Was Prohibition a Success?

   Written by on June 30, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Some who favor the drinking of alcohol often argue that Prohibition in the U.S. was an utter failure. Later in this column, we shall look at various facts which show that Prohibition did, indeed, have its positive influences on American society.

What does God’s Word, the Bible, say about what we put into our bodies? Here are a few sample passages; many more could be cited:

logo-hevener1. So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  We glorify God by caring for the marvelous bodies that He has given us.  1 Corinthians 10: 31. (NIV)

2. “Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink.”Isaiah 5:22.(ESV)

3. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”  Proverbs 20:1. (NKJV.)

When the Bible uses the word “wine,” it can mean either fermented or unfermented juice of the grape. In order to discover which type of wine a particular Biblical passage is referring to, do the following three things:

Study the context of the passage.  The context is the community of ideas in which the word is used.  What is the central message in the passage?

Check the original Greek or Hebrew meaning using a reputable concordance such as the one by Strong.

Look at the entire teachings of the Bible on alcohol and other harmful substances; if a passage seems to endorse alcohol, which is harmful to the human body, test that interpretation against the broader Biblical teachings on the sanctity of God-given life and health. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

“The Mishna [a collection of oral Jewish traditions] states that the Jews were in the habit of drinking boiled wine” (Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, vol. 2, p. 447). Naturally, this wine would be entirely free of alcohol as a result of the boiling….”

In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Albert Barnes wrote, “The wine of Judea was the pure juice of the grape, without any mixture of alcohol. It was the common drink of the people and did not produce intoxication.” And Adam Clarke, commenting on Genesis 40:11, wrote, “From this we find that wine anciently was the mere expressed juice of the grape without fermentation….” Clarke’s comments agree with the passage found in Isaiah, “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it’ ” (Isaiah 65:8, NKJV.)

In the early 1900’s in the United State, popular opinion turned against alcohol. By 1915, some Americans regarded drinkers with disgust. As late as 1916, a brewing trade publication declared that “All people hate drunkards….”

In January, 1917, the 65th Congress convened, in which “dries” outnumbered “wets” by 140 to 64 in the Democratic Party and 138 to 62 among Republicans. On December 18, 1917, the Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment, establishing a legal definition for intoxicating liquor, outlawing the manufacture, sale, and transportation of any drink stronger than 0.5% alcohol, and setting out penalties for doing so. The Eighteenth Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919, and put into effect a year later.

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen–Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture, transportation, and sale of some alcoholic beverages. Prohibition was repealed at midnight on April 7, 1933.

So, we come to the question, “Was Prohibition a success?” If by success we mean reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, reducing accidents, reducing alcohol-related illnesses, and reducing homicides, the answer is, “Yes.”  The following information concerning the impact of Prohibition, was printed in an article in the New York Times, October 16, 1989:

“First, alcohol consumption declined dramatically during Prohibition. Cirrhosis death rates for men were 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929. Admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.

“Second, arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct declined 50 percent between 1916 and 1922. For the population as a whole, the best estimates are that consumption of alcohol declined by 30 percent to 50 percent.

“Third, violent crime did not increase dramatically during Prohibition. Homicide rates rose dramatically from 1900 to 1910 but remained roughly constant during Prohibition’s 14 year rule. Organized crime may have become more visible and lurid during Prohibition, but it existed before and after.

“Fourth, following the repeal of Prohibition, alcohol consumption increased. Today, alcohol is estimated to be the cause of more than 23,000 motor vehicle deaths and is implicated in more than half of the nation’s 20,000 homicides.

“Prohibition did not end alcohol use. What is remarkable, however, is that a… narrow political movement, relying on a relatively weak set of statutes, succeeded in reducing, by one-third, the consumption of a drug that had wide historical and popular sanction.”

Newstart Lifestyle Club, directed by Neil Nedley, M.D., summarizes the dangerous results of using alcohol: “Alcohol increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, stomach ulcers, and cancer, and causes high blood pressure – a very dangerous condition for the cardiovascular system. One or two drinks can produce spasm of the coronary arteries, decreasing the oxygen supply to the heart. So, the reports of the health benefits of alcohol are really misleading to the public. Unfortunately, millions of people have become alcoholics, ruining body, mind, and soul, and destroying families in the process. Perhaps the saddest statistics are those of damaged babies who are permanently retarded due to their parents’ alcohol.”

Yes, as Solomon writes in Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (NKJV)  If you are a victim of alcohol, bow your head and ask Christ, through His Holy Spirit, to free you from the chains of one of the deadliest chemicals in society, alcohol!  In conjunction with prayer, you may choose to go to a Christian rehabilitation center for counseling or pray with a Christian pastor whom you trust. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13.) (Emphasis mine.)

Contact: (434) 392-6255; fhevener@oilart.com; www.guthriememorial.org. There is never a charge for spiritual counseling.

© Fillmer Hevener, 2016.

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