As with so much in God’s creation, we can use something for good or abuse it in rebellion. Alcohol use can be risky and one should always be aware of how much they’re drinking, how it’s affecting them, and why they’re drinking in the first place.
With few exceptions that are primarily related to religious dedication and behavior in the ancient temple of God, Scripture tells us these things about alcohol use:
- It was common in ancient Israel and in fact, the entire Mediterranean region. There were (and still are) good reasons for responsibly consuming alcohol; here are but a few:
- Positive health effects and relaxing qualities
- Bacteria-free drink in areas without good drinking water
- Being an integral part of festivities
- Intoxication (drunkenness) through alcohol abuse is sinful behavior that can result in separation from God and ultimate judgment.
- While its use isn’t prohibited, we must abstain when there’s a chance our partaking may cause someone else to stumble (sin) (cf. Romans 14:20-21).
Here are a few supporting Scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments.
- Some wine, but not too much, is acceptable. “You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.” —Deuteronomy 14:26. And “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” —Luke 7:34.
- Don’t become intoxicated. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit —Ephesians 5:18. (See also 1Timothy 3:3 and “nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” —1Corinthians 6:10.
How should we address alcohol use by others in the church? First, understand that the potential for addiction and abuse of a variety of what might otherwise be useful things exists in everyone. Some will be able to responsibly consume alcohol and others won’t. Some will be able to gamble as occasional entertainment and others won’t. And yet others will responsibly eat food while their neighbors will be gluttonous. We should always be on the lookout for our fellow followers of Jesus, correcting them as necessary (more on this later when we address the question of judging). But otherwise, we aren’t to judge others regarding their use of alcohol as long as it doesn’t cause them to sin.
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day —Colossians 2:16.
Do you enjoy God’s creation in moderation? Or do you abuse some things, turning the good into bad?