Our studies continue these months with a look at the ideals which the Brethren have emphasized down through the years. One of the ideals is temperance (2 Peter 1:6).

Temperance means two things. It means moderation in such needful things as eating and sleeping and working and recreation. We are to be moderate in our desiring and using the good things of life. But temperance also means abstinence from such harmful things as alcoholic beverages and other drugs, the use of tobacco, the taking of human life, and so forth. All this is implied in the word “temperance.”

Some would have us believe that temperance means to enjoy everything ? but only in moderation. But none of us believes in moderation in everything. We don’t believe in moderate killing, for example. We wouldn’t instruct someone and say, “Don’t go overboard; be a moderate killer; when you do kill, do it just now and then; and be sure and clean up the mess; don’t let any blood.” It is evident that moderation applies only to things that are lawful and needful. Moderation has nothing to do with things that are unclean and harmful.

Temperance does mean moderation (in things lawful and needful), but it also means abstinence (from things wicked and harmful). In our day of indulgence and luxury and comfort, it takes an unusual amount of discipline in order to be temperate. It may be more difficult for many of us to be moderate in our use of the good things, than it is to abstain from the evil things. We need to exercise discipline in the amount of sleep we permit ourselves. The number of hours of sleep should not be so small that we are ineffective for the duties of the next day, nor should it be so great that we become lazy and idle. Likewise, we must be temperate in our eating. Nature is content with relatively small amounts of food. We should never eat so that our faculties become dull and useless. Temperance in eating is a noble virtue, especially in light of the global food crisis.

When we think of temperance in terms of alcoholic beverages, we must remember that the Bible is clear in its condemnation of strong drink (Prov. 23:31?32; Gal. 5:19?2 1). Drunkenness is not merely a disease; it is a vicious, ugly, devastating sin. Alcohol is not a harmless beverage like lemonade. Alcohol (and other drugs) are the crime and curse of our nation, and except for medical purposes God forbid that His children should ever touch them.

??Harold S. Martin
September/October 1976