When it comes to a Christian drinking alcohol, where we need to begin in agreement is that drunkenness is a sin.
I realize that what “getting drunk” is defined as can fluctuate to each person’s viewpoint. Anytime someone’s thinking and actions are impaired due to excessive drinking: sin. No how much someone thinks they can handle, getting drunk is always against what God wants. The Bible is crystal clear, there is no wiggle room. Read Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:18, 1 Peter 4:3. God says that getting drunk is wrong.
When it comes to consuming alcohol/wine/beer/liquor there’s little solidified in the Bible that labels social drinking as sinful. If someone is underage, under 21, as that is disobeying the governing law of the United States. God wants Christians to submit to the government He’s placed them under.
There’s the weaker brother argument as well in Romans 14 where it gives the principle that a Christian should not drink alcohol around another Christian needing to remain sober if it might cause the weaker brother to stumble. If my wife and I are out on a date night in public and someone sees us consuming alcohol, they might assume it’s great for them to drink since the pastor is and I just don’t want what might happen to them on my conscience.
In John chapter 2 Jesus is at a wedding. During the reception the party has run out of wine. #howembarrassing. Jesus’ mother Mary is frantic. She feels the potential humiliation of the moment that the wine has run dry. It’s a cultural faux pas. She goes to Jesus and asks Him, What are You going to do?, and Jesus is like, This really isn’t my responsibility, to save this party. In His fashion of thinking of others always, Jesus changes the water at the wedding reception into wine. And people who love God continue drinking. Plus, I’ve got to assume any wine Jesus made was way better than any manmade wine available.
Over the years the church leaders have said, Well, the wine in Jesus’ day isn’t like the wine we have today. It wasn’t as alcoholic, it wasn’t as fermented. That’s not true. Wine is wine. First Century wine was just as fermented and could get someone just as intoxicated.
Other church leaders have claimed, Well, there are really two Greek words for the word ‘wine’ in the Bible. And what Jesus made, what Jesus drank is the lesser, more watered down wine of the two kinds. That’s not true either. There’s only one word for wine in the Bible and it’s the Greek word oinos.
Paul writes for Timothy to drink a little oinos to help with his stomach ache. He encourages him to drink. Jesus at the Last Supper invites his friends to drink oinos with Him. So here’s my take on casually drinking alcohol:
Christians shouldn’t make social drinking a dividing issue.
One side thinks, I’m a better Christian because I don’t drink alcohol. The other side thinks, I’m a better Christian because I consume alcohol, just like Jesus did.
I don’t like either argument. If you’re a Christian, you do not consider yourself better than anyone else. To even have the thought, I’m a better Christian because……. This only ensues division amongst people the Lord says are His and your family. We aren’t trying to dissect if drinking or not drinking makes one a better follower of Jesus, we are asking if it is sinful or not.
As a pastor I get asked if I drink alcohol or not. Some of it is the curiosity of people. Some of it is looking for permission to drink themselves.
I rarely drink. I don’t drink beer. Maybe 3-4 times a year I’ll have a Jack and Coke. My wife enjoys a glass of wine. We generally do not keep alcohol inside of our home (or buried under it).
I personally try to abstain from drinking alcohol. In my social environment I am around drinking at most get togethers, but I choose not to engage and I want you to see my reasoning. For you, please don’t feel pressure to act a certain way. You know you. You understand what God expects. Hopefully you’ve developed close, loving relationships to hold you accountable if your drinking has become codependent or excessive.
Me, I already have too much temptation toward sin in my day. I’m tempted to sin all the time. So I don’t additionally need anything that weakens my will power. If I don’t sleep enough, I’m weak. If I don’t eat meals when I should, I’m weak. If I won’t read my Bible and pray daily, I’m weak. If I don’t repent when I sin, I’ll sin some more. If I don’t have close, godly friendships who I’ve invited to hold me accountable to the sin I’m tempted to succumb to, I’m in trouble. And if I put something in my system, like alcohol, that is going to weaken my willpower, I know what the end result is going to be.
I also already have too many options in my life to run to when things aren’t going well. I should run to prayer first. I should run to my Christian friends next. Instead, too many times I run to binging on Netflix to ignore how life is going, or I choose exercising, or I choose snacking, or I choose social media. I don’t need to add habitually drinking to my list of things to turn to when things aren’t going great.
Also, I am thankful to God to be given two young daughters to raise responsibly. I have no idea what they’re going to struggle with later on in their lives. Each child has a propensity toward a dominant temptation.
I don’t know what behavior pattern my kids might be easily prone to be addicted to but I do know I don’t want to set them up for failure. I don’t have statistics on this. It’s just firmly inside of me, as a dad, that if I don’t want my kids to drink, not frequently drinking in front of them will help that.
If you choose to have alcohol in the home, I suggest keeping it up high where it can be hidden or is unreachable, or lock it away. Have a bit when the kids are sleeping, have some on a date night, those are shrewd actions to take. If it’s visible and if parents are seen drinking, or if kids find themselves around other adults who are drinking, just be prepared to have conversations about how socially drinking and faith in Jesus intersect.
Most of my closest friends consume alcohol around me. I’m perfectly fine with that. I love them whether they don’t drink, drink a bit, drink a lot, drink too much. Most of them drink and remain in control of their decision making. For me, I just don’t think I’m missing out on anything by not drinking. Choosing not to drink consistently doesn’t make me better than anyone else and the Bible does not say anything against socially drinking.
A barometer on how much a Christian already drinks is whether or not they could decide to go 40 days without drinking at all. If you can’t fast from something for a period of time, that’s a sign it’s an idol already worshipped.
The issue of alcohol is not: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)? Because Jesus is recorded as drinking. That might not be the answer for you. The issue of alcohol is someone asking: Is drinking going to help me become more like Jesus? Will it help or hurt my willingness to obey God and love others in a godly way?
Stay thirsty, my friends (for God).
Thanks for reading. You are loved.