Acts 17:11 Archives

Can Christians Drink?

In response to the question above, by Dean VanDruff.

This is an area where godly people can come to different conclusions.

Rom 14:1-5 (NIV) Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.... Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

The point is that nowhere in scripture is drinking prohibited, and many godly people drank/drink. What God does clearly and forcefully forbids is drinking for the purpose of getting drunk.

Some have purposed before God to not drink at all. Those who do so with godly motives are:

  1. Applying the scripture to have no appearance of evil;

  2. Walking circumspectly and carefully considering their besetting sins (being an alcoholic by nature) or;

  3. Out of love for someone else who might stumble if they did.

Personally, I am not seriously tempted towards substance abuse and have freedom in Christ to drink. I would not, of course, drink around someone who struggles with this temptation, nor would I if this might be used to taint my witness in any way.

When I first went into the business world (1981) I did not drink while dining out with co-workers or customers, thinking this would be a good chance to call attention to my faith when asked why. But after a while, I was convicted that I was being hypocritical... since I did in fact drink (very rarely) among friends and family. Thus, the segue of my witness was based on a subtle deception, a "false witness" of sorts--as if I did not drink at all and that I did not because I was a Christian. So I started drinking as might be fit for the moment in moderation. I have never been drunk in my entire life.

I have had the opportunity to help more than a few recovering alcoholics, and I have seen first hand the ravages of this besetting sin. Thus, I completely understand how some people so hate what alcohol has come to represent in this culture that they condemn the whole.

But in biblical times they did not have the "hard liquor" readily available as we do now, it was largely wine. Wine is generally used as a type of blessing in the Old and New testaments, which strikes our modern sensibilities as odd. When we think of alcohol it is hard not to think of drunk drivers, someone we know who has been killed or maimed by one, ruined families, beaten wives, lost jobs, etc. But this is due to the depravity of man being manifest in the last days, and was not the perspective that the Scriptures were written from.

Wine is spoken of as a blessing by God, and is even used to describe the New Covenant infusion of the Spirit in type. Like any blessing, it can be abused and this is sternly and vividly warned against.

Eph 5:18 (NIV) Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Rom 14:17 (NIV) The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

We should not try to persuade people who loathe alcohol to do what for them ("be convinced in your own mind" Rom 14:5) might well be sin. And if for them, then we can abstain from it for their sakes on occasion with nary a thought of real loss. For the kingdom is not about eating or drinking, and we can be all things to all men as would be edifying. Rather, let us aim at righteousness, peace, and joy!

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