My wife and I had four friends from our old church in Diss over last night to enjoy homegrown pizza together. It was - if I say so myself - a hoot. In good company I drank a lot of wine and, as Luther might put it, right freely! Luther, of course makes an excellent point here, but despite which there is still no getting round the biblical injunction against getting drunk. Why do the biblical authors make this point (see here)? The obvious, and most boring answer, is that drunkenness is a stepping stone to other forms of debauchery; e.g. get drunk and you might find yourself flirting, fighting or otherwise disgracing yourself, etc. That's fine, but of course that wouldn't really have been much of a temptation last night; it was just a group of friends enjoying each other's company over wine and pizza. Why not drink to excess?
The answer I would suggest is not to do with the effects of alcohol on inhibitions after having drank too much, but rather the state of disordered desires that precedes the excess, and of which the drinking is a physical manifestation. That is, excessive alcohol consumption is symptomatic of a kind of incontinent appetite, a grasping, greedy reaching over and over again for something that in itself is a social good. In this sense, to drink too much is no different from eating too much or buying too much, or any other manifestation of an 'I must have' mentality. To be sure, alcohol also incorporates lowered inhibitions that can be unhelpful, but essentially the problem with all of these manifestations of an incontinent appetite rests not so much in the behaviour itself but in its opposition to who God is as pure self-giving generosity, as the opposite of an 'I must have' appetite. It is because God is the opposite of the open, desiring mouth that just wants more, more, more, that drinking too much is wrong. As such, the solution to the problem of drinking too much is not necessarily cutting back, but rather in drawing closer to Him who is pure self-giving love and becoming like Him in his total (violent, even) generosity. This is not to give licence to excessive drinking, but rather to acknowledge that drinking or not drinking are not the point, as neither represent a better, more godly position than the other.
I hope I've explained myself clearly. I'm not arguing for drunkenness, but neither am I arguing for sobriety as being good or bad in themselves; I'm arguing for being transformed (intoxicated) by the Spirit, and drawn into the circle of God's expanding love in Christ, and allowing that love to rightly organise one's appetites. Only transformed and reordered desire towards Christ can solve the problem of drunkenness and sobriety.