Should we or should we not drink? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Yesterday I was doing a survey online and questions about alcoholic beverages came up. Now I am someone who has never drank alcohol in my life and in two months I turn 40 and I have no intention of changing that. However, I went to my Facebook to find out how many people are like me and have never drank alcohol.
I want to be clear at the start that I do not abstain from alcohol because alcohol is a sin. I don’t think that’s a biblically sustainable position. I avoid for personal health reasons. I am an underweight man and I realize it would not take a lot to get me drunk. My fear is I would lose control and hurt someone I love someway.
So let’s consider some data about it.
First off, I don’t know the alcohol content in the past such as in the times of the Bible, but I do know that it was enough for people to get drunk and for Solomon to warn against that in Proverbs. It’s tempting for some people to say that it was just grape juice that was drank in those days, but I don’t think there’s a basis for that. It was real alcohol.
We also know the first miracle of Jesus was turning water into wine. Now some could say that wine had no alcoholic content, but I think that that is something the writer would somehow point out. Either way, it’s an argument from silence. When the text says wine, we should assume that it was wine.
We also know that Paul encouraged Timothy to drink a little wine instead of just water to help with his stomach and frequent illnesses. The book of Psalms tells us that God gives wine to gladden. However, not all of us have illnesses that require wine. As for wine to gladden, that is true, but it is also said that a man is to delight in the wife of his youth and may her breasts satisfy him always. Because that is part of the purpose of the wife of one’s youth, it does not follow that everyone ought to have a wife and if someone is not, they are sinning. Someone can be celibate for their whole lives and still be in the will of God.
That means Scripture doesn’t forbid us to drink, but at the same time, it doesn’t command us to drink. That means then that we go with the path of wisdom. So what are some dictates that we are to follow?
Personal health has to be a big factor. If your doctor tells you to not drink alcohol, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol. My wife doesn’t mind a drink when we’re out at a restaurant, but now she’s on medication that forbids it. Because of that, she doesn’t drink.
There is also the point of causing needless offense. If you are around someone who has struggled with alcoholism or has lost someone to alcohol and you are aware of this, then it is probably best to abstain for the sake of not offending that person. You may do what you will in the privacy of your own home, but outside of that, it’s best to be sensitive to those around you so that you don’t cause someone to stumble.
There is also your personal health to consider. Do you have an addictive personality? You should probably abstain then. Perhaps you’re like me and don’t want to risk getting drunk because you’re a smaller person. Then you can seriously consider abstaining. However, if you think you can control your alcohol, you have freedom to do so. This comes with the caveat that if experience starts to show you can’t, then you should abstain.
If alcohol is becoming a problem in your life, I recommend you join a group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery. If you have a loved one struggling, there’s also Al-Anon and Alateen.
Interestingly, Welch’s grape juice was made to help deal with alcoholism. Welch knew someone who struggled with alcohol and did so again after a Communion service. The grape juice was made so that something could be served at Communion services for those who can’t drink alcohol and for my own personal tastes, I have never took Communion where real alcohol was used.
So this comes down to personal wisdom. If you want to drink, then be sure to practice self-control and if you cannot, then get help. If you don’t want to drink, that’s fine too. Don’t automatically condemn everyone who uses their Christian freedom to responsibly enjoy alcohol.
But as always, I look forward to your thoughts on this.