Section 9—Laying the Foundation of Intemperance

Chapter 1—Prenatal Influence

Where Reform Should Begin—The efforts of our temperance workers are not sufficiently far-reaching to banish the curse of intemperance from our land. Habits once formed are hard to overcome. The reform should begin with the mother before the birth of her children; and if God's instructions were faithfully obeyed, intemperance would not exist. Te 170.1

It should be the constant effort of every mother to conform her habits to God's will, that she may work in harmony with Him to preserve her children from the health- and life-destroying vices of the present day. Let mothers place themselves without delay in right relations to their Creator, that they may by His assisting grace build around their children a bulwark against dissipation and intemperance.—Counsels on Diet and Foods, 225, 226. Te 170.2

The Habits of the Father and the Mother—As a rule, every intemperate man who rears children, transmits his inclinations and evil tendencies to his offspring.—The Review and Herald, November 21, 1882. Te 170.3

The child will be affected for good or evil by the habits of the mother. She must herself be controlled by principle, and must practice temperance and self-denial, if she would seek the welfare of her child.—Counsels on Diet and Foods, 218. Te 170.4

The Birthright of Evil Tendencies—The thoughts and feelings of the mother will have a powerful influence upon the legacy she gives her child. If she allows her mind to dwell upon her own feelings, if she indulges in selfishness, if she is peevish and exacting, the disposition of her child will testify to the fact. Thus many have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil. The enemy of souls understands this matter much better than do many parents. He will bring his temptations to bear upon the mother, knowing that if she does not resist him, he can through her affect her child. The mother's only hope is in God. She may flee to Him for strength and grace; and she will not seek in vain.—The Signs of the Times, September 13, 1910. Te 171.1

God's Message to Every Mother—The carefulness with which the mother should guard her habits of life is taught in the Scriptures. When the Lord would raise up Samson as a deliverer for Israel, “the angel of Jehovah” appeared to the mother, with special instruction concerning her habits, and also for the treatment of her child. “Beware,” he said, “and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing.” Judges 13:13, 7. Te 171.2

The effect of parental influences is by many parents looked upon as a matter of little moment; but heaven does not so regard it. The message sent by an angel of God, and twice given in the most solemn manner, shows it to be deserving of our most careful thought. Te 171.3

In the words spoken to the Hebrew mother, God speaks to all mothers in every age. “Let her beware,” the angel said; “all that I commanded her let her observe.” The well-being of the child will be affected by the habits of the mother. Her appetites and passions are to be controlled by principle. There is something for her to shun, something for her to work against, if she fulfills God's purpose for her in giving her a child. If before the birth of her child she is self-indulgent, if she is selfish, impatient, and exacting, these traits will be reflected in the disposition of the child. Thus many children have received as a birthright almost unconquerable tendencies to evil. But if the mother unswervingly adheres to right principles, if she is temperate and self-denying, if she is kind, gentle and unselfish, she may give her child these same precious traits of character. Very explicit was the command prohibiting the use of wine by the mother. Every drop of strong drink taken by her to gratify appetite endangers the physical, mental, and moral health of her child, and is a direct sin against her Creator.—The Ministry of Healing, 372, 373. Te 171.4

Accountable for the Welfare of Future Generations—If women of past generations had always moved from high considerations, realizing that future generations would be ennobled or debased by their course of action, they would have taken their stand, that they could not unite their life interest with men who were cherishing unnatural appetites for alcoholic drinks, and tobacco which is a slow, but sure and deadly poison, weakening the nervous system, and debasing the noble faculties of the mind. If men would remain wedded to these vile habits, women should have left them to their life of single blessedness, to enjoy these companions of their choice. Women should not have considered themselves of so little value as to unite their destiny with men who had no control over their appetites, but whose principal happiness consisted in eating and drinking, and gratifying their animal passions. Te 172.1

Women have not always followed the dictates of reason instead of impulse. They have not felt in a high degree the responsibilities resting upon them, to form such life connections as would not enstamp upon their offspring a low degree of morals, and a passion to gratify debased appetites, at the expense of health, and even life. God will hold them accountable in a large degree for the physical health and moral characters thus transmitted to future generations.—How to Live 2, 27, 28. Te 172.2

The Newborn Child—The inquiry of fathers and mothers should be, “What shall we do unto the child that shall be born unto us?” We have brought before the reader what God has said concerning the course of the mother before the birth of her children. But this is not all. The angel Gabriel was sent from the heavenly courts to give directions for the care of children after their birth, that parents might fully understand their duty. Te 173.1

About the time of Christ's first advent the angel Gabriel came to Zacharias with a message similar to that given to Manoah. The aged priest was told that his wife should bear a son, whose name should be called John. “And”, said the angel, “thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” This child of promise was to be brought up with strictly temperate habits. An important work of reform was to be committed to him, to prepare the way for Christ. Te 173.2

Intemperance in every form existed among the people. Indulgence in wine and luxurious food was lessening physical strength, and debasing the morals to such an extent that the most revolting crimes did not appear sinful. The voice of John was to sound forth from the wilderness in stern rebuke for the sinful indulgences of the people, and his own abstemious habits were also to be a reproof of the excesses of his time.—Counsels on Diet and Foods, 225. Te 173.3