I was having dinner in a pub in London, England with a friend when we decided to head to a famous church in London and ended up attending their Sunday evening service. This was once a great church with a great pastor, but it has since gone off the rails into legalism… My friend and I were chatting with some of the members of the church when the issue of alcohol came up. Their current pastor has written a book about why Christian’s cannot drink alcohol at all. The members were telling my friend & I that “the wine-skin press business was different in Jesus’ time; therefore, Christians today should abstain from alcohol altogether.” Little did they know that we had just come from a pub.
Personally, I rarely ever drink at all (special occasions or historic pubs in England). The question is not what I or the pastor of that church believes about Christians & alcohol; the question is what the Bible says about this issue.
DID JESUS DRINK ALCOHOL?
Yes. In John 2:1-11, Jesus & His disciples get invited to a wedding at Cana. Jesus is not a buzz-kill, so He got invited to stuff like that. The people at the wedding are celebrating, having a great time, and drinking wine when it suddenly runs out. Jesus gets some servants to fill 6 jars (each holding about 20 or 30 gallons) with water and then proceeds to turn that water into wine, not grape juice. In verses 9-10, the master of the feast says to the bridegroom that: “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Not only did Jesus turn that water into wine, He made it taste good too. There is no mention of Jesus, His disciples, or anyone at the wedding being drunk.
Furthermore, the last supper before Jesus dies, He has bread & wine with His disciples. He commands them to eat and drink these in remembrance of Him (which is why we have “communion.”) While dying on the cross, Jesus gets thirsty and the guards dip a sponge in sour wine to give to Him (in mockery).
CAN WE DRINK ALCOHOL?
The Bible is not explicitly telling us not to drink alcohol; it just gives guidelines for how we do drink it. Here are 5 things the Bible says about drinking alcohol:
1. Drinking is not a sin, but drunkenness is… so don’t get drunk.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit
2. Even though we can drink alcohol, it may not always be best to do so. If you’re a former or current alcoholic, it would be helpful to stray away from drinking, as it only leads you towards temptation of drunkenness (which is sin).
1 Corinthians 6:12
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
1 Corinthians 10:23
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
3. Don’t drink with someone who will stumble into the sin of drunkenness (i.e. with former or current alcoholics). You are not loving that person by putting them in a position of temptation to sin.
It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
4. Don’t drink and drive if you’re over the legal limit. Also don’t drink if you’re under the legal drinking age.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
5. Drink in such a way that God is seen as better than alcohol.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God
The bottom line is that Christians can drink alcohol like Jesus & His disciples did; however, we are not to be drunk as Jesus was never drunk. Don’t drink if it’s going to cause yourself or someone else to sin.
– Tyson Bradley
For Further Study:
**I am not endorsing the consumption of alcohol or drinking and driving. In excess, alcohol can be harmful to the body and one must drink responsibly. The purpose of this post is to address if it is okay for Christians to drink alcohol.**