Worldwide Views on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use

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In our last blog on healthful living, we examined how Adventists around the world accept the Seventh-day Adventist standards of a healthy diet and their belief that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The 2017-2018 Global Church Member Study also asked members about their views on the use of alcohol, tobacco products, and drugs.

When asked to respond to the statement, “God wants me to take care of my body by avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco,” a vast majority (95%) expressed their agreement with the statement with over three-fourths (77%) of respondents strongly agreeing. Only a small percentage (3%) disagreed to one extent or another. It is encouraging to know that most members worldwide agreed with this important statement on a healthy lifestyle.

Yet when members were asked if they accepted the Adventist belief regarding abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs, a smaller number (80%) of survey participants shared that they agreed wholeheartedly with this belief, while another 11% said that they accepted it because the Adventist Church teaches it. Additionally, about 6% either had major doubts or did not accept the belief altogether, and a similar percentage, compared to the graph above, had questions/were unsure. This is interesting, considering the number of members who agreed that God wants us to take care of our bodies by avoiding these substances. These findings suggest that this topic requires more time and discussion during preparation for baptism.

When members were asked if they had used tobacco products or alcohol in the last 12 months, only a small percentage reported that they had used tobacco products. However, about three times more respondents (i.e., nearly one out of every ten) reported consumption of alcohol in the last 12 months. Thus, it would seem that even though many church members believe in the Adventist health message, some struggle to apply it to their personal lifestyle.

Adventists worldwide also seem to experience some confusion when it comes to their understanding of research on alcohol use. While a 2018 study conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine determined that there was no safe level of alcohol consumption,[1] 22% of Adventists worldwide reported that they were unsure of the research on this topic. Another small percentage (6%) also believed that alcohol consumption is safe in moderation. While the scientific research finding in this regard is relatively recent, this is a standard that the Adventist Church has upheld since its conception.

 

While the frequency of any drug use was not assessed in the 2017-18 GCMS, it should be noted that other research shows that there are some cases of marijuana use among students or other church members. However, it also shows that the Seventh-day Adventist college use is much lower than national data for the college age group.[2]

For those in leadership positions within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including church leadership, pastors, and teachers, it is important to thoroughly teach and reinforce the principle of abstinence. This is not only important for interactions with young people, but also new converts. Additionally, this important topic should be discussed in accountability relationships and small groups.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31, NIV)

To learn more about Adventists and substance abuse/addictions, please access this helpful resource: https://www.adventsource.org/ministry-plus/articles/adventists-and-addictions-703

Previous blogs on related subjects:


Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry


 
[1] University of Washington School of Medicine. (2018). No safe level of alcohol, new study concludes. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180824103018.htm
[2] AdventSource. (n.d.). Adventists and addictions. Retrieved from https://www.adventsource.org/ministry-plus/articles/adventists-and-addictions-703