Adult Beverages

It used to be, not more than a mere generation ago, that “thou shalt not drink alcohol” along with a few other inviolable “shalt not’s”, was on a corollary set of Ten Commandments that my family and most other families in our brand of Christianity fiercely observed. These days it has gone so far the other way that you may be handed a brewski when you show up for your small group Bible study.  Praise the Lord and pass the Coors Light!

So who’s right: our tee-totalling grandparents or the beer-swilling hipster Christians of this present generation?

Read: Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

How about somewhere right down the middle.  In my humble opinion, the Bible doesn’t condemn the moderate consumption and enjoyment of alcohol (I read somewhere that Jesus once turned water into the best wine ever tasted by man), but it does come down pretty hard on those who use it in a way that leads to drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 23:29-35), false bravado (read Proverbs 20:1 in the Message), or as I Corinthians 8:9 points out, when it creates a stumbling block for a struggling believer,

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom
does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

As it relates to whether you should drink “adult beverages” or not, I would simply suggest that you consider the following:

First, consult what the “whole counsel of Scripture” has to say about wine, drinking and drunkenness. There’s a lot there, by the way. When it comes to alcohol, or any other questionable issue, let Scripture interpret Scripture as you form a Biblical opinion on the matter at hand.

Second, as a New Testament believer you have been set free from a long list of religious “do’s and don’t’s”. So don’t let any legalist draw you back into spiritual bondage. On the other hand, however, remember that just because God permits something doesn’t mean he will bless it.

Third, whenever there is an occasion where you will be offered a drink, ask yourself, “what would Jesus do in this situation?” Seriously, WWJD?  I know that might sound hackneyed, but I truly believe it would be a good way to approach this whole matter.

And whether you and I agree on this matter or not, how about we extend each other a little grace?  Or a lot!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

Develop your own theology of strong drink.  Go through the Bible and read every passage that teaches about the consumption of alcohol, and write out a position statement summarizing your understanding of what God says about the matter.  Then, if you don’t mind, send it to me. I’m curious what you found.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “Adult Beverages

  1. I'm with you on the moderation. I do not believe (as some do) that Jesus changed the water into grape juice. I think it was, as you said, some of the best wine ever tasted by man.

    I heard a sermon once about how it's interesting that Jesus changed the ceremonial hand washing water (ie a symbol of separation, some are "in" and some are "out") into a major cultural symbol of community and unity. As always, Jesus seems to go so many layers deeper than we think at first glance.

    And, keep the Coors Light; I prefer Guinness Stout 🙂

    • It happens in more places than this, but this is one of the more tempting places in the Gospels for some believers to interpret Jesus through their own lens of culture, comfort, upbringing and personal preference. Why don't we just let the unvarnised Jesus speak and let the chips fall where they may. It won't be the first time…or the last time, he makes us uncomfortable.

  2. Dear Pastor Ray, I know most of America and all over the world drinks. Television markets alcohol as the way to live life and celebrate , it is also a way of joy and celebration and Peace in so many cultures and different religions. My personal feeling is a glass of wine on special occasion isn't of wrongness, however if you need more than one and you have a need to have it daily you have developed a addiction. Addiction in every case leads to sin and causes numerous problems to occur in ones life. Personally, I explored alcohol, when I was 21 through 24, It led me to some dark places I am not proud of in my life. I know Christ has forgiven me, but to this day , It still saddens me the things I did and said. I cant take that back to the people I have hurt with my actions. I seen multiple people in my life become alcoholics, I seen many people fight under the influence of alcohol. I see alcohol the same way I see a gun, Some can handle the gun properly and safely, many others have accidents or leave it around and it leads to danger. Drinking should always be handled with integrity and safety always , however most people today cant recognize or see when it is becoming a addiction or even a problem in most cases. I believe drinking is a personal choice between God and the user, however for me I try to avoid it at all cost. The devil loves to trip up people using it, or other substances, or pornography or gambling. I just don't want him to try to inch into my life in any way. The devil is a master of deception, and I believe with alcohol he is winning a lot of people on a wrong path. This is just my thoughts on it, I am not judging anyone. Here is a site I would like to share too…..

    Blessings, Bobby

  3. Although I do not believe the enjoyment of a alcoholic beverage is a sin, we must recognize that it is our responsibility to represent Christ. It is extremely important to me that my lifestyle represent healthy boundaries to the unbeliever that I may not hinder their desire to come to know the Lord.

    • Excellent point! I believe what you're talking about here is freedom vs. responsibility. Sure, we have the freedom in Christ to do a great many things, but we must consider if they are the responsible things to do in light of our calling and mission. As one of the points says, even though God may permit a thing, he doesn't necessarily bless our engagement in it.

  4. Another aspect to consider is the offending of others, more specifically, those that are "weak in the faith". (Romans 14) I think I have offended more than one of my weaker brothers in my time. The last verse of the chapter is any eye-opener… if in doubt, don´t. However, let me say, the analogy about drinking and guns is an excellent one. Bottom line is if you can´t say no when someone offers you a drink, or if you have to have one when you get home, or to help you sleep, or to help you overcome depression or some particular problem… then the drinking becomes a problem.
    An old friend, Vern

  5. Since a child I have observed people who in all aspects of life choose to live on the edge. This applies to what they say, see, do, drink, hear, etc. I have seen so many of them fall and the consequences were devastating. I consider myself vulnerable to failure, therefore walking on the edge is not my choice. Not worth the risk.

  6. I believe in letting the verse "everything is permissible but not beneficial" guide many decisions in my life. I don't see anything wrong with enjoying an alcoholic beverage in the comfort of my own home or with friends in a social setting. I agree, we do not want to be a stumbling block to those that may struggle with alcohol addiction. Obviously, if I knew that someone was an alcoholic, I would not invite them to my wine and cheese event. Similarly, if I knew someone struggled with food addiction and was on a diet, I would not invite them to a cookie baking party. I think that you need to be responsible when drinking alchohol, just as you need to be responsible when you choose what you eat, how much coffee you drink (caffeine is a powerful stimulant yet not subject to controversy), or if you choose to drink energy drinks (eww). Both Brett and my parents are extremely opposed to alcohol and constantly remind us that alcoholism runs in our families. We respect them but wish they would be a little more open minded and less judgmental. I enjoy a glass of wine as much as I enjoy a cup of coffee and they both have effects on my body, whether it's relaxing or energizing. I appreciate you addressing this issue very much. I think that sometimes Christians place their value on following a gold star chart and they think "not drinking" earns you extra points somehow….or the Christians that do drink are losing points. All is permissible but not beneficial….is drinking "beneficial"? It's as beneficial as drinking coffee for me and I don't see any theological debates about that. 🙂

  7. According to God's word, we all have the freedom to drink. Alcohol is not the problem. The abuse of alcohol is. Consider the following verses:
    Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
    Proverbs 23:20a “Do not join those who drink too much wine”
    Ephesians 5:18a “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery,”

    I don't drink. I'm not arrogant about it, nor do I judge believers who do drink within biblical guidelines. This is my personal decision based on how I am working out my salvation (Phil 2:17).
    BUT, I also think it's vital for believers to remember what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13. "But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble."
    THEN after reading that verse, choose wisely.

  8. I don't know how say this with any tact, and I hope this doesn't offend you terribly, but I couldn't agree with you more! We should, of course, always remember those who may stumble because of our liberty. This can be through addiction or conviction. We are empowered to do or to do not. Let us act responsibly. On a personal note, though I do not consider myself a nondrinker, I cannot remember the last time I drank alcohol.

  9. Two types of wine are mentioned in the Bible: yayin and shakar (?spelling). Yayin is everyday wine, sweeter and not quite as fermented, so table wine. Everyone drank it. The other is "strong drink" that we see referred to in the Bible as being negative, bad, causing drunkenness and leading to sin, etc. It was used to become drunk. It's fermented longer, is stronger and it is what is forbidden for the priests before and during their temple service. All of these are forbidden for those taking a nazarite vow – all grapes in fact, so even grape juice – which was rare without refrigeration in those days- hence the fermentation of nearly all juice into wine and the widespread use of the sweeter fermented wine, yayin. The Messiah drank wine, but he didn't over indulge in strong drink. Good post!