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What Does Scripture Say About Alcohol?

What does scripture say about alcohol?

Alcohol: it’s a dividing liquid among many Christians. Some say God doesn’t want you to touch a drop of adult beverage. Others say “Even Jesus himself drank wine.” The debate about whether or not drinking alcohol is a sin has been held for centuries, but here are some facts about what Scripture says:

  • The Bible never forbids drinking alcohol in an absolute statement
  • The Bible steers clear of saying alcohol, itself, is wrong
  • Scripture does have a lot to say about overusing alcohol or getting drunk

All Things in Moderation, for Those That Can Moderate

Overall, the Bible seems to fall on the side of moderation. It treats wine as a beverage that should be consumed for a variety of reasons, including fellowship and health. Some theologians argue that the wine the Bible encourages isn’t something that wouldn’t get you drunk and that Jesus only drank mild sweet wine. However, there are passages in the Bible where the Pharisees and others accuse Jesus of drinking and eating with sinners — possibly with the implication that some people involved were getting drunk or a bit rowdy. Jewish tradition also called for drinking real wine in several celebrations, which meant wine itself was not the problem.

What does scripture say about alcohol - wineIn fact, Jesus’s first public miracle involved wine. He and some of his disciples were attending a wedding in his hometown, and the wine ran out — a grave faux pas for the host. Jesus’s mom asked him to address the problem, knowing he could; thus, the miracle of turning water into wine occurred. 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 and time with other people, particularly when you’re living in the Spirit, is something that pleases God — even if you also enjoy a single glass of wine or other adult beverage at the time.

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 because of your stomach and your frequent illness.”

The problems of alcohol, says the Bible, aren’t in sipping an occasional social drink or having a glass of wine in the evening for health. The problem comes when you step outside of moderation or are unable to moderate yourself. 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, Your God

Alcohol itself isn’t the sin, but 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 is a chronic condition — with treatment needs much like a physical illness. Addiction, like alcohol, isn’t a sin in itself, but when you elevate your addiction above all else, serving it instead of serving God and others, then you might be falling into 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, 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. And even if you can imbibe with 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 each adult Christian, whether or not to enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time is a personal choice that needs to 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.

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