This has been on my mind for a little over a week now and I thought I would try to empty my head out, so here goes.
I live in a small town in East Tennessee. Rogersville to be exact. Pretty much like any small town in America where most folks know each other and the pace can be so slow that we have to check to make sure we are moving. Rogersville is promoted as a historic town with some nice old houses and other historic buildings. To help keep the historic part going, we have the Rogersville Heritage Association. As far as I know, this is a non profit group that exists for the purpose of promoting the history and preserving historic buildings in Rogersville. A couple of weeks ago, this group sponsored an event in town that among other things included the sale of beer. This has caused people to take sides about whether this is right or wrong.
As the debate started, it was about whether it was proper for a non profit to raise funds through beer sales at an event promoted as a “Family Event”. As the debate went on, I started noticing that several comments were made from people who were Christians and they believed that drinking beer and or wine was acceptable for Christians. Some even saying that the Bible approves and encourages the drinking of alcohol. Seeing all this got me to wondering why so many Christians believe that drinking alcohol is OK. SO here are my thoughts.
First let me say that I can’t prove with a verse from the Bible that you shouldn’t drink. That would make it too easy, but it would clear up a lot of the confusion. The one word that seems to cause all the different opinions about drinking is the word wine. It is clearly in the scriptures and it is even true that Jesus turned the water into wine. I have to ask the question if the wine was alcoholic or if the wine is simply the fruit of the vine. When I was younger, I remember that sometimes we had apple cider and it was always served cold and always good. Sweet tasting and refreshing. But if the apple cider wasn’t stored just right or for too long, it would “turn hard”. If you got hold of some hard cider, you could immediately tell cause the smell was different and the taste was now a bit more bitter. And if you drunk enough of it you would find that it had a little kick to it. It is not hard for me to view the wine of the Bible like this. I know that a lot of people don’t like the grape juice theory, but I don’t have a problem with it. When you first pick the grapes and make the juice, it would be sweet and then later when fermentation set in, the taste changes and the nature of the wine changes. So this means that I don’t believe that Jesus was the bartender at the wedding even though He did provide some refreshing drinks. And according to the scriptures, some of the best that had ever been served.
Another area of discussion seems to be abuse of alocohol. While the Bible doesn’t come right out and say that we can’t drink, it does have several warnings about drinking in excess. This leads most to believe that as long as they don’t abuse the alochol, it is alright. Let’s apply this line of thought to fire. If your house is cold you can start a fire and get warmth. As long as you do it safely, you will get the benefits from the fire. But what if you became engrossed in the fire and lost all self control and became wreckless with the way you handled the fire, then it would soon burn down your house. This is what happens with alochol. They call it alcoholism. And I have never met an alcoholic who had never had a drink. I also have never met an alocholic that started out in life to be an alocholic. An old Japanese proverb says that first the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man.
- Proverbs 20:1 says that wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
- Proverbs 21:17 says that he who loves pleasure will be a poor man and he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
- Proverbs 23:20-21 says to not mix with winebibbers or with gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty.
Is this enough encouragement to enjoy a glass of wine yet? In the 23rd chapter of Proverbs we also have a picture of an alocoholic. Verse 29 asks the questions who has woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, wounds without cause, redness of eyes. Then verse 30 answers the questions as He who lingers long at the wine and those who go in search of mixed wine. You remember that I said that when the cider got hard it tasted different. In verse 32 it says that at the last, it (wine) bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Then you will see strange things and your heart will utter perverse things. Then you will be like the one who lies down in the middle of the sea or (my favorite) like the one who lies at the top of a mast saying they hit me but it didn’t hurt and they beat me and I did not feel it. When shall I awake that I may seek another drink?
This paints a pretty picture doesn’t it? Eat, drink and be merry. Nothing but fun ahead. That’s what the world would have us believe. A little further in Proverbs we find the advice of King Lemuel’s Mother. In chapter 31 verse 4 she advised him that it was not for Kings to drink wine nor for princes to have intoxicating drink. Verse 5 says lest they drink and forget the law and pervert justice. She advised him to avoid alcohol so that he could have a clear head and rule his kingdom justly. Would this apply to me being able to rule my own life and make good judgements in my life? Seems that if this worked for the King, it would also help me. Interestingly enough, strong drink and wine is suggested for them who are dying and bitter. The logical conclusion that I come to is that the less that I have to do with alcoholic beverages the better.
I was talking with a friend a couple of days ago and he made the statement that as he has gotten older, his answer to this question NOW is “No, Christians should not drink”. When he said this I filed it away for using now. How about the idea that the more we grow in the grace of God and our relationship with God through Jesus, the more we realize the dangers of drinking and appreciate the scriptures advice against wine and strong drink. When I was younger I was what I call an automatic rebel. This means that whenever two or more were against something, I was for it. If they were for it, I was against it. Sometimes I was even against something I wanted just cause somebody else was for whatever it was. Kinda of dumb now that I think about it. Anyway, as I have gotten older, I have come to realize that if God warns me about something, I should listen cause God has my interest and well being in mind or else He won’t warn me. Took me a long time to realize that. God is not trying to take my joy, He is only trying to help me have more joy.
I also noticed some who thought that if Jesus were here in person, He would have a beer and enjoy himself at the event in question. This bothered me cause it seems to say that Jesus would act like us if he were here. He was here before, and He lived among us and above us at the same time. He had no sin in His life and as far as I can tell, He lived to serve others, not Himself. Even when He was on the cross dying and was offered wine mixed with pain killing medicine, He refused. Someone asked me once why Jesus would refuse something that could have eased His pain while on the cross. I told them I thought that Jesus was making a statement that the Father in Heaven was enough for Him and that His heavenly Father would comfort Him as He died. Consider this. You will never find more peace of mind or strength for what you are facing than what God offers thorugh your relationship with Jesus. In other words, Jesus did not need that drink and I don’t either.
1 Corinthians 6:12 Paul states that all things are lawful to him, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but he said that he would not be brought under the power of any. This is how I believe that Christians should look at alcoholic drinks. They may be lawful, but they are not helpful. And they can bring you under their power. Then in 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul again stated that all things were lawful, but not all things edify. In verse 24 he pointed out that we are not to seek our own well being, but we are to look out for the well being of others. To me this is another reason that I should not drink alcohol. I choose to not drink rather than take the chance that my drinking would cause another to stumble or worse, cause someone to not be saved. As I said before, I have come to the logical conclusion that Christians should not drink alocholic beverages. I may not have answered this question for you, but I hope that I may have caused you to think about this issue in a new way.