Can A Christian Drink Alcohol?
Here’s the challenge some Christians have. They substitute the gospel of Jesus Christ with preachments of morality and temperance. Yet morality cannot save. It’s not the gospel. Righteousness is not the same as morality. That you’re moral doesn’t mean you’re righteous before God. There are moral atheists. And morality is contextual and relative. What is considered immoral today can be deemed moral tomorrow. But the word of God is constant. It doesn’t change according to times and seasons. God is immutable.
Alcohol is a temperance issue. And truth is, it’s going to be hard for anyone to argue the Bible says alcohol is a sin. That alcohol is a sin because Lot got drunk and ended up sleeping with his own daughters is such a dishonest and illogical argument. What Genesis 19:30-38 tells us is the values of the family of Lot, not God’s command about alcohol.
It is incontrovertible Jesus turned water into alcohol. That was his first miracle. (John. 2:1-11) It’s again dishonest to claim that the wine in Cana was non-alcoholic wine. That’s religious editorial work. Neither is it honest to say Jesus didn’t really turn water into wine, but Ribena, or equivalent. Let the records show Suntory Corp. was not in existence in the 1st century. So Jesus couldn’t have turned water into Ribena. As we’ll soon discover from the Book of Numbers, God knows the difference between grape juice and wine. (Numbers 6:3) The Bible says Jesus converted water into wine not grape juice.
At the inaugural Lord’s Supper, Jesus took wine. (Luke 22:17-20) And wine is often used emblematically in scriptures. It’s used as spiritual imagery. (Mark. 2:22) Jesus said by the way, “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you’re defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:11)
The early disciples took wine in re-enactment of the Lord’s Supper. (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) Unfortunately the Corinthians turned the Lord’s Supper into a drinking binge. But they paid dearly for it. Some died. It’s why Paul wrote, “But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal.” (1 Corinthians 11:33-34 MSG) “If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave.” (1 Corinthians 11:29-32)
But there were instances in scriptures in which consumption of alcohol was banned. In Leviticus 10:8-9, Moses instructed Aaron and his descendants never to drink wine or alcohol before going into the Tabernacle. We also know covenanted Nazirites were forbidden from consuming alcohol.
Nazirite comes from the Hebrew word, “nazir” meaning “consecrated” or “separated”. Nazirites must not only give up wine and other alcoholic drinks, they cannot use vinegar made from wine and other alcoholic drinks. They’re not even allowed to drink fresh grape fruits, or eat grapes and raisons. (Numbers 6:1-4) So we do know God knows the difference between wine and grape juice. Nazirites must also refrain from cutting their hair and beard. Neither must they come in contact with corpses and graves. Now you see where the Rastafarians got the idea of dreadlocks from. It’s Naziritism.
Samson and Samuel were Nazirites. It’s interesting both their mums struggled with conception, which led to covenants of Naziritism. Concerning Samson, an angel appeared to Mrs. Manoah and spoke as follows: “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth.” For good measure even she was banned from alcohol. (Judges 13:3-5) However, Prophet Sam’s mum was the one who vowed to dedicate her son to God as a Nazirite: “If you answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you…and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut. (1 Samuel 1:11) Some manuscripts add, “He will drink neither wine and nor intoxicants.” John the Baptiser was also a Nazirite. The angel who appeared to his father, Priest Zechariah specifically told him the boy “must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks.” (Luke 1:15) This is what accounts for Johny’s wild life and even his wild appearance. As a Nazirite he couldn’t go to the barber’s.
Wine was somewhat viewed as a bit of luxury in the Old Testament. We get this sense from the speech of Moses in Deuteronomy: “For forty years I led you through the wilderness…You ate no bread and drank no wine or other alcoholic drink, but he (God) provided for you so you would know that he is the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 29:5-6)
But then Proverbs ever so practical tells us the inherent danger in alcohol consumption: “Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” (Proverbs 20:1) And Solomon advises those in government concerning alcohol, as well as leaders: “Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer, lest hung over, they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt.” Then he addresses alcoholism in Proverbs 23:29-35 (MSG): “Who are the people who are always crying the blues? Who do you know who reeks of self-pity? Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all? Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is serious business. Don’t judge wine by its label, or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavour. Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with – the splitting headache, the queasy stomach. Do you really prefer seeing double, with your speech all slurred, reeling and seasick, drunk like a sailor? ‘They hit me,’ you’ll say, ‘but it didn’t hurt; they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing. When I’m sober enough to manage it, bring me another drink!’” This is alcoholism!
The New Testament echoes warning concerning drunkenness as well: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the Holy spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18 AMP) Debauchery means bad or immoral behavior fueled by sex, drugs and alcohol; extreme indulgence in sensuality.
But Proverbs also talks about the medicinal use of alcohol. It was apparently a 900 BC sedative: “Use wine and beer only as sedatives, to kill the pain and dull the ache of the terminally ill, for whom life is a living death.” (Proverbs 31:6-7 MSG) We see this medicinal recommendation in Paul’s advice to Timothy his mentee: “Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you’re sick so often.” (1 Timothy 5:23 MSG) Obviously Timothy had some permanent bug.
Now, here’s where it gets complicated. Though Ecclesiastes 9:7 (MSG) tells us, “Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes – God takes pleasure in your pleasure!”… And though we no doubt have liberty to drink alcohol and wine as Christians, though with restraint…We’re however bound by three principles of behavioral constraint: proprietariness, self-mastery and witness. As per proprietariness Paul wrote: “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean it’s spiritually appropriate.” (1 Corinthians 6:12 MSG) As per self-mastery he wrote: “If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get away with, I’d be a slave to my whims.” And as per witness he wrote: “You must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with weaker conscience to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:9) Let those three principles guide your actions.
But can a Christian work in a brewery? It’s really up to the Christian. When God was talking about the restoration of Israel in Amos 9:14, he suggested they could own vineyards: “They’ll rebuild their ruined cities. They’ll plant vineyards and drink good wine.” If ownership of a vineyard from which wine is produced is not wrong before God, we would be hard pressed to say working in a brewery is a sin. Or how can God encourage capitalist investment in a brewery yet condemn the human resources who operate the brewery? But let everyone do as his conscience dictates and what his faith can handle.
If you will like to give your life to Christ, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
If you have any questions you can write me. Just mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be glad to answer your questions.