Monday, January 11, 2010

Does the Bible teach abstinence from alcohol?

I had one of the best weekends.  A friend of mine that I grew up with, came to stay with my family this weekend.  I was very glad to hear that he is growing more and more in his faith.  It was very inspiring.

As a new Christian, he has a lot of questions.  One of his friends had told him that the Bible is against drinking alcohol.  His friend also told him that every reference in scripture where it talks about wine, is not fermented and pretty much amounts to grape juice.  For this reason, he abstains from alcohol altogether.

If someone believes that abstaining from alcohol brings them closer to God, I am all for it.  I think that sacrifice / fasting is one of the ways that we grow in our faith and get closer to God.  However, with that being said, I do not think that it is necessary to misinterpret scripture in order to support this practice.

In order to debunk this false interpretation of Scripture, we discussed many different verses - however, the most important verse that we found together was the following:

Luke 7:33-34
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." '

There are a couple of obvious things that we can gain from this verse.  Wine is alcoholic in scripture.  It is not just grape juice.  It must be, since they slandered Jesus saying that he was a drunkard.  Which of course leads us to our next fact.  Jesus drank wine.  Jesus drank alcohol.

There is plenty of support in scripture that we are not to drink alcohol in order to get drunk.  We should never let drinking get out of hand to where it impairs our judgement.  But it is completely in line with Scripture to drink alcohol.

God bless...


Deborah said...

I'm glad you did this Carlus, stuff like this always takes me back to 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."

I would never want to cause another to stumble, so I always make people aware that may come over and possibly struggling, if there will be alcohol. Completely agree on what you wrote here.... and good to see you writing again. =)

Carlus Henry said...


... and good to see you writing again. =)

What can I have inspired me.....

John said...

Carlus, Steph and their family are awesome and inspire me to focus more of myself to my "faith-walk" all the time.

Mostly, I'm health-conscious when it comes to eat and drink, but I'll have the occasional beer or mixed-drink when with friends, no-prob. What was hard for me was having close relationships with folks who liked to partake in it more than me.

In addition to the excellent quotes by Carl and Deborah, I think it was Stephanie who pointed out that the Bible says something along the lines of "drink to be merry." I'm yet to be able to quote Scripture from memory but am working on it!

Anyhow, like we all seemed to agree on, if it leads to a negative experience, maybe a person should abstain. However, what seems to work for me at the moment is an occasional drink or two to celebrate good company!

Deborah said...

Just for grins and giggles... Hi John and nice to meet you.

Drink and be merry is in several places actually. Luke 12:19 for one "9And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." which taken in context is found in the parable of the rich fool to which God's response to the whole scene is not pleasant. But I think Ecclesiastes is more clear on this.

8:15 says " 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad."

But then go back a little bit and look at 3 :12-13 "12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God."

I think you got it, it's all about self control, there are a ton of scriptures as well on drunkenness... ick... =)

kmw said...

The interesting thing to consider when dealing with the wine vs. "grape juice" issue is the annoying fact that the grape juice you purchase at the grocery store is the result of an artificial process of pasteurization unknown in antiquity.

Thomas Welch was a supporter of the American temperance (anti-alcohol) movement in the post Civil War days. He pasteurized pressed grapes to stop the NATURAL process of fermentation into wine that occurs when you squeeze grapes. Hence we see "Welch's Grape Juice."

As I said above, pasteurization was unknown in antiquity; grape juice in and of itself is not natural, whereas wine is. Next time you are at the grocery store, look at any grape juice and see that it is pasteurized.

We have also been told that overcooking vegetables and fruits destroys valuable anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. Ever wonder why health experts recommend a glass of wine and not a glass of grape juice? It is because the heated process of pasteuization destroys these nutrients; regular old wine is natural and maintains the nutrients.

The direct word, οίνος, in the NT means wine. Some people even pronounce this word wee-nos (I go for oy-nos, though).

luke said...

it's equally obvious that the scriptures warning against drunkenness use the same word for 'wine' as those that presumably forbid it. if the word really meant just grape juice, why would they even need to caution against drinking too much of it? ;)

binky said...

There is another obvious reason that wine referred to a fermented product. There was no refrigeration in biblical times and "grape juice" would have naturally fermented from stray yeast adrift in the air. Fermentation was, and still is, used as a way of preserving drink without refrigeration.

Nathan Ham said...

This is an extremely weak argument and it should never be used. In the previous verse they called John the Baptist demon possessed, but did that mean it was true? Just because they accused Jesus of drunkenness doesn't mean that he actually drank alcoholic wine. This is a very weak argument.

The other thing is that people need to stop saying they didn't have ways of preserving grape juice years ago before refrigeration. That simply is not true and a little bit of research would make it very clear to you.

Carlus Henry said...


Of course I respectfully disagree. Shocker right :D.

You said...
Just because they accused Jesus of drunkenness doesn't mean that he actually drank alcoholic wine

Looking at the context of scripture, you will first notice that this is actually Jesus talking. He is drawing a distinction between himself and John the Baptist. John the Baptist did not eat bread or drank wine, and the people said he had a demon. Jesus came eating and drinking and the people call him a drunk. In other words, no matter what the individual did, John the Baptist refraining while Jesus not refraining, people still found a reason to not accept them.

To consider the scripture as not attempting to draw a distinction between's John the Baptists actions and Jesus actions, the scripture would not make sense.