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an online resource for Reformed Charismatics, Pentecostal Calvinists, & Empowered Evangelicals

Reforming Alcohol: being Scriptural about Alcohol Consumption

Before this post is misconstrued and twisted out of context let me make a few things very clear:
1.) Underage drinking is against the law, and for good reason. During one’s teenage years we tend to FEEL mature, and responsible, when in-fact we are not. Unless you are given an alcoholic beverage to drink by your parents, and even then in moderation, do not drink alcohol. 21 will come soon enough, and trust me – you really aren’t missing much.
2.) Alcoholism is terrible, sad, and destructive. Please, if you are of drinking age, and choose to do so, don’t do it in front of people you suspect may struggle with alcoholism.
3.) Please don’t suggest that “the weaker brother” (who is, according to the Bible, the one who thinks God ordains abstinence from such things) go against his/her conscience on this issue.

That aside, some VERY interesting new information has come forth this year, confirming several Biblical truths. The denominations/religions that view alcohol as a gift of God – where drinking alcoholic beverages is not demonized – tend to have a far less occurance of alcoholism than in the denominations where drinking alcohol is considered a sin. The study showed that the lowest level of alcoholim among religious people occured among the Jews, who also, on average, had the greatest number of members who drank. Following the Jews were the Episcopalians/Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and Lutherans. On the flipside, the denominations with the highest occurance of alcoholism among their membership were: Southern Baptist, Methodist, and Morman!

On a practical side, that should encourage those of us who know the Scripture to teach it accurately and thoroughly. As one of my online friends has so accurately written,
…alcoholism is high in such places because teetotalist doctrine is demonic (1 Timothy 4:1-6.) and worthless in restraining sin. (Colossians 2:20-23.)”

So, what does the Bible say about alcohol consumption?
First, that it can be good for you, especially as a cure for certain sicknesses
“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23.)
Secondly, that God made it for our pleasure!
“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” (Psalm 104:14, 15.)

Yes, the Bible on many occasions condemns drunkeness, and if you are one who cannot be responsible (again, AND LEGAL), you should abstain. Likewise, if alcoholism tends to run in your family, you should be far more careful in your decision of if, when, and how much to drink.

But in all of these things remember the words of Paul:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Do it ALL – all that you do (drinking or not drinking) for the glory of God!

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Filed under: Alcohol, Bible, Contraversy, Denominations, Doctrine, Theology

12 Responses

  1. Hans says:

    With all the other various non-alcoholic drinks Christians could drink. There is no reason why they should turn to alcohol as a choice.

    There are too many negatives to alcohol. The non Christian world is always looking for a reason to criticise Christians for what they think they shouldn’t be doing. There is nothing positive about drinking. It’s a poor witness and it destroys your testimony as a Christian to be seen with a drink in your hand or having it in your home.

  2. heatlight says:

    “With all the other various non-alcoholic drinks Christians could drink. There is no reason why they should turn to alcohol as a choice.”

    You DO MEAN to add the words “…except where the Bible tells us to for medical purposes”, as in one of the verses I quoted above (and don’t go telling me that the ‘wine’ was grapejuice – grapejuice may be good for you, but it has no medicinal qualities), I hope?

    My choice to drink in moderation has oft been far more a witness to my non-believing friends (particularly those I eventually was used to lead to Christ) than the other Christians they knew who were tee-totalers, as in me they actually say the Spiritual fruit of ‘Self-Control’ in display, and the willingness to be ‘in the World’, but not ‘of it’. Also, before coming to Christ, having been an Atheist for many years, I can honestly say that seeing a Christian, or anyone else for that matter, drink was NEVER an issue for me – only drunkeness was. I never even gave it a thought, honestly!

    The other reason one should at least occasionally drink alcohol (if possible, that is) is that all studies have shown that 1.) alcoholism has a MUCH greater occurrance among churches which teach tee-totaling, and 2.) recent studies have also proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that individuals which drink in moderation outlive both those who don’t drink at all, and those who drink to excess (sometimes outliving both by almost 15 years!) – showing that alcohol is, as long as one is not socially or genetically prone to alcoholism, a way to show good stewardship of your body. Anyway, if your conscience will not let you drink, praise the Lord, and do not drink…but there is nothing Scriptural, and not nearly as many negatives as you say, to suggest that the overall accepted view should be abstinence UNLESS one is prone to addiction.

  3. kate says:

    I agree with “heatlight”: drinking in moderation and not being out of control shows that you can have self-control. Giving things up in order to be seen as a “better Christian” is something that turns non-believers off. I have been more successful in conversations with atheists and agnostics when I have been more open and honest about how I live my life in moderation rather than pointing fingers at all things secular.
    I think too a good example of prohibiting alcohol altogether is the difference between America and Europe. Europeans grow up drinking small amounts in their houses with their parents while Americans watch their parents drink but are told that it is taboo until they are of age. Of course an adolescent is going to try alcohol when it is forbidden. This leads to addiction to alcohol later on in life, and although it is counterintuitive, Europeans do not abuse alcohol because they are taught that it is ok in moderation.

    There are scripture verses against drinking just like their are scripture verses against other things that pastoral biblical people needed to hear, like NOT SLEEPING WITH YOUR GOAT. The reason laws were created then are different than now, everyone understands that sleeping with an animal is bestiality and is not acceptable. People understand that drinking too much alcohol is alcoholism and also unacceptable. What about the Bible verses where drinking of wine in particular is not condemned but seemingly encouraged in moderation? John 2:1-11, Jesus turning water into wine…ring a bell?

    If you are not going to drink, that is a great PERSONAL choice. But do NOT make other Christians feel as if they are LESS Christian because they choose to have a glass of wine at dinner or HEAVEN FORBID partake of the communion wine at church. Churches that serve grape juice are great and it makes communion a child-friendly experience. But churches that serve wine are not any worse, and I think that is something to consider. All Christians should be treated equally, as the point of being Christian is to show love to others. God is the only One who should be in a position of judgment, and our job is to be good people living for Him.

  4. not sure if i agree says:

    I agree with you about #2.. if someone is struggling not to drink around them. I also agree with you that wine is good for you however it’s like 4 oz a day, that’s it. Plus, dark chocolate is also good for you like wine, if not better, beleive it or not ( I didn’t say milk chocolate now- dark). Also I would even go as far to say that what’s the point of a vrigin drink if you’re practically the only one who knows there is no alcohol in the drink. Suppose a friend of yours walks in to the restaurant you are at and sees you drinking your “vrigin” drink… what then? They dont’ know and then you just were caught with something taht could really cause your borther or sister in Christ to think differently of you. ” It is better to have a millstone tied around your neck then to cause your borther or sister to stumble” ( Matthew 18:6), remember that verse? Also what about, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” Romans 14:21. I know you can say, Oh taht’s relative!, waht about clothing?.. well yes even clothing should be presented modestly, and to me saying It’s relative is not a good enough reason to pass it off like no biggie. Point being, There’s too many what if’s to face just to take one drink, whose to say you had just one? awhat if you are laughing and having a good time and someone passes it off like you were drunk? Don’t say it would n’t happen because you know it could. Anyway, just something to consider. Thanks for reading my reply.

    Regards,

  5. heatlight says:

    Thanks for the comment, and those are indeed things to be considered, but you must note that – especially given the context of those passages – they would apply even more-so were you to live in a place like Seattle, WA or Athens, GA where an abnormally high number of people are vegetarians. Their consciences do not allow them to eat meat, and to cause them to do so is to cause them to sin. Given that THIS context is much closer to the original Biblical call not to lead a brother ‘to stumble’, are you willing to not eat meat publicly, for fear of eating it in front of a vegetarian, and tempting them to go against their conscience (even though – just like alcohol, their conscience is not being bound by Scripture to do so) to eat meat?

  6. Poetessmom says:

    Ok…I have struggled with this issue tremendously. 37 yrs. ago I left my family (father an alcoholic) and married a man and we went to a fundamentalist church for 15 yrs. We learned through example and osmosis not to drink. We raised 6 children.I call that the “law” church. We left that church to attend an evangelical free church for 15 yrs. and discovered a “grace” church. There were a few people we heard had some wine but it was not openly spoken of. There was just an attitude of let people be. Then we went to a charismatic church that espoused drinking through freedom in Christ. One son became an alcoholic during the time of the second church attendance. A daughter and another son took up drinking because of either working at the Olive Garden and having to “push” wine on people or the freedom in the church to drink. In the past 4 yrs. my husband has taken to drinking wine including wine tastings, and learning more and more about the world of wine and all what I call, its entrapments.
    My attitude is that I’m still stuck in the attitude of the “law” church because it’s safer. What with my family background, I felt it was better to be safe than sorry. And I wanted that position to be taken by my children and husband throughout life. I gave up so much as a mother to try to safeguard my family from the dangers out in the world only to be overwhelmed by the decisions I’ve seen. My thought is not that we should make a law saying no one can drink as during Prohibition (although in my heart I understand the hearts of those people who saw the devastation that drinking did to families and their desire to try to remedy it) but rather, IN LOVE, to choose not to drink so that 1) I’m not playing with fire and get burned, 2) I don’t cause a weaker brother to stumble (and note that when Paul in Scripture wrote “If my eating meat causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again.”…case to be made here is NEVER, not just when that weaker brother is around to see me,leading to a double standard of living), 3) not wasting my $$$, 4) never having to worry about drinking and driving, 5) no loss of libido because it’s a depressant, etc.
    A lot of people want to say that I’m trying to place chains on them. I don’t want to place chains on them and I have no right to do so. I want people to take responsibility for their fellow “brother” because we are not islands unto ourselves…our lives ripple out toward everyone sooner or later and I just think that denying ourselves out of love for our fellow man and families makes this a better world.
    What do you think?

  7. heatlight says:

    For one, I feel for your situation. I do hope you understand however, that it is not at all legalistic to CHOOSE not to drink, or even, as may be the case with you & your family, to encourage abstinence in your family. Clearly alcoholism runs in your family, so you & your of-age children in particular should probably abstain for God’s glory & your own health. It only becomes legalism when we try to bind other’s consciences (particularly those outside our sphere of influence) to our own on an issue the Bible does not. Many things seem to have gone wrong here: 1.) I’m somewhat bothered by the fact that you’ve been in both ‘law’ & ‘grace’ churches – all churches should be both; 2.) It saddens me that, it sounds like, those in the so-called ‘grace’ churches you attended were a little to ‘free’ with their use of alcohol, not being careful not to drink around those it may cause to stumble. I, for one, very rarely drink, drink even more rarely in public, try to always ask any who may be with me (and am careful to be sure that I already know them all well enough as well), just to be sure I’m not going to trip someone up and lead them to sin. In all honesty, THAT is grace – setting aside my own ‘right’, for someone else’s safety. No, that person can’t ‘bind’ me to that as a law, but I can – and should – set my right to drink aside for their well-being. That said, if your family members have really slipped into alcoholism, I can see your concern, but by reading your letter I can also imagine it possible that you may possibly be reading into things because of your own past – is that possible (that your growing up has tainted your perspective somewhat?)? Just something to consider. Thanks for writing, and I’ll be praying for your family regarding this. Bless you.

  8. Tracie says:

    You forgot my favorite passage on the subject. Luke 7:33-35, in the words of Jesus, “For John the Baptist did not come eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinner!’ Yet wisdomn is vindicated by all her children.”

    To me, this indicates it is a personal choice which can give glory to God either way. In order for Jesus to be accused of gluttony and drunkeness, he had to AT LEAST eat freely and partake of wine. In the example of Jesus, he worried not about his reputation, but let his own righteousness serve as a testimony. He freed himself not only to show love, but to RECEIVE love. He allowed sinners to throw parties in his honor! He went into unsavory places, much to the chagrin of the Pharisees. Sometimes we can put up such a rigid barrier between ourselves and our drinking friends with our legalism that we don’t allow ourselves to receive love from them. How then can we expect them to trust in our love for them? Because it communicates that their love, for some reason, isn’t good enough for us.

    This doesn’t mean that we should drink to fit in, or drink when we’ve determined it isn’t right for us, but perhaps we could humble ourselves enough in our convictions to seek them in their world.

    I’m really thankful for the denominational statistics. I’ve recently come to the conclusion, due both to my own experience and what I’ve personally observed, that ignorance concerning alcohol that comes with the “alcohol is evil” doctrine is actually extremely dangerous, for it keeps a person in a naive state rendering them more vulnerable to alcohol abuse than necessary. Even if there is no alcohol consumed in a household, a child educated about alcohol in a constructive way rather than given a dismissive “it’s bad, don’t do it” will be better prepared in handling peer pressure and later determining for themselves what God wants of them and where their limits are.

  9. […] Reforming Alcohol: being Scriptural about Alcohol Consumption […]

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  12. Jason says:

    I have moved from thinking abstinence was God’s will for all believers and looked at those Christians who consumed alcohol as carnal Christians, to now enjoying alcohol (especially craft brewed beer) in moderation. I have been drinking now for 5 years and never once have I gotten drunk.

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