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Can Christians drink alcohol as long as they don’t get drunk?
(Answered by John Lowe)

QUESTION: Can Christians drink alcohol as long as they don’t get drunk?

SHORT ANSWER: The Bible does not prohibit the use / consumption of alcohol; however, there are many warnings about the losening of morals that can occur if one drinks too much. While intellectual honesty demands this answer, this question should also be met with the examination of ones’ self and his/her motives. WHY do I want to drink alcohol? What is the purpose? What is the goal? Can I praise and thank God for the consumption of this liquid? As with all things, please emerse yourself in fasting and prayer before reaching a conclusion.

Finally, the New Testament not only mentions sin, it also mentions convictions. While it may not be a sin to consume alcohol per se, the Holy Spirit may lead you to not to drink any. And if I may… add to your fasting and prayer a life led by the Spirit! Ephesians 5:18!

LONG ANSWER: As mentioned above, I do not find any prohibition to consume alcohol in the Bible. Why do I say that?

In the Old Testament we see three major types of laws set before us: Moral, Ceremonial, and Judicial (a few may fairly be called “Civil”). The law is our guide on what is called sin, and the breaking of the law is sin. All the ceremonial and judicial requirements of the law have been fulfilled in Christ; however, we are still oblidged as Christians and to follow the moral law. Keeping this in mind…

While we see prohibitions against homosexuality, fornication, adultury (violations of the Moral law), and many other such things, we see no similar outlawing of the consumption of alcohol. Therefore, it would be a dishonest interpretation to say it is a sin.

Now I also flip this coin and show the other side. While there is no explicit prohibition, the Bible, Old and New Testaments have many warnings against having too much “strong drink”. (Proverbs 20:1; 23:21, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:1 are some examples) Of course, here I must mention, that even drunkenness is never explicitly called a sin. The warnings are explicit to what you might do while drunk, and of course a lifestyle of drunkenness is most definitely not spoken well of.

The simple truth is that when people drink too much, they do things they might not do when sober. There is a loosening of the morals that occurs. People often become loud, rude, violent, etc.

Consider the words of Proverbs 31:4-7, “[4] It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: [5] Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. [6] Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. [7] Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

Let’s focus on verses 4 and 5 and think about how we, as Christians, can apply this advice to our lives. We Christians have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We carry the message of the Gospel. We are to obey the Spirit every minute of our lives. (Now, I realize that no one is perfect; however, as I am fond of saying, “there is a difference between a mistake and a lifestyle”.)

If it is not proper for kings to drink for the reasons given in verse 5, how much more reason does the vessel of the Gospel have to NOT to get carried away with strong drink. If earthly business needs such care, then our heavenly business most certainly does as well.

While intellectual honesty and proper interpretation demands that I say drinking is not a sin, this same honesty leads me to ask another question. How much is too much? When is the line crossed? How will you know? While I can’t tell you it’s a sin, I believe there is sufficient evidence in scripture not to play with this serpent.

It’s like I tell my kids… you can take drugs, you might die, you might not, but why take the chance? One of the sad stories I reference to them on this subject is life of Len Bias. I live in North Carolina and ACC basketball around here is big stuff. Bias, played for the Maryland Terrapins. (Maryland was in the ACC at that time)

Bias was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft. He would have went on play with the likes of Bird, Parrish, McHale, and Walton. Notice, he would have… he died from taking drugs and never played a single game in the NBA. No telling what a player he might have been.

Let’s apply this to drinking. Maybe you’ll drink too much, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have too much and beat your wife, maybe you won’t. Perhaps you’ll have too much and do or say something that ruins your testimony, may you won’t. BUT WHY TAKE THE CHANCE?

Again, it’s like I teach my kids about life. ONE MOMENT can change your life for the better or worse. ONE MOMENT doing something you’d never otherwise do could land you in jail. It could run your testimony. People are watching. Is it worth the risk?

So why tell me it’s not a sin, and then tell me not to do it? Again, HONESTY. I am not going to gloss over something to coddle someone’s opinion or feelings. In Theology, it’s details that separates the men from the boys. Lastly, we should ALWAYS have good reasons for our beliefs.

Finally, some will tell you that drinking is a sin. Perhaps your Pastor will tell you my response here is wrong. Maybe that’s worth debating and maybe it’s not. Herein is wisdom, knowing when to debate and when not. Be careful that we treat our brethren with love and respect, even when we disagree. The best advice I can give in all things is to follow the Holy Spirit.

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