The Bible says drunkenness is a sin (Galatians 5:21). But is occasional social drinking OK for Christians?
- Lawrence Burkholder
“Although alcohol is by no means a central scriptural issue, the Bible alludes to its use. The problem emerged in Jewish experience after the conquest of Canaan. The land of Canaan flowed not only with milk and honey but with wine as well. The hills of Judea were ideal for vineyards, and so the Hebrews, whose nomadic past had shielded them, had to come to terms with alcohol as a part of ordinary life. In general, they regarded wine as a gift, and they praised God for it (Psalm 104:14-15), but saw excessive drinking as foolish (Proverbs 20:1).
It is fair to say that both total abstinence and moderate use were acceptable to Jesus. Following the parable of the children at play (Matthew 11:16-19, NRSV), Jesus added these words: “For John [the Baptist] came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ” Clearly, Jesus intended the parable to show what he thought of debates about eating and drinking. They were petty and distracting. They drew attention from the real issues facing the nation.
The apostle Paul warns repeatedly against drunkenness. A candidate for the office of deacon must not be addicted to much wine (1 Timothy 3:8). He admonished members of the church at Corinth not to keep fellowship with a member who is a drunkard (1 Corinthians 5:11). But Paul was prepared to accept as brothers and sisters those who drink and those who do not drink. He also spoke favorably of using wine for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23).
The principle governing his attitude appears at the conclusion of a section in 1 Corinthians where Paul addresses himself to varying attitudes toward eating, drinking, and marriage: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (10:31).
But what about current attitudes and practices? Shall we simply extend the biblical advocacy of moderation to our present times? To the contrary, certain scientific, historical, and cultural conditions make personal and corporate decisions regarding drinking more complicated than in antiquity. Attitudes today must be informed by both contextual and theological considerations.
For one thing, a significant difference between alcoholic drinks of the first century and of today has come with the advent of distilled liquors. In New Testament times the main alcoholic substance was wine (sometimes watered as a substitute for plain drinking water). Today, alcoholic drinks can be much more potent. Very often, such substances are not drunk as a beverage for the sake of taste and refreshment but as a highly concentrated drug taken for “the effect.”
Alcohol consumption in North America clearly has reached disastrous proportions. Millions of Americans use alcohol as a drug. It is used by many not to “gladden the heart” (Psalm 104), but to escape reality.
Alcohol is the depressant of choice for millions who find it difficult to cope with life. Increasingly, youth use alcohol as an alternative to illicit drugs. Yet its total effect is possibly more disastrous than that of hard drugs.
Our society has failed to institutionalize drinking in a way that would place it within a healthful setting and define its limits. Many who drink at bars, parties, and even in the home are separated from the positive elements of life. Alcohol has become both a symbol of tragic loneliness and a factor contributing to it.
One’s attitudes toward alcohol are seldom objective, even if one tries to be tolerant. One can be sure that a refined, cultured, gentleman from Burgundy is not likely to be an abstainer. And a wife of an alcoholic is not likely to be convinced that any policy of moderation is wise.
Christians who do not commit to a principle of total abstinence should follow a guideline that would represent both discernment and Christian freedom by allowing limited use, now and then, within the context of family, friendship, religious celebration, and diplomatic protocol.
These limits need not imply the strictness of an absolute principle. Still, they should be taken seriously. Such a policy offers the practical advantages of sobriety, the personal advantages of responsible maturity, and the theological advantages of biblical wisdom.”
- Lawrence Burkholder is president emeritus of Goshen College in Indiana.
Note: Hard liquor, is out. You drink scotch, distilled liquor, bourbon, you are not saved, period! You are in the flesh and still in the world. When the Rapture comes, which looks like soon, you will not make it to Heaven. You cannot have the Holy Spirit dwell in you if you have these spirits in you. Doesn’t work that way. Jesus’ wine was not the wine now with 15% alcohol. No way.
Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
Remember that we are not talking about getting drunk. We are talking about having a glass (or 2) of wine or beer. If, by drinking a glass of wine, a Christian selfishly causes a weaker Christian (a former addict or one who may have an over proclivity to become one) then the answer is yes. Don’t guess and don’t go there would be my strong recommendation. Can sometimes have dire consequences.
Romans 14:22-23 “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” http://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/is-it-wrong-for-christian-have-drink-alcohol.html
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” (Deuteronomy 14:26). The phrase “strong drink” is translated from the word shekar. A Shekar is condemned by Solomon as a “brawler” (Proverbs 20:1). And Isaiah pronounces a woe upon those who “run after strong drink(shekar)” (Isaiah 5:11). Strong drink was also prohibited from the priests (Leviticus 10:9–11) and Nazarites (Numbers 6:2–4; Judges 13:3–5). So how could God so clearly condemn the use of “strong drink” in one place in the Bible, and yet approve of it in another place? Like the word yayin (“wine”), shekar is a generic term that could refer to either an alcoholic beverage, as noted above, or to a sweet, unfermented drink as is indicated in Isaiah 24:9. Shekar is also defined by the The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia as: “Sweet Wine or Syrup. Shechar, luscious, saccharin drink or sweet syrup, especially sugar or honey of dates or of the palm-tree” or “Date or Palm Wine in its fresh and unfermented state.” In fact, “sugar” and “cider” are derivatives from shekar. Therefore, since shekar could mean either a sweet unfermented drink or an intoxicating drink, we must interpret the word according to the context of the verse. Would God encourage the use of tithe money to purchase a beverage that causes intoxication, health problems and diminishing of moral capacities? The only reasonable conclusion is that this verse is referring to the sweet palm-wine beverage in its fresh and unfermented state.
Some argue that if Jesus partook of wine at the Last Supper, and even employed it as a symbol of His purifying blood, then how can drinking a little wine—even just casually—be wrong? Indeed, the very seeds of the New Testament were watered with wine from the Last Supper. There is no arguing that Jesus used wine at the Last Supper, but it is a mistake to assume that the wine was of the fermented variety.
“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:28–29, emphasis mine). Indeed, here Jesus uses the new wine as a symbol of His new covenant with His people. Jesus also calls wine the “fruit of the vine.” However, after wine goes through the process of fermentation, it is no more the fruit of the vine than yogurt is the fruit of a cow.
Alcohol: The Bible Hall of Shame
The first reference to wine is found in Genesis when Noah, after the flood, created the original fermented grape juice. “Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent” (Genesis 9:21). The sad record is that Noah drank and stumbled around naked and shamefully exposed himself to his sons. This first experiment with a new drug ended with a scathing curse falling on Noah’s posterity.
Lot also drank, and he was therefore easily seduced into having incestuous relations with his daughters. “So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose” (Genesis 19:33). The offspring of this relationship became the nations of Moab and Ammon, the mortal enemies of God’s people. And there is no shortage of evidence today that alcohol often leads to sexual immorality—such as adultery, rape, and incest.
Then there is the infamous experience when the children of Israel drank alcohol, stripped themselves naked and worshiped a golden calf (Exodus 32:6, 25). This fermented “church social” ended in a horrible massacre.
Amnon, another drinker and the son of David, raped his half-sister Tamar. Because of this incestuous act, he lost his life at the hands of his enraged brother while intoxicated (2 Samuel 13:28). http://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/63/t/the-christian-and-alcohol
Wherefore it is this writers consensus, that wine, or any liquor has no place
in a Christian’s life. YOU CANNOT HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVING INSIDE YOU, IF YOU HAVE FERMENTED SPIRITS THAT CAN CAUSE EVIL. IT IS FLESH…NOT JESUS.
Christians and Addictions: