Saturday, April 12, 2008

On Turning 18

Last night at Olive Garden I heard two young female bussers talking. They were both excited, very excited, about turning 18. "I can't wait to turn 18," said the first "it's only three months away!" "Oh yeah, well I'm less then a month away from turning 18," said the second. I wish you could have seen the rapturous anticipation in their eyes. To these young women, turning 18 is pretty much one of the most important milestones in their lives. "So why is turning 18 so important?" I asked innocently. They looked at me like I was an idiot, paused, and then both said in unison "Because then we can go to the bar!"

Like most teenagers these girls are no strangers to alcohol. They are both acquainted with inebriation and drunkenness. With their social networks getting access to booze is not the issue. The issue is that for them the bar is currently a forbidden zone. It is a social context that promises to allow them the opportunity to be accepted and to increase their social fortunes. Perhaps also a place to meet a great guy, have fun, and experience some excitement.

Personally, I have nothing against the idea of a bar (since I am not against alcohol per se) yet I admit to having a certain uneasy feeling when I hear teens looking forward to going to them so much. I have rarely graced bars in my life but I have had many friends who have. I think what I don't like about them is how for many they become the center of their entertainment and social lives. People get fixated and "stuck" in it. This is combined with the easy ability to get drunk, something that to me is pretty clearly contrary to God's will for us. Also there is the idea of finding someone at a bar. I know some people who have found a good mate in a bar, but it seems to me the majority do not. Meeting someone when you are both under the influence of alcohol seems like an unwise way to start a relationship. It also leaves you more likely to do something you'll regret. Bars are supposed to cut people off when they have too much but the truth is that there isn't enough incentive to do this. Inebriated people (as long as they aren't disruptive = more profits for bartender and bar). Drinking to excess is way too common.

Of course if I'm honest I can't really claim to be any sort of expert on the bar experience since I so rarely frequent them. And perhaps I'm overly biased against them. But for young, impressionable teenagers it doesn't seem like a good thing for most and downright dangerous for some. What do you think? Hopefully for these two young ladies they will enjoy their bar experience responsibly and in moderation and eventually find better places to spend most of their time.

May Light increase!


Jay Boaz said...

I personally have never seen the allure of going to the bar. I made a decision not to drink before I became a Christian because I honestly don't see the point in it. I don't have a problem with people who drink responsibly, but getting black out drunk just seems like a waste of money.

By the time I turned 18 I stopped caring about birthdays, and oddly enough felt I was "too old" for the bar, as the freakishly strong "need" people seem to have to go out to the bar just seems immature.

Give me a good board game night with friends and conversation any day over trying to shout over crazily loud music while the people around me get stupider and stupider.

All that being said, I have enjoyed myself at a karaoke bar a time or two, but that's a bit of a different animal (at least for me). And I do karaoke sober!


Mark said...

Jay, I like how you term it "the allure of the bar," that's it exactly. For some, the allure is impossible to ignore and becomes a trap. I have always admired your decision not to drink, I think it will serve you well and gives you a certain level of integrity. There is much wisdom in such a decision and I like the fact that you don't look down on those who do choose to drink as long as it is responsibly. Drinking and Christians (at least evangelicals) is an interesting issue. In the past it was taboo, for postmoderns it is now something to be celebrated. As such I hear more and more Christian friends tell me how they "overdid" it and they don't seem to have much of a problem with it. Personally I don't think God has much of a problem with Christian's drinking (unless they are causing their brother/sister to stumble), but I do think he has a problem with them getting drunk. Scripture commands against in it in several places. Are their worse sins? Probably, but I think we should still treat it as a sin. I get annoyed with Christians laughing it off. And I get annoyed with Christians turning alcohol into the focus of an occasion - which often ends in drunkenness for some - instead of just of it being just one aspect of it. We need to be careful that in enjoying our freedom we don't forget to do so in moderation. And if we can't do it in moderation - don't do it!"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit" - Ephesians 5:18.

Anyway, enough ranting. One last thing. Sober karaoke, is there such a thing?

Michele said...

There is such a thing as sober karaoke, I do it all the time! It's way more fun when you're sober (at least I think so, I don't think I've ever done it drunk). I agree that alcohol should never be the focus of an occasion. To me, that is the first sign of alcoholism. I did my fair share of drinking and I've done my fair share of getting drunk. Somewhere in my twenties I figured out that I really don't care for the taste of alcohol and I'm not thrilled about being out of control either. I still go to bars with friends, usually to play "name that tune" or to go dancing, but alcohol hasn't really been part of that for me for a long time. I'd like to say that God's laws about alcohol are what drives me to be "responsible" but really it was more about my own likes and dislikes. I will say that I have more fun being sober at the bar than drunk. And really, I prefer a nice pub with good food to a bar any day. Turning 18 so that I could go to the bar wasn't really a huge thing for me as I was getting into the bar at 16. On my 18th birthday I told the bouncer at our local bar how old I was and he made me show my ID - he had been letting me into that bar for the past two years. He made me promise not to tell anyone else how old I was! well...I thought it was funny...