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Is it okay to drink alcohol? What if I just drink a little and not get drunk, etc.? What if I only drink once in a while? What if I just drink on social occasions?
Article: The Christian and Alcohol
by Doug Batchelor
Is it biblically permissible for a Christian
to drink alcohol?
If so, how much? This controversial subject
has evoked many passionate opinions among Christians. Why? Is God's Word
silent or in anyway unclear about alcohol?
I submit that the Bible is in no way
ambiguous when it speaks on alcohol and how it relates to God's followers.
I hope the following study will assist you in forming your own biblically
based conclusions on this important subject.
Two Opposing Camps
Then there is the other position: Alcohol is
an addictive and destructive drug that no sincere Christian should use in
Of course, between these two diametrically
opposed poles, there are countless variations of opinions. In this short
time, I cannot possibly address the whole spectrum of perspectives-so
using the Scripture and common sense, I will attempt to stay within the
In fairness, I will state from the beginning
that I am firmly in the unfermented camp! I believe that scriptural
references to Jesus' use of wine are of the grape juice variety.
But before the wine connoisseurs toss this
magazine aside, you owe it to yourself to hear me out. I come from the
perspective of one who grew up frequently drinking wine or beer with
dinner-I once even brewed my own beer and made wine. But I have never been
an alcoholic, so my position is not the result of overreacting from a
"clean and sober" victory.
What Is Alcohol?
There are many forms of this compound called
alcohol. However, there is no mistaking that all of them are classified as
poisons-toxins to the human body. The alcohol found in beverages such as
beer, wine, and brandy is ethanol (C2H5OH), a clear, highly flammable
liquid that has a burning taste and a characteristic ethereal odor.
What happens when one consumes this type of
alcohol? Well, death usually occurs if the concentration of ethanol in the
bloodstream exceeds about five percent! But even for those who use it
sparingly, immediate behavioral changes, impairment of vision and
judgment, and unconsciousness can occur at lower concentrations.
That's interesting, isn't it? That's exactly
the same effect that other illicit drugs, such as heroin and marijuana,
have on those who use those substances. I doubt there are any Christian
churches that would condone the use of these drugs in even a casual social
setting-or to even "calm the nerves" before bedtime. Is there
any reason that alcohol should not be included in this list of drugs to
Two Types of Wine-Biblically Speaking
One simple example occurs in Mark 2:22:
"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine
bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined.
But new wine must be put into new wineskins." Obviously, the new wine
would be the fresh unfermented variety.
Additionally, from the Old Testament, in
Isaiah 65:8, we read, "As the new wine is found in the cluster ...
one says, 'Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it' " It is clear
in both these passages that the new wine is simply grape juice.
Weak Reasoning; Poor Judgment
An example of this reasoning is the wedding
in Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine. Those who support the intake
of alcohol suggest this must have been alcoholic wine-after all, it was a
wedding, and every wedding has wine-right? But let's pause to consider the
implications. There were six pots for Jesus to fill, and each of those
would hold 20 to 30 gallons. That's up to 180 gallons of beverage!
Are we to believe that Jesus made 180 gallons
of a destructive drug-enough to get every guest drunk and launch this new
marriage with slurring lips and staggering feet? Indeed, He would have
been acting against His own Word (Habakkuk 2:15; Luke 12:45; Ephesians
5:18)! If we approach this passage relying on the whole of Scripture, we
must surely come to the conclusion that Jesus made unfermented wine-and
the governor of the feast complimented the groom on its pure quality (John
What about that Last Supper?
"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.
Furthermore, we also know that the Passover
meal was to be free from all forms of leaven (Exodus 12:19). Fermentation
is the identical process of leavening! If the bread was to be free from
leaven, which is a type of sin, then we can be sure that the wine, a
symbol of Jesus' blood, used at the Last Supper would also be free from
the poison of alcohol. The perfect, sinless blood of Jesus would never be
symbolized by corrupt and putrefying old wine.
Jesus compared His pure teachings to
wholesome new wine (Matthew 9:17). Indeed, all corrupted doctrines are
likened to the fermented wine of Babylon! Babylon was identified as a
place "with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and
the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her
fornication" (Revelation 17:2).
Another example: "But Daniel purposed in
his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's
delicacies, nor with the wine [of Babylon] which he drank" (Daniel
Was Jesus a Drunkard?
They were merely contrasting His lifestyle
with the austerity of John the Baptist, a practicing Nazarite, who
abstained from anything of the vine and ate locusts and wild honey
(Numbers 6:3; Matthew 3:4; Mark 2:7; Luke 7:33-34, 1:15; John 8:48-52).
When Jesus hung parched on the cross, Roman
soldiers offered him fermented wine mingled with myrrh. But as soon as
Jesus tasted it and recognized it was fermented, He refused it. If Jesus
refused this beverage even as His body was tormented with extraordinary
thirst, why would He have drunk wine normally (Matthew 27:34)? And more to
the point, why then should we?
Alcohol: The Bible Hall of Shame
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 Amnon, 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 insidious act, he lost his
life at the hands of his enraged brother while intoxicated (2 Samuel
These are only a few examples. Truly, when
one considers the biblical record of fermented drink, you have to wonder
why any genuine Christian would argue in its defense!
Fermented Wine Brings Woe
Does the Christian need any more condemnation of alcohol
consumption than this?
A Matter of Health
Alcohol (also grain alcohol) is a toxin that
severely affects the central nervous system when ingested. Most people
know that even moderate "social drinking" destroys brain cells.
If a person holds a small swig of whiskey in
his or her mouth for about 10 minutes, various parts of the mouth's
interior will blister. If you then blindfold them and have them taste
various beverages-for instance, water, vinegar, or milk-you will find that
they are incapable of distinguishing one from another. This experiment
proves to a certainty that alcohol is not only a violent irritant, but
also a narcotic.
I think even the strongest advocates of
alcohol must honestly admit that its consumption certainly does not
glorify God in their body; instead, it slowly destroys body and mind,
which is a clear violation of the sixth commandment.
Just as cigarette smoking is suicide on the
installment plan, so is the use of alcohol-which is a leading killer in
the United States.
Also consider that there is an almost endless
selection of other good things to drink that nourishes the body and mind.
So why would any Christians want to gamble like this-risking their health,
witness, family, and eternal life to argue in defense of this destructive
substance? A very safe and simple rule for these issues is: When in doubt,
leave it out!
The Most Deadly Substance on Earth
"Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last
it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see
strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will
be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at
the top of the mast, saying: 'They have struck me, but I was not hurt;
They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may
seek another drink?' " (Proverbs 23:31-35).
And Jeremiah said God would make
"bottles of wine" freely available to destroy the nation
(Jeremiah 13:12-15). How true is this in our own country, with advertising
directed at our youngest and most vulnerable citizens!
Is it a wonder that with a nation consumed by
the false merriment of alcohol, it encourages consumption even to our
youngest? There is strong evidence supporting widespread alcohol use and
the surge of crime committed by young adults-and even children. (Did you
know there are 3.3 million problem drinkers in America's high schools
Micah also warned of lying and false prophets
who condone wine and strong drink (Micah 2:11). Today, they still teach
"moderation" with alcohol, but history has shown that moderation
with an addictive drug is impossible.
An Issue of Love
According to Zig Ziglar, authorities know
that approximately one in sixteen people who ever take a social drink will
become an alcoholic! Would you even step one foot on an airplane if you
knew there was a one in sixteen chance that it would crash and end your
life? (Actually, the odds for a commercial airliner crashing are closer to
one in a million-but even with those odds, some people will not fly. Yet
many of these same people will take a drink!)
Consider this other well-known fact. In the
next 24 hours, alcohol will be responsible for nearly half of all?
In addition, alcohol deserves a special
mention for being responsible for a quarter of all suicides.
It's clear enough from these appalling
statistics that any thinking citizen, especially a Christian, would feel
profound conviction to avoid a drug that accounts for a veritable tsunami
of misery to every culture it touches. If we truly love our brother and
God, how can we defend drinking alcohol in any degree? Paul said he would
neither eat flesh or drink wine or do anything that caused offense to a
brother. With so many alcoholics struggling to be saved from their
addictions, we must never cause them to stumble again by being even
slightly inconsistent in our example.
Put simply, it lowers a Christian's resolve
to resist temptation. Why would any Christian want to make it easier for
the devil to snare them? Many men and women have awakened after a night
baptized by a few glasses of wine or bottles of beer to discover they have
violated the seventh commandment and forever scarred their lives and
This is why Peter charges us to be
"sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about
like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). The
devil is already bent on getting us! Let's not make it any easier for him
by diluting with alcohol our God-given resistance!
Remember, even when Jesus was hanging on the
cross, with acute thirst, He refused to drink the wine they offered Him
(Matthew 27:34). With the redemption of the planet hanging in the balance,
He would not risk His judgment being impaired by receiving even a mouthful
of wine, which might have made His suffering for us a little more
bearable. Does He expect less of us?
"No," replied Sir William. "It
just makes them less ashamed of doing them badly."
Christians who drink alcohol have tarnished
their testimonies to the outside world-as well as to those in the church.
And the ones who are hurt the most by these compromised testimonies are
Surely, it must be confusing to children to
see their mothers or fathers praying-and then have a few beers. Jesus
condemned this hypocrisy with the very strongest language: "But
whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would
be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were
drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).
An anxious father approached his pastor and
said, "Preacher, talk to my boy about drinking. He came home last
night and fell sprawling on the floor-too drunk to get up. His mother
cried the rest of the night."
"Why don't you talk to your own boy
yourself?" the preacher questioned.
But the father said, "Pastor, I can't
talk to my son about it, because I am to blame. I wanted him to be a man,
so I gave him his first glass of liquor. I didn't dream that he'd ever
become a drunkard. Please speak to my boy. I can't talk to him."
It is a sad fact that, all over this nation,
many fathers and mothers are reliving this exact same scenario.
We are commanded to "Come out from among
them And be separate?. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive
you" (2 Corinthians 6:17). But when Christians begins to drink
alcohol, they show that they are not separated from worldly things.
Many Christians then wonder why God does not
use them more to do great things. God will not use a compromised Christian
for any great work. God uses only clean vessels for the filling of His
Wine and the Spirit
Paul also tells Timothy, "Drink no
longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake" (1
Timothy 5:23). Timothy must have been living as a Nazarite, drinking only
water. Paul was telling him to use a little grape juice, which has a very
soothing effect on the body, indicating that Timothy abstained and needed
to be urged to take even a little new wine. Drinking fermented wine can
contribute to stomach ulcers. Paul would never recommend old wine for
When Paul says "Be not drunk with wine,
wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit," some have thought
this verse says just don't drink too much (Ephesians 5:18). But the word
"excess" in Greek is asotia, which is translated as riot and
riotous living (Luke 15:13; 1 Peter 4:4). Darby's version translates it
this way: "And be not drunk with wine, in which is debauchery; but be
filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). We are called to be sacred
vessels filled with God's Spirit.
God's issue with alcohol is clear, and it
always has been. Alcohol is unholy and unclean. Partaking in the worldly
drink can only compromise God's high standards.
If you have a problem with drinking, I invite
you to contact Amazing Facts and request our free literature concerning
alcohol and the Christian. We have seen thousands freed from alcohol and
other addictions by the power of God!
"Therefore if the Son makes you free,
you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).
For clarity, this study quotes the NKJV
unless otherwise noted.