My thoughts after reading today’s RNT editorial on Shorter University

I continue to be troubled over the hateful rhetoric being hurled about. I just read an unsigned editorial in the Rome News Tribune and was reminded of a message written to me, also unsigned, with the same tone. My heart literally aches over the ugliness.

The negative and harsh reactions toward those asking for faculty commitment to Shorter’s Mission brings to mind the many experiences I’ve had in the past that validates concerns of those in leadership positions at the school. You see, for many years I worked in crisis mental health. I visited hospital Emergency Centers and Intensive Care Units to assess patients in crisis. The vast majority of cases had to do with substance abuse. I saw families ravaged by the devastating effects of alcohol and drugs. This left a lasting impression in my mind and heart that continues to inform much of my thinking today.

I have considered how some who drink “socially” or “responsibly” find it punitive to be asked to pledge not to drink in public. Simply viewing it on the surface, it seems reasonable enough that some could feel that way. However, great depths underlie what little we are able to see on the surface.

I can’t count the times I saw men and women in their 50s and 60s who were in the throes of alcohol addiction, riddled with physical illnesses resulting from the many years of drinking. Time and again, they had no family there with them and they would report, “there is no one to call.” When questioned, most all of them had been married at some point and were divorced, had adult children who lived nearby, but yet, “there is no one to call.” Relationships, families, and homes are destroyed by alcoholism and it is rampant.

All the alcohol and drug education that has been implemented in the school system has not rid our society of alcohol and drug abuse. Seeing the devastation doesn’t seem to be enough of a deterrent to stop the madness. So what are we to do? Do we care? Do we have influence? Responsibility?

Romans 14:17-21 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.”

Surely, we can all clearly see that MANY have stumbled because of alcohol and the devastation left in the wake of many has touched almost every family. It surely has my own. A bright, well-education man in my family lies in a nursing home today where he has been for almost 7 years. He is unable to walk or to talk in an intelligible manner as a result of the ravages of alcohol on his body and mind. He never got to know his only grandchild, never played, never went fishing, never sang songs or read books with him. Instead, he had all the drinks he wanted for the many years he was able to get it, and the consequences are grave and they are not limited to him alone. All who love him suffer.

Proverbs 23:31 “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.”

I’ve heard all the pro-drinking arguments known to man, yet none convince me considering all my eyes have seen. Devastation, mental and physical illness, moral depravity, and suffering, all resulting from strong drink. So many say, “but I don’t get drunk.” Okay, good, but have you ever had the thought, “man I need a drink!” Or, “I can’t wait to get a beer and relax.” Those are the beginnings of addiction. Whether it turns into that for you or not, we will see. I hope it doesn’t, but if not for you, it may for one of your children who watch you have that drink to relax.

We don’t know who will fall into the depths of addiction and who will escape it in cases where people engage drinking “socially” or “responsibly.” But for those who choose to be careful, and simply abstain, they can be sure they will never face that particular demise.

In foretelling the birth of John the Baptist, we find in Luke 1:15, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.” I love considering that it was noteworthy to record that John would drink no wine or liquor. I must believe this is pertinent information else it would not have been recorded.

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” Anyone unbelieving of this scripture need only walk through a local ER on any given weekend around midnight to become a believer. Guaranteed!

May I close in sharing my heart once again. In my career, I chose to serve those who suffered, whether suffering brought on themselves through personal choice or by being a victim of circumstances beyond their control. I longed to see them all well, whole, and strong. I have not wavered in my care and concern or desires to see men and women made whole and it is out of this great love for all people that I take the time and put forth the effort to address these difficult issues.

This present strife between professing believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is of paramount concern to me. We are to be the body of Christ and the division I am witnessing breaks my heart!

My desire is for us to all consider and choose wisely concerning the lost among us. Regardless of all other matters, we are to be the salt and light in this world. How can we do this when our love dissolves into insults and we become hateful? We cannot!

May we all find ourselves on bended knee, prayerfully and lovingly addressing what matters most…the souls of all people and glorifying God with our lives.

When considering how to live as members of the body of Christ, look to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

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4 Responses to My thoughts after reading today’s RNT editorial on Shorter University

  1. Amy Summerlin says:

    I don’t think there would be too many people who disagree with your sentiments about the heartbreak of alcoholism. I have family members who are/were alcoholics, and I also have family members and very close friends who are homosexual. They are all loving caring people. Period.

    The bigger issue is Shorter’s insistence to define their beliefs as the definitive Christian view and forcing its employees to adhere to principles they may not share. I know many Shorter employees who are Christians and who do not share the same beliefs outlined in this document.

    It does not make them any less of a Christian, and their employment at the institution should not rely on forcing them to lie about what they may believe in order to keep their jobs.

    Anyway, my two cents!! :$

    • andreastiles says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Amy and for taking the time to read mine.

      • Amy Summerlin says:

        You’re welcome!

      • Amy Summerlin says:

        I will add that I serve on the Interfaith Council at Berry and am also a Christian. Our Committee was formed after there were several complaints about Muslims and people of other faiths attending and speaking at a Memorial service for the victims killed in September 2001. Although a Christian school, Berry recognized the intolerance and animosity shown towards these people of other faiths and decided to act.

        Our goal is to bring different programs and lectures by people of other faiths to encourage diversity and expose our students to different religious perspectives in order to reaffirm and strengthen everyone’s faith.

        That ‘s why I am troubled by Shorter’s recent actions. As a member of a group at a self identified Christian school, I find it at odds that the two could be so different. While I realize that there are many different views and beliefs within the Christian faith, I feel they are all valid and that no one person or institution should attempt, as I feel Shorter is doing, to speak for or define Christianity for all their employees. Their views do not reflect those of many Christians and not even all Baptists, plus I feel it severely limits their students’ global perspectives which could affect them when they go out on their own.

        So again, just my opinion! Good luck with your writings!!

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