Should Christians Drink Alcohol?
After sitting around a dinner table with some pastor friends and discussing this subject, I decided I would tackle this controversial topic out in the open. All of us pastors agreed that we get asked this question a lot. People want to know, is it ok for Christians to drink alcohol? Here is my heart on the matter. It is fine with me if you disagree but here are my thoughts.
If you comb through the scriptures, you will not find one scripture that says drinking alcohol is a sin. In fact, you see Jesus drinking wine and turning water into wine at a wedding.
Some people would argue that the wine in the bible was not fermented wine and that it was more like grape juice. I don’t always buy that because the people at the wedding feast, where Jesus performed the miracle and turned the water into wine, even commented that Jesus brought out the good wine at the end instead of at the beginning, when most people would. Why? Because at the end most people didn’t notice it was not as good quality because the wine had affected their senses already. It was not grape juice in that particular instance, anyhow. Grape juice does not affect your senses like that.
So am I making a case that it is ok for Christians to drink? No, I’m not saying that either but to say drinking is a sin, I believe is legalistic. We have to be very careful not to add anything to the bible or to take anything away. It says what it says.
Now, the bible is very clear about not getting drunk and drinking in excess. But even beyond that, there are some things I want for you to consider when it comes to drinking alcohol. I believe if you forget these, you could be negligent.
Consider the culture that you are in. In the part of the world that Jesus was from, alcohol may not have had the stigma that it does sometimes in the U.S. Even today in places like Australia and Europe, it is pretty commonplace for every household to drink wine nightly. Most Americans would be looked at a little differently if they drank wine every single night. It’s pretty important to understand culture when it comes to this topic. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t handle their alcohol as well as some Aussies or Europeans do. Our culture and society tends to take things to the excess, thus giving alcohol such a bad rap in the U.S. We are definitely known for being excessive.
Consider the family you come from. If you come from a long line of alcoholics, you have to consider that in your “Should I drink?” equation. Troy and I both come from a family tree that is full of alcoholism. I personally feel that it would not be a smart move for us to drink alcohol and this is one of the reasons we don’t. We have had many people on both sides of our family who have ruined their lives because of alcohol. In fact, this year Troy’s father died from alcoholism. It was very tragic. I have never been one for playing Russian roulette.
Consider the “weaker brother” principle. If you are in the company of people whom you do not know or whom you’ve known to have an alcohol problem, then you must be responsible. The bible tells us that we are to consider those in the faith who are struggling or weaker in an area and make sure we don’t do things to make them trip in their journey. I have friends that have struggled with alcohol addiction. What might be a liberty for me would be very damaging to them. It would cause them to stumble. I have to consider that.
Consider the position you hold. People who are church/ministry leaders need to be careful of how we conduct ourselves. We live in a fish bowl and people are always watching what we do. Not just those on the outside but those on the inside, as well. A pastor friend was telling me that a man in his church relapsed into alcoholism because he saw a pastor drinking and thought, “If a pastor can drink then surely I can too.” My heart was grieved because this man’s life was sent in a tailspin because he decided it was ok because a pastor could do it so why couldn’t he? Don’t ever make assumptions like that.
Consider the conviction of your heart. I think often times many things can be resolved if we just listen to our heart. I believe that God still talks to us today and if we get his heartbeat on something I think that is much better than landing at a decision on our own. For example, I was recently at a PUBLIC event and there were a lot of ministry leaders drinking (all from the U.S. I might add). When the camera came around to take pictures, they all hid their glasses of wine. I was really puzzled by this because if they thought it was ok, why hide? It just seemed to me that maybe there was some internal conflict going on in order for them to respond in that way. It made me feel as if their heart and head might be at war. Just a thought.
In closing, I guess you figured out that I am not going to tell you what is right or wrong for you to do. I can’t. All I want you to do is consider some things in your decision-making. Be responsible and don’t put your convictions off on other people, no matter which side of the coin you land on. We all have different reasons we do or don’t do things.
What are your thoughts?