Here on Girl Transformed I like to take on the tough topics like the truth about sex and should Christians masturbate? Today we’re keeping it real and asking “should Christians drink alcohol?” There are so many varying opinions on this subject. Some people think even one drop of alcohol is a huge no-no while others think you can drink as much as you want- Jesus did turn water into wine, right? Like all my posts, I’ve gone straight to scripture for my response and trust me, scripture has A LOT to say about drinking.
Misquoted Scripture on Drinking
First, of all, I want to point out that many people grossly distort scripture on drinking to justify their own behavior. Just a couple days ago I was watching a talk show, The Real, and one of the fans asked a host why they were always drinking and partying when they professed to be a Christian. The host’s response was that her actions were okay because:
1.) Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2).
2.) Jesus hung around sinners all the time and he attended parties (the wedding from John 2). (All through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
This isn’t the first time I have heard these scriptures taken out of context in the exact same manner. I want to take a moment to point out that these two instances are Biblical but their meaning has been distorted.
Clarifying Jesus Turning Water into Wine
First of all, many people will justify their drinking by saying it must be okay because Jesus turned water into wine. The problem with this is that Biblical wine is not the same thing as what we call wine today. In Biblical times, people actually had several methods to prevent their “wine” from fermenting which means it was not alcoholic. It was the common drink for people and did not cause intoxication. I’m not saying that there was not alcoholic wine in Biblical times; there was, it’s just not typically what is being referenced in scripture.
Clarifying Jesus Hanging Out With Sinners
Second, people often justify a partying lifestyle by stating how Jesus hung around sinners and attended weddings. Yes, Jesus did hang around sinners BUT he did not behave like a sinner. In fact, people took notice when Jesus associated with sinners, tax collectors, etc. because his behavior was so vastly different (Matthew 9:11). As far as Jesus attending parties, yes Jesus attended weddings. However, weddings in biblical times are not the same as weddings today. In fact, it was a huge dishonor to decline the invitation to a wedding which is why Jesus accepted the invitation in Luke 2.
Another scripture that is often taken out of context in regards to drinking is 1 Timothy 5:23 (NIV), “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”
No one knows the exact reason Paul wrote this to Timothy but it is not an open invitation to drink whenever you want. The most likely scenario is that contaminated water caused Timothy to have an upset stomach and Paul recommended he drink wine instead (remember, wine was not usually alcoholic).
Scripture on Drinking
As I mentioned before, there is no lack of scripture on “should Christians drink alcohol?”
Scripture on Drinking: Why Christians Should Not Get Drunk
Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:18 not only tells us Christians should not get drunk but it also tells us why. The act of drinking alcohol is not what is wrong- it’s what you do once you get drunk that is wrong. You drink drink alcohol without getting drunk and that’s no different than drinking water, soda, etc. However, when you do get drunk your moral standards are lower and you are more susceptible to sin.
Scripture on Drinking: Sinful Behavior of Drunks
This selection of Proverbs explains how drunken behavior leads to sin. Scripture warns that even though alcohol may seem appealing, it also has serious consequences.
Proverbs 23:29-32 (NIV) shows us the foolishness of drunks, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”
Scripture on Drinking: Living For God Instead of Yourself
1 Peter 4:1-3 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do- living in debauchery, lust, drunkeness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry.”
This scripture reminds us that now, as Christians, we no longer live for ourselves but for God. Our goal is to do God’s will and live in a manner that is pleasing to him. This scripture specifically mentions drinking and carousing (acting a fool while drunk) as behaviors as the life of a sinner.
Should Christians Drink Alcohol?
The short answer? No. Even though drinking alcohol in itself may not be a sin, getting drunk typically leads to sinful behavior because alcohol lowers your ability to make sounds judgment; i.e. alcohol makes you do things you normally wouldn’t do.
I believe the answer to “Should Christians drink alcohol?” can be summed up in 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV), “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say- but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’- but not everything is constructive.”
Can you drink alcohol? Yes. Should you drink alcohol? No.
Drinking alcohol leads to drunkeness which lowers one moral standards and ability to make sound judgments which leads to sin. Drinking does not glorify God; the only purpose alcohol serves to temporarily satisfy the flesh. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Don’t mistake your freedom in Christ as the right to live however you want.
What do you think? Should Christians drink alcohol?