Many people live their lives refraining from the consumption of alcohol. While some had bad family experiences related to alcohol, many abstain because of religious beliefs. Mormons, Baptists Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses are just some of the groups that believe partaking of alcoholic beverages is sin. But to be sin, alcohol consumption would have to be contrary to God’s law (1 John 3:4). You can prove from your Bible that consuming alcohol is not a sin.
Not a Sin
Numerous accounts in the Bible show that God’s people, even Jesus Christ, enjoyed wine. Why then do multiple faith groups teach that alcohol consumption is a sinful act?
One of the common places in Scripture used to defend this opinion is found in Proverbs 23:29-31. In verse 29, you find a description of a typical, modern-day partygoer who indulged in an excessive amount of alcohol. It describes the prototypical drunk who stumbles around with red eyes, babbling in slurred speech. This person wakes up with a pounding headache and wounds of unknown origin. This scenario is far too common in society today, but it was even relevant during the time of Solomon. God gives this explanation to show us the result of excessive drinking, i.e. drunkenness—not to condemn the consumption of alcohol.
Verses 30-31 detail the improper way to consume wine. It is him that “tarries long” at the wine that becomes drunk. These scriptures do not say “don’t drink wine,” but explain how not to drink it. God gives the example of a drunk person, and explains that the reason such a person becomes drunk is because he tarried “long” over the wine. Drunkenness is a sin, not alcohol consumption in general. God is giving instruction here on how to discipline ourselves in consuming alcoholic beverages.
God takes alcohol consumption seriously. Galatians 5:21 expresses God’s feeling toward the drunkard: “Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God! Intoxication is not something He takes lightly. Alcohol must be consumed in moderation and with caution.
Proverbs 23:31 actually provides more instruction on how to handle wine. God tells us not to drink wine before the fermentation process is completed. The words “when it is red … when it moveth itself aright,” refer to the fermentation process. While wine is fermenting, it has a toxic chemical composition that will make us sick and can even lead to death. God cautions us to make sure it is fully fermented—He doesn’t forbid us to drink wine.
Jesus Christ Drank Wine
God commanded only one group of people in the Bible, Nazarites, to never drink wine (Numbers 6:1-4). God made this command specifically for this group of people to test their obedience. Some people say that Jesus Christ never consumed alcohol because He was a Nazarite. Christ, however, was not a Nazarite. He was a Nazarene from Nazareth (Luke 18:37). Jesus Christ never took the Nazarite vow.
In fact, Christ’s first miracle was turning water into wine (John 2:1-10). The people at the wedding in Cana wanted wine at this celebration. Had it been a sin to consume alcohol, He would not have provided wine for the wedding celebration.
Even though it seems likely that Jesus would have enjoyed some wine at this celebration, there is no strong indication that He consumed any. However, the Bible does show that He did drink wine while on Earth. The Pharisees were falsely accusing Christ of being a drunkard (Luke 7:33-34). We know this isn’t true because the Bible says He lived a sinless life (1Peter 2:22). Luke 7 shows that Christ did indeed drink wine, but never to excess. Also consider the passages about the Passover, which included wine (Matthew 26:27-29).
The biblical teaching on alcohol consumption is plain and simple. God gave us alcoholic beverages, such as wine, for our enjoyment (Psalm 104:14-15). God does instruct us to use caution when consuming alcoholic beverages, because overconsumption can lead to drunkenness. Just because alcohol can lead to drunkenness doesn’t mean God forbids its consumption. God also condemns gluttony, but He doesn’t forbid us from eating food.
God gives us alcohol for enjoyment, but He also gives it to us to build character. He wants to see us use moderation in drinking (Philippians 4:5). We must show ourselves responsible, so that we do not turn something that is not inherently sinful into a serious sin.
Do Your Part
Each year, God’s people keep the Passover ceremony, which includes a small amount of wine. Had God established a law against alcohol or condemned the drinking of wine, He most surely would not have established this tradition in such an important ceremony.
Abstaining from alcohol is a personal choice; God doesn’t command that we consume it except at the Passover ceremony. But He does allow us to enjoy it from time to time, and He expects us to consume it in moderation. He even warns us of the ill effects of overconsumption to ensure that we know the consequences of drinking irresponsibly.
While permissible to drink, alcohol can be dangerous. As Christians, we must always be aware of the sin that results from a wrong use. We must not think that drunkenness is a natural result of regular alcohol consumption. Don’t abuse this blessing but be thankful that God created us to enjoy physical things. Use moderation and make sure you follow God’s admonition to never “tarry long” at wine.