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Is it Okay for Christians to Drink?

By Rick Wilcox, Care & Community Pastor

Can Christians kick back and enjoy a drink without any concern? It's a question that stirs up lively conversations and sparks all sorts of differing opinions. Today, we'll unpack this question and explore what the Bible says about Christians and drinking.

What Does the Bible Say About Alcohol? 

People on both sides of the alcohol discussion use the Bible to defend their position. Those who say it’s okay to drink point out that in Scripture:

  •  Total abstinence was only required of the Nazirites (Number 6:4).
  •  Jesus turned water into excellent wine (John 2:10).
  • Paul counseled Timothy to no longer drink water exclusively but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23).

On top of all of that, it seems clear in Matthew 11:18–19 that Jesus drank alcohol:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

So, therefore drinking is ok, right?

Yeah – but, in some circumstances, the answer is clearly “no.”

When is Drinking a Sin? 

So, how do we discern the appropriate boundaries when it comes to drinking? First of all, underage drinking is illegal and, therefore, wrong. The Bible says Christians are to obey the law (Romans 13:1). Getting drunk is also prohibited. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.

Our decision on drinking and every matter should be based on the Great Commandments, which are found in Matthew 22:36–40,

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Loving our neighbor means extending grace to the one who is weaker than ourselves. This is made clear by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, where he discusses permission to eat meat from an animal that has been sacrificed to an idol – a common practice in that era. Paul said that meat was just meat and eating it was fine, but he hurried to say that Christians must consider the feelings of others who might disagree. In 1 Corinthians 8:7-12, he wrote:

However, not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who has knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge, he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

This same principle applies to the consumption of alcohol.

All for the Glory of God

When it comes to Christians and alcohol, here's the bottom line: Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whether we sit down for a meal, enjoy a refreshing drink, or participate in any other action, our ultimate aim should be to reflect God's character, demonstrate His love, and bring Him honor. Cheers to that!
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