Thursday 29 January 2015

Christians and Drinking Alcohol

Explaining a Few Things From the Bible

by Rev Dr B Ward Powers


It is very widely accepted by responsible members of our society that while “binge drinking” and drunkenness is a bad thing, the drinking of alcohol is a pleasure to be enjoyed: it is only the excess that is wrong. And there are many Christian who would agree with this. For some Christians, drinking wine, beer, or whatever you like, is such a normal part of life that it really does not need any justification. But other commentators have thought about it care­fully, and have concluded that there are five good reasons for accepting that we are free to enjoy alcohol in moderation - reasons (they maintain) all based on the Bible. A Christian who upholds his “freedom to choose to drink” may tell you: “How, in the light of these Bible teachings, could anyone possibly contend that alcohol is something a Christian should avoid?”
But there are solid grounds for recognizing that these “five biblical reasons” are actually in error: these five assertions are based on a misunderstanding and wrong interpretation of the Bible. The real facts are not what these assertions claim them to be. Indeed, there is good reason to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages of any kind, even in (so-called) “moderation”.
What are these “five biblical reasons” which are said to endorse the drinking of alcohol, and thus to grant us the “freedom” to be a drinker today? And on what grounds could these biblical reasons be called into question, and held to be mistaken? If we wish to be “biblical Christians” in this matter, we should certainly give these five reasons our thoughtful consideration.


1. The Bible specifically approves the drinking of alcohol, for wine is said to be one of God’s good gifts to us, for our enjoyment: only excess is condemned.
2. The term “wine” in the Bible is obviously referring to alcoholic wine, for it is drunk all year round and clearly grapes and grape juice would not keep unfermented all year round. (Thus the wine at Passover must be fermented, as this feast falls so long after the grape harvest.)
3. In the New Testament, Jesus himself is described as a wine drinker - in this, he is giving us his own example.
4. There cannot be anything wrong with our indulging in drinking alcohol seeing that Jesus miraculously supplied a huge amount of it for a wedding feast.
5. Jesus chose alcoholic wine to represent his blood in the celebrating of the Holy Comm­union, the Lord’s Supper.
These five assertions seem at first glance to present a pretty impressive case for accepting the drinking of alcohol, drawn as they are from both Old Testament and New, from precept and practice and circumstance. But do they really stand investigation?


This article examines and assesses the biblical evidence that is claimed to support drinking of alcohol if in moderation. It shows that the conclusion approving “moderate” drinking is based on a misunderstanding and wrong interpretation of the Bible. The real facts are rather different.
The article sets out, to the contrary, good reasons to abstain from alcohol altogether.

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