Help me out here. This is a serious question.
"What is one single redeeming feature of alcohol consumption?"
Here is how I see it...
The downsides of alcohol consumption are understated. Just scratch the bad stories in the newspaper and the neighborhood a little. Again and again and again the worst evils in our society have been facilitated by alcohol. If alcohol was not present they would not have happened. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear... it is staggering just how often alcohol abuse is the lubricant for the worst of evils.
The upsides of alcohol consumption are overstated. Just as it is associated with so much that it is evil it is also associated with so much that is shallow. When it is impossible to have a good time with your mates without alcohol there is a problem with imagination. When it is impossible to be funny without alluding to (or drinking) alcohol - and sex - there is a problem with imagination. If alcohol-enabled Happy Hour is as deep as we can reach with relationships then we have a problem.
Now I am not so stupid as to say that alcohol consumption is inherently wrong. Nor am I going to be so silly as to say that a follower of Jesus shouldn't drink alcohol.
But while on the subject of Jesus-following let me remind you that Jesus calls such people to live in the salt:light tension. Mixing-in but also being distinctive. We are in an era of Christian life where people are pigging out on being salt. They mix in well. In fact study after study shows that there is no discernible difference between the life of those who follow Jesus and those who do not. That is a scandal. We live at a time when there is a failure of courage in the lives of Jesus-followers. They prefer to blend rather than stand apart. We have lost sight of what being counter-cultural looks like.
Now I know being counter-cultural can occur in many ways. But for me... Because the downsides of alcohol consumption are left so understated and because the upsides are left so overstated and because we are called to be distinctive and 'to live as children of light', I have made a calculated decision with my own Jesus-following. I won't drink alcohol. I'll stop short of saying others should do the same - but it does surprise me just how few people come to this same conclusion.
Go on - convince me otherwise!