You probably know someone who is going through orientation for their first year of college right now. These fresh 18 year-olds are in for quite a ride, including the pressures of parties involving alcohol. In an effort to curb college binge drinking, there is a movement of around 100 college presidents (from institutions such as Duke and Ohio State) called the Amethyst Initiative. This group has united in order to challenge current legislation over the legal drinking age. They claim that banning alcohol from 18 to 20 year-olds treats them like children when in every other sense these individuals are given adult privileges (such as voting, serving on juries, etc.). Technically, individual states have the freedom to lower the drinking age to 18, but any state that does so is slapped with a 10% penalty on highway money coming from the feds. You can read all about the Amethyst Initiative at www.amethystinitiative.org.
Now, I attended a college (and a seminary for that matter) where alcohol was completely banned. That means that I was under some sort of no-alcohol covenant for the better part of my years until I was 26 years-old. I did not live in an environment where the pressures to drink while underage were present. In all honesty, I moaned a little about having to abstain from alcohol all those years, but looking back on it, I’m glad there was such a standard in place. It was a small “price” to pay (abstaining from alcohol) for the better good of having a dry campus that rarely ran into the potentially devastating (or even fatal) consequences of alcohol. But I’m sure many of you went to state schools or some other institution where drinking was fine at age 21 (or even under that age, culturally speaking). Perhaps you have some insight on what the pressures and consequences are really like for 18 to 20 year-olds in regard to drinking alcohol.
Furthermore, I wonder what will happen at some of these schools where the presidents have signed the Amethyst Initiative? Imagine being an underage drinker at one of those schools. You get caught by the campus police. But then you contest that the president of your college supports lowering the drinking age to 18. I suppose the college presidents are willing to go through an awkward period of having that double-standard in order to seek out what they see as a better policy that may come in future years.
If you look at wine from a Biblical perspective, we know that Jesus partook of wine (John 2) and we know that drunkenness is prohibited (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13). We know that Paul taught against consuming certain foods or wine if such activity causes another person to “stumble” or “fall” (Romans 14:21).
I’m curious to see what you all think about this issue. Let me know your thoughts.