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Caitlin Kennell Kim
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Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
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Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
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Neela Kale
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Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
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Our readers asked:

Is getting drunk a mortal sin?

Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:

Is getting drunk a mortal sin?

I stopped drinking Jan. 1, 1979.  My personal history in college and some family dynamics made me wonder about my drinking.  Quitting drinking is one of the healthiest and sanest things I’ve ever done.  So I know what it is to drink, and I know what it is to live without alcohol.

If you are asking the question, be concerned.  Most people do not drink to get drunk.  Most people do not often, or normally, get “wasted.”  Getting drunk once in a great while, or at some great fun occasion… most likely is not a deadly sin (But one drunk driving incident can kill you or someone else.  Think Ted Kennedy!).

Habitual drunkenness is not congruent with our commitment to be followers of Christ.  Worshiping at the altars of Jim Beam and Bud Light in no way, shape or form contributes to our transformation in Christ.  It only makes liquor companies rich.

Mortal sin kills the life of grace in our soul.  Alcoholism is a progressive disease and it kills.  Evaluate fearlessly and honestly your use of alcohol and other drugs.  Addiction is powerful and difficult to overcome.  Look at Michael Jackson.  You can have it all and end up with nothing.  The momentary high just isn’t worth it.  Learn how to live sober and serene.  You’ll be so much more peaceful and happy.  Most likely, more successful too.  Few businesses look to hire or promote wild drinkers.

Alcohol, used in moderation, is good and a gift of God.  As Ben Franklin said, “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  God wants us to be happy, not drunk or wasted.

 
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The Author : Richard G. Malloy, SJ
Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D., is Vice President for University Ministries, the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, and author of A Faith That Frees (Orbis Books).
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