Responses9-30GQ

By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus

Last week’s Got Question addressed, Is it a sin to drink alcohol?  Our website “lit up” with visitors.  It crashed several times with too much traffic, but fortunately recovered quickly.  If you missed reading the article because you got an error message trying to connect, read the article now.

There was a wide range of responses to the article—everything from “yes, it’s a sin”  to “moderation is the key.”  Some supported their positions with Scripture, but many just gave opinions.

If you read last week’s article you know my answer was:  the Bible does not say drinking alcohol is a sin, but it does say drunkenness is a sin.  I gave verses in support of that.  I also provided verses that indicate there is a proper use for wine or strong drink.

Many of the responses to the article were based upon what people had been taught in church.  Interestingly, that is what prompted the original question.  The original question was from a woman who attends a denominational church that forbids alcohol consumption.  Her husband’s family attends one that does not and his family drinks socially.   Her question asked what the Bible says about alcohol?  Does the Bible say drinking alcohol is a sin?

I focused on factual information that the Bible records about alcohol consumption.  Due to space limitations, it was not practical to include all Scripture references on this subject.  Many responses included additional verses that address this issue.

Below you will find just a few of the many responses.  I remind you that the answer to any question like this should never be based upon what a church teaches.  It should always be based upon what God teaches in His Word.  Because it isn’t always easy to discern biblical understanding, it’s understandable that we often depend upon our pastor, leaders, teachers or brothers and sisters in Christ to help us understand biblical teachings.  That is certainly OK and helpful, but always be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).  Check what you are told against what God actually says in His Word.

Remember, it’s important to look at all verses in the context in which they were spoken.  Too often well-intentioned Christians will take a verse out of context and make it say something that it does not actually mean.  We have all done that, so I remind you that a verse cannot be properly understood without understanding the context in which it was originally spoken.

You must come to your own conclusion about drinking alcohol.  The Bible only labels drunkenness as a sin and the prohibitions against drinking alcohol are only given to specific people and under specific circumstances.  Therefore, what we discern about drinking alcohol is really a personal interpretation and we must be careful not to make laws, where God has not.

I hope you enjoy reading some of the comments.  I have chosen to respond to some of the comments using blue text. Prayerfully and scripturally discern where you stand on this subject, but do not let it become divisive between you and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Responses to “Is it a sin to drink alcohol?”

—If you believe that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit then that requires a higher sanctification than just walking into the tabernacle would require. So Leviticus 10:9 would apply.

Leviticus 10:9 forbids wine and strong drink to the levitical High Priest.  While it is true that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, that does not make any of us a High Priest.  If that were the case we would also be under all levitical law and I can’t imagine any Christian killing a lamb and offering its blood on an altar, and then burning the carcass as a burnt offering to the Lord.  We are NOT High Priests.  Instead, we have a High Priest and He is Jesus.  The comment of Leviticus 10:9 applying to us clearly shows the error in taking something out of context and misapplying it to support an opinion. Apply that verse to the levitical High Priest of the Nation of Israel during the time in which they had the Tabernacle and then the Temple.  Do not apply that verse to a 21st century Christian.

—In the Old Testament God referred to wine as the poison of a venomous snake…take it from there.

This is a reference to Proverbs 23:32  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.  It’s absolutely true that this verse refers to wine as a bite like a serpent, therefore a poison.  However, the context of this verse (Proverbs 23:29-35) reveals that it is about excessive consumption of wine.  The passage begins by asking, Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?  Who has contentions? Who has complaints?  Who has wounds without cause?  Who has redness of eyes?” (verse 29) and then it answers in verse 30 with, “Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.” It’s clearly speaking of overindulgence and, even dependance on wine. In verse 32 it then gives the warning that compares wine to a bite of a serpent.

This verse does not say it’s a sin to drink, but it certainly does warn of the dangers of drinking.  The question asked, is whether alcohol consumption is a sin, not if it is a danger. 

—If you drink it does not mean that you are going to hell!! If you have accepted Christ you will have a place in his kingdom. I believe that as long as you have a drink in moderation you are safe. We all sin daily and that definitely does not mean that we are cast into hell. Sin is what our Lord died for. I also understand that this doesn’t mean that we should go out and get drunk. Moderation!

This person very articulately answered the question.  The only thing I would disagree with is the statement that “as long as you have a drink in moderation you are safe.”  The only way to be 100% safe from the dangers of alcohol is to abstain.  Great caution and restraint is required so a person limits his consumption and does not get drunk.

—But from whichever it is made, whether from oats, barley or wheat, it harms the head and the stomach, it causes bad breath and ruins the teeth, it fills the stomach with bad fumes, and as a result anyone who drinks it along with wine becomes drunk quickly; but it does have the property of facilitating urination and makes one’s flesh white and smooth. Aldobrandino of Sienna, 1256

This was one of the more interesting (and confusing) comments.  The quote is not substantiated with Scripture and seems to be more opinion than fact—regarding both the dangers and the benefits.  Just because this Italian man from the 13th century spoke of dangers (and benefits) of beer it doesn’t add anything to determining if God says drinking alcohol is a sin.  We are not to care what man says, but what God says. 

—Jesus created wine at the wedding feast at Canaan the Greek word oinos is the same as the word in Eph 5-8 that says not to get drunk on wine.  I don’t drink myself, or very rarely, but the sin is in over indulgence as with food or any other thing we use too much.

—We just had an entire synopsis of this very subject. It does not say it’s a sin. It does say drinking too much is. Like anything else, if it controls you…

—And what does drinking teach our children? If one of my children were to become drunk and kill themselves in a car accident, or kill someone else, and I condone drinking and even teach them how to do it properly, the blood of that accident is on my hands I firmly believe!!! Bad things happen ALL the time from drinking alcohol….just ask my mom.

This polarizes the entire discussion.  The question is whether or not drinking alcohol is a sin, not whether the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption can result in death.  No one will disagree that bad things can happen as a result of alcohol consumption.  But, bad things do NOT happen ALL the time from drinking alcohol.  There are people who drink a glass of wine with dinner….and nothing bad happens.  In fact, doctors say it promotes heart health.   

It’s clearly seen that this answer came from a very personal experience (“…just ask my mom.”)  We are all molded by our experiences and often that makes it very difficult to be objective.  But again, the question is not whether you personally think, based upon personal experiences, if drinking alcohol is a sin.  The question must be answered by what the Bible says about alcohol consumption.

 

Another person, responded with numerous Scripture verses:

Exodus 29:40  And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of WINE for a drink offering.

Deuteronomy 11:14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

Psalm 104:15  And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

Proverbs 31:6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

This person gave a personal opinion on the subject.  It is not scripturally cited, but the reasoning is scripturally grounded.

—I choose not to drink so I am not a stumbling block to someone who may be watching me. (I made this decision when I was a leader in a college group). I may be able to stop at one drink but possibly someone who is struggling can’t. We are called to hold others accountable.

Another reasoned response:

Do cars hurt people? Is the car responsible?

Do guns kill people? Is the gun responsible?

Does alcohol destroy people?

Is the alcohol responsible for anger hate evil and sin?

The intelligent and logical person says with certainty no. The loving person says “but let us restrain our freedom that we may not offend the week and heavy laden.”

—I chose not to drink because I know my sin pattern. That is what is best for me. Thanks for clearing up this issue the Biblical way.

—I keep it simple. I drink A glass of wine almost every night, not because I have to but because I enjoy it. I don’t get drunk and I have not felt convicted for it. However, in times past when I have had enough to cause me to make poor choices, I have felt convicted by the Lord. So for “Me” I keep it in moderation and leave it at that.

—What does Jesus say about wasting time on social media comment threads?

—It is like anything else! It isn’t a sin to drink a beer, it is a sin to over indulge and lose control of yourself! Is sex a sin, no! But exploiting yourself or doing it out of wedlock is! —As it says in the Bible don’t be drunkards, meaning don’t get drunk, it’s ok to drink but not to get drunk. Moses drank as many others did in the Bible. King David for another example drank, but did not get drunk.  King David was a man after Gods own heart the Bible says. Jesus did turn water into wine, it may have been wine at the last supper. Drinking was a big thing back then as it is today. Its just some choose to abuse it. Point is, it’s ok to drink alcohol but don’t drink so much you get drunk.  The Bible clearly says that. I have been to Ministry School by the way, so I would know on this small subject. Remember it’s called moderation.

—Good article with supportive scripture! Thank you.

—Can one walk in the spirit while drinking ? Does a person need to test their limits to determine how many you have before your drunk? Having a glass of wine then driving home could cause an accident and take someone’s life. Could that person avoid the accident had they been completely sober. —“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:  “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and Drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a Glutton and a Drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:16-19

—[reader response to above] — By that logic, Jesus is a sinner. Which is impossible because he was perfect and Jesus drank wine.

Note that it says they called Jesus a “glutton and a drunkard.”  Just because someone says something, does not mean it’s true.

In Conclusion

A woman answered the question with the reasoning below.  This brings the discussion back to the conclusion of the original article, Is it a sin to drink alcohol?

—No it’s not [a sin]. God doesn’t forbid us either. Nothing is forbidden but not everything is good for you. All things that take a hold over your life become a sin, because it puts God second in your life. We have to be responsible so we don’t lead someone into trouble.

REMEMBER:  Many things are not sinful in and of themselves or in the basic nature of the activity, but many can be a door or gate through which sin can enter (for information on the ear-gate, the eye-gate, the mouth-gate, and guarding your gates, click here).

We are to keep our focus on Christ and be filled to abundance with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  In Christ we find our joy and our strength to live in a manner that honors and glorifies Him.  It should always be our goal to present ourselves in a way that we are a testimony for Christ in all our thoughts, words and actions.

 

Therefore, whether you eat or drink,

or whatever you do,

do all to the glory of God. 

1 Corinthians 10:31  

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