Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

A few years ago, I was in Chicago with some friends. It was a hot, sticky day, and we needed to get some exercise, so we went to a gym at the University of Chicago to play racquetball. The four of us played cutthroat racquetball until we were drenched, exhausted, and spent.

Then one of my friends offered postgame beverages—a six-pack of Heineken on ice back in his room. We all trekked to his room, and I enjoyed my machine-cooled Coke while the three of them split the six-pack.

My abstinence made the math easier. Dividing a six-pack by four is like figuring out who gets the last piece of pizza. We sat around and talked about our jobs, our families, our sports teams, and our faith. My three friends were an Episcopalian priest, a Lutheran pastor, and a Mennonite leader.

Should Christians drink alcohol? Are my friends sinners for guzzling the beers? Are they going to hell? Did they do damage to the cause of Christ that hot summer day?

If they were pastors of some conservative churches, they could potentially be fired by their church board. But in other denominations, their church board members would buy the beer.

What The Bible Says: Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

Can we talk?

Let’s start with an honest confession. You cannot make the case for total abstinence from alcohol by quoting verses from the Bible. Sure, there are scriptures about alcohol, such as, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).

But there are other texts that suggest a different understanding of alcohol. In 1 Timothy 5:23, for example, Paul tells young Timothy to be careful about drinking the water and to take a little wine for his stomach. Jesus himself turned water into wine at the wedding of Cana (John 2), and the Communion cup of the New Testament was not Welch’s Grape Juice.

The biblical record is clear. Drunkenness is strongly prohibited, but total abstinence is neither commanded as law nor practiced as a rule.

So why the call to total abstinence?

I think you would agree with me that the use of alcohol in our day is different from the days of Scripture. Our proof power in the distillery is much higher than theirs. We can get people drunker, faster. We know the alarming statistics of alcohol-related injuries, deaths, and destruction in our country.

Logic tells me that the world might be better off with less folk drinking and more folk abstaining. Even the alcohol companies are calling for moderation and not letting friends drive drunk. They even contribute to the programs that help the addicted, such as AA. The social standard is one of moderation, self-discipline, and personal discernment.

So why the call to abstinence?

As the people of God, we are guided by our story. Our formative narrative is found in the Old and New Testaments and is the most reliable picture of who we are to be. I find an interesting story in the correspondence of Paul with the Corinthians. His instructions cast light on the issue of alcohol.

Answering The Question Using Paul’s Words To The Corinthians

The Corinthians had grown up in the social world of the gods— Zeus, Aphrodite, Dionysus. Ornate temples were erected for the worship of these gods. Cultic celebrations were commonplace. Animals were sacrificed to the gods, the meat cooked, and the meal served to gathered people. The more sacrificial meat they ate, the more “filled” with the gods they were. Eating the idol meat was a social event. These events were connected to craft guilds, marriages, and cultural banquets.

But when the gospel of Jesus came to Corinth, the question of eating sacrificial meat was raised. The Jewish story suggested that animal sacrifices were connected in the Old Testament to the worship of the one true God. And the “Spirit-filling” of interest to Christianity was not the spirit of the gods but the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus. Some said, “It’s OK to eat the meat.” Others said, “This is wrong.”

So what conclusion does the Apostle Paul reach in 1 Corinthians 8—10? He refuses to view the eating of the sacrificed meat as an act of evil, unless the one who does so is a participant in the worship of demons. Paul also says that it is wrong for one with a “weaker conscience” to impose it as authoritative on the one who eats the meat.

The call is to act in the best interest of the other. This means that the one who recognizes the harm being done by eating sacrificial meat will not eat it, and the one offended by eating the sacrificial meat will not demand abstinence of those who eat with a clear conscience.

Translated to addressing our question, “Should Christians drink alcohol?”—those who abstain will not pass judgment on those brothers and sisters who drink while belonging to the family of God. And those who see the harm being done by alcohol may, in love for others, choose to abstain.

I do not drink. My lifetime drinking is confined to an Episcopalian Communion service in which wine was used. Personally, I hated the taste. Friends tell me it is acquired. I have no interest in acquiring a taste for spinach either. If I did like the taste, I believe I could drink responsibly. I think I would have enough personal discipline to know when to stop.

But I choose not to drink as an expression of loving concern for my fellow humans. I belong to a radically subversive movement attempting to destabilize social drinking by not participating. I want my choice to empower others to say no. I do not seek to pass judgment on those who drink responsibly, nor make them feel guilty by my action. When asked why I don’t drink, I simply explain that having seen the damage that alcohol has done to people I’ve known and loved, I am acting in solidarity with their best interests.

This position rises from the core of Wesleyan-Holiness theology, which calls us to love God with our entire being (to the point of ordering our lives for the sake and pleasure of this God) and to love our neighbor in redemptive ways.

To those who drink, be careful. I ask you to reconsider your position for the sake of your neighbor. To those who abstain, be careful. Your attitude toward your fellow Christians should not be arrogant, haughty, or superior. And be ready to explain without judgment why you choose to say no.

And my three friends with the Heinekens? One lost his congregation the following year and went into an alcohol recovery program. One had a teenage daughter arrested for drunken driving. The other one is doing just fine.

Today’s post is an excerpt from A Charitable Discourse: Talking About the Things That Divide Us.

Comments

  1. Before the ministry, I worked for 20 years at one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges (usually ranked in the top 10)…my morning coffee buddy for those 20 years was the Director of Security…on Mondays he would lament the number of alcohol related arrests from the weekend, sometimes in the 100’s…in that batch almost every Monday was a case or two of sexual assault, typically against a underage female student (remember, about 75% of the student body is actually under age to drink)…when my own daughter, caught drinking at a Nazarene college, told me, “Dad, you do know Christians drink, don’t you? And you do know the Bible doesn’t say not to, don’t you?”, I simply relayed the story above to her and said, “I do not want to be the father that gets that call from the college president about my daughter being raped.”…

    • Stephen Bennett says

      Thank you Bruce. You have set a good example.

    • that guy says

      Soo…. i guess jesus didnt turn water into wine? Alcohol didn’t cause those rapes buddy, that’s actions of people. ignorance is bad!

      • You’re right, alcohol did not commit the act. It was however, a contributing factor. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and people do thing that they wouldn’t have done, had they been in complete control of themselves. Ignorance really is bad.

      • But what he is saying is they were drunk, so yes the alcohol did that because when your drunk you have no idea what your doing.

      • Alcohol didn’t help! Dumb people who might otherwise show a little restraint are more uninhibited after a few drinks. And I say that as a very moderate drinker who just NOW finished a cocktail with lunch! Anybody who does not recognize the hazards of alcohol has no business drinking any.

  2. Thanks, Dan for a great article. These are my thoughts exactly and how I have explained the abstinence issue many times to my parishioners and friends alike. On one occasion while pastoring in North Georgia I was a member of the local Kiwanis Club. A member of the club had become a close friend. One day he called me and ask to talk with me. I visited him in his insurance office. He showed a letter from his church notifying him that he had been nominated to serve the next year as a member of the board. He showed me the section listing the qualifications which included abstaining from any form of alcohol. He said, “I love my church and want to serve but I can’t agree with this qualification. I only drink a beer every now and do not see the harm.”
    I responded, “I see your dilemma, Let me ask you a question. Which would you consider more important, a beer every now and then or being of service to your church and God’s kingdom?”
    He agreed and understood that it really is matter of priorities, especially certain things that cannot be adequately supported from Scripture.

    Ernie

    Good to see you at GA Assembly

  3. Glynelle Hull says

    I’ve been a Christian since a child, and am now very old, and so thankful I was taught to leave alcohol alone. Also I had a vivid example to help me accept that teaching . My father deserted my mom and me when I was about 9 yr. old, all because of alcohol I know many people drink and never have that result in life, but when you’ve experienced it, and your whole life was affected, it becomes fairly easy to be a T-Totaler!! I never would even date someone that drank. I had a little ridicule for it, but my live example was all it took with the Lord’s help to do what I felt was right. I feel like I”m a very tolerant person of others’ ways, but alcohol is one thing I can’t tolerate. I”m so thankful I was taught as a Christian to leave it alone.

  4. Jesse Middendorf says

    As usual, Dr. Dan Boone makes the case for abstanance as well as anyone I know. My own family is graphic testimony to the utter distructiveness of alcohol, especially in the life of a young, underage teen who felt this was a “human right.” The damage done by Christians who urged this perspective on an impressionable young person has taken a toll that has been devastating. I do not condemn those who, in good conscience, feel free to participate. My own position is the same as that of Dr. Boone. I choose to abstain in loving concern for others.

    • LINDA RUSSELL says

      I believe Dr. Boone’s point of view is fine when we are talking about those not called Nazarenes. Our manual says we accept abstinence for both alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. If I choose to join the Church of the Nazarene I must agree with that stance. Certainly abstinence should be required of those who the COTN licenses and ordains to preach and serve in leadership in their churches and academic institutions.

  5. Mary Surbrook says

    Thank you for your words. I have felt this way for most of my life. Being raised in a Nazarene home you have that fear of punishment from parents but as an adult I had to find for myself why I don’t drink alcohol beverages. Like you when I did try it I though it was nasty but seeing what it did to some in my family was enough to keep me away from it. Also not wanting to be the reason causing another to sin was deep in my heart. God told me no…so I will be obedient.

  6. Jonathan Privett says

    I spent ten years as a VA Medical Center Contract Chaplain. I met every veteran including those on the Substance Abuse ward. I discovered non Christian staff did not drink at all because human wreckage soured their taste. I find alcoholics preach abstinence while church guys preach one beer to the preacher. Alcohol is political suicide from the pulpit. Thanks Dan for sharing this post. Bresee said our church should focus on holiness and temperance. May it be so!

  7. Ruth Morgan says

    I miss my glass of wine. Especially with certain foods. I see no sin in drinking moderately. The Bible condems drunkeness, not drinking. Science seems to tell us that moderate drinking is healthier than abstainance. However my father drank too much and I have seen the hurt that caused. My first husband was an alcoholic and died of cirosis of the liver. His drinking turned a kind compassionate man into an abuser. I have seen the struggle of those captured by alcohol and their families. I do not want to add to their burden. I want my house and my company to be a safe zone. So I choose to abstain. I regret that this is necessary because fermented grape juice is a wonderful symbol of celebration. But for me to be whom I think Christ has called me to be I think it is necessary. I will not put my choice on others. If you do not feel drawn to abstain I judge not. I regret that abstainance has often become so much legalistic rule keeping and an opportunity for moralistic judgementalism instead of a choice made out of a desire to love others. And I miss my glass of wine. But I am content to wait until I can drink again at the wedding feast of the lamb.

  8. Mary Fisher says

    in an age when the scourge of “pop”drinking particularly Coca Cola is creating havoc may I suggest you examine what you drink? A cardiologist friend spoke openly in a service of the scourge that Coca Cola is to health… I think what you say of alcohol can be said of Coca Cola.

    • Coca cola is bad for your health but it doesn’t make you drunk.
      It doesn’t hinder your driving, make you angry and abusive, it doesn’t kill or hurt innocent people. It only hurts the person drinking it.

      • This isn’t true. Coca Cola causes a spike in blood sugar that may be expressed in anger or lead to fallin asleep at the wheel. It is responsible for countless cases of diabetes. It leads to weight gain, diabetes, retaining fluid & high blood pressure. It leads to disability, which causes families to lose desperately needed income & opportunities. High blood sugar can provoke physical expressions of anger that harm family members. It causes nerve damage,causing crippling pain. Please do your research.

  9. Linda tucker says

    Thank you for posting this and the people that have responded. I attend Bethany First Church of the Nazarene. I have been so disappointed in the past several years in the number of people that drink. It is pretty rapid at the college, and the majority of people at church think it’s ok. I’ve been shocked. Why is it ok today when 20 years ago it wasn’t. It has been so hard to watch my children stand alone because they were the only ones in their group of friends that didn’t drink. There are many things happening today that concern me about the church. I just wonder what sets us apart from the world as Christians. Where did holiness go? Again, thank you for sharing. It gives me hope. I know drinking will not keep you out of heaven, but it certainly can lead to many devastating issues.

    • Judy Craft says

      Dear Linda,
      I felt I had to respond . . when you say “Where did Holiness go?” in regard to drinking. What I think you meant was, “Where did the standards that previous generations held go?” Let’s not confuse the two. Holiness is not, and has never been, defined by the outward following of rules without regard to the intent of the heart. What sets us apart as Christians, rather than what we drink, is what Jesus told us long ago, “They will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” It’s hard to see the things we were told in the past being tested, but through it, the truth will absolutely prevail, like pure gold through the fire. And I have found that, after walking through that scary test, my heart is drawn back to the purity and righteousness that is found in Christ.

  10. Destin Weishaar says

    while I appreciate this commentary, I have a problem with the tone and the message. Growing up in the church people were quick to condemn alcohol, tobacco, etc. with biblical passages for and against. But there is a huge hypocrisy in nazarendom and the larger eveangelical movement. Booze is bad, but other forms of “gluttony” are perfectly acceptable. (See “Nazarene nap”). Excess in all forms should be considered equally bad. What makes a couple beers consumed (if in a socially responsible manner, not driving, etc.) any worse than eating two helpings of that casserole at the potluck or “afterglow”. There’s arguments that can be made that the latter is more damaging to the “temple”. So I’d be slow to judge our consuming friends of other denominations. There’s a bunch of paunchy pastors out there that have done more damage to their own bodies and to others by dying too soon from food, lethargy, lack of excercise, etc. Lets not go pointing fingers while we pick our preferred poison.

  11. Max Jetton says

    No, I do not think it is a sin for other people to drink responsibly. But for me, it opens a room I choose not to enter. I have enough temptations without opening myself to another. I know I have a propensity to overeat, why create another battlefield?, I’ve seen the tragedy of domestic abuse, drunk driving, liver disease, and broken marriages. I don’t want to jeopardize my life or others by entering by entering that room. For me, it’s not a matter of strength in saying “no” its a matter of weakness if I would say “yes” one too many times.

  12. Dan,
    Thanks again for your wisdom! I was an athlete in high school & would have been dismissed from the team for drinking.
    I didn’t drink in college, because I attended Trevecca.
    As a young adult, I examined my family tree & saw multi-generational addiction. Not drinking was a no brainer!

    • Ken Norris says

      Mike – I believe you bring up a very good point, and one that I personally see as a reason to abstain from drinking. Some people may be more susceptible to alcoholism due to genetics and even personality types and not even realize it. So, I feel the question is…why push it? Why take a chance on triggering something that could take control of my life? I would rather abstain and never take that risk.

  13. Mark Macy says

    Mr. Boone
    Thank you for this article. For 59 years I have made the choice to abstain with no qualifications from drinking and drugs. I’m not here to judge or brag to others. But merely to point out that the choice to say “no” does work and can be done. Yes, I attended public schools, church and secular college campuses and traveled the world in my business career…I’m very acquainted with peer pressure, others doing it, and situations in life that provides us ease to drink here and there. But my choice has not wavered. I decided I could not afford the risk or chance that my one sip would lead to trouble. It was just too great a risk! The Best is Yet to Come!

  14. While I agree that there are no direct “thou shalt not” commands in Scripture against the moderate use of alcohol, and while I refrain from condemning those who drink responsibly, I DO, nonetheless remain alcohol free (aside from the occasional dose of NyQuil for colds). Alcohol proves to be a detriment to everyone it touches. It is a waster of lives, a wrecker of homes, a deceiver of moral intentions, a destroyer on the highways, a minimizer of godly inhibitions, and a reducer of godly passion in daily living. So, while I don’t condemn those who use it, I believe it is my biblical duty as a minister to warn people about its deceitfulness and toward their own personal honesty about the “good” that comes from alcohol consumption. Quite frankly, I’ve never known anyone who was not, in some way, adversely affected by its use. Mine is a radical stand, given today’s more moderate considerations, I know. Not everybody will agree. But I am not in a popularity contest. I am trying to get people to heaven, and alcohol makes that a harder job – as does judgmentalism. So, we walk in tension between biblical wisdom and contemporary moderatism. (Moderatism is different from moderation).

  15. Daniel Runyon says

    I abstain, not to command a haughty, critical and superior attitude over others, but more precisely because I perceive myself in the minority as the “weaker brother.” By my reversal of semantics, of sorts, I say “weaker brother,” in referral to my strong, unilateral convictions that are subject to becoming much more easily offended.
    Now, before You sneer down Your righteous nose at me in criticism because of my unbending, unyielding approach, perhaps it’d be best to consider, why?
    You see, I was the victim of an out-of-state, uninsured drunk driving accident that happened instantly, affording me no Time whatsoever in preparing to meet my Maker. The accused failed to yield to my legal right-of-way on a state highway, and I subsequently plowed into his passenger side door directly at a T-angle at 55 mph [without my seat belt on].
    The g-forces which surged through my body were unfathomable. Only the Grace of God encamped beside me, and the deployment of my air bag rescued me. Many other innocent victims of highway homicide have perished at a fractional speed of which I was going.
    Yeah — I’m a dead man, walking. I’m literally a Miracle! All Praise goes unto the Lord, who saw fit to spare me until my work on earth is done.
    Yet, whenever such “debates” of alcoholic consumption arise within the acceptable mores of the Christian’s life, I usually find the argument “amusing,” despite it being deplorably and pathetically disgraceful [ie: without Grace], devoid of any merit, and certainly not anything of which is designed to establish the Pilgrim’s Way within the Faith Walk upon the Highway of Holiness.
    Within this context, I find several criticisms.
    First, when people start becoming principals to such arguments, they always preface their remarks by their “opinions” or “beliefs.” No wonder there’s so much vacillation from side-to-side upon the Highway of Holiness that curtails any forward momentum; … there ceases to be any more Righteous Conviction!
    Secondly, it’s impossible to convince anyone else whose beliefs regarding alcohol are more liberally tolerant, because they’ve armed themselves around their all-too familiar pet scriptural verses. Meanwhile, virtually nothing is mentioned about the prince of this world, who comes to steal, kill and destroy.
    What is the number one tool of theft, killing and destruction that the enemy has used against us? Alcohol. Families and homes have been torn asunder by bitterness and strife from the deceitful, wretched tool of alcohol. More lives have been maimed by torturous suffering, with the sting of alcohol as the relentless mocker. More premature deaths have occurs on our nations streets and highways, stemming from the influence of alcohol as its wicked task-master. And, we’re all paying the price. Higher taxes and insurance premiums are society’s price tag for the obliterated Value caused by needless destruction.
    So, to those super-saintly “Christians” who find it argumentatively possible to have their faith edified by alcohol, I’ll grant You one and only one position of recourse: if You’re man or woman enough to be in the kind of accident I was … and survive … then, maybe [just maybe], I might pause long enough to listen to You. Until You’re able to prove that manhood or womanhood to me, I’m really not obligated to listen to You.

  16. Dr. Leroy Lindsey says

    We could all do well to read David Wilkerson’s little book Sipping Saints. He documents the real meaning of “good-wine” as found in John 2:10-11. Not merely the “best” wine, but truly, a boiled, sweet, totally non-alcoholic product known in the ancient world by Romans and Greeks, indeed in the entire Mediterranean world. Classic sources referred to it as the drink served at the very beginning of a wedding as a measure of the worth of the bride. The ancents knew of and regularly used some 6 ways of keeping grape juice from fermenting, and keeping it that way for up to a year. Some will scoff, but after much study, I have cone to the conclusion that yes, a case CAN be made for total abstinence, as far as social drink is concerned. We akways admit tge medicinal use, but nit as an excuse for drinking. Alcoholism was very high in Jesus’s day. I cannot imagine Jesus ever contributing to that evil LL

  17. Becky Nichols says

    5 years as a social worker solidified my understanding of the utter destruction alcohol does to individuals and the way its destruction bleeds into the lives of family and friends. Sure, I could drink. I choose not to. I stand in soliderity with those who fought and fight for their sobriety. My home is a place of refuge, not temptation. You can come to my home and not worry. I serve a Christ who breaks the bondage of addiction. So no I won’t dangle temptation in front of you. Yes, I say this to my friends who drink, if they bring it up. I pray they hear my words said with love for them, my neighbor and my larger community

  18. Rick Moore says

    Excellent. Thank you for putting into words the stance we should have for others first, and then somewhere along the line, ourselves.

  19. Ken Norris says

    Dr. Boone – thank you for writing this article. A few months ago I was invited by a friend to go out to eat with another mutual friend. When we sat down and began ordering our meals, they ordered their wings…and beer. I ordered a coke. I was not the least bit offended by the fact that they drank a beer with their meal. I didn’t feel like it threatened my Christian witness to be seen with these two guys who were consuming alcohol. It did offer me a chance to share why I don’t drink. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit gave me the words I needed.

  20. M. Huffmaster says

    Thanks Pastor Dan

  21. J.T. Carnell says

    I have lost a family member to alcohol poisoning and others who are alcoholics who have destroyed not only their families but their own lives.

    Thank you Dan for a great reminder that our Christian response is always greater than a social acceptance.

  22. Mary Griffis says

    Thank you for honestly addressing something that is a part of our lives in one way or another. The only thing I will say right now is that there would be no alcoholics if no one ever took that first drink.

  23. shirley campbell says

    When I was sixteen, my twenty year old, married and three months pregnant sister was killed by a drunk driver. That did not stop me from marrying an alcoholic three years later. I became an alcoholic, too. When I was willing to sell my youngest son for alcohol, I immediately stopped drinking. That was 37 years ago. I am still an alcoholic and the desire to drink is overwhelming. I have a very hard time watching Christians (including my children) drinking. I try not to be judgemental, but it is not easy. Thank you for this article.

  24. Darren Dirk says

    I can certainly appreciate the abstinence position. I’m also very glad to hear no condemnation for those of us who choose to drink responsibly. Knowing my kids would be faced with the same peer pressure as I had, it seemed a better idea to show that it was possible to enjoy alcohol responsibly than hope they had the strength – or desire – to abstain. With abundant poor examples I thought a good example was in order. Thankfully, they’ve proved me right (so far).

    • Darren,

      I think you are clearly exemplifying what Paul says about rules in Colossians 2. What’s more, I believe you are and have been showing your children love in your example. It is one thing to abstain in the company of those who might be bothered, tempted, etc. It seems another thing entirely to allow the fear of being misunderstood by someone who is not willing to engage you in loving discourse to control the freedom the Holy Spirit has given. In fact, Paul identifies it as a sin to allow others that type of control over what it is that our Master has convicted us.

    • I’m also very glad to hear no condemnation for those of us who choose to drink responsibly. >> I also noticed that and it was nice for once not to be judged.

  25. Mike Fitzpatrick says

    Dan,

    Well spoken!
    I knew the Bible didn’t command us not to drink alcoholic beverages, but as an Army JAG officer I had a young enlisted soldier come up to me and ask why I was drinking a beer if I was a Christian. I don’t recall how I answered him but it caused me to reflect on the influence I had on others and to really pray about it. The Lord brought to my attention that almost every soldier I had prosecuted or defended in courts- martial whether it was for murder, assault, rape or AWOL had committed their crime while under the influence of hashish or booze. I don’t recall how I responded to that soldier’s question, but I clearly remember how I responded to God! I made a personal commitment then and there never to consume alcoholic beverages again. I encourage others to seriously pray about making this same commitment.

    Mike

  26. Larry ammann says

    I was kicked of the church board for for having about 4 ounces of wine at a special occasion when the accuser had taken my son and daughter to see x-rated movies. I prefer not to be in those shoes.

  27. Prov. 23:31 “Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; 32At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. 33Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things.…This is very clear not to even “look” at the fermented ETOH. That part “when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup” pertain well with the ETOH level of today’s wine, beer, whiskey etc… In relation to today levels of ETOH then “Abstinence” is a must. For those that drink wine and quote that “Jesus made wine”, well you better water it down 20:1 since that was a must or you (in some cultures) were considered barbaric. Paul telling timothy to drink a little wine for the stomach would that be medicine same as using opioids for pain relief ? Saints we are talking about what controls the mind (our thinking). We stay away from drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy etc.. because it takes over the thinking so why take the chance of allowing the ETOH to have control of our mind just for “a good glass of wine”. I can go on more but I will stop. God Bless all His saints!

  28. I read all of the paper. I agree with most of the position except for “Let’s start with an honest confession. You cannot make the case for total abstinence from alcohol by quoting verses from the Bible. Sure, there are scriptures about alcohol, such as, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).” We do need to watch our spirit and not cast judgment. Our love for Christ is the highest reason for all our decisions. Many times I feel for the people because there are greater joys in the bible that benefit the life more than a glass of wine. Remember hearing “if we do the do’s then we will not have time to do the don’t”. When we allow this (non abstinence view) in our bible interpretation it could lead to the gateway for other lifestyle choices to pull us away from godly living. Look at it this way ETOH is a gateway already for other vices. So when we do not take a firm stand and say things like this “So leaving this idea of Let’s start with an honest confession.You cannot make the case for total abstinence from alcohol by quoting verses from the Bible” is shaky grounds in our handling of the verses in the bible. When we get to heaven we will not be rebuked for our dogmatic interpretation of the scriptures but for the actions of our hearts. However, we know in the later days there will be a falling away from the faith giving head to strange doctrines and desires. We all need to search the scriptures and hold fast to what is true Acts 17:11. By the way are not all these responses great! They allow the brain to think and drives us to prayer and holy life. Amen? Maybe we can hear what you think about our words that we say or are hearing young people say (ex. suck, screwed). These are words that I hear many people saying in churches. What are your thoughts?

  29. I was posed a similar question in the locker room, at my place of employment(military), by a fellow Christian. “What do you think about me drinking as a Christian?”, he asked. I told him that scripture did not say not to drink. It tells us not to become drunk. The real problem comes when the newly saved out of alcoholism Christian, who looks up to you as “Christian” roll model, sees you drinking. He says to himself, “Self, If this upstanding Christian roll model drinks, it must be ok”. New Christian doesn’t know if Roll Model Christian is having 1 or 10 drinks. And so, Roll Model Christian has become a “Stumbling Block” to New Christian. I Corinthians 8:7-13 warns strongly against causing a weaker brother, for whom Christ died, to be destroyed by your knowledge. I basically told him that my freedom ends at the next guys weakness. You just as well ask “Can a Christian look at porn?”, “Can a Christian use foul language if the don’t use the Lords name?”. What we really need to be asking as Christians is, “Is action A, B or C edifying to the Body of Christ?”

  30. I respect and appreciate the stance and conviction presented in the post as a follower of Jesus. Where I become concerned is when a tradition or denomination imposes such convictions upon members and clergy. When Paul approached this issue in Romans he did not simply leave it at love for one another, but even asked, “Who are you to judge another’s servant?” The Master defines the love as well as the conviction. That is not the Church’s place.
    As Paul talks to the Colossians (Chapter 2) about rules, he warns them against empty rules that do not help with the restraint of indulgences. Abstinence and addiction are two sides of the same coin: allowing the substance to dictate our actions. As Spirit-filled, Jesus followers we are to show self-control. Perhaps it is a failure of the Church that we are not seen as a people who know and exemplify what it is to partake responsibly.
    The main issue I take with the post is the perceived implication that those who drink do not choose to do so out of love for others. Drinking is not necessarily a selfish choice.
    I would go so far to say, perhaps the question “Should Christians drink?” creates a false sense of rules and regulation. Perhaps the question should be, “Whether you drink or you abstain, how does it further the kingdom?”

  31. Gluttony is also a sin with many churches participating in a weekly Wednesday night orgy just before AWANA. People are jelous of the servings others get; gossip is often rampant; spiritual damage is just as damaging. It is easier to point at alcohol than it is to dig at these little bitty sins.

  32. I did have trouble with this issue for a while. On one hand, I come from a Nazarene Church, where even during the Communion, grape juice was served. Also, I have seen what too much alcohol does to people (in Ukraine, alcoholism is one of the top issues)… On the other hand, I do like the taste of wine every once in a while to go with a steak or other meal. Also, at my husband’s church (non-Nazarene) they don’t abstain from alcohol (even if they do drink responsibly).

    As a result, juggling opposite opinions was tough… I did make a decision to only drink wine at home or in a company where people are fellow Christians who drink responsibly. With all others, I can choose to drink something else without making a big deal about it.

  33. Should a Christian ever question the actions of Jesus Christ or the obvious endorsement of God himself. Drivers distracted by their cell phones are quickly replacing alcohol as the leading contributor to automobile accidents. More pedestrians are being killed by cars and trains while listening to music on earphones and blue-tooths. I witnessed a family set down to dinner, all on I-phones, and other than give the waiter their orders, never once spoke to one another. Iphones may be contributing to the destruction of families. Maybe a better question to for the Christian would be should a Christian have a cell phone. Even is you do not see the usage of cellphones as a sin, should you not abstain as an act of love.

    • Ed, thanks! Maybe the way to demonstrate our radical difference from the world is abstinence from cell phones at given times. Our student silent retreat at Trevecca is our most popular excursion. We leave all technology behind, head for the monastery, and spend the weekend with Bible, notepad, and God. I think we do need to disconnect. It would be hard to say that cell phones alter body chemistry and response in the same degree as alcohol but it does have an affect.

  34. There seems to no end to this to or not to drink alcohol.

    Everything is in moderation for our good. The Bible is our living guide. Jesus send the Holy Spirit to (paraphrased) help us with such delimnas.

    We each have a personal relationship with Christ. What the Lord put on your heart to do in making the choice, so be it.

    I see no one mentioned the the Jewish tradition… Not to piggy back on the culture.

    Peace to all

  35. Those who are mislead into thinking that Jesus advocated drinking Wine need to re-read the Bible! A man who taught to wish for others what we wish for ourselves could never have wished us to drink alcohol while he himself abstained from it! The sufferings of men due to alcoholism, the billion dollars of medical budget deficits due to soaring drinking problems, its associated crimes and domestic violence can never be attributed to the miracle of Christ turning Water into an alleged alcoholic component. This is what I think he actually did…

    https://solution-for-peace.com/2016/07/07/was-jesuss-turned-water-a-vine-or-wine/

  36. Thank you for this article. I teach Bible at a Christian high school and was looking for an article which presented abstinence from a balanced Biblical perspective. My students will be reading your article!

  37. Scotty Hughes says

    Hi

    My name is Scott. I am not going to lie I am a Catholic an I love jesus with all of my heart an I tell him every day that I love him. I will admit that I do not pray everyday, don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the way I live or because I’m lazy I “I don’t know” but I do love him an my religion. Over the past 9 years I have struggled with drinking responsibly, an when I say responsibly I me having a drink an staying home. The problem is I have a drink an the I want to go out an party an I end up sniffing cocane or meow, an the next day when I go home my girlfriend kicks me out an I feel like it is the end of the world an I keep texting her an pestering her untill she let’s me home. WHY DO I FEEL LIKE THIS. I go good for months, sometimes a year or two but then I get weak an have a drink an end up going out partying. But il be honest I can drink for months without going out an doing anything wrong but then maybe an occasion I get weak an go off to the toilets or m8s house an sniff stupid stuff. I hate my self the next day an pray that God forgives me, but I keep doing it every now an then… I am 26 years old. My age is not an excuse, but I really wish I could be normal. Sometimes I think should I be with my girlfriend or not. But then If we did split up I feel like I could not handle it?? I don’t know what I am doing or what to do. I love god/jesus with all my heart an I really do, although I sin he is always in my heart. Sorry if I didn’t make much sense, but it’s just on here everyone seems so nice an where I live it is the opposite. God bless all of you xxxxxxx

  38. Guy Biller says

    I haven’t had a drink of Alcohol in 53 years, it’s a drink that Christians should have no part. Guy Biller

  39. David Stevens says

    This is my position also. I do not condemn other Church cultures for their use of alcoholic beverages, but I choose to abstain. To me (I came into the Church of the Nazarene as a Proselyte, at the ripe age of 17) it seems that this is a very difficult thing to legislate. It is as if the Church of the Nazarene is expecting every single person to be a “Nazarite”. This is a worthy goal, but seems to go against basic nature, and even the Lord said, “Few there be who go in at the narrow, difficult gate.” Everyone should strive for the highest standard of discipline, but “Those who are more spiritual should be patient with those who are less spiritual.”

  40. I find myself challenged enough to allow God’s Spirit to control my life without benumbing my senses with alcohol. Certainly not all but many drinking Christians are only fooling themselves and often cross the line from social drinking to being outright drunk. See Ephesians 5:18.

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