Christians drinking hard alcohol

I personally do not drink alcohol. I don’t see the spiritual benefit of it since it dulls your senses. And I definitely don’t see any physical benefits because of the potential harm it can do to your brain and body. Also the very real potential of you drinking too much and making a fool of yourself and any potential witness of your trust in Christ as your Lord and Savior to any one around you. Also I see the very real potential of drinking too much and then go driving a motor vehicle and hurting or killing your self and/or others. But I don’t have a problem with a Christian who can handle drinking wine occasionally and not to the point of drunkenness.
It seems to me that there has been a big change in the attitude of the American Christian church, at least where I live in Florida, toward the drinking of alcohol. Christians that I knew that did drink would drink wine only because that’s what was acceptable in the New Testament. And they used to be very aware of not drinking too much to avoid drunkenness. Also, they used to be very aware of who they would drink in front of as to avoid possibly causing them to stumble.
But in my community of Christian friends and family, it seems that they have become very reckless with the responsibility that comes with drinking wine. I have seen so many start with just drinking a glass or two of wine once in awhile. Then it became a glass or two every night. Then more than a glass or two every night. And then inevitably it would lead to drinking alcoholic drinks with much higher concentrations of alcohol in them and on to shots of straight hard alcohol like whiskey.
And when I have had the courage to ask about their drinking habits and how they’ve progressed into dangerous territory, almost all of them perceive me to be the biblically ignorant one after all “Jesus turned the water into wine and Jesus drank wine”. I know those statements are true, but would Jesus really approve of Christians drinking high alcohol content drinks like whiskey, rum, vodka and all that? I personally don’t think so for what I think are obvious reasons.
Why have American Christians seem to become more and more like the secular world in their attitudes toward drinking and getting drunk?
Thanks for any input.
John Hedger

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The bible recognizes strong drinking. According to Proverbs 31 A wise mother counsels her son against it. But at the same time she explains insights behind strong drink saying: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

It seems like a little drinking of wine didn’t offer enough relief to your Christian family and friends, and then the need for the stronger drinks… and then a higher frequency of stronger drinks… Looks like a trend.

I think it would be safe to say, that what they could really use would be something even stronger that doesn’t wear off.

Does that make sense?

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18)

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Thanks for the response but it kinds of sounds like you are saying that the the Bible is condoning strong drink under certain circumstances. That didn’t sound right to me with what I know of scriptures so I did a little research and I found this explanation that makes sense to me explaining the verses that you refenced. What do you think? Thanks

It’s a good article. when I said " a wise mother counsels her son against it" I was referring to Lemuel’s mother who told him that strong drink was for those getting ready to perish.

For clarity in what I’ve said I would say that your friends and family need something MUCH stronger… and that the MUCH stronger thing they need is referenced in Eph 5:18 : “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”

This (the Spirit of God) is something people like you and I can offer folks. We cannot be their drinking buddies, but neither can we be their mother to wag our finger at them (as a mother should at times).

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I think I’ve failed to answer your real question: Why do American Christians seem to have become more and more like the secular world in their attitudes? [toward alcohol… or possibly a lot of things]

… Not sure if this has been a consideration, but maybe they are not Christ followers.
As for the eternal future of your Christian family and friends whom you describe, obviously I don’t know. But it sounds like they’re lost.

Should we never question the reality of a professing Christian’s faith? I think the Christian community (now more readily than 20 years ago) admits that the faith many (if not most) Christians hold is not the faith of Jesus Christ and his gospel.

I don’t know if you intended your question to be a question about questioning a person’s questionable faith. But it seems to fall into that category. And I would say the topic is possibly as complex as I intended it to sound. In my opinion the way to deal with these things can’t be oversimplified by just doling out confused disapproving expressions and finger wagging. It must be done in cooperation with God with the spirit of meekness, truth, love, patience, prayer… and courage.

It sounds to me like these people are important to you, and if you raise these topics while telling the truth and loving them in cooperation with God’s leading there’s no telling what might happen.

It could possibly be an adventure you’d look forward to looking back on.

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Timothy last verses)

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Ah, yes - beware the slippery slope!

I have long assumed that the verse about giving alcohol to those ready to perish was in the vein of I Timothy 5:23 - for medicinal purposes only. Misusing it recreationally would be equivalent to misusing any drug recreationally.

I think the medicinal purposes only approach is consistent with what we know about the fall and death since the garden of Eden - before death entered the world, there could be no process of fermentation - but then, before death and sickness, there was no need for alcohol either.

There are plenty of verses that condemn the misuse of alcohol - Proverbs 23, et. al. - so what do we make of passages that seem to condone drinking wine, such as Jesus changing the water?

I would observe that the Bible has no separate word for grapejuice - anything squeezed from a grape is included in the generic term “wine” - like our word cider - you can only tell from context if it’s alcoholic or not.

Thanks to @timotto 's observation that we do disservice to lost pretenders by never challenging them to self examination whether they be in the faith. I believe that no truly born again person can be comfortable with knowingly living in sin.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you.

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Hi James.

I really enjoy reading your insights and biblical contributions to posts around this forum. I’ve tried to hit the like button several times on some of them but it only allows me one like per post. :slight_smile:

But here on the grape juice/ wine thing, I think there might be something for you to consider:
I personally (like John Hedger who began this post) have no interest in ever drinking any kind of alcohol whatsoever. I was tempted to do it at a very low point in my life but never did. So I think it could be said that I can be extremely objective and non-bias in considering the scriptures on this.

With that in mind I think it’s worth considering 2 things that strongly suggest the bible’s dynamic and creative ability to describe alcoholic wine as opposed to grape juice. and that the biblical-alcoholic-grape-juice isn’t always given a negative connotation.

  1. The specification of new wine and old wine (in connection with the wine skins) demonstrates the bible’s ease of ability to refer to biblical-alcoholic-grape-juice at will. And the correlative element in the “Old wine” (in the illustration) is positive; the fermentation of the alcoholic-grape juice can very reasonably be referring to the fact that it is alive. This seems clear… And I don’t think I have to take any allegorical liberties in making this deduction.

  2. Also, when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding they said something that gives a pretty clear indicator that the Jesus-wine contained alcohol: They said “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” Again, without taking any liberties I think an un-bias assessment of this statement would seem to suggest that as the party wore on the guests (in general) were possibly a bit less attuned… to the wine’s quality; which would seem pretty obvious if the wine contained alcohol.

I realize that, if these conclusions have enough merit to say "Hmmm, maybe so… ", then that leaves us to have to deal with a ton of other problems to sort out with other scriptures that tell us “Wine is a mocker” … And that alone might possibly provide enough bias to count what I’ve pointed out to be invalid. However, if the points I’ve made are valid and fairly obvious, then why not believe it possible to reconcile them with all the other scriptures that warn against drinking alcohol?

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@MicahB had this very informative post on the subject of wine. I thought that it would add to the discussion.

Thank you, @timotto – it is very encouraging to hear that my thoughts have been helpful to you.

And I appreciate that, as a fellow teetotaler, you are considering this with no self-serving agenda to undermine your honest assessment of the issue.

I agree that the Bible provides simple ways to distinguish grapejuice from alcoholic wine. Phrases like new wine and old wine do mean what we call grapejuice and wine respectively. But it takes qualifiers like that – or other statements in the text – to distinguish them because there really is no separate word for grapejuice. In the Bible, the new wine being trampled out in the wine vats is obviously grapejuice, even though it is called wine.

As for the old wine not always having a negative connotation, I’d like to take a second look at the examples you gave.

The first one appears to be what Jesus said about not putting new wine in old wineskins, because the new wine will inevitably ferment and expand causing the dried up wineskins that have lost their elasticity to burst. That’s true, but it hardly presents old wine in a positive light. Old wine doesn’t appear in that illustration at all – just new wine.

However, in Luke 5:39, Jesus does give another illustration that mentions old wine. He says, No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith the old is better.

In the passage, this is the third in a set of illustrations that are showing the incompatibility of the gospel (the new garment, new wineskin, new wine) with the Jewish traditions (the old garment, old wineskin, old wine). The point He’s making is that you can’t use the gospel to patch up Judaism’s outworn religious traditions. He’s certainly not meaning the gospel is incompatible with the Old Testament, but with the legalistic traditions the Pharisees had just challenged His disciples with.

So in his third illustration in Luke 5:39, the man drinking old wine is the Pharisee imbibing his Jewish religious traditions. He’s so accustomed to them that he’s resistant to the new wine of the gospel.

Again, that’s not casting the old wine in a very positive light.

The second example was at the wedding scene in Cana of Galilee, where Jesus turns water into wine. The governor of the feast tests it and declares that most hosts serve their best wine first, and then the inferior afterward. But this host has kept the superior wine until the last.

I have always taken this to mean that they served the freshest grapejuice first, and after the guests’ tastebuds became less discerning through overuse, they began using up the older sour juice (never wanting to waste anything even if it was starting to go bad). But what Jesus had made was so fresh, that it made the host’s freshest juice look sour by comparison – which would be the exact opposite of claiming that Jesus made it alcoholic.

I’ve never understood why anyone would think that the “good wine” was perceived in their culture to be the alcoholic stuff. The very phrase “good wine” seems to point the other way.

So, I’m not convinced that these examples are obvious uses of alcohol being praised in the Bible. I think reconciling the scripture from the teetotaler perspective is a much easier task than going in the other direction.

I will add one other point. I know that preserving things in Bible times was a challenge, and that throwing food away was anathema. Did Jews ever resort to drinking their old soured wine by mixing it with water to dilute the alcoholic content as an alternative to wasting it outright? I’m sure they did – the same way that there have been lean times in my life when I’ve drunk milk that had started to sour, or other foods beyond their expiration date because I couldn’t afford to just throw it away. Desperate times! But that’s hardly the same as someone deliberately paying more for a juice that’s been made alcoholic – even much more alcoholic – as a recreational beverage.

Thank you for mentioning these passages – verses which challenge a view need to be considered in order to come to a more fully informed conclusion.

Thanks to all for the extremely interesting information. But WOW, from what I’ve read here, even though the NT condemns getting drunk, it seems very difficult to determine whether or not the NT suggests that Jesus and his followers of the day truly drank alcoholic wine and condoned the drinking of it. I obviously don’t know any of you personally, but from your thoughts and arguments it sounds like you are all intelligent people who have done much research. I’m afraid I am not convinced either way, that the wine that Jesus made from water and all the other references we are talking about is alcoholic or not. But I really appreciate all this input and would appreciate any further insight into this matter. Thank you so much.

Thanks for your candid response.
It’s interesting to see your interpretation and then to consider my own. Without pressing the dialog into further detail I will continue to consider the view you’ve laid out.
Thanks for taking the time and effort to do so.

That’s a really good question, @hedgemo60. To answer this well, I think, we need to keep in mind both the freedom we have in Christ and the call to be holy as He is holy.

In Acts 15 we get an answer to the question ‘what do the Gentiles have to do when they become Christians?’ Do the Gentiles (like me) have to become Jews to follow Jesus properly? Well, no. In verse 29 we get this “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” So basically, follow Jesus and regarding the Jewish law, hold tight to these 4 things.

That’s so freeing! And, I think this changes the question from ‘Can/should Christians drink alcohol and if so what kind?’ to ‘Are you following Jesus?’ To give it more practical application think of a person you know that regularly drinks. Let’s ask the question, ‘does he or she follow Jesus well?’ and if the answer is yes, then I don’t think there’s any problem with him or her consuming alcohol. But, now let’s say the answer is, ‘No, he or she isn’t following Jesus.’ The next question is, ‘Is it because of his or her alcohol consumption?’ If that answer is, yes (leads to drunkenness/violence/abuse/poverty, etc), then we have a problem and he or she probably shouldn’t drink alcohol. Remember, the focus is on following Jesus and not setting up a list of do’s and don’ts.

As an extra side note, I find this question (alcohol or no?) to be quite interesting based off my observations - which could be skewed since it’s only one person’s experience. From what I’ve noticed, Christians drinking alcohol doesn’t seem to be an issue in much of the world. Many of my friends have become pastors across the United States and others have become missionaries in Europe (ok, not the whole world but that’s my sample size) and what I find is that the only place this is a consistent question is in the ‘American Bible Belt’ and more specifically in the American South. I haven’t done tons of investigations on this topic, but simply observations and it makes me think this is more of a cultural issue rather than a Biblical imperative.

I live in Denver and craft beer is a huge thing here. In fact, Colorado has (at least at one time did have) almost double the number of breweries as the 2nd place state. Alcohol is a big part of our culture and so nearly all of our church events that involve food have beer or wine provided (minus the AA group). My pastor has gotten up and spoken at these events with drink in his hand many times and he looks more like Jesus than 99% of the people I know (no joke).

Thanks for letting me go on that 2 paragraph tangent. Anyway, follow Jesus and lay aside all things that keep us from looking like him, alcohol or otherwise.

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@boabbott
So… I’m still pondering the grape juice/ wine thing… (But I think that’s probably on a totally different level than the considerations you’ve laid out)

It seems like the “freedom in Christ” consideration you’ve introduced may be sort of side stepping a valid concern.

Allow me to demonstrate what I mean by using a parallel illustration:

Currently, Marijuana is legal in Colorado and it has been a huge part of its culture long before it was legalized. When a Colorado pastor gets up to speak at a festive church event and pauses, before praying, to take a long drag off the joint he has smoking in his hand I don’t think he’s going to be able to get away with calling it his freedom in Christ and looking more like Jesus than 99% of others.

Do you really think so?
Let’s say the pastor says “When I smoke pot it just helps me relax and mellows me out. There’s no real adverse affects.”

How would this be any different?

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Heh Jon I found this article that may be helpful?

[(https://pilcrow.squarespace.com/stories/what-kind-of-wine-did-jesus-drink)]
let me know what you think, or if you have other questions.
Mike

@timotto
I think you have a very good counterpoint to think about concerning the statements of @boabbott.

I had another question that came to my mind concerning @boabbott 's statements. And that is when he said
“Alcohol is a big part of our culture and so nearly all of our church events that involve food have beer or wine provided (minus the AA group). My pastor has gotten up and spoken at these events with drink in his hand many times and he looks more like Jesus than 99% of the people I know”

So when the pastor speaks in front of so many people, how does he know he isn’t causing some of them to stumble. He can’t possibly know that. And that would be true in any culture anywhere. So wouldn’t it be wiser and more loving for him not to be drinking when speaking to large groups of people like that. I reference Romans 14:13-21 with my question.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

This question reminds me of a time when our Pastor had pre-checked for spoilage in previously purchased communion grape juice. Later in service, the pastor became strangely endued with almost mythical youth and strength. As he preached and pounded upon the pulpit; he began leaping upon chairs and hopping over benches in exuberant expounding. In Pentecost, it can be difficult to determine. But we believe that the grape juice had fermented.

I read through the posts and thought very valid answers have been given. But I was reminded of how the Apostle Paul decided if meat offends his brother then he would never eat meat again.

I also think, much of what many in the church call freedom is often symptomatic of a deeper problem. Possibly trusting is an issue. Perhaps I am overly concerned with what I don’t get to do; instead of knowing that total commitment to the relationship with JESUS is worth giving up anything. It is not a matter of can or can’t do-s. It is a matter of loving the Lord and His children.

It is something I am wary of. When I base my behavior on biblical or doctrinal conclusions I have learned to frightfully examine for what may lie beneath. I am concerned about living for CHRIST in a manner that invalidates my life in the world to come. In a manner that invalidates and devalues my relationship with Him today. Our righteousness is as a filthy rag. How wise is it to mimic any practice embraced by the lost?

If we are lights set upon a hill, can we afford to live in ways that cast shadow? Can we actually say we truly love the lost or weak, while preserving our right to imbibe in any practice that would cast a shadow?

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Oh goodness @timotto. Let’s be charitable in our counterpoints and not act like a hypothetical is reality.

Clearly alcohol and marijuana are apart of Colorado culture (and really most of America’s culture too) but in very different ways. Alcohol is part of social gathering here and around the world. It’s served at restaurants and in homes for all sorts of functions, so the question is why change it for a church gathering when it’s not a Biblical mandate? Remember Paul had to write to Corinth to say stop getting drunk when taking communion - seems like alcohol was involved, but misused. Paul ends up saying handle it, not ban it.

Lots that could be said about marijuana, but quickly three thing as not to go down a rabbit trail. First, marijuana is not a substance used for regular societal gathering. Second, it’s illegal to use marijuana in public settings. By law, you are only allowed to use it in the privacy of your residence. Third, we should apply the same test - does this make me more or less like Jesus? Most people using for recreational use would look less like Jesus, but there are those using for legitimate medical issues that it may help look more like Jesus. Point is, we can’t paint with broad stroke, especially when this generation listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings. And, for the record, I neither consume alcohol nor partake in non-pharmaceutical drug use.

If you are not able to see the differences, I’m not sure where to point you? I’d really like to be of use in helping you reach others around you, but I’m sensing this is more of a ‘gotcha’ question. Please forgive me if I’m misreading the tone behind this, but how is forbidding alcohol bringing people to Jesus (assuming they aren’t alcoholics, of course)?

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@hedgemo60, have you considered not allowing any alcohol may be a stumbling block? Perhaps there’s someone there who says, “I don’t want to be around these people. They’re too weird. No alcohol at a gathering like this? I don’t want to be around them or their Jesus.” As you mention, it’s impossible to know. The sword cuts both ways.

All I’m saying is that we need to give other Christians grace in areas where the Bible doesn’t have a clear directive. It’s very likely Jesus drank alcohol in the presence of sinners, Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine (1 tim 5:23), but the Scriptures also say don’t get drunk. We don’t want to be in the business of telling others where the line in the sand is, when we aren’t exactly sure where it is because we then become like the religious leaders Jesus taught against. We want to in the business of seeing as many people come to Christ as we can, and if that means that we have alcohol at social functions, then let’s do it.

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I would contend that the tension between honesty and charity is a good thing. If I have been overly honest, I don’t think you’ve prohibited yourself from being equally honest in return. As for not being charitable in our counterpoints I apologize if I came across that way. (maybe a few more :grinning: :slight_smile: :smile: might mitigate these perceptions moving forward as written communication is sometimes tricky that way. :wink:

So, Hopefully no harm done… let me take another shot at the main point I was trying to convey, and see if I can do it without offence this time: I don’t think there’s much that will prohibit us from seeing a proud-pastoral-pot-smoking-scenario in the near future heralding liberty in Christ. (consider the world we live in). It would seem to me that the proud-pastoral-beer-holding-scenario is just one step away. I don’t see how this can be construed to mean that I’ve got an improper attitude or that I have voiced some sort of audacious or ignorant consideration.

@hedgemo60

Probably best to address boabbott directly with your engagement. These kinds of conversations are between bothers of the same family even though we don’t know each other.

Disagreements should work to edify. or at least cause us to scratch our heads a bit more to consider why we think what we do.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.