Many Christians believe it is acceptable to drink alcohol. Can you provide insight into the Christian landscape regarding alcohol, credible theologies relating to alcohol, and how much those theologies are based in culture vs scripture?
America has quite a history when it comes to alcohol. We actually have in our Constitution a law against drinking (Prohibition) and then a couple of amendments later the prohibition is lifted. We have a wide variance of different Christian sects that have different rules for their communities.
When I preached about alcohol in my church, many of my people are conservatives. They didn’t like me saying from the pulpit that the Bible doesn’t prohibit drinking alcohol. But I refuse to preach what’s not in the Bible.
The Bible is not completely negative about alcohol. The Old Testament uses the imagery of new wine as a sign of God’s kingdom, its prosperity, and the joy of its arrival (Isaiah 65:8; Zechariah 9:7; Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37, 38).
Conservative Christians would love to see the Bible forbid drinking alcohol outright but the closest we get are many warnings about alcohol and its dangers. Proverbs 23:29-35 warns us about the results of drinking. Some people drink to escape the problems of life (Proverbs 23:29-30). But wine itself can become a problem.
Alcohol lures us in and gets us hooked (Proverbs 23:31-32). It becomes an addiction and we can’t get enough. It causes us to lose our faculties and our wits (Proverbs 23:33-35). It affects our judgment. This is why Christian leaders are not supposed to drink at all, based on the selection of leaders in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 3:3, 8).
Aside from these dangers of alcohol, how many times do we put other’s lives at stake when we drink alcohol and make bad decisions, like trying to drive home. Not only could we get arrested for drunken driving, we may cause an accident and even the lives of other people.
As you can see, alcohol can cause many problems in our lives. While the Bible only warns about drinking alcohol, crossing the line into drunkenness is a sin (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:24). The problem for most people is that they don’t know where the line is into drunkenness until they have already crossed it.
I consider alcohol one of the issues a Christian must work out with the Holy Spirit. If you are an alcoholic or alcoholism runs in the family, it is a bad idea to get involved with it. You’re setting yourself up in a weakness for failure. But for other Christians it is a non-issue. Study the Scriptures and seek the Holy Spirit for what he wants you to do.
My final caution is that if you can’t tell when you cross over into sin, why would you even get close? Why would you put the lives of others in danger? Why would you want to look like someone who is confused and has no idea what’s going on around them?
I know I sound harsh on this issue. But as a pastor, I have seen so many get so close and some go over the edge. Jesus wants something better for us. If you drink to escape the world and your life, there are better ways to deal with what you’re going through. So I do the same as Scripture. I caution you to be very careful with this issue.