The warning on people older than eighteen to be free to buy alcohol is all over yet an error in as far as God’s expectations from mankind is concerned. Pick a magazine, a newspaper, watch television, listen to the radio and got to the nearest bottle store, you will see this warning in bold warning colours.
Before I go into the spiritual aspect of taking alcoholic drinks, I first want to highlight a few medically proven undesired consequences. It is also worth noting that alcohol abuse effects on the body have no age limit. According to NIH, alcohol can affect the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and the immune system. The effects may vary in many ways but it is normally manifested in people when they become sickly, behaving in a funny way, etc.
The argument is often that drinking alcoholic beverages is not bad when done moderately. This is not only supported by medical studies but also some bible verses are often interpreted to be supporting this notion. Some studies have shown that wine and other forms of alcohol can be beneficial to one’s health when taken under controlled amounts. There also are some medical drugs in form of tablets and syrups may contain strict content of alcohol and therefore doctors can prescribe some for their patients. However, I believe that would not be proper for a medical doctor to prescribe a bottle of whisky instead of drugs that contain some alcohol.
The world view on alcohol
The world is not like the Bible as we shall see in the section to follow. It sets age limits for consuming alcohol as a standard yet it is not ready to face the consequences that come with people over the set age when the alcohol makes them do unwanted things. In fact, governments spend a lot of money trying to sort out the mess from people that committed some crimes when they are under the influence of alcohol. Just as an example, the world would lock up people that rape, kill, steal, fight and beat others. It does not forgive when the criminals quote alcohol as the cause for their actions and that they are above the age of 18.
In short the world sets up those that are above the age of 18 with their desire for alcoholic beverages. World standards are not to be conformed to according to Romans 12:2. I hope to cover the subject on conformance to worldly standards in the future. However, an article by ‘Truth or Tradition’ is a perfect read on the subject.
The Christian and alcohol
Taking the abuse of alcohol on the religious aspect, you will know that some religions may tolerate it while Christianity does not. This subject is itchy amongst Christians as well. Many would quote verse where the Bible talks about wine, without necessarily mentioning whether that wine should have alcoholic content in it or not. Therefore, before I delve into what the Bible teaches about alcohol and wine, I want to first go into differentiating wine from alcohol.
According to differencebetween.net, ‘wine is always considered an alcoholic beverage but an alcoholic beverage is not always considered as wine’. This means that any drink that contains alcohol can be called alcohol while some of the drinks may not contain alcohol. Wine may contain an insignificant percentage of alcohol which many be ignorable but sometimes the alcohol could be as high as 16 percent. To the Christian, the percentage does not matter but as guided by the verses I shall list next, once there is the mention of alcohol that particular drink should not be taken.
Let’s run through some bible verses that have the context of alcohol:
- Ephesians 5:18 – And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
- Proverbs 20:1 – Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
- Romans 14:21 – [It is] good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [any thing] whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
- 1 Timothy 5:23 – Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities (a medical prescription covers this phenomenon as discussed earlier in the article).
- Isaiah 55:1 – Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
- Isaiah 5:22 – Woe unto [them that are] mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
- Leviticus 10:9 – Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: [it shall be] a statute for ever throughout your generations:
- Isaiah 5:11 – Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them!
- 1 Timothy 3:8 – Likewise [must] the deacons [be] grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
- Proverbs 31:6 – Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
- Proverbs 23:20-21 – Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
- Galatians 5:21 – Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
- John 2:1-11 – And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do [it]. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare [it]. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: [but] thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
- Hosea 4:11 – Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
- Romans 13:13 – Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
May I conclude by stating that there could be more verses on the subject and some of these verses may seem to be supporting the practice of taking alcohol but they are not. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 confirms that Christians are called to stay away from anything that looks bad. They are also not to do anything that causes a brother to stumble (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13). They are their brother’s keepers. If that which a Christian brother drinks looks very much the same as alcohol, the Christian should mention that whatever he or she is drinking is not alcoholic and give proper description of what it is or shun it completely.
The scriptures are our road map and therefore give us guidance on this subject. If for any reason you still remain confused on the subject, search the scriptures even more and then pray about this. There are a number of ways God can use to answer you on this. Some examples of how God speaks are covered in the post ‘He appears to those that diligently seek Him’.