A common question among the church today, “Can Christians drink alcohol?” Most believers sound a harsh No! But is this a forbidden substance? Taking a deeper look at the history of alcohol and it’s role in the early church can help clarify the mess we encounter today.
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” (Romans 14:14).
Alcohol is not unclean in itself and should not be seen as a horrible thing in itself. Yes, it can lead to addiction and so can your phone in your hand at this moment. Yes, it can become an unhealthy habit if overdone and so can overeating or eating bad foods. Yes, it can destroy families and so can anger issues and other such problems that are not related to alcohol.
Everyone always wants to look at substances in life as the real problems instead of looking at self control issues. People who say they do not drink alcohol usually act self righteous while at the same time indulging in a six pack of coke a day. We all have problems, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, so why are we bashing people that like a beer or two instead of actually tackling real problems like drug addicts, murderers, rapist, thieves, and the like?
Now I do want to clarify that I am not advocating the use of alcohol or trying to cause someone to start using it for any reason. Rather I am trying to point out the fact that if someone does drink and does not have an addiction problem, then it would be best to leave the brother or sister alone. Why trip someone up over a simple endeavor and cause them to ultimately stumble by living a life after legalism?
“But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9).
Many Christians reference this verse against the use of alcohol, and yet Paul was primarily speaking of eating foods offered to idols. But for a moment we will use it in the context that many use it in and say that it could be used with alcohol. With that being said that means that one should also not eat meat in case a fellow brother or sister feels convicted with the killing and eating of animals.
You also should not eat bad foods in front of an overweight brother or sister in case they find it as freedom for them to do the same and cause them to stumble with their overall health. Also it would be best to refrain from watching sports in case you cause a fellow brother or sister to stumble and become obsessed with sports (I have actually witnessed such a thing).
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5).
Some may say that I am taking it too far out of context, perhaps, but not really. People who do not drink love using this reference until it brings their own problems out, then they tend to become defensive. My point here is to not condemn, but to reveal that we all have things that we enjoy and as long as we are not flaunting it around or becoming obsessed with it, then it will be just fine.
The next thing I would like to point out is the fact that people have been drinking alcohol since 10,000 B.C. The ancients drank beer and wine to compensate for the unclean and bacteria filled water. It was not until about 100 to 150 years ago that we saw purified water, and thus brought about a perfection society that seeks to cause everyone to be exactly the same.
“And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give to you.” (Deuteronomy 7:13).
Some at this point like to point out that the wine and beer of those days was not as strong as today, which is completely and utterly false! Most historians, biblical scholars and archaeologists agree that the wine and beer at that time was the same as what we consume today. If it were just grape juice then there would be no way for the Bible to even mention the word drunk do to the fact that you can not get drunk off grape juice.
Even within the Leviticus law we do not see even the high priest being called to abstain from alcohol except when he went to offer sacrifices. Many of the prophets and preachers throughout the ages drank beer or wine including John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther and many others. Christian monks not only used to drink it, but also brewed beer and sold it to help fund their monasteries.
Many today want people to abstain trying to point out that it is unhealthy to drink wine or beer, when actually much research has shown that one to two glasses of wine or beer moderately throughout the week is exceptionally healthy. These same people are more than often the people who are unhealthy themselves and eat fast food and drink soda on the daily basis.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13).
The biggest thing to remember with alcohol is the fact that we should not become drunk as this is a sin, not drinking itself. We should also not flaunt it around as to cause someone weaker to stumble due to our freedom. And last we should always do everything, not just drinking, with self control and thanksgiving. I hope this helps and may the Lord bless you all richly!