Christians and Drinking: What does the Bible say?
People have been drinking alcohol for millennia. There has always been a constant debate over whether imbibing fermented substances is acceptable. But, Christianity doesn’t have a consensus on whether drinking alcohol is acceptable. Although some Christians enjoy drinking alcohol, others opt to abstain.
Some churches have decided to use grape juice as a replacement for wine when it comes to the communion sacrament. This has largely appealed to people that find the consumption of alcohol even in its slightest amount harmful. But, what exactly does the bible say about alcohol consumption? There are mixed views on alcohol consumption in both the New and Old Testament.
Old Testament Verses of the Bible on Alcohol
Despite the bible having verses that talk about drinking alcohol, many Christians have ended up with a drinking problem that has made them seek help in faith based drug addiction treatment. The bible is the book that Christians refer to for guidance on faith-related issues. It has several verses that talk about alcohol in the Old Testament.
For instance, in Leviticus 10:9, the bible God told Aaron, the sanctified high priest, not to consume a strong drink or wine upon entering the meeting tent. Failure to observe this would lead to his death and that of his generations. God made this a permanent law to be observed from one generation to another. In verse 10, God required Aaron and his sons to do this as a way of distinguishing the common and the holly, between the unclean and the clean.
In Proverbs 20:1, beer is described as a brawler and wine as a mocker. Only the unwise people are misled by the two. So, according to these bible verses, allowing beer and wine to mislead you to an extent of ending up in Christian drug rehab is unwise.
In Isaiah 5:11, the author laments about people that wake up early every morning to chase their drinks and those who stay awake late at night drinking wine.
In Proverbs 23:20, the bible warns Christians against joining people that drink excess wine or meat. That’s because gluttons and drunkards become poor. They are clothed in rags by drowsiness.
But, despite these appearances of negative mentions, Christian views about alcohol have always been varied. During the initial years of the history of the church, Christians were among the consumers of alcoholic beverages. This habit was part of their daily life.
New Testament Bible Verses on Alcohol
In Ephesians 5:8, the bible warns Christians against getting drunk on wine. This verse warns that getting drunk will lead Christians to debauchery. So, instead of drinking wine, they should let the Spirit fill them.
In Luke 21:34, the bible tells Christians to be careful to ensure that the drunkenness, anxieties, and carousing of life don’t weigh their hearts down. That’s because if they let this happen, the last day will close on them like a trap.
But, there is a change in the view of alcohol in one verse of the New Testament of the Bible. In First Timothy 5:23, the bible tells Christians to stop drinking water only but drink a little wine for the sake of their stomach and frequent illnesses. Unfortunately, many people have misinterpreted this verse and consumed excessive alcohol to end up in faith based rehab.
According to Patrick Nelson, the Dordt Theological Seminary President, there is no verse in the bible that forbids alcohol consumption expressly. However, it forbids Christians from getting completely drunk.
In John 2:1-11, Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine during a wedding at Cana. It’s easy to assume that he probably drunk the wine too because that was the custom of the day. Nevertheless, Jesus was adamant about the issue of Christians not getting drunk.
Addiction and drunkenness are, therefore, sins in the Lord’s eyes. Alcohol can have devastating effects on not just the consumer, but also their loved ones.
The Church and Drinking
According to the Christian Reformed Church in North America, alcohol can be a source of evil or a blessing. Its effects on the consumer and those around them should be considered first. Abstaining from alcohol consumption can be a great moral option in some situations. However, Scripture does not demand it. As such, the church too shouldn’t demand it.
The most important fact to note is that the bible requires Christians to avoid drunkenness. Although alcohol abstinence is the morally credible option, individuals that opt to drink moderately shouldn’t be condemned. Therefore, the church ought to offer guidance and pastoral care for members that become alcoholic, as well as, their families.
This guidance should include discipline if necessary and intervention. This intervention can also include the provision of Christian addiction recovery programs. With knowledge of the risk associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages, some people argue that congregations should examine their traditional practice that involves the use of wine in Holy Communion. Some churches even use grape juice as a way to cater to the needs of worshippers that may have problems with alcohol.
The Bottom Line
The bible does not expressly say alcohol is bad. But, it warns Christians against drunkenness and allowing alcohol to take control of their lives. Among Christians, there are two schools of thought. One argues that Jesus drank wine and because Christians are his followers are not forbidden from drinking it. However, they agree that drinking should be moderate and never excess. Another school of thought says that alcohol is destructive and addictive. Therefore, sincere Christians should not consume it at any level. Of course, there are varying opinions between these opposed lines of thought.
Nevertheless, the entire spectrum of Christians’ perspectives on alcohol use is not easy to address. That’s because the fallout is possible when it comes to the topic of Christians and addictions or drinking. This topic raises complex issues that invoke honest and reasonable questions that require thoughtful answers. Therefore, most Christians opt to remain within the Scripture’s core principles while using common sense.