Being Biblical about Alcohol (a cross-post from Heat & Light)

October 24, 2007

I recently posted this in a couple of other blogs, most recently at Heat & Light, however given the unusual proclivity towards alcoholism among Christian musicians (particularly in the Nashville scene, as that’s where most of my direct connections reside) and even professional Worship Leaders, I thought it an important reminder for us to remain in line with God’s truth on this subject.

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!


2 Responses to “Being Biblical about Alcohol (a cross-post from Heat & Light)”

  1. Interesting read, man. I tend to agree wholeheartedly. I’d have no issue with it, except Joy (my wife) expresses a valid concern – that our children would see this liberty, and assume it for themselves. I suppose it would be like any other thing you’d teach your kids about.

    Joy came from a horrific former marriage with an alcoholic husband, so her outlook is very affected by that, understandably. So, I’d rather honor her than my own thoughts … so she imposed a “500-mile rule” .. meaning, if you’re out of town on a trip, say 500+ miles from home, feel free to have a glass of wine or a beer with your guests .. ONE.

    So, I called her from dallas once – i was in a restaurant, and she knew the guy I was with and said “what are you drinking” .. I said “I’m in Dallas, TX so I can have a beer .. she said “just one”, and I said “right .. just one PITCHER”. HAHA (jk)


  2. saintlewis said

    I understand Joy’s concern – alcoholism is HORRIBLE, especially it’s effects on others. I’m convinced, however, that Christian liberty creates healthy people – the point of the study was that in those ‘Christian cultures’ which created rules where the Bible had none, alcoholism was more prevalent. Those raised within a culture that saw alcohol in a Biblical light – that, like sex, it was a blessing, but with certain necessary boundaries – had a far healthier response to that freedom, and were less prone to alcoholism. Honestly, I drink VERY MINIMALLY – I probably have 2 – 3 beers a years, and maybe a glass of wine or two – mostly because I want to be VERY careful to 1.) not drink in excess, and 2.) not causes weaker brother’s to stumble. But I feel only thankfulness to God when I do have a drink – my conscious is clean.
    I think your children are SAFER being raised within an environment of ‘liberty’ in this. Even though I was raised in a non-believing home, my parents were very balanced and wise in the area of alcohol consumption. I was raised to believe that alcohol in excess was dangerous, but that a single drink – as long as you were of legal age – was no big deal. I’ve carried that with me, and alcohol was never really a temptation for me – when my friends wanted to go get drunk in college my first thought was, “It’s only beer – who cares? That’s stupid – I’d rather spend my money on coffee, and remember my evening, thanks!”
    Thanks for the comment, though, Fred. I think this is an issue that we in the Bible-belt need to talk about.

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