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Examine Scripture

Ephesians 5:18-20

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Christians and Alcohol…

What does the Bible say about drinking?  Is it okay for Christians to drink alcohol?

And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another (in) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. -Ephesians 5:18-20, NAB

During my Protestant days, I remember being taught, using verses like this, that drinking is wrong.  But is that what St. Paul is really trying to say?  Is drinking a sin?

There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits drinking alcohol.  In fact, you may already know that Jesus’ first miracle (publicly anyway) was changing water to wine.  If Jesus taught prohibition, then it would make little sense for Him to do this.  Instead, He should have changed all of the wine to water.

Other verses actually show that Jesus was not afraid to drink:

The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”  -Matthew 11:19, NAB

Was Jesus a drunkard?  Hardly.  But He obviously was not afraid to have a couple of drinks.  In fact, during those days, alcohol actually served a purpose:

Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.  -1 Timothy 5:23, NAB

Jesus drank alcohol.  It even seems to have served a purpose beyond having a good time.  Where, then, does this misconception about the use of alcohol come from?  Why do some Christians believe that the Bible prohibits alcohol?

Verses like today’s are often misinterpreted as a prohibition against alcohol, but the verse is really trying to teach moderation.  St. Paul is trying to teach us self-control.  It is not wise to drink to extreme excess, where our drunken state may lead to poor choices – and even sin.  Also, we should not drink so often that we become alcoholics – where we place greater dependence on alcohol than God.

Does the Bible prohibit drinking?  No.  But the key is knowing that we should consume alcohol, not let alcohol consume us.  Drinking in moderation is acceptable, as long as it does not lead us to sin or become more important to us than God.

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