Does Christianity condemn alcohol or drunkenness?
I was at a small party in a friend’s garden and was seated at the same table as a Roman Catholic priest in his cassock. A bottle of red wine was presented to our table and he took a glass of wine as we discussed various topics.
I noticed some people sneaking glances in our direction, making faces and whispering to each other. You can guess what they would say: “How could a priest drink alcohol? He certainly doesn’t know God blah blah blah. The priest did not stay long. As he left, some of those seated at our table began to say that the priest did not know God because he was drinking wine. I asked them in which part of the Bible it is written that drinking alcohol is a sin. They got into another unbiblical, opinionated and critical story about why it is written that alcohol is a scoffer that should be given to a fool. At the end of the discussion, no one could quote the Bible verse where it says that Christians should not drink alcoholic beverages.
I decided to ask a wider audience to see if I can get a satisfactory explanation: Please, in which bible verse does it state that drinking alcohol is a sin or reserved for those who do not know God? The Bible and Christianity clearly condemn drunkenness but not alcohol. But some people have created their own strange, unbiblical, unchristian law that anyone seen with alcohol automatically becomes a sinner, while the prerequisite for being a born-again Christian is abstinence from alcohol or even touching alcohol. Meanwhile, the first miracle of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, turns water into wine. And the Last Supper of Jesus Christ shared bread and wine with his apostles and commanded them to do so as a group regularly in remembrance of him. Therefore, the original wine used by churches for Holy Communion contains alcohol. Some new churches have decided to use fruit juice for their Holy Communion because of this same false belief that tasting alcohol is a sin.
Another false argument made by many is that what Jesus Christ and the Bible support is “wine without alcohol.” This is an argument born of ignorance. “Wine without alcohol” does not exist in the Bible. The Oxford dictionary defines wine as “an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grape juice”. Because there are wines made from other plants, the Oxford Dictionary has a second definition of wine as “an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of other specified fruits or plants.” Example: a glass of elderflower wine. Therefore, for something to be called “wine”, the first condition it must meet is that it must contain alcohol. All beverages packaged in bottles that some ignorantly call “non-alcoholic wines” are “fruit juices”.
The argument of those who changed the Bible’s injunction on alcohol is that taking a little alcohol leads to taking more and more until drunkenness sets in. It’s possible. But that doesn’t always happen. There are people who have never been drunk since they started consuming alcohol 30 to 50 years ago. There are people who don’t drink more than a glass of wine or a bottle of beer a month. It’s like criminalizing cars, planes, swimming pools, or guns because they can kill people.
Besides the fact that Jesus Christ never condemned alcohol, there are examples in the Bible where people are specifically urged to drink wine. One is Deuteronomy 14 where the law of tithing is given and explained:
“22 You shall truly pay a tithe of all the increase of your grain that the field produces from year to year.
23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to make his name dwell, the tithe of thy grain, and of thy new wine, and of thy oil, of the firstborn of thy oxen, and of your flock, that you may learn always fear the Lord your God.
24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you cannot bear the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God has chosen to put his name is too far from you, when the Yahweh your God will have blessed you,
25 then you shall exchange it for silver, and take the silver in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God will choose.
26 And you shall spend this money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or a similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has neither part nor inheritance with you.
Likewise, in 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul tells Timothy, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” In recommending wine to his adopted son, Timothy, Paul shows that the wine of their time had medicinal value. Today’s wine or beer also has health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of developing and dying from heart disease as well as the risk of ischemic stroke. The Mayo Clinic breaks it down like this: “Moderate alcohol consumption for healthy adults typically means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Examples of a beverage include Beer – 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters). Wine – 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters). Distilled Spirits (80 proof) – 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters).
Third, in Psalm 23:5, David says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing. When someone’s cup is full of wine and overflows in biblical times, it is a sign of abundance. This is why in Proverbs 3:9-10, Solomon says:
“9 Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the first fruits of all your increase;
10 So your barns will be filled with abundance,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
This message of linking the overflow of wine to wealth is reaffirmed in Joel 2:23 and 24:
23 Rejoice then, children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For he faithfully gave you the rain of old,
And it will rain on you –
The old rain,
And the last rain of the first month.
24 The threshing floors will be filled with wheat,
And the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Note that it is the same wine that signifies abundance in the Bible that made Noah and Lot drunk, leading to negative consequences. It is like a firearm that can be used to protect itself and a country from annihilation or the taking of prisoners being the same weapon that can be used to commit genocide, murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, etc.
As Christians, we must be careful not to turn our opinions into biblical law. The Christian standard does not change even when men change it. Those who say the Bible condemns alcohol do so out of ignorance or a desire to create their own laws and impose them on the Bible and Christianity. Many people also engage in the discussion because they don’t know what “wine” is and how it is produced.
According to the World Health Organization, three million deaths occur each year due to the harmful use of alcohol, representing 5.3% of all deaths worldwide. The Church should focus on what the Bible commands, which is: That drunkenness is bad. It spoils a human being. It destroys vital organs. This leads to terrible consequences.
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