Saturday, October 8, 2011

Should Christians Drink Alcoholic Beverages?

   The question of alcoholic beverage use among Christians is often an emotional one.  There are basically two camps when one considers this issue.  There are those who proclaim their liberty in Christ to drink alcoholic beverages so long as they refrain from being drunk.  On the other side of the issue are those who claim a person might not even be saved if they have a beer or wine with their dinner.  Before I share with you my conviction on the matter and what I preach from the pulpit, let’s consider what the Bible has to say about alcoholic beverages as well as our Christian liberty in Christ.

   When we look at what the Bible has to say about alcoholic beverages we should be immediately impressed with the warnings.  Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, said, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20.1).  We know from this warning there is the potential for strong drink to make a fool of us and if we go down that path we are not wise.  It was also Solomon who said, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine” (Proverbs 23.29-30).  The rest of Proverbs 23 describes the sorrows and hurts associated with wine and strong drink.  Hosea the prophet said, “Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart” (Hosea 4.11).  Hosea said this in the context of Israel’s willful ignorance of God.  The wine was part and parcel to their illicit sexual sins and rebellion against God.  The same is prophesied against the Gentile nations by the prophet Joel, “And they have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink” (Joel 3.3).  Again, strong drink is inseparable from their illicit sexual sins.  The prophet Habakkuk recorded a vision of God where God said, “Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home” (Habakkuk 2.5a).  Then we see in the New Testament the clear instruction, “And be not drunk with wine” (Ephesians 5.18a).  We also see in Paul’s letter to Timothy how part of the qualification for pastors and deacons is that they are, “Not given to wine” (1 Timothy 3.3a).  This quick survey simply tells us there is a danger present with alcoholic beverages.  Can a person use strong drink and not be drunk or forsake home and God?  Yes, there are many who drink alcoholic beverages and never allow it to control their lives, however, the danger is still there.  It only takes getting bit by alcoholic beverage one time to ruin life and testimony.  Whether you believe your Christian liberty allows you to drink or not, the biblical fact is, it is dangerous. 
   The second consideration concerning alcoholic beverage has to do with testimony and the value it brings to our walk with Jesus.  The apostle Paul set the standard for us when it comes to areas of Christian liberty and how we are to view them.  He said, “Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Corinthians 8.13).  The context is set in the eating of meat that had previously been offered to idols.  Jews who had been saved by faith in Christ still carried with them a strong conviction concerning the sin of eating meat offered to idols.  Under the law it was a sin, however, under grace they now had the liberty to eat the meat if they wanted to.  Paul had every right in his liberty in Christ to eat meat, no matter what it had been used for before it was placed in the meat market.  However, out of consideration for his brothers and sisters in Christ who might be offended or caused to stumble at his eating meat offered to idols, he said he would give up eating meat altogether to make sure he did not hurt their walk in Christ.  Out of love for his brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul surrendered what was in actuality a Christian liberty in his day.  Now, let’s apply this same principle to the issue of alcoholic beverages in our day.  In my case, as a pastor, there is no way I can allow alcoholic beverages to be a part of my life.  My use of alcoholic beverages would cause someone to stumble in their faith, even though I have the Christian liberty to drink a beer or have wine with dinner if I so choose.  What if a young man in the youth group is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse and he sees me buying a six pack of beer at the local convenience store?  Most assuredly that young man would be damaged in his battle with alcohol and drugs.  He might very well be influenced by me to make bad choices in his life.  Let’s take the principle outside the issue of alcoholic beverages.  There is a restaurant a few miles up the road called “Hooters.”  The reason it is so named is seen in the way the waitresses are dressed.  I have the liberty in Christ to eat there as often as I like, however, I choose to never eat there.  The reason I don’t eat at Hooters is the same reason I abstain from alcoholic beverages, I don’t want to cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble. 
   The last thought for today has to do with spiritual benefit.  There are things in life that are within my Christian liberty and yet they have no spiritual value in my life or the lives of others.  What’s more, some Christian liberties may even have a detrimental spiritual effect on my life.  Consider again what Paul had to say, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10.23).  The word expedient means to be profitable for me.  The idea here is my Christian liberty has in it some things that are not profitable for me or others.  Likewise the word “edify” means to build up in the faith.  My Christian liberty has in it some things that are legal, but they do not make me stronger in my faith nor do they help others be stronger in their faith.  The idea here is this, just because I can apply my liberty in Christ to something I might want to do does not mean it is good for me, good for others, or that it is the right thing for me to do.
   My conviction, based in part on what we have looked at in these passages, is that it is best for Christians in our day to abstain from alcoholic beverages.  Notice I said best because it really is an issue of what is good and what is best.  There are certainly some good things a person might say about alcoholic beverages, however, given the stigma in our day it is better and best for Christians to abstain.  I do not believe a Christian can have a truly effective witness for Christ and avoid causing someone to stumble if they use alcoholic beverages.  In the end you and I have to answer to Christ for ourselves concerning the life and testimony we live.  Do we really want to stand before Jesus someday knowing we forced our Christian liberty on some habit or lifestyle that hurt and hindered others?  I pray God will give me wisdom to use my Christian liberty in a way to bless others and draw lost men and women to Him.  I pray you feel the same way.


  1. Pastor! This is sooooooo crazy! I was just going to ask about this very issue! Praise God. I am going to print it out and give to the person inquiring about this very issue! Sweet niblets, God is good.

    Basically, there was a question I was trying to answer biblically, about being a drunkard an dnot to caus eyour brother to stumble, putting away the old man, stop drinking because He is worthy. But I still got the question 'WHY?' Just one drink won't hurt anyone and I just want to laugh and have fun. Like how peopl ehtink they can be Christians and drink and party still. I just know my conviction. So I will read this and print i tout... This is so exciting how GOD is so faithful....

    Jeannette Tuionetoa

  2. whoa...this is good and such a blessing... Amen

  3. Excellent Robert! My most popular post ever at my blog is on this very issue. I feel like we are a rapidly dying breed, though. I'm afraid future generations will suffer greatly by this generation's (of Christians) who have embraced casual drinking.

    1. As a person who has battled with drinking for many years, I found this very helpful. I am a Christian yet I have continued to drink. Recently I have focused on not doing so and I found it to be much better than drinking. Still the desire will arise but after reading this blog I will have added strength in abstaining from the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

  4. All said is 100% core true. Thank you so much for the posting and such a deeper study of the matter. However this a very interesting subject which at the end after analyzing it with maturity it leaves us in the position of abstaining for a much greater cause that our own flesh desires. When we approach this topic we are talking about drinking: 6/18 packs of beer, whisky, mix of different kinds of types of alcohol shots, bars, party, social events, etc Or we are talking about the word WINE or red Biblical WINE. The very same word that Jesus Him self transformed from water in a party that seems to me they the ones that were in the party were consuming it and they ran out. The word again that Jesus Himself use to paraphrase with his own blood..(Lord supper). Mr. distinct Paul said that moderate consumption of the wine will help with stomach problems. Now if I believe the entire Bible is the word of God and I should not add, twist or take away any of it I am stuck with the absolute only TRUTH from cover to cover. Now let me make my self clear I am NOT pro-drinking. I am just trying to approach all angles of the matter and have a mature analogy: drink one (1) small cup of red wine does not seems to be a Biblical problem to me now when you can't stop or you have to drink it until you pass out...your problem is different you are dealing with "addiction". A spiritual negative bond that controls you and drags you to destruction and there is when the sin come to play. To end I would agreed that for a much higher cause then your self such as Jesus and the Gospel sake or an unbeliever you should NOT DRINK alcohol. Abstain consumption with a reason that will edify your faith and cause of Christ.