Christians & Alcohol

I believe the Bible is true for all ages–past, present, and future. But I also believe many things in the Bible describe a culture much different from ours. Rarely have I seen Christians so conservative, for example, that they insisted that women’s heads should be covered in church, although I dare say such Christians exist.

I doubt seriously that many of the Jews in biblical times were teetotalers. And I don’t know of anyone who’s found an eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt not drink alcohol.”

Although I grew up being taught that biblical wine was little more than grape juice, I find that hard to believe now. When Jesus turned water into wine, people marveled that the best wine had been saved for last. What that implies to me is “after they’d drunk enough they wouldn’t care about the quality anymore.” If my understanding is correct, it sure doesn’t sound like grape juice, does it?

The Bible preaches against drunkenness, though. And it tells about people who did some pretty objectionable things while intoxicated. Look up the story of what Noah did sometime after the ark landed if you question that. I’m not sure the Bible says King David was intoxicated when he was dancing naked in the street, but it sounds like a possibility.

By now you’re probably expecting me to say that I approve of Christians drinking and only disapprove of drunkenness.

WRONG!!! Although I have no right to judge Christians who believe drinking is okay, I don’t understand the need for it. Other than in countries where drinking wine from an early age is part of the culture.

The apostle Paul had some interesting things to say about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. I won’t try to explain the significance of that in the culture of Paul’s day, but suffice it to say that some Christians ate that meat without thinking twice about it, while others found it an extremely offensive practice.

Paul didn’t say whether it was right or wrong. Instead he told Believers to act according to their own consciences as long as they could do so without offending Believers who felt differently. Years ago I penned the following saying. “It’s not that Baptists don’t drink. They just don’t drink in front of other Baptists.” That generally gets at least a smile because people tend to recognize how accurately I’ve described the issue–and what Paul was talking about.

But what constitutes offense? Let me illustrate with a true story. I’ve changed a few of the identifying details, but otherwise it’s all too factual.

My ex- and I belonged to a good-sized church committee that went out to a local restaurant for a meal together. More than half of the members ordered alcohol. Now, in all fairness to them, no one drank to excess–or anywhere close to it. But what kind of example were we setting for other people in the restaurant?

It probably didn’t matter, some of you are saying. But suppose one of our group who had never drunk thought it must be okay because so many other people were doing it. And suppose that person ended up an alcoholic or caused a fatal auto accident while intoxicated.

Quite a few IFs, you might protest. Perhaps so, but my wife and I will continue to be teetotalers–she hasn’t always been one–because we don’t need alcohol to feel good. And because we want to set the best possible example–and make other non-drinkers feel comfortable.

What about you? Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to have you share a comment.

~*~

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Best regards,
Roger

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6 thoughts on “Christians & Alcohol

  1. There is obviously no commandment against drinking. Drunkeness, yes. Drinking for your stomach or socially, ok. It’s a personal thing. In Paul’s day they went about in togas. Not today. Anything wrong with a toga? Not really.
    The nice thing about the bible is is that it’s not a codex of laws and regulations. The Jews were given, apart from the 10 commandments, an additional set of some 615 laws. That was it. Jesus himself whittled that down to 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others. Everything alse could fit under those priciples. If you love your neighbor, which includes your wife, you won’t get drunk and beat her. Etc. No need for a specific law for that circumstance.
    The jews were expert in transforming a small, compact law into giant, cumbersome (and I might add unholy) congestion that ruled over every absurd circumstance in life. That’s why they missed the messiah. Typical human folly.
    Christians could well be headed for the same thing if they, too, overstep the word of God.
    SO I think your decision to be a teetotaler is good for you. As long as you try not to impose that piety onto me we’ll be OK. I actually almost never drink. Don’t like the taste. BUt I keep a few bottles of excellent scotches and whiskeys around for guests.
    Excellent post as always Roger.

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  2. Great comments, as always.

    Forgive me if I correct you on the two points Jesus whittled the law down to. You have the second one right, but here goes with the first and second. Matthew 22 says:

    34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35 One of them, [n]a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [o]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

    Nope, definitely won’t try to impose my opinion or my “piety” (I don’t think of it that way *L*) on you. Can only imagine about not liking the taste, but I don’t even care for the smell. *LOL*

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  3. Whereas I agree Jesus said those words – in context he was speaking to the Jewish leaders (including a lawyer) ”who strained out the gnat but gulped down the camel.” Notice he said the ”Law and the Prophets”, and, at that time, the law was still in effect. Later, when the law was abolished upon Jesus’ death, the new law came into being. Surely you realize we no longer attend the law of Moses with it’s various sacrifices, etc. Therefore nothing from the preceding law has any hold on Christians.
    This new law was a few priciples, not some staggering, cumbersome set of manuscripts that required a rabbi to interpret. Love your neighbor as yourself obviosly includes God. HOW COULD IT NOT?
    Fortunately it’s a minor point and we both seem to be on the same wavelenth so I praise you.
    Excellent post my boy!

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  4. Thanks, Tom. I think we’re pretty close to the same wavelength, anyhow, and I love the way you always keep me on my toes. Oh, wait. That’s not where my head is supposed to be, is it? *LOL* Take care, fella. I’ve read your comments several times and am still chuckling at the “my boy.”

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