One of the questions I get asked more than many is; “Does the bible teach that drinking alcohol is a sin?” Actually, it does not. The drinking of wine is mentioned all the way through scripture. (Ecc 9:7, Ps. 104:14 & 15, Isa 55:1) Jesus himself would have drank wine at the last supper and we know that He was still sinless (Heb 4:15).
The bible specifically teaches that it is drunkenness that is the sin. Gal 5:19-21 lists drunkenness amongst the very worst sins of the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness… drunkenness. And 1 Cor 6:10 names it as a bit of an eternal deal breaker… nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Christian homes in the past were typically dry, particularly after times of spiritual renewal where worldly pursuits melted away. Today we are seeing more social drinking amongst believers than ever before. I hear the theological justification similar to what I mentioned in the above. “It is OK to drink as long as you don’t get drunk.” Personally, I think that is a gross oversimplification.
First off, where exactly is the line between sobriety and drunkenness? Inebriation creeps up on people and they usually don’t recognize the line till after they have crossed it.
Secondly, what about the cultural aspects of drinking? In bible days they had no refrigerators and often poor quality water. Wine (fermented grape juice) was an excellent way to preserve your drink. It was practical and not unhealthy in measured moderation.
That is not why people drink today! Drinking has become a huge social crutch. Many find it impossible to entertain or party without the requisite social lubricant of alcohol. Inhibitions come down and bad choices start to be made. The stupid factor goes up exponentially with each drink.
But for me the more important consideration is the inherent dangers of alcohol. I was only 16 years old when I lost my first friend to alcohol. Kevin, John and Bob were heading home after an evening of drinking. Kevin wrapped his car around a light standard and John was killed on impact. Bob suffered a severe brain injury and after he finally came out of the coma was actually a completely different person. Kevin walked away from the crash but in many ways may be the most injured. The emotional toll has been lifelong. Ironically Bob might have fared the best as eventually he gave his heart to Christ and is a committed believer today living a very full life.
For every one story someone can tell me about the benefits of alcohol, I can tell you 100 more of these tragic stories. I have lost way too many friends to alcohol…both figuratively and literally. The list of the dead, maimed, divorced, bankrupt, friendless, imprisoned, addicted, homeless, and sick from the effects of alcohol goes on and on.
1Cor 6:12 says, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. I have found these words very instructive for dealing with the many issues of life. Even if drinking is not sinful, it has not been very helpful. As Christians we are to avoid even the appearance of evil. Imagine this scenario. I am sitting in Tony Roma’s, I’m laughing, talking loudly, jumping to my feet to illustrate some story I am telling and generally acting a little loopy. Why? Because this is how I act in public…ask my kids. Now all you need to do is put a Molson Canadian in front of me and the story now reads; “I saw Pastor Mark in Tony Roma’s last night and he was just hammered.” All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful
Young people today have an immense peer pressure on them to drink. Their culture more and more revolves around alcohol. The jury is in on this one as to whether it is a hinderance or helpful.
We have never had alcohol in our home as we are holding up a higher standard to our children. We do not forbid our of-age children from drinking. Instead we challenge them to live to the same higher standard and to be confident with whom they are as individuals without having to resort to loser Kool-Aid as a means to having fun. It is a standard to which I think all Christians could strive. Our world would be a better place for it.