I. What is in the Bible Regarding Drunkenness and Moderate Drinking?
Drunkenness is quite clearly a sin. Drunkards are listed among those who will not enter God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:10). Drunkenness and drunkards are never looked at positively. It is referred to negatively often (Psalm 69:12, Proverbs 23:21, Luke 7:34).
However, a much more controversial question regards moderate drinking. Is it ever okay to drink alcohol in any amount?
Well, ponder this:
Was Jesus unfairly called a drunkard for drinking grape juice (Matthew 11:19)?
When God explicitly told the Israelites that they could buy “wine or other fermented drink” when listing suggested foods for the tithe feats, did He mean they could buy it but had to pour it out (Deuteronomy 14:26)?
What of God’s promise of “aged wine” for believers in Isaiah 25:6? Aged wine means alcoholic wine; that’s just what happens when you let grape juice sit out long enough to be “aged.” I know it’s probably symbolic, but would God use pornography or temple prostitutes as symbols for the joy of eternal life?
In Titus 2:3, Paul tells Titus “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” Why not just say tell them to avoid wine entirely , if it is a sin to drink it? In case anyone wants to play the “wine means grape juice” game (because it sometimes does), why mention it at all. Don’t drink much grape juice? Similar idea regarding 1 Timothy 3:8
Although this is not conclusive, the fact that people were getting drunk at the celebrations of the Lord’s supper does imply that the wine Jesus used for His blood was alcoholic, not grape juice (1 Corinthians 11:21).
(Courtesy of Bruce M. Sabin, http://www.brucesabin.com/alcohol.html).
II. “Drinking has no benefits in moderation, but it does harm in excess.”
First of all, it’s not entirely true. It’s been known for decades that moderate wine consumption (1 or 2 glasses a day) reduces heart the risk of heart disease. Alcohol in general does have some slight benefits by thinning the blood.
Secondly, candy bars and TV can be sinful in excess, and they have no real value in moderation other than the fact that we like them. Is having a single candy bar or a TV show before bed sinful too? Anyone been to the movies lately?
III. Drinking Any Amount Makes Christians Look Sinful
That’s a bit of an assumption…who’s to say an unbeliever would even think twice? Unless we preach “alcohol is bad,” and then drink, why would anyone notice or care? Think about it; most people (at least in our culture) don’t think drinking is sinful…How bad would it normally make one look to do something that is not a sin in front of people who don’t think it is sinful…?
Secondly, what if moderate, non-sinful drinking (because using the appearrences argument assumes it is not inherently sinful) is used for good? What if a pastor accepts an invitation to have a beer with his unbelieving neighbor, giving him a chance to share the Gospel? Remember Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors (and getting slandered for it) so that they might repent (some did, like Zaccheus – Luke 19:1-9)?
NOTE: It is very important to be good witnesses and consider how our actions look to people. We should be vigilant in all situations and consider our actions accordingly. Sometimes it is wrong to do something that would be right in another situation (like eating or drinking certain things in front of certain people may be wrong even if it is okay elsewhere – Romans 14:20-21). But you gotta draw the line somewhere…
IV. In Closing
To those who really think it is a sin to drink at all: I won’t tempt you or drink in your presence or do anything that will cause you to stumble – you are more important than wine and love is more important than freedom. In fact, out of respect to the governing authorities I do not drink at all being under 21 (though I will be legal soon). Also, there is nothing wrong with choosing not to drink. For some it might be the best thing. I say that it’s a matter of personal choice and conscience. However, although drunkenness is quite clearly sin, I have not been convinced at all that it is a sin to drink.
(For a more in depth argument, see this article by southern Baptist by Bruce M. Sabin – it’s referred to above but here you go again: http://www.brucesabin.com/alcohol.html)
Until next time…
(Originally published 09/04/2009:http://3-ringbinder.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-take-on-drinking.html. Immaterial changes have been made).