Question of the day: “strong drink”

Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest issues that Christians discuss. Christians who are more liberal in their standards are for it, while Christians who are more conservative in their standards are completely against it.

I want to know where you stand… and why.

So here’s the question…

Alcohol.  “Strong drink.”  Wine.  Beer.  Whatever you choose to call it.  Is it an issue for Christians?

Is it okay for Christians to drink “on occasion,” or have a “social drink”?

Is it okay to use alcohol for cooking purposes?  How about for medicinal purposes?

Should churches be using wine when they observe the Lord’s Supper?

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Scripture to support your ideas?

Advertisements

Posted on April 18, 2011, in Question of the Day and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 72 Comments.

  1. I think when Christians want a set of rules to run their life by it always causes problems. What tends to happen is that the rules multiply & you end up with loads more than is actually in the bible. Much better to work with God on becoming the kind of person Jesus, Paul & the other writers encourage us to be.

    But I don’t think there’s much doubt about what the bible says about alcohol. I think to summarise, wine etc is a good thing provided by God, but like a lot of good things they can be misused, so if I think that it’s some kind of ‘answer’ to life then there’s trouble.

    The ‘water into wine’ miracle shows that Jesus had no problems with it as such. I’ve found that people who are not open to discuss the whole thing will say that it wasn’t wine, it was grape juice. There are 2 problems with this. Firstly the word means wine, as we know it today, not grape juice. Without refrigeration any kind of fruit juice goes alcoholic very quickly from the natural yeasts that are present. I know this from making elderberry cordial – within 3 days even in the UK’s less than warm climate it’s turned into pretty strong wine!

    Secondly, John 2:9&10 says “…and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

    So the good stuff that Jesus made was described as what you brought out first and then when people were a bit ‘affected’, you could then get away with the cheap stuff because people could no longer tell!

    This seems like something that in a modern ‘conservative’ setting we might like to avoid talking about, but I think the setting is everything. When people were drinking at a celebration it was a joyous occasion, so the alcohol was just encouraging more celebration. People these days often drink in full awareness that they’re preparing themselves for wrongdoing & behaviours that deep down they know will damage themselves. So it seems to me that going out deliberately to get drunk is like handing over control of my actions to the drink. But in a community setting where something good is being celebrated then it’s a different thing altogether. I think this is why Jesus was OK to help with this.

    But again, as I mentioned earlier, if you want rules in black & white, some of what Jesus did is impossible to put in nice neat boxes. The OT is full of celebrations where God told them to drink wine! God isn’t a kill-joy, but He does tell people how to have a good time together, centered around Him, rather than using it in a destructive selfish way. Interestingly, some friends from a few years ago who’d spent a few years in Israel said that people they spoke to didn’t really get the idea of alcoholism, it just didn’t seem to happen in a culture with healthy ideas about the whole thing.

    • I agree with this. Great comment, Steve.

      I’d also add that there are multiple verses that warn against becoming “drunk.” Similarly to drunkenness, the Bible also warns against being a glutton. In order to be a glutton you have to eat an excessive amount of food; in order to be drunk you have to drink an excessive amount of alcohol. Seems obvious.

      Trying to use the “don’t get drunk” verses to say that God proclaims that any amount of alcohol is evil would be like trying to use the glutton verses to claim that God says eating any amount of food is evil. No one tries to make that argument though, because it’s ridiculous.

      Here are a few verses which mention wine in a positive light: Ecclesiastes 9:7; Psalm 104:15; Amos 9:14; Isaiah 55:1.

  2. I am responding here, but I think that I may write about this on my own blog…so stay tuned (or subscribe, of course). Anyway, the whole issue of “strong drink” has been a big deal hear in the southern parts of the United States. It has been an issue of heated debate since before prohibition. The arguments against the consumption of alcohol, however, are very weak. At best, rules and regulations against drinking wine and beer, etc., are based on a very narrow reading of Scripture.

    Back in the 80’s, I decided to get out my Strong’s concordance and settle this once and for all. At that time, being from a well-meaning, but legalistic home, I was determined to prove from an extensive word study that drinking any form of alcohol was a sin. After several hours of cross-referencing, I began to see that what I had been taught may have been wrong. As a matter of fact, I found out that the “wine” that Jesus made was actually, dare I say…wine – NOT Welche’s grape juice!

    The problem with most arguments against alcohol is that they tend to make the substance sinful, not the usage. Yes, they say that drinking alcohol is sinful; but they also say that alcohol is a sin. I have a real issue with that. Since when was any “thing” a sin? Actions are capable of being sin, not things. For example, after one wedding reception we went to with our children, one of my daughters said, after observing people drinking wine,”That was wrong…those people must not be right with God…they were drinking wine…they’re probably not Christians.” As much as I wanted to agree with her, I couldn’t. You see, I knew some of the people at that reception, and I knew that they were far more godly than me (C.S. Lewis types). So, I figured out a way to explain it to her.

    “Katie,” I asked, “is dirt a sin?” “No,” she said. “Is it a sin to get dirty when you go out to play in your old clothes, like in a dirt pile,” I asked? “No, I don’t guess so,” she replied. Then I asked her, “Well what if your mother told you to go home after church and take off your best dress before you play, but instead you go out and get it dirty? Would that be a sin?” At that point she said, “Yes.” The reason it would be sin is because of the fact that she would have been disobedient. The dirt wasn’t the problem – it was what she did in and with it. It all hinged on the context.

    The Bible says that wine is a “mocker,” but it also says it makes the heart glad. The fool lingers by it all day, but the wise one takes a little for his stomach’s sake. It all depends on the context. Alcohol is “amoral,” meaning it is no different than dirt. “Moral” actions are what we are to be concerned with. Is it foolish for some to drink alcohol? Absolutely. Is it ok for others who do it in moderation with a clear conscience before the Lord? Absolutely. Let us remember that it was God Himself who said unto Peter, “call nothing unclean that I have made clean.”

    I know this is long, and I have other things to say, but my wife and I have errands to run. But before I go, let me just say that I do not think alcohol is something to be played with. It can be serious stuff. I am not endorsing going out and buying a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. To consume it without maturity and restraint will lead to other problems. For that matter, anything done in access is dangerous, such as sex, eating, exercise, etc; but that doesn’t make those things a sin if used or done properly in the right context.

  3. I think it’s fine to drink. The Bible talks about not getting drunk on wine – not having a single glass of wine with dinner. Heck, doctors even tell you that it’s healthy to have a single drink once a day, or every few days. The thing is to not take advantage of the privilege or to abuse it. You need to know your limits and what works for you. Like for me, I’m a light weight so I know that I CANNOT have more than one or two drinks (heck, depending on how strong the drink is, I may have to have 1/2 of a drink!) and then I’m done. Besides, I don’t even like the feeling of being drunk. Not being in control of my body and what I’m doing… I don’t feel comfortable with that. Not fun.

    But beyond that – go for it! Had a long day at work? Go ahead and have a cold one when you get home. Meeting some friends later? Buy yourself a single drink, it’s fine.

    As Steve said in his comment, all things can get abused but even Jesus turned water into wine. Granted… back then that was their main drink. But still. I sincerely doubt Jesus NEVER had a drink EVER. Just as I said before, know your limits.

  4. Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
    Proverbs 23:29-32 “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”
    FIRST MENTION IS NEGATIVE Genesis 9:21 “And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.”

    I believe it is wrong for christians to consume alcohol. Based on what Proverbs says and using the Law of First Mention. In more cases than not, wine, has a negative affect. And i do not believe Christ turned the water into fermented wine, this was supernatural wine. And in verse 4 of John 2, notice in the passage that He is speaking of His death on the cross in connection with wine. We are told that the grape that has “pure blood” is “in the cluster” Isaiah 65:8, and on “the vine” Matthew 26:29. So it could not have been fermented, because Christ’s blood is pure.

    Ephesians 5:18; Titus 1:7; I Peter 4:3

    • I wonder about using a ‘law’ like this to interpret the bible.
      Logically, the reason I would need a law like this would be that I think that the bible says several different & opposing things about a subject & I need do pick one.

      On the other hand, I would say that if there was a need to ‘pick’ and different bits of the bible seem to say, or do say different things, I’d be more inclined to look at Jesus as the authority, as He best interprets the OT.

      I think there are reasons for the NT being more progressive. Culture generally in OT times had loads of things wrong. This wasn’t exclusively limited to ‘other’ tribes. Israel also did things that God didn’t approve of, but He didn’t change everything all at once. For example after Jericho when they fail & it’s because of Achan’s sin, God tells them to sort it out. He doesn’t tell them how. The whole of that region at that time believed in collective responsibility, and so they executed not only Achan, but his family. People see this as God’s idea but it never says that, and later God tells them this is not acceptible. But you can’t change a people or an individual all at once, it’s a gradual process.

      This is a general argument, not particularly about the subject of alcohol. But I think there are a few things to do when reading the bible. One that’s commonly talked about is to read things in context & try to see how the original audience would have understood it. Another is to look at what is actually said, and what isn’t. I try to read from outside of my cultural & traditional ‘filters’. Also, it’s easy to pick a viewpoint I find ‘comfortable’, then emphasise verses that seem to support it & ignore the rest. So these days I like to consider views from various different perspectives to see whther my pre-conceived ideas hold water & really do come from the bible. Jesus used logic & described Himself as the truth, so I expect the bible to be truth & to make sense, albeit truth & sense that I wouldn’t work out on my own.

  5. Most of the comments above say pretty much what we were going to say. None of the four of us drink at all, but that is OUR CHOICE. We just don’t care for it, and we’ve seen it ruin a lot of lives. The Bible does not speak against consuming ANY alcohol, in fact the instructions for some of the Old Testament feasts specifically say it’s fine, and Paul told Timothy the same thing. What the Bible DOES say is not to be DRUNK on wine. There is a difference.

    The church I grew up in said NO alcohol. Like Mr. Baker above, I only learned what the Bible said by studying it. Not that it changed me much – I still didn’t like the stuff.

    There is one difference between Bible times and today that perhaps we should all keep in mind. They had no refrigeration in today’s sense, so they could not keep fruit juice or milk from fermenting or spoiling. We have a lot more options for drinks in today’s society.

    Should churches use wine in communion? We’ve been to churches that did both. It’s a symbolic thing. We don’t think it really matters whether they use wine or grape juice.

  6. The Bible says not to even look at it, why would a Christ bother messing around with it?

    Prov. 23:31-32, “Look not you on the wine when it is red, when it gives his color in the cup, when it moves itself aright.
    32) At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.”

    Whether you can proof-text your way into a Saturday afternoon beer or not, there are too lost folks who thinking drinking is wrong for a Christian to be able to drink and still maintain a “blameless” tesimony.

    Phil. 2:15, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”

  7. Thanks for the post Rick! Good stuff.

  8. Josiah

    A few points of note for you
    Law of first mention is an interesting thing. It cannot be used alone to develop biblical rules as one must use the analogy of Scripture to do so (take Scripture as a whole).
    Gen. 9:20, 21 is the first mention of wine. Here we see that Noah drank too much. Wine isn’t condemned; rather the effects of abuse are condemned.

    Scripture actually speaks favorably of wine. Here is a snippet by Daniel B. Wallace “There are, as well, positive statements about alcoholic beverages: Deut 14:26 implies that it is a good thing to drink wine and strong drink to the Lord: “And you may spend the money for whatever your heart desires, for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household” (NASB). Psalm 4:7 compares joy in the Lord to the abundance of wine; Psalm 104:14-15 credits God as the creator of wine that “makes a man’s heart glad” (cf. also Hos 2:8); honoring the Lord with one’s wealth is rewarded with the blessings of abundant stores of wine (Prov 3:10); love is compared to wine repeatedly in the Song of Songs, as though good wine were similarly sweet (1:2, 4; 4:10; 7:9). The Lord prepares a banquet with “well-aged wines… and fine, well-aged wines” for his people (Isa 25:6) [obviously this cannot be grape juice, for aging does nothing but ferment it!].

    The lack of wine is viewed as a judgment from God (Jer 48:33; Lam 2:12; Hos 2:9; Joel 1:10; Hag 2:16); and, conversely, its provision is viewed as a blessing from the Lord (cf. Gen 27:28; Deut 7:13; 11:14; Joel 2:19, 24; 3:18; Amos 9:13-14). Cf. also Isa 55:1; Jer 31:12; Zech 9:17.” (here is the link to the full article: http://bible.org/article/bible-and-alcohol )

    And you are assuming Christ is referring to His death, but very reputable theologians disagree with you. Take John Gill for example: “mine hour is not yet come: meaning not the hour of his sufferings and death, in which sense he sometimes uses this phrase; as if the hint was, that it was not proper for him to work miracles as yet, lest it should provoke his enemies to seek his life before his time; but rather the time of his public ministry and miracles, which were to go together, and the one to be a proof of the other; though it seems to have a particular regard to the following miracle, the time of doing that was not yet come; the proper juncture, when all fit circumstances meeting together, it would be both the more useful, and the more illustrious: or his meaning is, that his time of doing miracles in public was not yet; and therefore, though he was willing to do this miracle, yet he chose to do it in the most private manner; so that only a few, and not the principal persons at the feast should know it: wherefore the reproof was not so much on the account of the motion itself, as the unseasonableness of it; and so his mother took it.”
    Also the linking of Jesus’ blood being pure to unfermented wine is a logical leap that is completely without premise. Later Jesus equates the kingdom with new and old wine. The new wine (the Kingdom) must go in new wine skins, if you put it in old wine skins then they burst. Do you know why? Fermentation!
    Oh, and Jesus was called a glutton and w drunk because He ate and drank with people. You don’t get drunk off of unfermented wine. There are many more instances, but this should serve to show that you are holding an extra-biblical standard. It iss fine if you wish to hold it, just don’t say it is bible. I do find it interesting that you wish to call wine “wine” when Scripture speaks negatively of it, but want to call wine, “grape juice” when it speaks favorably of it.
    It is no more a sin to drink alcohol in moderation than it is for a man to have sex with his own wife. Sex isn’t a sin, but sex engaged in outside of God’s boundaries is wicked. So it is with alcohol. Scripture is clear that it is a think God says we are to enjoy as it makes our heart glad. Scripture even compares God’s work to the gladdening effects of alcohol. But Scripture is also clear on the abuse of this good gift of God.
    Again, I’m all for you having you having a stance on this that is over and above what Scripture commands, just don’t say it is Scriptures command. As “conservative” is that may seem, one who does this is actually a liberal as they are denying the commands of Scripture.
    And Rick, the word the KJV translates as “look” means to lust or long for. In other words, God isn’t telling us to shut our eyes when we see a glass of wine on TV, God tells us not to long to imbibe ourselves on intoxicating drink. But don’t take my word for it, do the word study yourself. I didn’t believe it either until I did my own footwork.
    God bless you guys as you seek to follow Jesus!

    • That would be a long word study. Quickly, I see that the vast majority of the use of that word is ‘see.’ God ‘saw,’ and it was good, over and over in Genesis. The LORD ‘appeared’ unto Abram, (same word) also in Genesis. Can you give me the references where that word is taken to meant lusting or longed for? I can’t imagine it would mean that in these very few examples.
      Thanks!

  9. “Alcohol. “Strong drink.” Wine. Beer. Whatever you choose to call it. Is it an issue for Christians?”
    Nope.
    “Is it okay for Christians to drink “on occasion,” or have a “social drink”?”
    Yep.
    “Is it okay to use alcohol for cooking purposes? How about for medicinal purposes?”
    Yep. Timothy comes to mind. “Drink no longer water, but drink a little wine for your stomach’s sake…”
    “Should churches be using wine when they observe the Lord’s Supper?”
    Sure.

    Ev-er-y single passage quoted against this (virtually, besides perhaps ones taken out of context) have to do with drunkenness, not with drinking period. Take, for example, these references from Proverbs…

    (Proverbs 20:1 NKJV) – “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

    Led astray? What? In the KJV, it says, “deceived thereby.” Obviously drunkenness.

    (Proverbs 23:29-35 NKJV) – ‘ “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? {30} Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. {31} Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; {32} At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. {33} Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. {34} Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: {35} “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” ‘

    Again, obviously drunkenness. Look at verses thirty-three through thirty-five.

    Christ drunk wine. That makes it quite clear that it’s not evil.

    And, to head some stuff off: I’ve heard, “Well, it was grape juice, non-alcoholic, whatever.” What? There’s no evidence for this. Give grapes a few days in the sun, and, bam, wine, fermented. “They boiled out the alcohol.” They what? “Be not drunk with grape juice, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit”? Drunk with grape juice? Not given to much grape juice? That’s absurd.
    God bless,
    Joel >.
    2 Chronicles 7:14; Romans 5:8.

  10. Personally I won’t because the Bible says “abstain from all appearance of evil”. I take that quite literally and will not do anything that may be a slander upon the name of Christ. So I will not touch an alcoholic beverage (beyond medicinal purposes.)

  11. It is ok to drink. It is even ok to get drunk. It is not ok to deliberately get drunk. So those commercials on TV that tell you to give your keys to someone are morally wrong. This makes the act of drinking to get drunk premeditated.

    The sin is in the excess, but only if you plan to use it to excess. God calls us to be in control at all times.

  12. I am mostly conservative, but I do not believe drinking, in and of itself, is sin. Jesus drank some wine (or else the self-righteous Pharisees would not have called Him a drunkard), and Paul suggested Timothy drink a little wine for medicinal purposes.

    The issue is whether the drinking controls you. If you have a tendency to over do it or are alcoholic, you should not drink. Also, if your conscience bothers you, you should not. But those who understand their freedom in Christ and do not have a problem are free to drink in moderation.

  13. Cool site!… this is a huge debate in the church today. Without creating a huge long comment, I would say that it is wrong to drink. Not only does Scripture say “Do not be drunken with wine, but be filled with the spirit…”, but think of all the things it causes. I would not want to chance getting drunk, hurt someone, or do something that would cause major harm to my body. Just my thoughts on it…

    Very cool site!

    • Whilst I respect your own practices on this, if you say it’s wrong to drink at all you’ll not really help anyone, because if it was wrong, Jesus would not have gone anywhere near, let alone used wine & turned water into wine. I think that a lot of the bible does talk about right & wrong, but we sometimes get confused when we take things that are meant to point out wise/unwise actions & turn them into rights & wrongs.

      For me, the thing with EVERYTHING that is either good or just neutral is that without God it can & generally does become bad & damaging. And also, with God, everything good becomes so much better.

      I hear the argument often that alcohol causes so much damage, but amongst the Christians I know, that just isn’t the case. I see people without God relying on alcohol to sort their problems or to have a good time & it does the opposite. BUT, so does everything else that people rely on if it’s not God. People get a nice husband or wife & think that person will be the answer. But because they’re not God they’re not the answer & it can turn sour.

      I realise that some Christians get into trouble with alcohol, but I think the problem isn’t the alcohol itself, the problem is that they sometimes don’t really like God very much, or they maybe have the label ‘Christian’ but not ‘disciple’ or follower of Jesus. For me, nothing replaces God. Not because He gives me a succesful life in the world’s terms, but because His presence is everything. Love, security, provision, generosity, the list goes on & on. So I don’t even begin to think that I need something else (drink or whatever) more than God, but I can genuinely enjoy stuff, a drink & all the other good things in life because God makes everything fuller & brighter. I think problems with sin often, maybe always, come down to dissatisfaction with God.

  14. I Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
    I Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

    Sometimes taking the high road (in this case total abstinence from alcohol) is the best option.
    As for that “Culture generally in OT times had loads of things wrong” I don’t buy that line. Maybe the “culture” had things wrong, but since when are we letting culture interpret Scripture??? II Tim 3:16 “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is PROFITABLE…” Culture didn’t write the Bible GOD did!

    It wasn’t too long ago in Christianity when sin was preached against with conviction and firmness. It was a given that Christians didn’t smoke, drink, dance, cuss, or carouse. Now Christians are looking more and more like the world everyday. We’re they so wrong 50 years ago??? Are we so much better off in society today for not taking a hard line against alcohol as Christians?

    • When I say that in OT times the culture had things wrong with it I DON’T mean that God told them to do wrong things. I’m not using the ‘culture’ argument where people say that you don’t have to take any notice of things because of different cultures. And I wasn’t letting culture interpret the bible. Sometimes ‘Christian culture’ isn’t biblical either though. There are aprox 60,000 different denominations who all think they’re right to a certain extent.

      What I was saying is that if you look at the OT, the people of God did a lot of things that God told them to change, but He didn’t change it all at once. Like the big one about having more than 1 wife. God doesn’t tell them not to, even though it almost always caused problems. Another example – the way things were before God said ‘an eye for an eye’ was that if someone wronged you, you retaliated ‘bigger’, so God said it had to be fair. But then Jesus takes it further & says love your enemies & do good to them. God has been bringing His people on a journey through history. It’s there to see. God doesn’t change, but as individuals & as cultures we take time to change. That doesn’t mean that when we understand something we say ‘not now’, but we often just don’t get stuff early on that we come to understand later.

      And it’s alright saying that it was better when Christianity was preached with conviction, but conviction isn’t the whole deal. You need to be right about your convictions & you also need to be humble as well. Jesus was humble. He says it about Himself!

      Going back to the alcohol thing, I have a few things that just don’t add up about the hard line of saying it’s wrong. Jesus drank wine. He turned water into wine. If taking the ‘high road’ is the best option, Jesus would have done this. However, there are obviously situations where this would be right. If I have a friend who’s an alcoholic I don’t say “well, I’m going to use my freedom to drink” when that person’s around.

      I’m just looking at your list of smoking, drinking, dancing, bad language & carousing. The thing is, you can’t assume that if someone disagrees with your point of view on one of these that they’re weak on all of them, although some may be. Smoking obviously isn’t a good idea & whilst not directly addressed in the bible is kind of covered by the fact that we’re encouraged to look after our bodies. Drinking, despite some denominations having a tradition saying it’s bad, is all the way through the old & new testament & like someone else said, God actually commanded the Israelites to drink wine or other strong drink at some feast times! So God thought it was a good thing! BUT, it was before Him, not with the idea of doing it whilst hiding from Him. Dancing – I’d not mind if it was wrong as I really don’t enjoy it! But David danced before the Lord & it was his wife who was punished for condemning him for it. Bad language is obviously spoken about as a bad thing in the bible, because what’s behind it is contempt, either for other people or for God. And lewd behaviour is fairly obviously not displaying the characteristicts of God, and Paul says it’s part of the old life. So I’m saying that instead of looking at the old days as being better lets look at what God actually does say & do it now, but it won’t happen without focusing our lives on God & His goodness & love. We need His life to have any power to life in a way that attracts people to Him like the NT believers did.

      But I think the really serious point is that trying to make good people by trying to make them follow rules just doesn’t work. It never has.

      That’s why the most important commandment is to love God with my heart, mind & soul, and my neighbour as myself, because if I do this I won’t have a problem pleasing God in any other area. But if I try to order my life by following a set of rules I will not become a person who loves God & others. I know this because Jesus says it, but I also know it in my own life, and I also know that the churches I’ve been in which liked rules the most also had the nastiest people.

      You may think that ‘nice’ Christians will be soft on sin, but no. The people who best reflect God’s love have always been the people who have best helped others to escape sin & who bring God’s love into lives the best.

      So, apologies if I wasn’t clear, but I genuinely do believe that we need to find out what the bible says & do it. I’m also open to change my beliefs because otherwise I wouldn’t be a disciple, a learner. Jesus teaches truth, and we should always be aware that we have a huge amount to learn, but when I learn something new from Jesus, or from anything in the bible, it always makes sense, whereas church traditions don’t always make sense.

      Anyway, I think I’ve said plenty on this, so I’m gonna shut up now & leave it to others!

  15. I’d like to start drinking, can someone tell me how I can know how much I can have before being under any type of influence, without getting drunk and sinning? This way I’ll know for the future, but won’t have to sin to find out.
    Thanks!

    • I assume this comment is facetious, but I’ll answer anyway: It’s the same as any other thing you should have in moderation. How much food can you have before you become a glutton?

      • That’s not very clear, especially coupled with another question… but I’ll answer anyway (that one’s easy): until it come out at your nostrils! Numbers 11:20.

        • Don’t drink enough alcohol to become a drunk; Don’t eat enough food to become a glutton. Same principle. It would be a little silly to assume that an exact unit of measurement could be applied to either, since it will obviously vary from person to person.

  16. @JessB: “It wasn’t too long ago in Christianity when sin was preached against with conviction and firmness. It was a given that Christians didn’t smoke, drink, dance, cuss, or carouse. Now Christians are looking more and more like the world everyday. We’re they so wrong 50 years ago??? Are we so much better off in society today for not taking a hard line against alcohol as Christians?”
    Smoking, swearing, and general rowdiness can all be destroyed from the Scriptures. Drinking (in moderation, mind you. A certain amount of wine, for example, can even be good for you) and dancing cannot be.

  17. Love you guys, really (especially Heather for her blog), but I truly believe it all comes down to two words, maybe three: legalism, grace, and freedom. Throw in another for good measure – maturity.

    Grow Up! Learn the difference between liberty and license. At one point we were under a “schoolmaster” called the Law. Now, we are free in Christ and should act mature in our walk, having the law written on our hearts. You are free to do what is prudent and wise, in good conscience before the Lord, as long as it is in faith. Feel it is wrong to consume alcohol, then don’t. If YOU do, it will be sin. Personally, I believe that I have the same freedom Paul writes of many times. Regardless, whether you choose to consume or not, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink…” (Col. 2). And furthermore, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”

    • The problem with that, brother, is that people wear out their consciences like an old tire. If the Bible says we should stay away from the appearance of evil, that’s really all there is to it.

      • The problem with using 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to claim that Christians should avoid not only evil, but even the *appearance* of evil is that it’s subjective to the reader’s opinion of what looks evil. Essentially there’s no end to the amount of things that could be condemned by using this verse in that fashion.

        The Greek word, “eidos,” which is used in 1 Th 5:22 and translated in the KJV as “appearance,” actually has two definitions. One definition is “physical appearance” and the other is “form or kind.” The second definition would have the passage read “abstain from every form of evil,” which is a concept that is also repeated elsewhere in scripture. Given the fact that there are numerous verses which support the (moderated) consumption of alcohol, it would be a contradiction if 1 Th 5:22 actually meant Christians should avoid anything that could even be associated with evil.

        • Thank you, Rechtendesign, of clearly illustrating why one shouldn’t tamper with the word of God as you just did by going to the Greek. You’ve effectively neutered one of the most important verses in the Bible on maintaining a Christian testimony to the outside world.

          Wonderful!

          Fortunately, we don’t have to go to the Greek to know what the word of God says and teaches:

          It is a common thread throughout Scripture that Christians, regardless of their situations, are supposed to maintain a good testimony and to appear blameless and unspotted to the outside world. You do not need a Greek lexicon to prove this, all one has to do is look up the following verses:

          James. 1:27
          I Tim. 5:7
          Matt. 5:16
          I Cor. 9:21
          Col. 4:5
          I Thess. 4:12
          I Tim. 3:7

          The best and most reliable way of interpreting Scripture is with Scripture. Timothy had the Scriptures, according to II Tim. 3:15, and what he had was copies of copies of copies that were probably translated into his own language – we have the Scriptures too today in English.

          The Bible is the Bible, lexicons are not the Bible.

          Back to drinking.

          Drinking is associated with sin. Just like smoking and gambling is. When you partake in these activities, as a Christian, you are associating yourself with sort of stuff. The Bible commands us to be blameless, clean, unspotted, and maintain good testimonies in front of a lost world.

          I’m so sorry everyone, but in our society today you can’t witness to someone while holding a martini in one hand and a cigarette in other in the middle of a casino! These are not “kinda-sorta things” – these are things that are have definite sinful connotations to them in the eyes of the lost and need to be avoided by Christians.

          • Oh the typos kill me… from now I’m writing in a word processor and cut and pasting over….

            My book doesn’t have typos like this, I promise, I had it looked at by five proof readers…. 🙂

          • I’ve tampered with the word of God by going to the original text? What an absolutely ridiculous statement. The only thing I’ve neutered is your dogmatic misinterpretation of the scripture.

            Whenever you use a dictionary, included with the English definition you’ll also find the root word, typically in Latin. The reason the root words are there is so you can have a better understanding of the definitions based on the source language.

            Similarly, the reason we go to the original language(s) that the Bible was written in, is so we can have a better understanding of the Word. The only reason I can see for someone wishing to remain ignorant of a better understanding is because they wish to push their own personal doctrine above that which is actually contained in the scriptures.

            Nowhere did I support the idea that Christians shouldn’t maintaining a good testimony. The only reason you think I did is because you’ve fabricated extra-Biblical requirements for a good testimony.

            Your way of thinking presents a false dilemma, which is this:

            a.) You don’t drink any amount alcohol and maintain a good testimony.
            OR
            b.) You drink any amount of alcohol and ruin your testimony.

            This is a logically fallacious argument as it ignores the possibility of other options and demands an either/or scenario. Thankfully, according to the *numerous* scriptures that have been posted in this thread (many by Daniel Pullman and Pete A.) it is possible to drink alcohol in moderation and maintain a good, Christian testimony.

            Jesus Himself associated with the world and drank wine, as you can plainly see in Luke 7:34, and was accused by the Pharisees as being “a gluttonous man, and a winebibber.” (KJV) According to your own standards this would mean that Jesus maintained a poor testimony. Are you suggesting that we need to be better than Jesus Himself?

  18. Aside from the fact the Jesus was clearly a single malt man, does anyone else think that sometimes we make arguments about what it is ok for Christians to do bigger than loving the lost and partaking with Christ in His redemptive work for the world?

    Some of us see no problem with alcohol, some of us do – I don’t care. But I do care that there are literally millions of people who are not responding to Jesus and part of the reason is they see us arguing about things that seem stupid to them, like whether its ok to have a glass of wine/beer or a cheeky nip of whiskey.

    I’m all for debate in a healthy and grace filled manner, but do we spend as much time doing the things the Bible tells us too?

    • Nick, your last sentence is absolutely right. So often churches get arguing about rules like this and forget about loving God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving their neighbors as they love themselves (or, as John said several times in chapter 13, loving each other as much as Jesus loves us).

      That love for others doesn’t mean just having a mushy good feeling. The Bible equates that love with helping meet their needs. Not just spiritually, but materially too. Jesus said “as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” THAT’s what we need to be focusing on – loving God and loving our neighbors.

      And we ought to be building each other up instead of fighting with each other. The Bible says “let love be your guide,” but so few of us do that! We need to remember we’re one body in Christ. (Read Romans 14 and 15, and also 1 Corinthians 1:10 and 3:1-4, where Paul speaks strongly about the need for unity in the body.

    • Nick, one of the reasons people don’t get saved is because lost people do not see anything righteous in modern Christianity. It is a biblical command to have a clean and blameless lifestyle in the eyes of the world, and to be separate from the world. God doesn’t call us to be monks, but He calls us to be holy to them that are without.

      Lost people desperately want to see something different in Christians. They want to see joy during tribulations and love amongst each other, but it doesn’t stop there. The words “righteous” and “holy” and “clean” are in the Bible, and God means for us to maintain standards of what is right before the world. You can let your light shine if the glass is dirty.

      The doctrine of separation is a clear cut doctrine in the Bible.

      • You are right, but the Bible also allows for our inevitable slips ups and failings to maintain these standards. If it didn’t there would be no need for the cross.

        We can be monks without physically separating ourselves from society, but I would also say that another reason people don’t get saved is because they don’t see Jesus through us but instead a bunch of judgemental, small minded people more concerned with ‘getting it right’ than love. To me that is a massive misrepresentation of Jesus.

        I think Jesus has more patience with people than we do.

        Is it a Biblical command to argue with other Christians and show them the errors of their ways while doing nothing to reach a dying world? That doesn’t seem to line up with the great commission to me. We are to make disciples. And that takes time, honesty and patience. We show the world we are different by the way we respond to the knocks and tribulations of life so that they may have hope, this is incarnation – the model God Himself used.

  19. If consuming any alcohol is a sin, why did Jesus help keep a wedding party going with it, then?

    I always find it funny when some people pride themselves on the fact they have never let ‘Satan’s Juice’ touch their lips, but then they have a problem of going to McDonald’s 3+ times a week.

    Alcohol may not be the best for your body, but neither are french fries.

    Anywho – I’m fine alcohol. Just do it responsibly, and don’t drink around someone who struggles with alcoholism. Romans 14!

  20. To Nick (and everyone else),
    Totally agree, but with one qualifier. The reason things like this need to be addressed every now and then is because of the age-old problem of legalism. Just as there are plenty dying in the darkness of sin, there are plenty living and dying under the bondage and false security of legalism. Because of legalism, many are still trying to live under the law leading others to return to bondage. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1).

  21. @Brookyln: “I always find it funny when some people pride themselves on the fact they have never let ‘Satan’s Juice’ touch their lips, but then they have a problem of going to McDonald’s 3+ times a week.

    Alcohol may not be the best for your body, but neither are french fries.”
    Agreed, it’s hypocritical (I’m not sure if any alcohol besides wine has health benefits). I also find the people who will trumpet that smoking is wrong – and so it is, it’s morbid for your health – yet will never exercise, and basically abuse their bodies through their eating habits.
    @A.C. Baker: “The reason things like this need to be addressed every now and then is because of the age-old problem of legalism.”
    Sir, may I ask what your definition of the word “Legalism” is?

    • Ahh! Now’s the time I get to plug my blog, right? I have written a lot on the issue of legalism. It is not about trying to live a holy, sanctified life, though. Just go to TheRecoveringLegalist.com for an in-depth treatment of legalism. I used to be one, you know.

      • Yes sir, I’ve looked some at your blog. Thank you for the recommendation. From what I have seen, your definition does not pertain only to works-righteousness; it also pertains to what you would consider un-Biblical standards.

        Am I correct, or incorrect?

        Thanks for your time. God bless.

        • Yes, you are correct. I do address unbiblical and/or man-made standards. Strictly speaking, a legalist judges one’s own or another’s spirituality or salvation on standards apart from the work of Christ received by faith. I firmly believe in living a holy life that abhors worldliness. I am anything but liberal, believe me. But in
          relation to this subject (alcohol), the danger presented by legalism
          is the tendency to judge another’s walk with Christ as defficient, if that person interprets this differently. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I try to “rightly divide the word of truth.” How to live godly in a fallen world can be more difficult and take a little more wisdom than just living by a list of do’s and don’ts. Like one writer put it, “grace can be scandalous.”

  22. Alex Madlinger

    We don’t have any reason to believe that Jesus turned the water into anything but alcoholic wine. So that’s where I have to stand on the issue. Afterward I realized that if examined carefully, all–or at least a lot–of admonitions against alcohol were warnings against addiction. I think the KJV says that bishops should not be “given to much wine.” That said, I’m 20 so I’ve only tasted wine once or twice (and I think one of those times was at an Anglican Eucharist :D) and my girlfriend doesn’t like the idea of drinking. So there’s a high likelihood that I won’t.

  23. God has given us all things for good: however, they can be misused, and almost always are.

    There’s no doubt that people abuse alcohol on a regular basis. However:

    “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.” – Psalms 104:15

    Christ not only does not forbid wine, he commands us to “drink in remembrance” of Him

    The “Law of First Mention” is not a strike against, because it does not say that Noah became violent or sinful because of his drinking. He was in his tent. Maybe he was taking a nap (this is likely). He very well could have been sinning, but we are not told this.

    Just because unfaithful men use God’s gifts in sinful ways does not preclude us from using those gifts for His glory.
    Anything in excess is bad. Anything.

    Therefore, if you are the kind of person who wouldn’t be able to control yourself, you shouldn’t drink. That simple. If you know your limits and are mature, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a cold one now and then.

    The problem with the teetotalers view is that it relegates sin to the circumstances, not to the heart. You say, the wine is evil. Well, the wine is neither good nor bad, it’s how *you* use it. Americans especially have a tendency to blame our surroundings (even Christians) and not take blame for what is our own problem.
    We want to say that it is not our fault we can’t control our drinking: we want to say it’s the alcohol that’s sinful, and not our attitude towards it.

    I like all the comparisons to gluttony in the preceding comments…because it’s EXACTLY the same situation.

  24. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness in both Steve’s and A.C. Baker’s well-reasoned comments. I too was raised in a legalistic home, church, and school. My conclusion; Christians love rules that replace thought and prayer. We are by nature lazy, and if a rule makes us feel safe, we don’t feel the need to seek God’s will in working out our own salvation through fear and trembling. We want someone to tell us what to think, what to wear, how to speak, and what to believe; it makes us feel secure. We would rather obey a set of rules, and call that spiritual, instead of developing a relationship with God by submitting our heart, mind, will, and spirit to God’s will.

    Obeying a rule does not require a submissive heart, only obedience. Obeying God requires nothing less full submission of our entire self – something that most of us are not willing to do.

  25. From Joel – “What Biblical support do you have for legalism being something besides just belief in works-salvation?”

    Without going into much detail, would Romans 14 not be good enough support? Paul was not addressing salvific issues, but issues of liberty, conscience, and judging another’s servant. The issues here specifically were of food, drink, and holy days. The overarching principle to be learned was that we belong to the Lord, and answer to Him; therefore, don’t willingly offend, but do everything to edify the body, especially the weaker ones. I would say that all that has nothing really to do with salvation through works.

    Those who are classically “legalistic” in the broad sense of the term fall into the category of those referenced in Rom. 14:1, 4, and 10. They judge another’s standing before Christ, which is not their place. I used to be like this. I did not believe that works save, but certain works, habits, and actions show outwardly one’s personal relationship with Christ. Aside from whatever truth there is in that, it turns into legalism the moment I do things like make a judgment based on my own standard of what is righteous or indicative of holiness. For instance, I used to think that anyone who had a TV in their house or went to a restaurant that sold alcohol was out of God’s will, and therefore should not be associated with (“doctrine of separation” – which I have written about). The fact was that I was the one being self-righteous and thinking my lack of sinful activities made me more “holy” than my neighbor. I was a pharisee.

    • Here is something I wrote on my blog. It is called “Why be a Legalist?”
      http://therecoveringlegalist.com/2011/01/15/why-be-a-legalist/

      • Thank you for the article, sir.

        “Without going into much detail, would Romans 14 not be good enough support?”
        I don’t see why, no.

        • Ok, so I am as curious as a cat…what do YOU call it when we do the following:

          Visitor walks into evening service late, unkempt, and happens to be a woman wearing pants…we say, “Maam, this is a house of worship, so you need to leave.”

          One church is having a movie night on Saturday, but on Sunday another pastor condemns it as worldly.

          Man works 2 jobs, goes to Bible school, leads choir, teaches Sunday school, attends visitation weekly, but shows up late to a men’s meeting once and is too busy too get his hair trimmed off his ears one week…pastor tells him, “Bro Baker, if you can’t be more faithful, you may need to resign.” – that happened to my dad.

          Six pastors (me included) from our community come together to cry out to God to bring revival to our community…one is church of God…two are Presbyterian…3 are Southern Baptist…but the IFB pastor continually refuses because he can’t associate with pastors not IFB.

          I could go on and on until I used up Heather’s bandwidth. I call these examples of legalism in the church. What do you call it?

          • I normally don’t get involved in the QOTD discussions (my reasons are stated here), but I just have a couple thoughts.
            Legalism is when something is added to the doctrine of salvation – whether to get saved or to stay saved. With that being said, none of the examples you provided in your comment fit that mold.

            For your first three examples, keep in mind that (just like the Tina Anderson story), you cannot clump ALL IFB churches into one lump sum. They are all different.

            I am in IFB, and my church has *never* asked a lady in pants to leave the church/service. On the contrary, we encourage men/women/children of all walks of life to come to our services. We purposefully have a bus ministry just for that reason – to go into the neighborhoods and compell the overlooked, forgotten, and (in some cases) the unlovely to come to church and learn about the Lord.

            In regards to your father – that just doesn’t make sense to me that a pastor would say something like that to such a faithful, hardworking member. I’m sorry that that happened to your father though.

            In regards to your last point – that one actually makes a little bit of sense to me… currently my only reasoning is based on Amos 3:3. However, Matthew 18:20 also has something to say about it too. It’s not about a particular denomination tag… it’s about who is or is not following the truth of God’s Word.

            Is there a difference between Church of God and Church of Christ?

          • Thank you for your thoughts, Heather.

            So, if my understanding of legalism is incorrect, would someone give me a better definition for trying to live by man-made, cultural standards and judging a non-complier as “spiritually immature,” “backslidden,” or simply “not right with God?”

            Secondly, I don’t lump all IFB churches together. But I have seen it done several times – making people leave, that is. But I am also sure it happens at the country club.

            Thirdly (in order to keep things numbered), there is, I believe, a HUGE difference between church of Christ and Church of God. But I will tell you this, there is also a huge difference between most Baptist churches, IFB or otherwise, and Westborough Baptist (protests funerals of soldiers). If I can’t pray with a true fellow-believer on behalf of the lost, despite our eschetalogical (sp) differences, then I might as well never go to another family reunion, much less a church business meeting.

            Not all differences between denominations should be reason for total separation. Now, when a denomination says, “If you belong to another denomination your are apostate,” then we have serious problems (Church of Christ). But with people like God-fearing baptists and Presbyterians, i would rather see Arminians and Calvinists praying together than shooting each
            other down in front of a watching world.

            Still friends?

          • I would call it every one of the terms you described it above. I don’t think there’s one set word for it. However, calling it “legalism” is not accurate.

            I only asked about Church of God/Church of Christ because I did not know if there was a difference or not.

            Absolutely still friends. :]

          • From the standard of a modern dictionary, ‘legalism’ would be correct, and your average Joe would generally understand; but from a Biblical standpoint Heather’s definition is more accurate in lieu of the book of Galatians, and historically. The word you’re looking for, and which would still be in accord with a modern dictionary and the Bible, i believe would be ‘pharisaical.’ Does that work for you?

          • Being ridiculous/Having stupid standards=/=Legalism. Just being ridiculous/having stupid standards.

            Legalism=Salvation by works. See Galatians.

        • This comment isn’t targeted at anyone specific, but I think it’s really ironic that even the interpretation of “legalism” is under debate.

          Since a a legalist is never going to admit to being one, I guess it makes sense that they’d have to have another definition of the word that’s contrary to the commonly understood definition (not unlike many of their viewpoints).

          Galatians is used as support for the ‘Biblical definition’ of legalism … but where is the word ‘legalism’ mentioned in Galatians? It’s not, because the word was coined in the 1830s. This turns into a debate of semantics.

  26. Here’s a thought. There’s been a lot mentioned in this discussion about rules, attitudes, what’s in the heart that counts, loving God, legalism, etc. I’m not going to give all the quotes because you can read through the comment thread and see them. Anyhow, I totally agree that our heart attitude is what matters most. However… (and this is my thought), if our heart is right with the Lord, if we love Him with all our mind, soul, and strength, and if our desire is to spread that love to others; then where is the problem in keeping the rules (the Bible calls them commands) when it was Jesus who gave us the rules???

    Maybe that’s off topic, but I only mention it because “rules” were mentioned in previous comments.
    John 14:15:” If ye LOVE me KEEP my COMMANDMENTS”

    • Hi JessB,

      Keeping God’s commandments is indeed one of the important ways we love God, along with worship, prayer, meditation, and so forth. And I don’t think many of us who’ve commented here disagree with that. Speaking only of the church I grew up in (the one I’ve mentioned that convinced me atheism has missed the boat) I began by accepting whatever it taught.

      But when I began studying the Bible for myself, I quickly found that many of the practices it taught just weren’t there. The chukch had added various pastors’ ideas, not those of Jesus or any Biblical writers.

      Just as important, my church had left out many things the Bible DID teach, like the very important ways it teaches we’re supposed to love and help our neighbors. Believe me, it was a shock to learn that several Old Testament prophets compare us to Sodom and Gomorrah when we don’t help the poor, widows, orphans, and immigrants, or make sure everyone can get justice. In fact, although I valued the Bible above all other books, I found to my surprise and dismay that my “flesh” wanted strongly to keep accepting my church’s views no matter what the Bible said. Human psychology, I guess. But eventually my belief in the Bible did win and I came to accept its views instead of my own church’s. The point is, choosing the Bible over my own tradition wasn’t easy. It was very hard. I don’t expect it’ll be easy for a lot of you either.

      Today I’m a Bible follower, to the best of my imperfect ability. And since Jesus was neither a liberal nor a conservative, neither am I. (Notice all the fights both the liberals and conservatives had with him? It both disturbed and amused me when I got curious and counted the number of Bible verses that recorded those fights – and to find that nearly eight times as many verses recorded his disagreements with the conservatives (Pharisees) as with the liberals (Sadducees).

      Between the additions and the omissions, there were many ways my very-conservative church wasn’t teaching the Bible at all, mixed in with many others in which it was. That’s dangerous. Obeying what God says is one thing. Obeying the “extras” we throw in is another. That one doesn’t help our spirituality, and in fact can hurt people. We’ve known people who were driven away from the church by those “extras.”

  27. Pete A.
    I agree. The Bible is # 1 in all matters of faith and practice. However, I think in relation to alcohol (getting back to the subject here), many have tried to find a loop-hole in the Bible to allow them to drink alcoholic beverages without feeling any guilt. Here’s a few reasons I believe in total abstinence from alcohol with Scripture to back them up.
    1. Nothing good comes from the consumption of alcohol. Romans 12:9 “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

    2. Alcohol is a huge stumbling block. Romans 14:21 “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” This verse is saying don’t do it EVER if it makes someone stumble. Is it a risk worth taking?

    3. While some may argue that moderation is allowable by Scripture then we need a Scriptural definition for moderation. I’ve yet to see one. However, the law states you must be 19 to drink, and a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08 impairs you while driving (these are the regulations in Ontario, Canada. They do vary). 0.08 is not very much!

    4. Consumption of alcohol does not edify my brother. I Cor. 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

    5. The supposed health benefits of alcohol really aren’t that great.
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcohol/SC00024

    6. Alcohol causes many serious health problems. This is vastly documented and easily verifiable.
    I Cor 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    6. Studies have proven over and over that alcohol destroys homes, ruins lives, causes health problems, and even causes death. Isaiah 5:20 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”

    7. Alcohol does not help, assist or make us better demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. Cross reference Eph. 5:18 with Gal. 5:22.

    7. Alcohol is a mind altering substance; food is not. Comparing it with what the Bible says about gluttony is like comparing apples to oranges. Faulty logic.

    8. References to alcohol in the Bible are most often negative and not positive. We must not allow more obscure passages of Scripture to shape our interpretation of the obvious. This is poor hermeneutics.

    From what I’ve read on this thread, I know many will disagree with me on these points. That’s OK. The Bible calls us to be holy, set apart people unto the Lord. That means there are certain things in the world we should avoid simply because we’re Christians whether we like it or not. I Peter 2:9.

    • “7. Alcohol is a mind altering substance; food is not.”

      This simply isn’t true. Various kinds of food affect different pleasure centers of the brain due to their chemical makeups. Here’s a link to check out: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/28/fatty.foods.brain/index.html

      Just because the superficial effects of alcohol vs. food aren’t a 1:1 comparison superficially, it doesn’t mean similarities don’t exist.

    • Well, honestly, I have a friendly response to each one of your points, but I have spent so much time on this and the translation thread that I haven’t even posted on my own blog (I’m jealous, Heather).

      I’ll just end with this…smoke if you got’em…oops, now I’ve started something else!! 😉

      Blessings and grace be to you all in the magnificent name of Jesus. It’s been fun debating, but I’ve got a family to feed and a pulpit to whack on.

    • Hi again JessB.

      We agree with you about drinking in almost every way. If you read my first blog above, you’ll see that neither I nor any member of my family drinks – and for many of the reasons you cite. A few examples:

      A few years ago our next-apartment neighbor (usually a very nice guy) went out to have a few beers with his buddies. When he came home, he started hitting his wife and throwing her against the wall. It sounded terrible. My son called the police. Then, before the judge could release him, we helped his wife pack and leave town with her small twin girls.

      Working at the hospital here, I saw many similar things. Every year we saw close to 100 patients (and this is a small town) who tried to commit suicide because of some combination of alcohol and drugs – most often both.

      And it doesn’t always take much. About 10 or 12 years ago we happened to stay overnight in Elko, Nevada, on our wedding anniversary. I took my wife out to eat at a local restaurant. Unknown to us (or the manager), someone had “spiked” the salad we chose with alcohol instead of salad dressing. I kid you not, after FOUR FORKFULS of salad my wife was “under the table” drunk. We still kid her about it. (The manager was good about it. When I told him, he apologized and immediately pulled the salad.)

      But even though we don’t drink, we do try to be as fully honest as we can about what the Bible says (or doesn’t). That’s the reason for what we said in our other comments above. Daniel Pulliam’s comment above gave the most detailed account I’ve ever seen as to what God actually says about alcohol in the Bible. And, despite our own strong feelings against strong drink, he’s right. Scripture does condemn getting drunk, but not only allows some drinking, but OFTEN calls it a blessing. No, I don’t look at it that way personally, and neither does my family. But we do think it’s vital to be honest before God, and to recognize what he says or doesn’t say, and to neither add to it nor take away from it.

      Blessings.

  28. Hey Pete A.
    Wow, those are crazy stories! I greatly appreciate your personal stance on this issue. However, I have a hard time with thinking God would say alcohol is a blessing when, as you have so clearly and effectively shown, it causes so much heartache and harm??? It causes people to become involved in terrible wickedness and sin, and do things they wouldn’t normally do. It just doesn’t reconcile with God being holy, righteous, perfect, good, loving, etc. At least it doesn’t with me. I know this discussion is getting long, but perhaps you could elaborate with some Scripture???

    • Hi again JessB,

      First off, I think that we need to again deal with the distinction between drinking wine, and getting “drunk on wine” – fine as that line may be at times. The Bible refers to wine itself as a positive thing; yet speaks repeatedly and strongly against drunkeness. And it is the DRUNKENESS that causes harm.

      Below are a few verses that refer to wine in a positive light:
      (And re-read Daniel Pulliam’s comment above – he has a good mix of scriptures there.)

      Psalms 104:14-15 – You cause grass to grow for the cattle. You cause plants to grow for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth – wine to make them glad, olive oil as lotion for their skin, and bread to give them strength.

      Proverbs 3:9-10 – Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with the finest wine.

      Isaiah 25:6 – In Jerusalem, the Lord Almighty will spread a wonderful feast for everyone around the world. It will be a delicious feast of good food, with clear, well-aged wine and choice beef.

      Deueronomy 14 covers bringing the tithe to God, something that the Israelites were commanded to do every year at harvestime (see verses 22-29 for the full passage).
      Verse 26: When you arrive, use the money to buy anything you want – an ox, a sheep, some wine, or beer. Then feast there in the presence of the Lord your God and celebrate with your household.

      Proverbs 31 talks about a ‘wife of Noble Character’. Verse 14 says: She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. (We all know that a vineyard produces wine – yet this passage clearly treats her planting a vineyard as a positive thing.)

      The Bible takes no quarrel with the use of wine during celebrations and feasts – otherwise God would not have commanded the Israelites to ‘feast before’ Him every year. Nor would Jesus have turned water into wine for the wedding feast.

      The Bible also speaks about the medicinal use of wine.

      In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul tells Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach.

      Proverbs 31:6-7 – Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

      Jesus himself drank wine – something the Pharisees jumped all over him for. (Luke 7:33 – For John the Baptist didn’t drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, ‘He’s demon possessed.’ And I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!’)

      Where we run into trouble is in overdoing it. Getting DRUNK causes all sorts of problems, and the Bible deals very strongly with that – especially if it becomes habitual. (And we need to keep in mind that each person handles alcohol differently, and people have different tolerance levels. For some, having a glass of wine with dinner will have very little effect; while the same single glass of wine may put another person “under the table”.)

      Romans 13:13 – We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don’t participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy.

      Ephesians 5:18 – Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. (Notice that Paul didn’t say don’t DRINK wine; he said ‘Don’t BE DRUNK WITH WINE.’)

      In Romans 14, Paul talks about respecting each others beliefs. He has quite a lot to say about tolerance and unity in the Body of Christ – about building each other up, and not causing each other to stumble. Paul says clearly that eating certain foods, or drinking wine, are not harmful in and of themselves – but that we should not allow it to become a stumbling block for others, or to criticize another believer who has a different opinion than we do.

      Romans 13:3-4 – Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.

      Romans 14:14 – I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.

      Romans 14:21-23 – Don’t eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble. You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn’t eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

      In these verses Paul was talking primarily about food that had been sacrificed to idols, though he also mentions drinking wine. (However, these verses also apply to to just about any doctrinal difference. We are to strive for unity in the Body of Christ, and we are to support each other and build each other up. Period.) In other words, those of us who do not believe in drinking any alcohol, should not look down on those who think it’s okay. And vice versa.

  29. I don’t usually chime in on these discussions simply because of the time it eats up…but I had to comment on the post by Nick Comporone:

    “I’d like to start drinking, can someone tell me how I can know how much I can have before being under any type of influence, without getting drunk and sinning? This way I’ll know for the future, but won’t have to sin to find out.
    Thanks!”

    That hits the nail on the head. If we don’t know the absolute answer to how much is too much…why even start? Why go down a path that is “generally bad” instead of generally good? We know all about the horrible things that alcohol does…why haven’t I heard of any positive things? Seriously? Health benefits? Is that the only pro? Can we not better benefit from a good workout, rather than run the risk of all of the cons?

    This is strictly looking at the matter from a non-spiritual/non-biblical position. Honestly, look back 100 years – true believers didn’t smoke, drink, dance, wear immodest clothing or sleep around. And this is what the unbelieving world expected of a christian! They expected to see a difference! Do we really think that unbelievers today are any different? No. Ask an unsaved person what they think a christian would refrain from…they’ll probably answer the same way. Why? Because God’s Word hasn’t changed.

    • Just a thought but we expect to develop self control worth any amount of salt if it’s not put to the test? I’m not saying we should deliberately put ourselves in temptations way but I don’t think shutting ourselves off is the answer either.

      I’m not sure we need to bubble wrap Christianity and make it ‘safe’, I think Jesus can handle it.

      As an aside I’ve seen people abuse and misuse the Bible and damage themselves and others. In fact if you asked people outside of Christianity some of them would see the Bible as more damaging than alcohol!

  30. I’d love to see some support for complete abstinence from alcohol that doesn’t rely entirely on an assortment of false dichotomies and other logical fallacies.

    Why is it so difficult for people to say, “I have a personal conviction against drinking alcohol, so I’m not going to do it.”? Why the need to twist scripture around and try to inject it with personal opinions and then try to enforce it on everyone else as if it’s God’s word? I think trying to pass things off as God’s word which aren’t is a way scarier problem than Christians having a glass of wine and not getting drunk.

    I drink alcohol occasionally and have never been drunk, the same goes for my wife. The idea that there’s this sudden, indeterminate point where you’re instantly blackout drunk, have no bodily control and no inhibitions is completely absurd. It’s a concept bred from ignorance and is a strawman created to perpetuate the fallacious idea that any amount of alcohol is extremely dangerous. The danger is in the excess and it’s no harder to figure out where that ‘excess point’ is than it is to know that you probably shouldn’t eat an entire bottle of vitamins…

  1. Pingback: Happy {1 year} Blogiversary! « Grow Up!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: