Alcohol is a dividing liquid among many Christians. Some say God doesn’t want you to touch a drop of it. Others say “Even Jesus himself drank wine.” The debate about whether or not drinking alcohol is a sin has gone on for centuries. However, the Holy Scripture:
- does not claim that alcohol, itself, is wrong
- never outright forbids drinking alcohol in an absolute statement
- does have a lot to say about overindulging in alcohol (i.e., getting drunk)
All Things in Moderation for Those That Can Moderate
The Bible does not demonize alcohol use as a sin. In fact, it seems to seems to promote moderation more than anything else. It treats wine as a beverage that celebrates fellowship and good health. Some theologians even argue that most instances of wine used in the Bible were tempered and celebratory. In other words, Biblical figures used wine with intent to honor someone or something— not to get drunk. Some even argue that Jesus only drank mild, sweet wine. Overall, Jewish tradition called for drinking wine in several celebrations, so wine itself was not the problem.
Wine in the Bible
Not all Biblical stories surrounding wine are about intoxication. In fact, Jesus’ first public miracle involved wine. In this story, he and some of his disciples were attending a wedding in his hometown. During their time there, the wine ran out — a grave faux pas for the host. Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary, asked her son to address the problem, knowing he could. This brought about the miracle of turning water into wine. And it wasn’t just any wine, either— it was the best.
Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” It seems that enjoying fellowship, particularly when you’re living in the Spirit, is something that pleases God— even if you also enjoy some wine, too.
Wine in Moderation
Even in Biblical times, people knew that alcohol had some health benefits. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul tells his young apprentice: “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine [for] your stomach and your frequent illness.”
So, the real problem, according to what Scripture says about alcohol, isn’t in sipping an occasional glass of wine in celebration or health. The problem is lack of moderation or the inability to self-moderate. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Don’t Put Alcohol Before Yourself, Your Family, or Your God
Alcohol itself isn’t the sin. Putting it before yourself, your family and your God is a sin. That’s why many Christians draw the line between enjoying a beverage and drunkenness. Addiction, after all, is a chronic mental illness that needs treatment as much as any physical illness. With this in mind, addiction, like alcohol, isn’t a sin in itself. However, when you place your addiction above all else, serving it instead of serving God and others, then you might be guilty of sin.
Proverbs 20:1 says that “wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” It’s clear that, while the Bible seems okay with an occasional drink now and then, it’s not okay with alcohol being the leading force in any life. Proverbs 23:31 even says not to look at wine if it’s enchanting you! “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, (or) when it goes down smoothly!”
The message: turn away from alcohol if you can’t keep it in a place where it belongs. Scripture seems to think that place is in a healthy lifestyle that puts God first, followed by others and yourself.
Just Because You Can Drink Doesn’t Mean You Should
The conclusion here is that, even though alcohol itself might not be a sin, you shouldn’t drink at all if you know alcohol might take over your life. Even if you can imbibe in moderation, that doesn’t always mean you should. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but not everything is constructive.”
For any adult Christian, enjoying an alcoholic beverage from time to time is a personal choice. Still, it’s one that should be made after understanding yourself and God’s plan in your life. If you feel like the decision is out of your control and you can’t say no to alcohol — or if alcohol has taken the leading role in your life — you might be dealing with a substance abuse disorder or addiction. For information on getting treatment and removing alcohol as a factor in your life, contact The Road to Freedom, (844)402-3605.