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Panel: Is it Wrong for A Christian to Drink Alcohol?

Panel: Is it Wrong for A Christian to Drink Alcohol?
Mar 06 Tags: alcohol | 21 Responses Print Save as PDF

Scott Thomson

While the Bible clearly forbids intoxication (1 Corinthians 6:19, Ephesians 5:18), the Scriptures do not forbid believers from consuming alcoholic beverages.

Although the Scriptures do not forbid drinking, the Bible is careful to accurately portray the inherent dangers of drinking.  In Proverbs we learn wine is a mocker and has the potential to lead astray (20:1), drunkenness and gluttony will eventually lead to poverty (23:21), and tarrying long over wine will lead to woe, sorrow, and strife (23:29-30).

The New Testament also cautions us about the realities of drinking. Drinking may lead another believer astray (Romans 14:21), may disqualify one from being recognized as an elder or deacon (1 Timothy 3:1-16), and ensnare one like a trap (Luke 21:34).

In addition to the warnings of Scripture we can clearly see in society the extensive damage alcohol causes.  Addiction, drunk driving, abusive behaviors, financial problems, and poor academic/work performance are just a few examples.

In conclusion, I believe the potential dangers of alcohol far outweigh any positives.   If I never drink I will never become intoxicated or addicted, I will never drive impaired or lead another brother in Christ astray.  Therefore, I have made the personal decision to abstain from drinking.  For these same reasons I encourage you to also abstain.

Scott Duncan

Is it wrong for Christians to drink alcohol?  I guess that depends on your definition of wrong.  If the Lord had declared the drinking of any alcohol to be a sin, then the easy answer would be yes, it is wrong.  However, I have yet to read that the Lord declares such a thing.

A better question might be: is it a good idea for Christians to drink alcohol?  This question can lead to a long drawn out answer weighing the pros & cons of alcohol consumption.  In order to keep this topic, brief I’ll list some verses mentioning alcohol use that are found throughout Scripture: Gen. 9:21, Lev. 10:8-10, Ps. 104.15, Prov. 20:1, Prov. 23:20-21, Prov. 31:4, Is. 5:11, Ezek. 44:21, Dan. 1:8, Hosea 4:11, Matt. 11:19, Luke7:34, John 4:46, Rom. 14:20-21, Eph. 5:18, 1 Tim. 3:1-9, 1 Tim. 5:23, Titus 2:3.

Based on these verses and many more, the Scripture seems to give a balanced approach to the mere consumption of wine which contains alcohol.  I’m convinced that alcohol is simply a substance that is amoral.  In both the Old (Psalm 104:15) and New (John 2:9) Testament it speaks of the Lord making wine which in turn made the heart of the people glad.

We also read how Paul encouraged Timothy to take some wine to help his stomach.  Although there is good evidence to suggest that wine has good physical benefits, there is also plenty of evidence from Scripture and the health reports that alcohol abuse can lead to deadly consequences!

Our Lord desires us to be sober-minded and never wants us to become drunk (Eph. 5:18).  Drunkards or winebibbers who habitually drink alcohol are addicted to the substance and continually seek comfort and relief by having another sip and eventually their god becomes alcohol.

Personally, I know believers who take a strong stand against anyone ever drinking alcohol.  I also know believers who have no problem drinking alcohol with their meal or before they go to bed at night for medicinal purposes.  I believe we have liberty in Christ to drink alcohol if we so desire.

However, as stated in Romans 14:20-21, we should be very careful of our testimony and who we influence if we decide to sip.  I’m convinced that what we really should be asking ourselves is: am I filled with the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit provides more comfort than any type of physical substance here on this earth!  People who cling to alcohol or any drug for that matter are simply deceived.  They don’t realize that the God of the universe can give them a greater high than can ever be imagined.

I’ve found it profitable to not focus on alcohol consumption but rather aim to encourage others to be filled with the Spirit.  When you’re filled with the Spirit, your thoughts become heavenly and what seemed so important on earth suddenly becomes quite insignificant!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any other author or an official position of the assemblyHUB team.

assemblyHUB

This is a general post published by the assemblyHUB team. At times we will post articles that we feel will be helpful and encouraging or challenging to our readers. We pray the Lord will use them for His glory.

21 Responses to Panel: Is it Wrong for A Christian to Drink Alcohol?

  1. Avatar
    Keith Sherwood

    I was never a drinker as an unsaved man, as I was an enthusiastic and fast motorcyclist and the two are a bad mix. When saved I asked my self the question about drinking alcohol, first there was no good reason to drink and secondly in general places where drinking was what they were there for ‘pubs’ etc were not the best places to be,. third there are no benefits in alcohol as it does diminish ones ability, fourth how do you know when you have had enough? – but what decided me to become teetotal was it was a simple discipline that leaves you sober and not a bad example (in drinking) that might encourage believers to drink.

    • Avatar
      Scott Thomson

      Thank you Keith for your testimony. I pray that others, especially young people, would develop convictions similar to yours.

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    David Boisvert

    For me the question should be asked, Why would a Christian feel the need to drink alcohol? I know you can apply these verses to many other situations (movies, TV shows, music, relationships, etc.) but the fact remains that as believers we are called to be separate, or different from the world. Give us one good reason why you think you should drink as a Christian and you’ll get many more reasons not to.

    2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord,and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

  3. Avatar

    Thank you for your article. It’s very helpful. I especially like the finishing paragraph. Being spirit filled will help set our priorities right

  4. Avatar
    Calvin Fritchey

    Jesus answered many a question, by asking questions. Why do I want to drink? Do I have a need to drink? Are there better alternatives? What good would a drink do me? What are the evils or bad results of drinking? Will this draw me, my friends, fellow believers, my children, or weaker believers closer to Jesus Christ? Having a large part of my family (both Christian and non-Christian) who have been ruined, are ruined, and are continually being ruined… by drinking, I choose not too. There are literally hundreds of verses against drinking and spelling out it’s end results. Few speak of “good” coming of it (use it for a constantly bad stomach, a few suggest joy from drinking wine, and for very deep sorrow). Being myself of a simple mind my Fathers favorite book in the Bible gives me guidance in the matter. Proverbs 27:12 “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished”. Sometimes it’s not a matter of “Can I”, but “should I”? I hope this does not come across as judging, but a challenge to choose what’s better!

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    Eric Caruso

    Here is the one thing I can not seem to wrap my head around, and maybe someone with more Biblical knowledge could help me out. Jesus’s first miracle was turning water into wine. Also, there are many reference’s to wine in the bible. So how can drinking wine be bad? I understand the not being a drunker and the addiction aspect, however saying you abstain and encouraging others as well based on biblical principle seems an overreach. Ok, maybe overreach is a strong word but what I am trying to point out is that your decision is a PERSONAL decision. This is a classic topic in Christian communities and I do not like it when just because there is danger people choose to run, rather than realize that so often in Christianity there is a balance. I relate it to the article on music, just because there is a chance that musical worship might turn into a rock concert does not mean that we should only sing hymns acapella.

    • Avatar
      william Hollensed

      Eric, The wine of Jesus day was possibly nothing more than fermented grape juice. As to danger are you saying I should not warn you when you are walking toward a cliff in the dark? This is a personal decision and we are free in Christ to decide but most who wrote realize drinking is unprofitable at best and dangerous so why pursue it. I am old and have seen the movement by believers from not drinking at all to drinking is just fine. I think there is a certain amount of conviction evident when the topic comes up by those who drink and feel the need to defend alcohol. I have also witnessed the damage alcohol can do to individuals and families. Besides all this there is medical reasons not to but alcohol in your body.

      • Avatar
        Eric Caruso

        I rarely drink, yet I chose to defend the practice. I see too many christians wrongly condemn something based on conservative legalistic tendencies rather than absolute biblical truth. There is no verse saying having a glass of wine is sinful. So why infer otherwise?

  6. Avatar
    Calvin Fritchey

    Note to the editor: I am not arguing the issue or the statements of others, but trying to present another side of the story due to many a heart wrenching account with members of my immediate family when trying to help them. Many of them lost their parents at an early age or always seem to be poor no matter what you do. Many turned to drink or just got caught up in it. With the Lord’s help we try to help. Please, if I said anything in the below incorrectly, please feel free to delete it.

    Over reaching scripture in this matter? Perhaps not. The first recorded mention of wine in the Bible is “not” a good one. Genesis 9:20-23 “…Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, … saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside….”. Whether Noah got drunk ignorantly, willfully, or inadvertently it caused him to sin as well as his child Ham. 1 Corinthians 8:6-13, Gal 5:13, etc gives us guidance on “personal choices”. Don’t use any “liberty” to cause another to fall. Looking at it in a “liberty” since it may no longer be a “personal choice” but an act of obedience. Just a different way of looking at it, but not in a legalistic way. May these thoughts draw us closer to the Lord and not drive us away, or cause us to turn away from the things of the Lord.

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    Brian

    I would like to see a follow up article that discusses a more interesting question: Is it wrong for a Christian to eat more food than they need to? Food can be just as much an addiction as alcohol (and that’s the only time drinking is a problem) but we seem reluctant to talk about our overeating.

    • Avatar
      Calvin Fritchey

      Dear Brian, Perhaps you would like to take this off-line and we can discuss more at length. Perhaps there’s more to this than just a matter of a Christian being able to drink alcohol or not. Maybe I can help answer your questions. Maybe someone will address “food and overeating” as it appears an answer to that is needed too. I do know there are more “issues” with food that “appear” to be overeating when they are not, and that “drinking” is more accepted than “overeating”. I have an interesting poem I wrote about a situation where I was accused of such a thing as overeating, so I might have a little different insight to your question than one might think. I would also warn you of the problem of “under eating”, which might be worse than overeating. The 3rd issue with eating is being proud when one is not “fat” versus another person who is “fat”. “Please feel free to eMail me at CalvinFritchey@bellsouth.net. I cannot promise I have the answer you need but with prayer, study, a little help from some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and with the leading of the Holy Spirit, maybe some help might be found.
      In His Service
      Calvin

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    CS Lewis says:

    “Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism… [In the past,] temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotalers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion.

    “Of course it may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of man who cannot drink at all without drinking too much, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkenness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons–marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”

    – Mere Christianity

    Also, Brian, I appreciate your comment…we should be talking about that more in Christian circles as it is a problem.!

  9. Avatar
    Jim Livingston

    This subject is regularly (and monotonously) debated by Christians in the US. Our history of alcohol consumption is unique (think Prohibition). In other parts of the world (and I’m thinking primarily of Europe and the former British Empire) moderate consumption of beer or wine isn’t an issue among Christians. A visitor from the States would probably be offered wine for dinner in Italy. I’ve personally observed in a German assembly a discussion, in all seriousness, of who would be bringing the beer to a weekend work party at their chapel! There is a strong pietist influence against alcohol (think Baptists and Mormons) in the US that has strongly influenced the views of other Christians. And I think that should be acknowledged.

    • Bernadette Veenstra
      Bernadette Veenstra

      I don’t know that I’ve ever considered the influence of other denominations views of alcohol influencing our (Christian) culture. I think that is a valid point. And having traveled, it is interesting the different views of alcohol among believers in different places. In some places believers do drink because it is a normal cultural thing (i.e. Europe). In other places believers don’t don’t because it is a forbidden cultural thing. (i.e. Islamic countries).

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    David Gray

    Pauls comment to young Timothy was not to “take a little wine” but rather to “Use a little wine. Not “take” as in a drink but “use” as in a medicine… The scriptures view wine in two ways, it’s use and it’s abuse.

  11. Avatar

    The issue of drinking alcohol (in moderation) clearly falls under the category of “principles of conscience,” as discussed in Romans 14. It is not forbidden in Scripture (except for drinking in excess) and is, therefore, an area where Christians are free to act according to their own convictions. I think the other principles that come out in Romans 14 are more important than the issue of whether one exercises the freedom to drink alcohol or chooses to abstain from it.

    First and foremost, is that believers are not to judge one another in these matters of conscience. And this goes for those who are of weaker faith and those who are of stronger faith in an area (ie. those who are more restrictive and those who take more liberty). As Paul goes on to say, all believers have been accepted by God and, if following conviction of the Holy Spirit, are doing so as unto the Lord. We are not to stand as judge in matters of liberty, but instead trust that God will convict each person as He sees fit. What is sin for one in this area may not be sin for another. The most important thing is that each is following his or her own conviction and not holding others to that personal conviction.

    That being said, we also have a responsibility to act out of love to each other, and that means being sensitive to the convictions of others. If drinking alcohol in a certain situation will cause another believer to stumble, we should be willing to set our personal preference or conviction aside for the good of our brother or sister. We shouldn’t flaunt our freedoms, but neither should we impose arbitrary rules and limitations on others where God has not. Both can cause dissension and do not promote peace and unity in the Body of Christ.

    I think we have to be really careful with articles like this, especially when it’s written for a large audience. Any sort of stance that would come across as judgemental, or suggest that those who hold a different conviction should reassess that conviction, is not in keeping with the principles set forth in Romans 14. I think a better question would be “How Do We Handle Matters of Christian Liberty?” The title of this article suggests that there is a black and white answer to the question, and it falls into the trap of encouraging believers to justify, defend, and promote their personal conviction, rather than addressing the broader biblical principle behind an issue such as this.

  12. Avatar

    For your thoughts: One of the first mentions of wine in the Bible is in reference to Melchizedek who “brought forth bread and wine” for Abram and his companions Gen 14:18. The Hebrew word translated wine in Genesis 14:18 is yayin. This word is used over 130 times in the Hebrew Bible to mean fermented wine, not grape juice. The same beverage when used in excess by Noah caused drunkenness. Lot and Nabal also became drunk from wine yet God told his people to enjoy wine (yayin) at the yearly festivals (Deuteronomy 14:26).

    In addition to using wine as a beverage, God also commanded the Levitical priests to include in the sacrifices a portion of wine (yayin) as a drink offering (Exodus 29:40). These scriptures make it clear that there can be a right and a wrong use of wine.

    The fact that the Nazarite vow included the abstinence of wine AND strong drink indicates that the children of Israel consumed wine. Number 6:1-4 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.”

    Ps 104 describes all that the Lord had done for his people. Verse 10 the Psalmist says “You make the springs gush forth in the valleys below; they flow between the hills;” Vs 13 “From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. Vs 14-15 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth AND wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

    An abundance of wine was a part of the blessing that Isaac bestowed upon Jacob Gen 27:28 “May the Lord give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.”

    John the baptist didn’t drink wine as it was prophesied that he wouldn’t(Luke 1:15) but the Lord did drink wine (Matt 11:19 and Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” The Lord did not preach against the use of wine but would have consumed it in moderation as did most other Jews of his day. Clearly the abuse of alcohol is spoken against in scripture.

    Jesus, often using parables that were relate-able to the people, gave a parable involving the fermenting process of wine in Matt 9:17.

    Romans 14 deals with the weak and strong in faith. Paul states that the weak in faith abstain from meat and days and wine while the strong feel no need to abstain. Paul indicates that both were doing it unto the Lord. The strong were not to despise the one who abstains and the one who abstains was not to pass judgement on the one who had freedom. Paul makes it clear in this chapter that the one who abstained from meat, days and wine, did not bring any more glory to God than the one who had the freedom to partake. In fact his stance is that the one who abstains was the weaker brother. But because the weaker brother’s stance was one of conscience he should not cross his own conscience. Therefore for that brother or sister it would be wrong for them to consume wine. Certainly Paul goes on to talk about not stumbling another believer.

    I could continue to go on but I’ll end it hear. Alcohol is not a necessity for life and many people choose to abstain from it, though not directed by the Word of God to do so. Others partake and can enjoy that freedom in Christ. The one who partakes is not sinning and is not bringing any less glory to God. Paul writes in Rom 14:4 Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Vs 10 “Why do you pass judgement on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

  13. Avatar

    Deut 14:22 ¶ Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
    23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
    24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
    25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
    26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

    1Ti 4:1 ¶ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
    2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
    3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
    4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
    5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

    What does this say if we read the scripture without prejudice.

  14. Avatar
    Bev Boyle

    I was a missionary in Europe for 26 years and the elders and assembly people all had wine with every meal. The women usually mixed a third of a glass of wine with a carbonated drink and the men had about 2 glasses of wine with every meal. I personally felt this was too much wine, but they argued that it was their culture, and they would not change. To my knowledge the men and leadership have not changed even now.

    However I very seldom saw any one in the church drunk (except for a few newcomers), and seldom saw people on the streets drunk. Needless to say many can be classified as alcoholics who need “the drug” in little doses to prevent symptoms of withdrawal.

    This and other cultural issues cannot be imposed on the believers, but the local leaders of the assemblies need to see the damage caused in their members, by this hold of their culture on them. THE NEW LEADERS RISING UP HAVE TO MAKE THE CHANGES IN THE NEXT GENERATIONS, but only if they see the danger..

    It is more difficult to change these cultural patterns where there has been no Influence of mature Christians in the country. I do not know about France where wine is also a major part of every meal, but in Spain all the mature believers were executed under the purge of Franco, and a few scattered individuals began to build up the church of believers very slowly and fighting against continual opposition and persecution. THEY ARE NOT PERFECT. but they ARE TRUE BELIEVERS, and we must not judge them because they do not have a history of evangelical teaching passed on to them from previous generations.

    LET US LOVE THEM AND ACCEPT THEN AS PART OF THE FAMILY OF GOD IF THEY COME TO US WITH CUSTOMS THAT WE DO NOT HAVE OR APPROVE OF.

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