Should a Christian Drink?


True Bible Teaching - About You and God and Your Hope of Salvation

Should a Christian Drink?

Should a Christian Drink?

The Temperance Movement

Wine and the BibleIt was in the nineteenth century that the Temperance Movement started. Reacting against the dangers to health and the social evils caused by the ‘demon drink’, many people – mainly with Christian motives – joined the movement to moderate and even abstain from drinking alcohol.

What should be the Christian’s attitude to drinking alcohol? The Bible gives clear guidance on every moral issue. Sometimes it says simply ‘You shall’ or ‘You shall not’. On other issues it gives us principles, and leaves us to act according to our conscience.

Drink is one of these issues. Let’s consider some principles the Bible gives us.

Quality of Life

‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise’ (Proverbs 20:1).

The book of Proverbs is straightforward in its warnings about the dangers of drink. Anyone who has any experience of excessive drinking will recognise this assessment:

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?" (Proverbs 23:29).

This is the start of a brilliant, almost comic, description of drunkenness, that concludes:

"They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?" (Proverbs 23:35)

So the first point is a simple one: abuse of alcohol makes for a rotten life.

You belong to God

But for the Christian, life is not just about yourself. You have a responsibility to God, as the apostle Paul expresses it:

"You were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s" (1 Corinthians 6:20).

The Christian should always be conscious that he or she belongs to God, body and mind. Care should be taken not to abuse either body or mind.

Think of others

A basic principle of the Christian life is that you always think of others. Jesus said that the second great commandment is: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 19:19).

When you look at life from that perspective, it is sad to reflect that drink is responsible for much social evil, including –

❖neglect of families,

❖accidents caused by drink-driving

❖silly and hurtful things that are done and said that are regretted later, and

❖actual physical violence.

It goes without saying that the Christian should avoid indulging in anything that could cause distress or hurt to others.

Self Control

Barrel's of WineIn a letter to the disciples in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul urges them to ‘watch and be sober’. He’s specifically talking about the need to be spiritually vigilant as they wait for the return of Christ, but his words describe the basic mind-set which the Christian should have:

"You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober …" (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8).

Even though the apostle is not talking about actual drunkenness in this passage, the principle is there: the disciple should live a life which is sober and self-controlled.

Life is a Gift

We’ve considered some warnings about the dangers of alcohol. However, in moderation it is not evil. One Psalmist lists among the blessings that God gives:

“wine that makes glad the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15).

When, writing to Timothy, the apostle acknowledges his young friend’s fragile health he advises him:

"No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities" (1 Timothy 5:23).

The Good Life

Thus the Bible agrees with modern medical advice: whereas alcohol in excess is harmful, in moderation it has some health benefits.

Ecclesiastes is a book of philosophy it explores life, and how to get the best out of it. This is one of its conclusions:

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labour. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

Alcohol used wisely can be a component in a full, happy and godly life.

Drink or Not?

Some disciples appreciate a drink. Some are teetotallers. Which is better? The apostle Paul again, this time in his letter to the Romans, discusses matters of conscience. He uses the example of vegetarianism – is it good to eat everything, or just vegetables?

His conclusion:

"He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks" (Romans 14:6).

In issues like this where there is no commandment on what is right and what is wrong, the key point is not what you do, but the attitude with which you do it.

So here’s the Scriptural conclusion:

❖To avoid drink altogether is good.

❖To drink moderately and responsibly is also good.

❖What’s important is that you think it through, and behave with a good conscience so that you’re able to give God thanks whatever you do.

By Chris Parkin

Glad Tidings Magazine of the Kingdom of God