“Only those who are prepared to go too far can possibly know how far they can go” is a great quote from a chap called Ernest Hemingway (google him).

I don’t think he was talking about drinking when he said it, but weirdly, I’ve heard almost that exact phrase said about “knowing your limit” with alcohol.

I was with a bunch of students last week discussing drink and drugs at a night we put on as a church. A couple of weeks earlier, I’d helped lead a seminar for students where we got debating Fresher’s week, the drinking culture and nights out. The question was asked time and time again: how do you know your limit? How can you know how many drinks to stop at, unless you’ve got drunk at least once to know what was too far? In fact, how far is too far… because getting “merry” or “tipsy” is different to being hammered… right?

One girl in the seminar said that her mate’s parents advised that they should get drunk once, then they’d know where to draw their line in the future. Do you agree? Have you tried that approach? 

For me, the suggestion that it was best to get drunk once for future reference, didn’t quite cut it. In fact, it left me feeling like we’d some what missed the point. At no stage did anyone come up with what I assumed would be a seemingly obvious thought… why do we ever need to get drunk? No one suggested the idea that maybe, just maybe, you never needed to “know your limit”, because why was the aim to drink as much as you could up to that limit? Why was the whole drinking alcohol thing the focus, the plan, the purpose?

Perhaps you think I’m ridiculous, or that I’ve missed out or clearly not engaged with student life, but I might as well be honest and tell you, I’ve never been drunk. In my 23 years of life, I have never felt the need to find out how much alcohol I can drink and still be “ok”. I have sat with my friends in drinking games and sometimes joined in with Diet Coke if it’s a fun enough game (Beer Pong). I go out. I have a right laugh. I might even have a cheeky pear cider because I love the taste... rebel. I have never been tipsy. I have never been drunk.

Just thought I’d throw that out there as an option. Anyone else thought of that? What’s your reaction?

My friend Luke said something really simple on this: “Jesus calls us to live a life of holiness… and holiness appears to be more difficult, the more we have to drink”. Which I guess challenges our priorities, and what we want our life to be about. Because, if you’re not interested in living a life Jesus models and calls us into, then it won’t matter to you at all that it’s harder to be like Jesus when under the influence. 

Ephesians 5 says this: ‘Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him.’

So, over to you. What’s your opinion of getting drunk? (Not talking about just drinking alcohol here by the way, as we can all agree that’s not the issue… it’s the getting hammered bit we’re debating…).

How do you set your standards? What advice would you give a Fresher about entering the student drinking culture?

Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

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