April 2014
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Q: Jesus drank wine, is it ok to drink alcohol?

 A: It is ok to drink alcohol in moderation. 

The Bible has alot to say about alcohol. Many places in the Bible tell us that a person who drinks excessive (a drunkard) is sinning (Isaiah 24:20, Proverbs 26:9, Proverbs 23:21, Deuteronomy 21:20, 1 Corinthians 5:11); however, drinking alcohol in moderation is acceptable. There are even many verses telling us that Jesus drank wine. In John 2:7-9, Jesus turned water into wine. Some people say that this verse is misinterpretted and that he actually made grape juice, but that’s incorrect. There are several places that mention wine and, if you look at the context, it is clear that it is fermented (alcoholic) wine not unfermented grape juice.

One key instance involving wine was the Last Supper. Jesus says, in Matthew 26:29, that he will henceforth not drink wine. This implies that he previously drank wine. Also, if you look at a timeline you would see that the Last Supper happened in spring, and grapes were harvested in Summer (June, July, August and September). Since grape juice did not store well it must of been wine that was drank at the Last Supper. In Luke 7:34, mentions Jesus drinking wine. Clearly it is untrue slander for the Pharisees to call Jesus a winebibber; but if you think about it logically you can understand Jesus did drink wine. If he did not drink wine then it would be clear to all that it was a lie. It would be the equivalent to saying a vegetarian is gluttonous for steak. However, since Jesus did drink wine, and was known to drink wine, the Pharisees lie was more believeable. If he did not drink wine they could have easily said what they said of John the Baptist (Luke 7:33).

Wine was an extremely common drink for people in that society because the water was such poor quality. (Keep in mind that the concentration of alcohol was comparably less than it is in todays drinks, so daily consumption would not have the same effect as it would today.) The water was full of bacteria so it was common to put wine in the water because the alcohol would kill the bacteria. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul tells Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach. Timothy was feeling sick because he has been drinking water.

God tells us to take care of our bodies because our bodies (Joshua 23:11, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In moderation, wine can be good for you. Studies show that drinking a little red wine is good for your heart. The Bible also tells us not to be winebibbers (Proverbs 23:20-21). So that means we are commanded not to drink excessively. Excessive drinking can cause health problems and even death. Many places in the Bible condemn drinking excessively (Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 20:1, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthains 6:10, 1 Titus 3:8); however, drinking in moderation is acceptable, sometimes even encouraged (Isaiah 55:1, Psalms 104:14-15, 1 Timothy 5:23). If you look only at the verses condemning over-indulging in wine, then you might as well look at Proverbs 25:27 and say it is a sin to eat honey.

The key that makes alcohol acceptable is moderation. Drinking too much can cause many health problems. As we previously mentioned, God tells us to take care of our bodies (Joshua 23:11, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So while drinking in moderation can be healthy, drinking in excess is unhealthy.

It is a well acknowledged fact that drinking too much can cause the drinker to have impaired judgement, memory and senses. Drinking too much can also cause the drinker to vomit, pass-out, get alcohol poisoning, lapse into a coma or even die. Those who argue that drinking at all is a sin would say those are signs that prove their point; however it is also true that you can die from drinking too much water (hyper-hydration or water poisoning) which would indicate that drinking water is a sin, so that is not a convincing argument. 

If you drink excessively you can develop an addiction to alcohol. An addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Addictions are dangerous and can destroy your relationship with God. A severe addict puts their addiction above everything else, including God. Something to think about is when the Antichrist comes to Earth he will search for weakness in people to gain power. If you had an addiction to alcohol the Antichrist would know it. If he offered you a drink would you say no? Could you say no?

The other thing to consider when asking about alcohol being acceptable to God is the governmental laws about alcohol. The Bible tells us that we are to follow governmental laws (Romans 13:1-7). So when thinking about drinking there are a few things to consider. The United States government has a rules about drinking. For example, no drinking and driving, and those under the age of 21 can not drink alcohol. So if you live in the United States and you did those things you would be breaking the governments laws and more importantly God’s laws.

We are to follow the governmental laws so we should never drink and drive, for that is a careless dangerous act that puts the drivers life at risk and the lives of all others in the vehicle and on the road. The governement also outlaws the consumption of alcohol for those under the age of 21. That means it is a sin for anyone under the age of 18 to drink alcohol, with the exception of Holy Communion. The First Ammendment, which reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, protects the rights of Chirstian’s, including those under the age of 21, and allows them to take communion. (It should also be noted that even during the prohibition, Holy Communion was still protected by the government.) Other than when receiving Holy Communion, underage drinking is illegal and therefor against God’s will.

photo provided by www.photos8.com

The Bible isn’t entirely clear about drinking beer or other sorts of alcohol; but we can assume the same thing applies: enjoy it in moderation; however, if you still have doubts and feel like you are sinning by drinking beer then just drink a little red wine.