I got this question and laughed out loud and honestly didn’t want to answer it. Christians usually have strong feelings about this. From both sides of the argument, many times they can support their views with scripture.
Therefore, I am bound to have someone disagree with me on this one. However, since the goal of this article is for people to freely ask questions and find out what the Bible says, let’s attempt! I pray God gives me wisdom to share His truth.
Coming back to the question, can a Christian drink alcohol? Simply answer… yep! Theological answer… complicated!
The Bible is full of stories, which depict people drinking wine. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding and his last meal with his disciples features drinking wine! There is nothing inherently wrong with drinking alcohol from a Biblical sense. In fact, there are verses and scientific studies that indicate a glass of wine is actually good for your health! So what makes this issue complicated?
Here is one problem. Although the act of drinking alcohol is not a sin, it is repeatedly stated that getting drunk is wrong from the Biblical perspective. There are countless verses which explicitly state that fact such as: Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:10, Romans 13:13.
We know that any command God gives is for our protection, so why would He give the command to not get drunk? To cramp our fun? On the contrary, scripture explains that drunkenness makes us do foolish things that we later regret, abuse of alcohol can lead us into sexual sin which can be a gateway into greater problems.
When we are drunk, it is alcohol controlling our minds and certainly not God’s Spirit. A Christian has a heavenly Father who doesn’t want to see you in a state that might cause you more harm than good.
In God’s almighty wisdom, He sets out some guardrails for us in His word. Picture a warning sign before a big pothole that would at the very least blow your tires or at most cause your car to overturn and harm you. The sign saying SLOW DOWN is not meant to ruin your trip but rather make sure you arrive safely. There are certain actions that God advises us not to partake in as Christians so that we go through life experiencing less “potholes” (avoidable problems that we bring on ourselves). Therefore, many Christians, not knowing how many sips until a state of drunkenness is reached, would prefer to play it safe than sorry and completely abstain.
There is another issue at play when it comes to alcohol. Let’s call it the culture card – it is how the people around you perceive you when you do a certain action. Romans 14:15-23 goes into great detail on this point.
When someone becomes a Christian, that person says “Jesus, I want you to take over my life. I want to surrender doing things my way and I want you to be in control.” If that is your goal, then your desire would be for people to see Christ in you.
There are actions, however, that distract people.
The Bible calls those “stumbling blocks” for others. In this example, someone sees you drinking alcohol on Saturday and then on Sunday you are trying to share the gospel and all they are thinking is “you hypocrite! I saw you yesterday!” They can’t get past what they view as sin and they will never believe anything you say about your personal relationship with God. This doesn’t have to be alcohol – it can be tattoos, eating pork, wearing shorts, dancing and all sorts of funny rules that actually are not necessarily wrong from a Biblical standpoint but culturally they are somehow put in the “bad” group and now people have associated that with something of the world. Paul states in Romans 14:21, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 states that “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial and constructive.”
On these issues where people “perceive” you to be doing something wrong, sometimes out of love for them (NOT because it is wrong), you choose not to do it. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are hanging around a recovering alcoholic.
You know there is nothing wrong with a glass of wine, but out of consideration that your friend battles with saying no, you choose to abstain – out of love and desire to help your friend – not because the actual act is wrong.
Additionally, God has given us what He calls an eternal gift – His spirit. With that gift, comes emotions of joy, peace, love, etc. If one is drinking to escape pain, to fill a void, to obliterate their worries, or to numb any emotion, the Biblical encouragement would be that God says He is more than enough to help you deal with life’s problems. Seek Him and not the temporary release of alcohol, which as discussed above has the possibility of actually leading to more problems eventually.
On the same note, if you find yourself addicted, scripture encourages you to be careful that nothing enslaves you. (1 Corinthians 6:12 and 2 Peter 2:19). The Bible says let God be your master and nothing or no one else. This is because He has proven Himself to be a good Lord who selflessly would give everything to make sure we have a better life! You can give Him control and trust He has your best interest at mind with any guidance He offers.
In summary, there is nothing Biblically wrong with drinking alcohol. However, if it causes you to get drunk, causes other people to stumble, or leads to addiction, it is no longer beneficial even if it is theologically permissible.
Send more questions or make comments about this article to [email protected] or write me through my Facebook page – Mom to Mom: Parenting Consultations and read next week to find answers.
Ashley Thaba is a popular author, life coach and motivational speaker. She also facilitates corporate team building and wellness activities. You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba.