Christians and Drinking

How should Christians handle the question of alcohol consumption? This is a question Christians struggle with and argue over. Seriously, people get passionate discussing this issue.

Whenever I begin a blog concerning important issues (this is one) I feel I must give a disclaimer of the quality of work. This format is more of a conversation than a scholarly work. As a pastor, I get this question a lot from three basic groups of people: 1) the “parent” who is looking to me as the voice from God to affirm their position that consuming any alcohol is an abomination in God’s eyes; 2) the “partier” who is seeking to use the Scriptures to affirm their position that consuming alcohol is a gift from God and should enjoyed liberally by all; and 3) the “searching one” who is struggling (on either end of the spectrum) to understand what the Bible says and how it applies in their lives. My aim is to respond to this last group for the sake of helping someone, not for the sake of getting into a theological sword fight.  As pastors, we have people who sincerely struggle with this question and we should guide them according to the Word.

A few disclaimers. First, I am not covering every verse of the Bible concerning this subject. I am seeking to share some thoughts that come to mind concerning this issue. Second, Scripture is very clear about submitting to the authorities. So in light of this discussion, the Bible would frown upon any alcohol consumption that violates the law of the land.

Our relationship with God is based upon His grace poured upon us through faith in Jesus. As a young Christian I struggled with this concept of grace. When I “fell off the wagon” and went on a bender I was riddled with guilt and failure. I thought God’s love for me ebbed and flowed like the ocean tides and was contingent on my success or failure trying to walk the Christian walk. This works based relationship is not of the Lord. If you are reading this and struggling in this area, know that God loves you because He created you, He paid your debt of sin, and He is working on you in this area in you because knows what is best for you! On the other side of the coin, I haven’t drank in something like 10+ years. This doesn’t mean that God loves me more simply because I am observing this law that I have placed over myself because of my own failure with moderation. I have been tempted to have a glass of wine just to remove my ability to say with a prideful heart, “I haven’t consumed alcohol in over 10+ years. Look at how awesome I am!”

The dangers of alcohol. How can I adequately cover this section? I can’t. I would venture to say that alcohol has killed more people, destroyed more lives, devastated more relationships than any other drug. Forget biblical reasons for just a moment—consider alcohol from a purely pragmatic perspective. I often share with people that I didn’t stop drinking for religious reasons, I stopped because it was destroying my life. I was abused by my biological alcoholic mother until I was removed from her custody when I was about 12 years old. I started drinking at an early age which resulted in a number of terrible things in my own life—hurt shoulder (to this day) from crashing a dirt bike while drunk in the desert, an abortion, and a resisting evading arrest charge that led to the losing of my security clearance for a number of months. I literally can’t think of any good thing that alcohol has produced in my life (okay, I’ll give credit to rubbing alcohol and NyQuil).

Proverbs 23:29-35 shares wisdom concerning the temptation and danger of alcohol:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?  Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.  Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. “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?”

Jesus’ first miracle was making wine. Yes, this is true. It was wine, not grape juice. There is nothing more frustrating to me when people manipulate the Bible for the sake of supporting their side. Please, don’t go down the road of “Okay, it was wine, but it is so diluted you can’t get drunk with it.”  Jesus made wine. Jesus drank wine. Jesus was accused of being a drunkard by the religious of His day (Luke 7:33-34).  The detours of grape juice or dilution distract from the main issue which is drunkenness–not consumption of alcohol.  Jesus was NEVER drunk, for that would be a sin.

There is freedom for a Christian to consume alcohol—so long as they do not get drunk. This issue is ultimately control. There is no clear line between sobriety and intoxication. The Bible makes it clear that we are to be controlled by the Spirit of the living God. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). I find this verse uncanny. Drunkenness is forbidden and the Spirit filled life is commanded as the key to maintaining healthy relationships (i.e. Husbands to wives and vice versa, parents to children and vice versa, employees to employers and vice versa) in this life. The uncanny part is the vast destruction drunkenness has caused to these relationships throughout the history of humanity. How many lives and relationships could have been spared if people set down the bottle and lived Spirit filled lives?

Sure, you have the freedom in Christ to have an alcoholic beverage, but be very careful because the warnings concerning drunkenness are severe.

I want to end with an important section of Scripture. I would encourage you to open your Bible and read through Galatians 5. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom concerning this issue in your own life.

Galatians 5:16-26—the deeds of the flesh contrasted with the fruit of the Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

55 replies
  1. Miles DeBenedictis
    Miles DeBenedictis says:

    Good word Gunnar. Nothing like jumping in with both feet 😉

    Living and teaching in Germany for a year really opened my eyes to the legalistic undertow we tend toward — regarding alcohol — in American Christianity.  Early 20th century prohibitionism certainly didn’t help.

    In many places in Europe alcohol is a normal part of life. As a 9 year-old I was offered beer in the home of some family friends in England.  At a church ski weekend in Austria, my younger brother was [delightfully] amazed that most of the group had a pint each night during the bible study.  A good majority of American Christians might feel a little uncomfortable in the same setting. 

    One of the major differences I’ve observed is that Americans tend to look at alcohol only as a path toward drunkenness.  It’s become almost a right of passage for young  Americans go away to college/university to learn, among other things, to party and get drunk. Social drinking in America seems to mean corporate drunkenness.  I’m sure there are plenty of people in Europe that drink with drunkenness as the aim.  But I’ve observed Christians in Europe who [freely] drink alcohol in a social setting, and not unto drunkenness. 

    This is certainly an important issue for Christians to consider and discuss. 

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Miles, as you know, I just returned from a couple weeks in Spain and Italy. In Spain, we caught a potluck which was a HUGE score. I definitely did an internal double take when I noticed bottles of wine and beer available at every table. I definitely reinforced my feeling that the conversation shouldn’t really be on drinking or not drinking, but rather on the issue of drunkenness. It was refreshing to see alcohol being consumed in a biblical manner and with no dissension…or at least that I saw!

      Reply
  2. Trip Kimball
    Trip Kimball says:

    Gunnar, good points, all of ’em. I just went through Jn 2 last week in a study with a Karen (Burmese) family. If I had done it with Americans, the drinking topic would have come up. My disclaimer joke for Jn 2 is, “kids don’t try this at home.”

    But seriously, people get serious for 2 reasons (imho), because of their own self-righteous view of the to drink or not to drink issue, or because of their own self-justifying of drinking. I’m reminded of the image grid Miles posted in his blog last week… spot on. The grace is there (1 Cor 10- all things… Titus 2- nothing is evil of its own, etc, etc.), but the issue is more about self-discipline guided by true faith (Rom 14:23).

    thanks for jumping out on the limb 😉

    Reply
  3. Kellen Criswell
    Kellen Criswell says:

    Judges 9:13 is an interesting verse to throw into this: “And the vine said, ‘Should I leave my wine, which cheers both God and men, and go to be promoted over trees?”

    Good article, Gunnar. It seems extremes on this are unavoidable in the body of Christ. Many want to throw out alcohol from the Christian life because of “all the evil it causes.” In reality, alcohol causes no evil, only the misuse of it by human beings. Saying we should throw it out because of it’s misuse is about as logical as saying Christians shouldn’t own or use guns because of the evil things people do with firearms. Further, much harm has been done in the name of Jesus and His Bible in this world as well, but I doubt any of us are ready to give those up any time soon.

    On the other hand, I’ve definitely seen people try to use Scripture to justify selfishness and waste. That is a problem to be confronted in the church as well.

    Lets care more about people than using our rights in Christ. But lets honor Jesus by enjoying the freedoms He has given in appropriate ways and contexts, at the leading of the Spirit. And lets not try and make our conscience issues the law to which everyone else must submit.

    Reply
    • Brian Sauvé
      Brian Sauvé says:

      Amen. That crystallizes what I was thinking as I read the article. I definitely agree that this is an issue of conscience and Christian freedom.

      Thanks for the good word, Gunnar.

      Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Kellen, I think the hardest point about the conscience is it is a powerful tool that God uses to shape us…problem is that when we are convicted sharply, it is hard to imagine why everyone doesn’t see it the same way! I heard this quote many years ago that I find really good, “Live your life to the highest biblical standards and hold everyone else to the lowest biblical standards!”

      But on another note, I asked Bill a question concerning how do we handle/determine the “line” considering safety and drinking in light of the many verses stating that drunkards won’t enter/inherit the Kingdom of God? I think this question is important in every culture….

      Reply
  4. Bill Walden
    Bill Walden says:

    When we moved from Orange County (Calvary Costa Mesa) to Napa Valley (world famous wine region), we had to make a serious re-examination of the issue re. alcohol. I remember people bringing wine to our first church potluck. I was shocked, and my wife and I had to re-think our cultural Christianity and compare it to the Biblical mandates.

    Long story short, we ask folks to not bring alcohol to church events, for the sake of those who might struggle, but otherwise, I have never preached an abstinence sermon, and never will. I do, however, preach sobriety, as we all should.

    In our church, we have many that work in the wine industry, including my 2 sons. One grows grapes, and the other is an intern winemaker. It is kinda weird for me, since I do not have freedom in the Lord to drink wine, and yet our boys will have a glass of wine at family dinners. They are both of age, and bring their own, but it isn’t a problem as far as I know.

    The gap between what is culturally expected and Biblically true can be wide indeed.

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Bill, you definitely describe a European culture in that region. I am sure this is an issue that is really a case by case basis. I have some relatives that are in the wine making business in that area. I definitely have a different feel about their lifestyles (but they are not believers and they need Christ far more than they need sobriety). I think the hardest thing for me is determining the “line.” We do have freedom in Christ, but then there are SO many verses that say “Drunkards will not enter/inherit the Kingdom of God.” How do we handle the “line” issue for those who exercise their freedom?

      Reply
      • Bill Walden
        Bill Walden says:

        Gunnar….I think at some point (obviously), the abuse of freedom is known only by the individual. Lack of sobriety is far harder to identify than drunkenness.

        We are told in Galatians that the works of the flesh are evident.
        If someone is abusing their freedom, that will probably show up in other ways than just a lack of sobriety.

        Just some thoughts…

        Reply
  5. Ed Compean
    Ed Compean says:

    This is great, and concise. I live in in a country where people often claim to be Christians but will often mention they are saved not because of what Jesus did, but because they do not drink alcohol. On the other hand most of the missionary community enjoys a little wine, and not only for their stomach.

    I’ve also noticed, maybe relative to Bill’s note above, more and more Christians in America enjoying a little wine. It is a bit refreshing because for many years I think many enjoyed wine (or beer or whatever) but also had shame over the hypocrisy of hiding it. It was refreshing to hear Bill say people brought wine to a church potluck.

    About two years ago we had a relatively well known pastor and a group of leaders come over from the States and got rip roaring drunk, uh, no. They did not get drunk, at all, but they did order wine at a dinner and tried the local beer. Again it was refreshing. My wife let out a hallelujah.

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      I love that this conversation has sort of a global contextualization element to it. I think it would serve every Christian good to leave the country and worship and live in another country. I find it helps me filter through preference, American culture, other cultures, and true biblical principles in light of all things. It is dangerous when we fail to see things through the big* (global isn’t really big for God) picture.

      Reply
      • Bill Shepherd
        Bill Shepherd says:

        Hi Gunnar. It seems that most of the replies giving a global context have been from those who’ve visited European countries. I’ve been serving as a pastor in Russia for 19 years and would like to add something from that context.

        In general, I’ve notice that most of the discussions among pastors serving in the West concerning alcohol have centered around – Is it OK for me, personally? These discussions, unfortunately, are often lacking in any real consideration of Romans 14 – How do my actions affect others?

        Before leaving for Russia I hadn’t even given the question of alcohol much consideration, primarily because drunkenness never presented itself as a serious temptation to me, as a Christian. In Russia, though, I was faced with the devastating effects of alcohol all around me and refrained from alcohol altogether, simply not be a part of it all. Even then, though, the decision was made without much thought.

        One day on a train, that all changed. A man next to me was stumbling drunk and asked me to have a drink with him. I declined. Since I’d already shared Christ with him, he asked, “What?! Is it because of your religion?” Before even giving me a chance to respond, he said, “Because our Orthodox priests drink wine!” Now, I’d seriously doubt that he’d ever seen an Orthodox priest drunk, but – Romans 14 – knowing that Orthodox priests occasionally had a glass of wine eased his conscience about it all. He used it as one of his excuses to have a drink and from there would just keep on going. It was at that point that the seriousness of the issue truly hit me. I realized that I never wanted a drunk to use me as his excuse and be able to say, “But Pastor Bill has a beer sometimes.”

        Romans 14:16 says, “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil.” In our American, “Liberty or death!” attitudes we so easily interpret that verse as, “Don’t let anyone tell you what’s right or wrong for you, personally. If it’s OK for you, defend your rights!” The problem is, the chapter is about giving up our rights for the sake of others, not defending them; verse 15, “for the kingdom of God is not about eating or drinking [my right to have a beer or glass of wine], but righteous and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

        The, “spoken of as evil” from verse 14 is exactly what the drunk on that train was doing.

        As pastors, we want to make sure that our choices of “good” [what’s OK for us, personally] are formed with an honest and loving consideration of those around us.

        Reply
  6. George Lim
    George Lim says:

    Would it be too simple to say “If you can do it without sinning, stumbling others, or going against personal convictions the Lord puts on your heart…go ahead.” (I’m really asking this question, not trying to be funny :))

    Reply
  7. CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3)
    CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3) says:

    I definitely want to say “Amen” to everything that has been posted. It was brought up in Gunnar’s original post that much of our attitude towards alcohol perhaps was shaped by the prohibition, which ultimately can be boiled down to an exercise in legalism that obviously failed miserably.

    One thing that I have thought about is that how can we preach the freedom of living and walking in the Spirit, saying things from the pulpit like “drinking isn’t a sin, getting drunk is”, and then tell people that if they want to serve in leadership they can’t drink, etc. To me, I see a disconnect there. If we are leaders, shouldn’t we should lead in everything, including the balances of living out these “grey area issues”? We can speak often of living in true freedom, but yet still in an ever subtle way, lay down an extra-Biblical law.

    I certainly agree that the dangers of alcohol are very real, but perhaps less dangerous as a soteriological system that includes “not drinking” as a reason for salvation.

    Thank you for putting this out there, Gunnar.

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Kellen,

      You said, “but perhaps less dangerous as a soteriological system that includes ‘not drinking’ as a reason for salvation…” It seems the Bible does lack soteriology to alcohol at some level…many that you could be left out of the kingdom if you get drunk. I would suggest there are verses warning of eternal consequences of drunkards. Like, for example, Galatians 5:21, “…drunkenness…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is a very serious warning. I would at least suggest that the Christian who exercises their freedom to drink should make very careful study of what “drunkenness” is by a biblical standard before they consume. Is this going too far? Is this a legalistic interpretation, or is this actually what the Bible is stating?

      Reply
      • CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3)
        CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3) says:

        I dunno, I think that by definition, “drunkenness” as referred to in those scriptures is a habitual drunkenness that would expose a clear lack of the Holy Spirit’s influence, which would beg the question, “Have those who are perpetually and persistently engaging in drunken behavior truly been converted?” I do agree the warnings are there, and they are clear. I think what I was getting at was the danger of a soteriology that is based on merit. The “do’s and don’ts”, rather than the vicarious atonement of Christ, and the life that then flows from there. Does that make sense?

        Reply
        • Gunnar Hanson
          Gunnar Hanson says:

          Completely makes sense. I also think it fits the whole Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine…, but be filled with the Spirit.” I think God wants us seeking Him always and being under His influence. Ultimately I think consuming alcohol biblically means we have wrestled over these things and are seeking God…not just aimlessly partaking in some activity without consideration.

          Reply
          • CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3)
            CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3) says:

            That last sentence is brilliant, and I think applies to so much beyond the current topic of alcohol. There is so much, I think, that we do as (especially American) Christians where we never stop and consider the broader Biblical standard. I think this applies in everything from how we spend our money, what kind of food we eat, what kind of clothes we buy, etc. I think we can tend to swing from one end to the other, either “anything goes ’cause I’m free in Jesus” or “I’m a good Christian because I don’t smoke, drink, chew, or have tattoos, and I don’t date girls who do.” 😀

            The bottom line: if the Spirit is convicting you, you really better listen.

  8. CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3)
    CJ Kelly III (@PastorCJ3) says:

    See, gambling I just can’t wrap my head around, mainly because it’s rooted in Greed, pure and simple…getting “something for nothing” based on chance and luck. I just can’t see how it is justified.

    But see? There you go, I have a deep conviction about gambling, and others might look at my tattoos and feel the same way. I just think I have a stronger Biblical case than they do. 😀

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Love it…your reaction to gambling is a perfect picture of the issue we are dealing with. I love it. I can’t gamble as it is a problem for me (just like booze), but I defend the Christians freedom to do it for entertainment if they can do it responsibly.

      Reply
  9. Miles DeBenedictis
    Miles DeBenedictis says:

    Classic… this is quickly becoming the most popular topic… it’ might use unseat the the great Fusco homosexuality conversations 😉

    It is interesting to me that there has been far more dialogue recently (as far as I have observed) surrounding these “fringe issues” if I can call them that (e.g. tattoos, alcohol, smoking, gambling, etc…). I’m sure some of you read some of John MacArthur’s articles addressing these issues among the Young Restless and Reformed movement.

    CJ, I totally agree that there is major danger when people begin to suppose themselves to be “right” or better before God because they don’t drink, smoke or have tattoos, etc… When I was in High School the major issue in our youth group was the evil secular music. You were considered pretty spiritual if you had tossed or [especially] burned all your secular paraphernalia. Sadly there were a number of people dabbling in things that are explicitly outed as sin in the bible, all the while considered pretty righteous for ditching their U2 albums.

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Miles, you touch on some important issues.

      1. I didn’t know a record was on the line here. Hope many comments is needed to place first? I will start really making some profound comments. I am VERY competitive.

      2. I do think all of these issues are important…and all of them can be sin which I think complicates things. I often thing conviction comes to draw a person out of sin, then for that person feel that issue is sin even if it isn’t per say.

      3. You mentioned burning CD’s…my first thought was, “Oh, he is bringing up the conversation of using unauthorized copies of copyrighted stuff…” But my guess is you were talking about getting rid of secular music…not stealing it!

      Reply
      • Miles DeBenedictis
        Miles DeBenedictis says:

        Yes… I’m speaking of getting rid of secular music. That was held up as very righteous when I was in High School.

        You are right, many of these things can be sin, the issue is not whether they are sin in and of themselves, but rather when abused in excess. In fact the KJV translation of Ephesians 5:18 is [I believe] extremely helpful…

        Ephesians 5:18 ~ And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

        I gleaned this from Alistar Begg when I was teaching on sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6…

        Other sins against the body are from outside, and they are sinful in their excess. For example, booze and gluttony; it comes from outside and is a sin in excess. The immorality to which he refers here, comes from inside and is a sin in itself. It doesn’t have to be done in excess to be sinful, it just has to be done, and it is sinful. It drives like no other impulse, and when fulfilled it effects the human psyche like no other sin… This kind of sin will destroy a life like nothing else.

        Oh and by the way – you’ve pulled into first place…

        Reply
        • Jared Beck
          Jared Beck says:

          I’m impressed by all the comments so far. Allow me to pose a few, myself It seems alcohol consumption is the hot topic of the day in many American Protestant, Evangelical circles. As mentioned, it’s not much of an issue in European societies because they don’t have the prohibitionist legacy we have. I find that legacy unfortunate because it creates an unnecessary dichotomy between those who do and those who don’t. I’ve noticed, especially in the Southern US, the separation is extreme, those who don’t, never touch alcohol because it’s devil water. Those who do, having already been condemned as sinners, do to the extreme. The issue is actually much larger than alcohol and comes right down to whether we evade the world or engage it. There is biblical precedence for both: evading=John the Baptist (Luke 7:33), engaging=Jesus (Luke 7:34).
          Interestingly enough, a similar issue arose in the early church over marriage. Some withheld from marriage to the point of martyrdom, usually b/c the bridegroom was a pagan. Some went so far as to condemn marriage and sexual relations altogether. The Gnostics were famous for this, there’s even a passage where “Jesus” saves the day by interrupting a bride and bridegroom in their bedroom chamber. The logic of evading alcohol consumption or avoiding “causing one to stumble” can have dire consequences if applied consistently. The issue is not whether there are consequences to abusing alcohol or sexual relations, but rather, what is God’s perfect law concerning it and how can I submit to God’s standards?

          I greatly appreciate that the article exposes the myth that alcohol in the Bible is watered down, 1/30, 1/300, etc. That myth was a simple fact check that was avoided. Alexander the Great did introduce mixing, but in Jewish culture it was viewed as ruined, (Isa 1:22) and the practice could rightly be called “pagan” or Hellenistic.

          The question boils down to whether we are in the world, engaging it and redeeming it under the power of the one who has overcome the world, or do we evade it and flee to the desert? At least the desert fathers were consistent in applying the logic of evasion, whereas we seem to pick and choose when to apply it.

          Finally, we throw around the phrase “cause to stumble” but what does that truly mean? If we are engaging the world in obedience to God’s law, are we really causing someone to stumble if they see us drink, marry, dance, etc? There’s not space for it, but I believe the phrase has a totally different meaning in its context than how we use it.

          Ps. Jews have the same discussion, see: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/581082/jewish/What-is-Judaisms-take-on-alcohol-consumption.htm

          Reply
          • Gunnar Hanson
            Gunnar Hanson says:

            Jared, good comments. Thank you. I do think you bring up a good point…really, one that is worth blogging on. I have dealing with a few crisis’, but I think I will blog on it later. 1 Thess. 5:22 has been used poorly because of the phrasing to avoid the “appearance of evil” when the text really convey to avoid all forms of evil. Appearance highlights the externals which is a major problem with all of these point. Jesus is concerned primarily with the inside condition, not the outside appearance of a person. Again, thank you for your thoughts. Blessings, Gunnar

    • Chris Hendershot
      Chris Hendershot says:

      “When I was in High School the major issue in our youth group was the evil secular music. You were considered pretty spiritual if you had tossed or [especially] burned all your secular paraphernalia. Sadly there were a number of people dabbling in things that are explicitly outed as sin in the bible, all the while considered pretty righteous for ditching their U2 albums.”

      Been there done that!

      Reply
  10. Josh Olson
    Josh Olson says:

    Just reading through the post and comments…great stuff. Great dialogue.

    Something I asked Miles regarding this a few weeks ago…

    We desire to walk in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit (i.e. self-control)and talk about the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to exercise these fruits in our daily lives walking in victory over sin…but there seems to be a major disconnect when it comes to drinking an alcoholic beverage. We abstain completely, thinking that our abstinence pleases God and is evidence of our “victory” over it. We say things like, “Oh man, I used to drink like a fish, but God has delivered me from all that.” And abstinence is held up as supreme in the matter.
    And yet, that same individual will have a beer or a glass of wine when they are on Sabbatical or on Holiday for a week with their wife in another city or state where no one could ever possibly recognize them. And they are in total control, total liberty to do so. Yet they strap themselves and their hearers with a burden that is next to impossible to bear, thus it is ever before them…deny, deny, deny.
    Could that not be construed as hypocrisy to some?
    It’s like someone who struggles with gluttony. Is God glorified when they say, “Oh, man…I used to gorge myself day and night and abuse food like nobody’s business…but praise the Lord! He has totally delivered me from that garbage. Now I don’t touch the stuff!”
    Or, the one who is sexually immoral and sleeps around like nobody else. Then they are born again by the Spirit of Christ, meet an incredible, godly woman, get’s married, and on his wedding night glorifies God by saying, “Hallelujah! God, I thank you that I have been delivered from my old way of life and I don’t have to consummate my marriage…ever! Sweet Deliverance is mine!”
    So, here is the question…
    “Is it possible that we are robbing God of the glory He could get in and through our lives as we exercise self-control in an area of life such as this?”

    Reply
    • Dr. Eustaquio Kirby, D.P.T.
      Dr. Eustaquio Kirby, D.P.T. says:

      Well, how about this issue concerning alcohol consumption?
      When a person is a truly VIOLENT alcoholic, and is staying with a lay pastor (i.e. me), and this person claims to be a Christian, yet I see no real clear proof of that, in that my apartment is constantly and systematically being destroyed, not only physically, but spiritually to boot!
      I believe that according to the word The first problem is what Paul calls the “flesh” in Romans 8:5-8(NIV), ” 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
      I am at odds as to what to do with this person who is an alcoholic, because to my eyes, this person really will NOT accept sound teaching on this area, or in many other of the areas of the word for that matter.
      I would definitely say that this would definitely give a description of what stumbling another would be…ergo…no longer does anyone who a a hunger for the Word wish to come to my house to hear it, as they feel that it’s not being put into practice in my house at this point-and-time.
      However with that being said, I know a few Christians who indeed can have a couple of drinks (without getting snockered), and have no problem with it, and are wise enough to not LET it stumble others by taking it into the excesses as the scenario I mentioned above.
      1st Corinthians 10:31 states that “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This way, the ball is really put into our court as far as is what the Lord requires.

      Reply
  11. Gunnar Hanson
    Gunnar Hanson says:

    I think the most critical issue is the one that is most difficult to evaluate–the condition of the heart, but we in large part can only measure the externals of a person’s life. I think Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:31 are very relevant, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do [consumption or non-consumption of alcohol, do all to the glory of God.”

    Reply
  12. Chris Hendershot
    Chris Hendershot says:

    This was a great post Gunner!

    As said 100,000,000 times before. A heart issue.

    “Our relationship with God is based upon His grace poured upon us through faith in Jesus. As a young Christian I struggled with this concept of grace. When I “fell off the wagon” and went on a bender I was riddled with guilt and failure. I thought God’s love for me ebbed and flowed like the ocean tides and was contingent on my success or failure trying to walk the Christian walk. This works based relationship is not of the Lord. If you are reading this and struggling in this area, know that God loves you because He created you, He paid your debt of sin, and He is working on you in this area in you because knows what is best for you!”
    I can relate to this soooo much!

    Thankful for Josh and Miles for planting the seed of the Word of God in my heart, and the Holy Spirit for keeping it watered, even though I was in the desert, hot, dry, arid. Yet thankful for Jesus for bringing me out of the desert and into the good climate where I can start to grow. And thankful to the Father God for creating me to grow good fruit for His glory. I may just be a little tree right now, but tomorrow I might be a great tree bearing even greater fruit.

    Reply
  13. lee
    lee says:

    i have the question why do we drink when it is not for a health benefit. it seems for an altering of our present state whether it be minimal or extreme. we frown on those who use drugs to get high and not just for the fact whether the drug is legal or not. i think we should honestly ask ourselves how does thei engagement benefit me and or those around me. self medicating has become so common around us until we totally justify it as long as the person is functional. what is moderation for one is not moderation for all. i have yet to see a party that is appreciated if no alochol is served or people feel they will not enjoy themselves. someone said to me i will be ok once i get “my buzz.” there is the debate between the moms that drink a glass of wine to take the edge off and those who smoke pot with the former feeling totally superior in their choice. as i become more open to mood altering substances and that can be food as well i am less open to the Word of God which was once hailed as the Christian’s only source for character elevation.

    Reply
  14. lee
    lee says:

    when a teen daughter was involved in smoking pot and then other drugs how was there any genuine argument to deter her when her Christian parents consumed alcohol and not just for health purposes. Shall we say it is because of age—so therefore when you are 21 it is ok——its illegal but when you are older you can use alcohol for your medication. when someone seems to being enjoying themselves except maybe at church it is assumed they have had some drug and or alcohol to achieve such. how sad is that for us. when the teen daughter said i smoke pot for the same reason you drink.

    Reply
  15. lee
    lee says:

    a christian couple gave a dinner party with varied alcoholic beverages served. one spouse agreed with the activity and the other did not.the latter said if you went to pastor’s home and they were having a party with loud music and alcohol what would be our take on that? Perhaps the Bible he preaches from does not provide the panacea he claims.

    Reply
  16. Jerry
    Jerry says:

    Searching…..how do we know for certain the wine Jesus created was alcoholic, if so would it not be the only miracle Jesus did that contained a process of death, rather than life, then we have the wine of communion, if it truly represents the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us was it pure without leaven or was it tainted. You might think I am from the total abstinence crowd, but am genuinely searching. However I do lean to wherever there is doubt….don’t. As alcohol played a part of my rebellion toward my parents early on it has left painful memories credited to alcohol use, I avoid its use completely and advised my sons to do the same. Neither followed my advice, now one is divorced and alienated from his children partly because of alcohol use among other things, the other suffering in his marriage because of his luke warm state of his faith. I understand the complexity of their lives and these consequences cannot be blamed entirely on alcohol use, but it seems they travel in like circles as others who consume alcohol some even moderately that are suffering the same problems. I suppose the discussion over this issue will only end when we see the Lord Jesus gather us to himself at His mercy seat.
    by grace alone,
    jerry

    Reply
    • Gunnar Hanson
      Gunnar Hanson says:

      Hi Jerry,

      I appreciate your heart with your question. Clearly there are those who suggest that Jesus did not actually create wine, or the wine was so watered down that it was essentially non-alcoholic wine. I addressed this briefly in the blog. This was wine and there is a danger in saying that Scripture says something that it does not because of our own experiences. I don’t consume alcohol because of my past, but the Bible doesn’t forbid consumption so neither can I. It does forbid drunkenness and gives strong warning about alcohol. So should we.

      I agree with you that our sin nature will get us in to trouble and the key to this is abiding in Christ. I am praying for you and your children.

      I hope this helps.

      Stay steady in Christ,
      Gunnar

      Reply

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