Monday, October 27, 2008

Drinking Alcohol as a Christian

This past week I had a good Bible study with a brother at another congregation who wanted to study alcohol and the Christian. A couple of years ago as a new Christian, he had been offered a drink at a church member's house. He questioned whether it was right and was told it's no problem by his Christian host.

What does the Bible say about alcohol and our intake of it? I can't completely outline the arguments against a Christian's use of alcohol in this blog but will offer a few things to think about. Let me begin by recommending an article that thoroughly addresses this issue: Alcohol and the Christian by Matt Miller. He shows in great detail the scriptures and arguments for avoiding fermented drink. His five basic approaches to this subject include:

1. the wine of the Bible is not the same as modern wine
2. the Bible contains two distinct evaluations of the word wine
3. specific passages which condemn the intake of fermented beverages are examined
4. some biblical principles which forbid the intake of fermented beverages are examined
5. the most common arguments in support of social drinking shall be critically examined

Let's look at a few scriptures and we'll see what God and his inspired writers have to say.

Proverbs 23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

We can see from these passages what God's view is of strong drink or fermented alcohol. We are to be sober and vigilant at all times as Christians. We must view drunkenness as a process not an end result. As soon as we take that first drink, we have begun that process of drunkenness and set a bad example to our children, our peers, and fellow members of the church.


same said...
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Cary said...

Thank you for your comment. I didn't touch on the importance of setting an example and causing others to stumble. Granted...some people can drink in moderation and never be tempted to get to a state of a stumbling drunk. However, evidence and experience show that most will occasionally drink to excess and others could be led to addiction and terrible consequences.

The more I study the scriptures, the more I am sure that God does not approve of modern day drinking for any purpose. If you think about it, the whole purpose of producing wine and beer and liquor is to intoxicate the consumer.

I leave you with one passage:

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour...

same said...
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same said...

The question is should a Christian drink of mind numbing drink or offer another such a thing. Why do it? In some countries it is not uncommon to see people drinking in moderation with there evening meal and there may have been times and places were that was the only way to stay free of parasites and disease. But like you said Cary it is not necessary and the potential for harm is great. Friday and Saturday nights many will be pickling there brains and numbing there senses, to the point they will be a burden to us all if we allow them to continue in that bad way. Those who supply the drink are doubly to blame and I can not imagine that there are many if any Christian bartenders serving Christ or there fellow man. Those behind the counters at the store who sell “carry out” see the ones who are purchasing the stuff for self and others. Those who brew it and get rich and those who manufacture, grow the tobacco etc. etc. will pay a great price for there wealth and the taxes from the sell are an incentive to those who do not want to lose that. What are we to do? First we must understand the problem, the solution as I see it is not to support and thus eliminate the source!

same said...

Do we get drunk on the food and drink as it is provided in such abundance?

same said...

I would want to talk to that ‘new Christian’ with others and the one who was offered the drink. The importance of setting a good example should not be overlooked. Galatians 5:19 and the others say so much. . . when we begin to sin we have begun that process of and set a bad example to our children, our peers, and fellow members of the church. let us not sin in anyway. . . even a little sin begins the process and puts us on the road to death with those who are with us.

same said...

If the one being who was offered the drink has been drinking every day for some time it is possible that he has grown addicted and is going through withdraws from alcohol abdication. The bodies response to the sudden withdrawal of the toxic liver damaging drug of ethanol is not a pretty one. Like so many drugs that doctors and others prescribe to “make people happy” ethanol abdication if it has persisted for any length of time, may take some time to get off of the “stuff” and allow the brain and other organs to return to normal. Some of the damage will with proper nutrition ect., return to good health. Some drugs must be tapered off of gradually to prevent additional damage to the persons body and mind. During this time the person might appear irrational etc. but it will a temporary state. A safe environment free of stressful triggers with trusted and responsible friends who can devote their time and follow through with therapeutic support is what is needed. Old patterns are sometimes difficult to break and those people who helped develop those (bad patterns (for what ever reason) should be avoided by the ones they had influence over until they have stopped their bad ways and not allowed to influence in any negative way. Some are fortunate to have never known the influence of bad behavior yet as we become adults and enter the “real world”; there are many of the raging lion who are looking for those who are free of the influence of the good people of the church. They will attempt to make profit from those they can by addicting them to those substances (some even by forceful means if by no other way and they can “get away with it”) that makes promises to balance their brains chemistry and makes them “feel good” and more easily manipulated. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

same said...

I have researched this one; If your doctor tells you that you should drink one class of wine or one beer a day. Ask him if him/ or her or his or her associates have a vested interest in a brewery or vineyard and get a second opinion.

One drink a day can make most people moderately addicted: That is the body and brain chemistry is changed by daily consumption of even moderate amounts of alcohol. According to the best neurologists “any more than three drinks a week and any more than one drink a day damages the brain.”

Although withdrawals from one drink a day is not life threatening, it can be quite annoying for the one going through it and those who must deal with that person. Anyone who works with a bunch of weekend drinkers knows what Mondays are like. Some who work and drink every day who can’t do it at work are ‘jonsen’ come quieting time. And it is not a nice place to be with them.

Better not to drink but if you already do and can’t cut back to one drink a week you might need to seek the help of trusted friends to help you break those old bad patterns and form some new good ones..

Cary said...

All of these consequences and problems are nice to discuss but the important thing is to study the scriptures and see what is pleasing and not pleasing to God. We participate in many activities and necessities of life that can become addictive, sinful and have dire consequences if abused. Overeating, slothfulness, bad attitudes, etc. are other things that can be sinful in our daily lives.

same said...

Carry, I couldn’t agree more. I believe you did a very good job of pointing out what the scriptures have to say on the subject. It is clear that the Lord wants us to be sober minded in all things and not to be addicted to any vice. It is my assertion that although the scriptures do not specifically address all drugs or (“feel good pills” intoxicants, ect) we are not to use them or push others to use them. Those in leadership (and that includes all role models and those who are to set a good example are to be without anything that could control, addict, intoxicate or effects judgements.

Fantabular said...

I have also found myself in social settings with Christians & have either been offered a beer, or saw a pack of beer when the fridge was opened to get out the sodas.
I can think of three times that this happened & there were common threads in all of the Christians who did this, they were either:
1-new Christians
2-weak Christians

All were in their early 20s. I've NEVER seen this happen with older "seasoned" Christians; it's always young ones.

Honestly, I was uncomfortable about being offered it, or about seeing it in their fridge.
All my life, it's just been the way it is for Christians..."Christians don't drink".

I thought it was very immature & selfish of the person to offer me a drink, then jump into the "a little bit doesn't hurt" or "some doctors prescribe a little each day" or "they drink this like coke in other countries at dinner time".

The fact is, a little bit DOES hurt, my doctor did NOT prescribe a little bit each day for ME, and I do NOT live in another country.

If I had cancer & I was prescribed marijuana like some patients do, I would NEVER leave it lying around where people could see it when we had a Christian get-together. In fact, I think I'd be too ashamed to say I had ever smoked it. (not that I actually have, or ever will).

I'm a Christian, I live in America and I don't have a health condition; there's no reason for me to start drinking now, when only a little bit would make me drunk. And I have plenty to chose from when it comes to social drinks (coke, sprite, pepsi, mt dew, lemonaid, cranapple, water, dr pepper...the list goes on for MILES).
And did you notice that NONE of the drinks above make you drunk?

Why do Christians offer other Christians alcohol? If someone grew up in the church, by the time they're old enough to buy it, they should know that it's just not something we drink; in fact, it's offensive to others to drink it at social gatherings, everybody should know why does this continue to happen?

I believe the answer is:

There are some issues that we need to stop beating around the bush with & we need to give a loud & clear answer:
Alcohol leads to several problems in the home & church and ALL Christians should avoid it. PERIOD!

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same said...

Another thing I failed to mention is that marijuana sold on the streets is often tainted with banned substances and all kinds of trash. Some has been found with such things as arsenic added in large amounts. Some has been ‘laced’ with PCP and LSD and many others that I am not allowed to talk about. There are other drugs yet to be found and named. In short if you are in need of it for acceptable purposes; grow it organically or don’t grow it at all. And don’t let anyone know that you have it or are using it. Most of us don’t need it and we don’t want it given to us to ‘help us sleep’. You will need a permit and if you are going to use it for clothing, herb, oil, etc. . . you will need to grow some that has been altered to contain none of the mind altering chemicals that people have been getting themselves and others numb and stupid on. Noone wants to smell it and no one wants their surgeon or pilot to use it. Those who must pull up the illegal stuff in the field must wear protective clothing to prevent the drug from entering through their skin as many strains have so much of THC that it is hazardous to the workers ability to think clearly and function at their best.

same said...

The question was asked by 1. 'Fantabular'
Why do Christians offer other Christians alcohol?

I will attempt to provide an answer here in this public foram:

I know why most people who sin want others to join them in their sinning. It make them feel better when they are not the ‘minority’.

There are also some who should run and tell, if they can see someone doing something wrong then they will ‘run and tell’. Let’s get the problem out in the open and address the source. . . Shall we?

Who do Christians place stumbling blocks in front of other Christians? Could it be a test? Do they want to see how you will react?

What ever the reason it appears to have violated someone’s conscience and that is not good. Even a little bit of conscience violation hurts and can damage a brother’s and/or sister’s.

The one who offered the drink was wrong and should not do it again and that person should not be put into a position of responsibility as long as he is drinking and he should never offer it to others. It is HIS problem. . . who wants to join him?

same said...

Cary, please post this one, I have been giving this a lot of thought and it seems to me that there is no doubt that there are those who are profiting from the addiction of others. Why should we support them? And why should we not discourage others from doing anything that would cause them to be less than sober and vigilant. Anyone who can not put aside the selfish pursuits of temporary bliss at the expense of long term damage to self and others lives has a serious problem, is very immature and/or selfish and is engaging in self destructive behavior. There is a very good reason why the drinking age in our country is was raised to 21. I do not know of any reason why anyone should be allowed to drink to get drunk at any age. I have tasted alcoholic beer and I have tasted non alcoholic beer and I prefer the non alcoholic beer, same goes for non-alcoholic wine. Half a 12 once bottle of even the lighter beers make feel a little intoxicated, half a glass of wine does the same thing and I don’t like to be that way. I know it makes me and other people ‘feel good’ but it is poison and will have it’s way with those who give in to it and take it in. I chose not to take it in, I wear my respirator sometimes all day. I have to work around solvents and alcohols every day and I know the damage they can do to our bodies organs, brain and mind. I have seen many people fall ill because they abused their bodies and/or were never warned of the dangers. I have been working around some very serious toxins and potentially psychosis causing substances for almost 25 years. Today there are laws to protect people in the workplace from such things, because some people are ignorant and only are looking to increase their personnel profit even at the expense of others health and well being. I just can not imagine that people are so foolish as to consume alcohol and are addict themselves to it. They are doing it every day and it is costing us so much individually, as a society and a nation. The world is negatively effected by those who will not encourage others to remain sober minded.

Cary said...

Thank you for the comments. Non-alcoholic beer actually has alcohol. It has anywhere from .10 to .73%. It can also appear that one is drinking a real beer and could cause one to stumble or influence another that is trying to do the right thing. As I study the scriptures, the more I realize it is best to avoid any appearance of evil and that includes drinking alcohol.

1 Thess 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

same said...

Thank you, Cary, I was really hoping someone else would quote that verse! ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil’ is what we should do at all times. Being a good Steward of our health and reputation means we must avoid such things as drinking and encourage others to do healthy things. Even a brown bottle of ‘old fashioned root beer’ could cause another to stumble (what if your hand covers the label), be carful and stay vigilant. Thanks for doing that.