What Does the Bible Say About Drinking?

A recent study has revealed that red wine is the most potent alcoholic drink in terms of decreasing the risk of diabetes.
A recent study has revealed that red wine is the most potent alcoholic drink in terms of decreasing the risk of diabetes. | (Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)

Alcoholic drinks have been around humanity for millennia, with a constant debate existing over whether it is acceptable to imbibe any fermented substances.

Within Christianity, there is no consensus on whether it is OK to drink alcohol. While some enjoy the practice, others make a habit of abstaining.

When it comes to the sacrament of communion, some churches have opted to replace actual wine with grape juice, in large part to appeal to those who may be harmed by consuming even the slightest amount of alcohol.

But what does the Bible have to say about drinking alcohol? Both the Old and New Testament speak of the practice, giving it mixed reviews.

Here are some of the verses about alcohol in the Old Testament:

"You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come."-Leviticus 10:9 

"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." -Proverbs 20:1 

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine." -Isaiah 5:11

Here are some of the verses about alcohol in the New Testament:

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap." -Luke 21:34

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." -Ephesians 5:18 

"Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." -1 Timothy 5:23

Patrick Nelson, president of Dordt Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post that while "the Bible does not expressly forbid the drinking of alcohol," nevertheless it "does forbid us from getting drunk from the drinking of alcohol."

"Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11) so it's safe to assume he probably consumed wine himself which was a custom in his day. However, he was also very adamant about Christians not giving in to drunkenness," explained Nelson.

"Drunkenness and addiction are sins in the eyes of Lord and its effects can be devastating not only to the person but those around them as well."

A spokesperson for the Christian Reformed Church in North America directed CP to a webpage listing their official position on alcoholic consumption.

"Scripture teaches that beverages containing alcohol can be a blessing or a source of evil. Those who drink alcohol must consider its effects on themselves and on others," explained the Church.

"Abstinence from alcohol may be an appropriate moral response in particular situations, but it is not demanded by Scripture and therefore should not be demanded by the church."

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