What Does The Bible Really Say About Alcohol
Here are your keys, muttered the secretary when I arrived to pick up the keys to my office at Aberdeen University, where I would be studying for my doctorate in theology. It looks like youre in The Old Brewery.
Intrigued by the name, I later found out that it reflected the buildings original function. Aberdeen was founded in the 15th century and used to train monks for ministry. In the brewery, monks brewed vast quantities of Scottish ale, which was served by the liter at mealtimes. And here I was, a post-fundamentalist Ph.D. student studying the Scriptures in a malted sanctuary where late medieval Bible college students once clapped mugs together in an act of worship.
Throughout Christian history, alcohol was rarely a taboo as it is in some circles today. John Calvin had a stipend of 250 gallons of wine per year written into his church contract. Martin Luthers wife was a famed brewer of beer, which certainly won Martins heart. And the Guinness family created their renowned Irish Stout as an act of worship to Jesus. From Bordeaux to Berlin, wine and beer have always been part of church tradition. But what was once considered the nectar of heaven was later condemned as the devils libation.
A Smart Approach
Alcohol as a Witness
Lower Alcohol Content?
Wine as a Blessing
Things Bible Says About Drinking
Below are scriptures that discuss drinking and the dangers of alcohol abuse.
1. Numbers 6:3
He shall abstain from wine and strong drink he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.
2. 1 Corinthians 6:910
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
3. 1 Timothy 5:23
No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
4. Ephesians 5:6
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
5. Luke 21:34
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
6. Ecclesiastes 9:7
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
7. Isaiah 5:22
Being A Thoughtless Jerk Is A Sin
Okay, the Bible doesn’t say that specific phrase, but the idea is still there. First Corinthians 8:9-13 is the passage that talks about not causing another believer to “stumble” in his spiritual walk. That is, if your drinking causes another Christian to be tempted to go against his conviction not to drink, then don’t drink in front of him. We should be helping each other , not making life harder.
Also, keep in mind that you are called to be a light to the world. Ephesians 5:8 says that “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Stumbling around drunk doesn’t exactly send the message of God’s light and love. But there is nothing wrong with drinking responsibly with friends.
You May Like: Biblical Definition Of Sanctified
Bible Verses Prohibiting Drunkeness
Over-indulgence of anything is sinful, especially alcohol. The Bible is clear about not drinking to the point of drunkenness. When you indulge in too much alcohol, you give way for the enemy to take advantage of your vulnerable state which can cause you to sin even more.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious.envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these thingsas I warned you beforethat those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19, 21
For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the Gentiles choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 1Peter 4:3
What Does The Bible Say About Wine
Note: Among other examples at kgov.com/rankings Google makes this articleeasily discoverable by Christians in America and around the world.
UPDATE: This article includes content from Bob Enyart’s radio debate with a Denver Church of Christ preacher, Chris Peltz, about drinking wine. Two weeks prior to our broadcast, Brian from Thornton called into Peltz’ radio program presenting three lines of evidence that Bible teaching generally and Jesus in particular approve of drinking alcohol, but that to excess, it is drunkenness that is the sin. Denver Bible Church agrees with Brian that God’s Word approves of drinking wine, beer and other alcohol. First consider that the warnings against drunkenness actually affirm the drinking of alcohol in moderation. And then see below the many biblical evidences showing that God approves of wine.
Jesus Drank Wine Unlike the Baptist: Jesus showed the hypocrisy of unbelievers, who would condemn the righteous for drinking wine or for abstaining from wine. For example, they condemned John the Baptist for not feasting and nor drinking wine, and the unbelievers criticized Jesus for feasting and drinking wine . Some even accused the Lord of being a drunkard because of this.
“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine , and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'” Luke 7:33-34
Pastor Bob Enyart
Recommended Reading: Is It Better To Read The Bible In Chronological Order
I Traditional Christian Theology
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus drank wine . It also documents that he approved of its moderate consumption . On the other hand, Jesus was critical of drunkenness .
The later writings of St. Paul deal with alcohol in detail. Theyre important to traditional Christian doctrine on the subject. He considered wine to be a creation of God. Therefore, it is inherently good . He recommended its use for medicinal purposes . However, he condemned drunkenness . And St. Paul recommended abstinence for those who could not control their drinking. 1
Drinking Alcohol Has Medicinal Value
In both the Old and the New Testament the Bible encourages the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes. Its no secret today that alcohol has healing properties. When my grandparents came down with a cold, they poured a little honey and lemon into a shot of whiskey instead of running to the drugstore.
Dont continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1Timothy 5:23
In the book of Proverbs wine is suggested for dealing with emotional issues like depression. Even medical doctors are known to prescribe a glass of wine to someone who is anxious or coping with difficult issues.
Hard liquor is for sick men at the brink of death, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and misery. Proverbs 31:6
Don’t Miss: Omer Definition Bible
Find The Abundant Life
Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly . By using alcohol we participate in destroying not only our own life, but often the lives of others. Even in moderation, alcohol use causes significant problemsphysically, mentally, and spiritually. Its no wonder the Bible consistently warns against it. God says, in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now and let us reason together.” With alcohol use we temporarily and permanently stupefy our reasoning powers. So, for a Christian, is it drinkable, or unthinkable?
Ok But Where In The Bible Does It Say It Is Wrong
The main passages outlining the qualifications of a pastor/elder/overseer/bishop are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 both of which are nearly identical lists. The few qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 entail the following character qualifications for someone who is being considered as pastoral leader in the church:
must be blameless The words must be are included, stressing the fact that what follows is absolutely necessary. Being blameless literally means not to be held in a criminal sense. This is the most important character qualification for the pastor, and the list of qualifications that follow elaborates on what it means to be blameless. There is to be no unrepentant sin that can be publicly named or pointed to in which the church or civil community is aware of. It doesnt mean he is sinless or has never sinned, but that he cant be held in contempt, either criminally, morally, socially, or ethically.
sober-minded He is to be a serious man who knows how to order his priorities.
of good behavior Means to be orderlyas opposed to being chaotic or disorganized.
not given to wine Not a regular drinker of alcohol. The pastor must never consume alcohol because he could be called on at any time of the day or night to perform his duties and, therefore, his judgment must never be clouded by alcohol.
* Image credit: Sorceria
Read Also: How Many Times Bible Says Fear Not
Old Testament Nazarites Shunned Alcoholic Wine
In the Old Testament, there was a group of people known as Nazarites that took a vow to separate themselves unto the Lord and therefore they would not drink any wine or alcoholic beverages.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. Numbers 6:2-3
We must all give an account of ourselves before our Lord. What would please Him? Would it not be pleasing to Him if we loved others enough to give up those things we could have, for a greater cause? Would it not be a more powerful witness to others in our age to stand out as one who did not drink alcoholic beverages because we had no need to do so. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, His spirit gives us the joy and release that many are seeking by drinking. May we instead desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have no need for spirits.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess but be filled with the Spirit Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 5:18-20
Effects Of Alcohol And Wine On Our Bodies
The Bible is clear that our bodies are temples of the living God via the agent of the Holy Spirit. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received of God? . . . . Therefore honor God with your body . God is concerned with how we treat our bodies, including what we eat or drink. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God . The wise Solomon said, Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler whoever is led astray by them is not wise . Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper .
Pauls Teachings About Excessive Alcohol Consumption
In the New Testament, we also find words that condone the responsible use of alcohol.
1 Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomachs sake and thine often infirmities.
Note also that nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus condemn or prohibit wine or strong drink. In fact, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana and spoke about how to preserve wine when teaching His disciples lessons about the old and the new .
Parental Responsibility In Drinking
Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting at home, when you are out walking, at bedtime, and before breakfast! Deuteronomy 11:19
The mandate to parents is to live out the Word of God all day long.
You can tell your kids they dont need alcohol to be sociable, but do you model that for them?
You can tell them to drink responsibly, but do you do the same? Do you cross the line? Do you say things after a couple of drinks that you wouldnt say beforehand?
Do you need a drink to relax? To cool your anger?
While my daughters were young, I made the decision to abstain from the use of alcohol so I could model for them how to live without it. I wanted them to see for themselves that we could laugh and enjoy life without a beer or a glass of wine. I also wanted to show them that being sociable, handling stress and dealing with anger were things God could help us with.
Although I didnt take a Nazirite vow Ive continued to abstain. And even though I dont believe the scriptures frown on responsible drinking, my decision not to drink was the best decision for me.
As a Bible teacher and a staff member of a Christian recovery center I knew I was responsible for not causing someone under my teaching to stumble in their faith simply because I insisted on taking a drink. All that time, God has proven to me that I can enjoy life and handle its difficulties under the power and control of His Spirit.
Recommended Reading: What Is An Omer In The Bible
Do Not Be Drunk With Wine: 30 Warnings In The Bible
Our last post shared 14 Reasons God Approves Wine in the Bible. But, the Bible also gives stern warnings against alcohol abuse. Ephesians 5:18 says it like this: Do not be drunk with wine.
Previously we shared:
Today we will look at 30 warnings in the Bible about being drunk with wine .
Do Not Be Drunk With Wine
I had wanted to share 28 reasons to not be drunk with wine, but I found 30 and went with it. I am sharing over twice the amount of warnings against drunkenness as I shared in defense of alcohol in moderation. Some of these warnings are life-threatening: and they are right out of the Bible. So take heed.
Do Not Be Drunk With Wine: 30 Warnings from the Bible
So It Is Okay To Drink Alcohol
You still have to follow the laws, my friend, so underage drinking is NOT OK. âº However, when you are of legal drinking age, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids a Christian from drinking beer, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. There are even verses that talk about alcohol in positive terms. For example, Ecclesiastes 9:7 says to “drink your wine with a merry heart.” Psalm 104:14-15 says that wine is a gift from God “that makes glad the heart of men.”
You May Like: Does The Bible Say Mary Magdalene Was A Prostitute
Reading The Bible As Having No Positive References To Alcohol
There are some who interpret certain passages in the Bible as not referring to alcohol, arguing that all positive references to “wine” in Scripture refer to non-alcoholic beverages and all negative references speak of alcoholic beverages. Advocates of this view, called the “two-wine” position, argue that the Greek and Hebrew words rendered “wine” in most English versions are generic terms for fruit juices context determines if the beverage in view is alcoholic or not. The fact is pointed out that even in earlier stages of the English language, such as in 1611 when the King James Version was translated, “wine” could refer to non-alcoholic beverages as well as alcoholic ones. The two-wine view is widespread in conservative Evangelicalism. Dr. Robert Teachout, a fundamental Baptist seminary professor, argued for this position in his doctoral dissertation The Use of “Wine” in the Old Testament. Separatist Baptist support for a Biblical total abstinence position is widespread. Other sources for this view include the Purified Translation of the Bible, where extensive footnotes are used to promote the idea, and the 19th century Temperance Bible Commentary.
Drinking Alcohol Is Enjoyable
Many people enjoy a glass of wine, a beer or a drink of hard liquor. Solomon was no exception.
In essence, Solomon points out that accumulating wealth for the sake of being rich doesnt bring much satisfaction. But taking the time to enjoy what God has given us is not only pleasurable but wise.
Good food and drink are gifts to us from a gracious God. How bland life would be without a seasoned meal or cold ice cream! They are gifts to be enjoyed.
Well, one thing, at least, is good: It is for a man to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, accept his position in life, and enjoy his work whatever his job may be, for however long the Lord may let him live.Ecclesiastes 5:18
You May Like: Does The Bible Say Anything About Cremation