will not be able to do this alone. But as a Christian community we can take responsibility in our society. But what every individual can do: show a fellow human being suffering from alcohol addiction the way to a counseling center. Name, address, telephone number. Maybe even help them to get in touch. And ask God to bless this small step and help a person in need.

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© 2021 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main