What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol?
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” - Ephesians 5:18
The abuse of alcohol has always been an issue in my family. To the point that my only experiences with alcohol were terrible and typically resulted in less than ideal outcomes.
So, as I began to grow older, I developed an extremely negative view of drinking alcohol. I was convinced it was always harmful and never helpful. That it led to destruction and despair in any situation.
I didn’t need to do any complex biblical interpretation to figure out that abusing alcohol had horrible consequences.
Yet, as I progressed into my adult years, I began to see other people handle alcohol responsibly. They would enjoy their drinks at dinner, have a good time and that was the end of it. No screaming, yelling or fights - just fun with the friends and family.
This got me thinking: What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol? And is it something that can be done in a way that isn’t sinful?
Keeping that question in mind, the Bible has three things to say about drinking alcohol:
1. Getting drunk and/or developing an addiction to alcohol is a sin. Christians are called to be sober - minded and controlled only by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 5:8, Eph. 5:18). Getting drunk is allowing alcohol to take control of our minds and causing us to do things we normally would not.
Addiction and drunkenness are not activities any believer should be engaging in. It is completely counterintuitive to everything God has for His people - which includes complete submission to Him.
2. Drinking can be a stumbling block for others. Part of the commitment that goes with being a Christian is denying ourselves. Meaning that we recognize that life is not all about us, but others as well. Specifically, that we have to live in light of others temptations (1 Cor. 8:9).
So, if you drinking alcohol causes someone else, who perhaps struggled with alcoholism, to fall back into it - then you hold some responsibility for that. You would be acting as a stumbling block to that person. Be aware of your influence, both positive and negative.
3. There is nothing sinful about drinking alcohol responsibly and in moderation. In biblical times, plenty of people drank alcohol in moderation. Jesus even turned water into wine (John 2) at one point - why would He do that if alcohol was sinful in and of itself? It obviously was not then and isn’t now.
Paul also instructed Timothy to drink alcohol from time to time to soothe his sensitive stomach (1 Tim. 5:23). Granted the water back then was unsanitary, so it often was safer to drink wine rather than water, but still it goes to show that the early Christians did not view alcohol as some sort of “sin juice.”
With all of that said, alcohol has the potential to cause problems in this world. Which puts it into the category of money, cars, medicine, etc. The abuse of any of these things results in chaos, which is why it’s important to handle them responsibly and respect their risks.
For those who choose to abstain from alcohol, good for you. For those who choose to drink it in moderation, good for you as well
There is no need to impose one way of life on another person. That is pharisaical in nature.
At that point, you are only pulling from your own opinion - not the Word of God. Alcohol consumption or abstinence is a decision that must be made by each individual believer who should follow their own personal convictions.