Drink is common in the Bible, but it only condemns drunks. The Bible has some clear guidelines.
Taken in moderation, alcohol does have some benefits. As a relaxant, it lowers blood pressure and reduces the inhibitions that stop some people from enjoying themselves.
But statistically, alcohol is the most dangerous drug because it kills twice as many people as all illegal drug use totaled together, through accidents, illnesses, or alcohol-related violence.
After all, it is legal in most countries, and the Bible says in Psalm 104:15 “It gladdens human hearts.”
Jesus certainly did drink alcohol. In his first miracle in John’s Gospel he made water into wine, and we know it wasn’t merely fruit juice because the master of the banquet declared John 2:1–10 that it was the “best” wine of the day.
The Bible certainly has warnings about alcohol and condemnations of drunkenness. Noah got drunk in Genesis 9.
Proverbs associates alcohol with brawling, bruises, and mental confusion:
Proverbs 23:29–35, Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?30Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. 34You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
The Apostle Paul condemns drunks alongside the sexually immoral, thieves, and slanderers, and says such people are outside the kingdom of God (Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:9–10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18).
Although there is no hint in the Bible that alcohol was ever outlawed, there are clear warnings against getting drunk. For example; some are as blunt as Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine.”
This is a timeless command, because we seethe same warnings in the Old and New Testaments. And it is counter cultural because alcohol abuse was common in cultures surrounding ancient Israel, and especially in the Roman culture from which many followers of Jesus Christ came out of. This is therefore a command that God wants all his followers to obey, despite whatever kind of culture they live in.
“It would have been better if the Bible had banned alcohol completely.” But, you know what; as so often, God asks us to do something more difficult, that is, to be responsible and self-controlled.
1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
We should therefore ask these two questions about everything we use and potentially abuse: Does it harm us, and does it change our behavior? It is up to each of us to decide where that line should be drawn.
by Corville Peters