Do you drink alcoholic beverages? Why or why not? Just curious as to another believer's perspective!
Undoubtedly, Christians of all stripes deal with questions relating to alcohol. Some churches deal more strictly with alcohol than others, everything from "Use it as you please," to "You are going to hell for the sin of drunkenness for drinking at all." Both extremes seem to have warrant, but neither perspective gets it right.
The Bible addresses wine and drinking alcohol in both testaments. With an examination of the teaching of Scripture, one thing is certain: alcohol is a blessing that can become a curse.
Scripture speaks of alcohol, specifically wine, as a blessing from God and a symbol of abundance to make "man's heart glad" (Ps 104:15; Ecc 10:19; Is 55:11; Zech 10:7). More precisely, wine is to remind God's people of God's provision in their lives (1 Cor 11:17-32), and of their eternal destination with him forever (Is 25:6-8; Amos 9:13; Rev. 19:6-10). Clearly, wine symbolizes the blessing of God.
However, the Bible also speaks to the misuse of alcohol or wine (Is 5:11, 28:1-7; Titus 2:3). Ephesians 5:18 says, "do not get drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit" (ESV). This single verse strikes a balance between the extremes and provides us with guidance on how we approach alcohol. Paul summarizes the biblical warnings stating that believers should not be drunk or filled with wine (or anything that may alter your judgment) to the point of drunkenness because it is "debauchery," or more fundamentally, a waste of life. He offers the godly alternative, be filled with the Spirit so you may glorify God in all you do and build up the church (Eph 5:18-21). Essentially, do not waste God's blessings, but glorify God and build his church.
One other thing worth noting, Christians have the responsibility to abide by the law of the land (Rom 13). Thus, no underage drinking is ever acceptable in Florida (i.e., where we live), culinary school and communion being the only exceptions.
With Scripture’s wisdom we can ask two questions: is it a sin to consume alcohol? No. Is it a sin to drink alcohol at the expense of your Christian witness and responsibility, being filled with the Spirit? Yes.
So, how should a Christian think about alcohol?
Taking all of the above into consideration here are two different perspectives on alcohol from our staff.
Perspective #1 - Growing up I saw the destruction alcohol can cause in relationships and one’s life. Once I became a believer, I read Scripture’s warning against drunkenness and the inability to distinguish the holy from the common that followed men in scripture who chose not to heed its warnings. In light of this, for a really long time, I decided not to drink.
It wasn’t until the Lord brought believers into my life who didn’t use alcohol in a toxic way that I began to see how when used responsibly it can be a part of a moment of celebration and joy. So yes, I will occasionally drink with limits on how much I have. I believe that we should never allow ourselves to be so consumed with alcohol that it leads to drunkenness. Also, as a Christ follower, I shouldn’t allow alcohol to control my words or my actions because these are used in submission to Christ.
Perspective #2 - My relationship with alcohol is a complicated one. I believe Scripture teaches that alcohol is a sign of God’s blessing and even a gift when used in moderation and in accordance with the laws of the land. Even still, I’ve chosen not to drink. At first, this was born out of the way that I saw substances negatively affect my friends. But as I’ve grown older, and reflected on what the Bible teaches my reasons for why I abstain have changed, even though my position hasn’t.
My decision not to drink is rooted in two things: Scripture’s serious warning against drunkenness, and my own admitted weakness when it comes to moderation. I know myself well enough to be aware that I’m not particularly good at moderating, and I recognize that alcohol used to excess draws harsh warnings from scripture. With those things in mind, I’ve chosen not to open the door to the possibility of drunkenness in my life. Even with my own position, I recognize that this is not a matter of, “sin or not” but rather a matter of Christian wisdom. For me drinking would be unwise, and yet I abstain personally while recognizing that this standard may not apply to the brother and sister who is able to enjoy this gift within the Bible’s parameters.
As we consider these testimonies, we can note the biblical nature of both positions. The first in good conscience drinks in moderation with an eye toward pleasing the Lord. The other abstains because of their understanding of their personality. Both seek to live in submission to the Lord and be filled with the Spirit.
Another point to consider, alcohol is not like most addictive things; it is much more potent. For instance, biting your fingernails will not lead to death in most situations, but the misuse and abuse of alcohol can and has led to the destruction of many lives. This begs the question, should you partake in drinking alcohol? Or, is it wise, or unwise?
So, as with all blessings from God, alcohol can be misused and abused to the point of destruction. Alcohol is a blessing, a gift from God, that when misused can become sinful and even a curse.
In summary, to quote Joe Thorn, “One can drink to the glory of God, while another can abstain for the glory of God.”