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Bible Q

Why do some Christians frown upon drinking wine or beer?

There are three main reasons why someone might frown upon a certain type of behavior. Either (a) they think it is sinful in itself, (b) they think it might lead to sin, or (c) they think it has negative associations. I will address each point in turn:

(a) The Bible does not say that drinking alcohol is sinful in itself. The psalmist talks of God blessing mankind with wine to gladden the heart (Ps 104:15). Paul encourages Timothy to drink when to help his stomach (1 Tim 5:23). Jesus himself probably drank wine (Matt 11:19) and, of course, wine is one of the symbols Jesus gave his disciples to remember him by. So alcohol itself does not seem to be sinful.

(b) Alcohol can lead to sinful behaviour. Paul condemns some at the church at Corinth for dishonouring the breaking of bread service by getting drunk (1 Cor 11:21). Elsewhere Paul condemns drunkenness (Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:10; Gal 5:21). Paul says drunkards are unsuitable for serving the church (1 Tim 3:3; Tit 1:7). In Eph 5:18 Paul warns that getting drunk leads to reckless living. It is drinking to excess that Paul condemns. Of course, this raises the question of how much is too much. The Bible does not explicitly answer this point but given that what Paul condemns is drunkardness leading to reckless living then we can suggest that it is the loss of control that is the problem. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and may lead you to doing things you wouldn’t normally do. This loss of control is a problem as it may lead you into sinful behaviours.

(c) To some people alcohol (or certain types of alcohol) has negative associations. This, however, is rather subjective. For example some people thinking having a glass of sherry before dinner is fine but look down on beer. But it is just as easy (if not easier) to get durnk on sherry as with beer. Some people might think that the sort of people who drink beer are worse than the sort of people who drink sherry but those kinds of stereotypes are unrealistic and unhelpful.

In summary, the Bible does not condemn drinking alcohol in itself. Nor does it seems sensible to frown upon alcohol just because it is sometimes associated with sinful activities. However, drinking to excess is warned against in the Bible as it leads to a loss of control and other sinful behaviours. We can enjoy alcohol as a blessing from God but we must do so responsibly and not let it lead us into sin.

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