A Biblical Look at Alcohol Consumption

Drinking is a complex issue for some Christians because the Bible does not clearly state if drinking in moderation is fully wrong or right. The Bible isn’t ambiguous about drunkenness. Ephesians 5:18-19 reads, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (ESV). There are verses in the Bible that encourage drinking, while other verses note the negative impact of drinking. First Timothy 5:23 reads, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” However, Romans 14:21 reads, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Since verses regarding moderate drinking aren’t black and white, it is important for Christians to ponder whether having a drink in social settings, such as a glass of wine with dinner, is acceptable or not.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a practical definition of moderate drinking on a daily basis includes one drink for the average woman and two drinks for the average man. Women are advised to have only one drink since, generally, they are shorter and weigh less than men. From a Christian standpoint, moderate drinking involves having a drink for social purposes, not drinking excessively or using alcohol to fill a void in life. Some Christians believe if others see them drinking it will cause Christians and non-Christians to “stumble.” This implies that Christians should avoid alcohol because people who either struggle with alcoholism or often get drunk will be tempted. This is understanding and considerate to those who struggle with alcoholism, yet it should not be the ultimate guideline for Christian drinking.

As a believer, I think moderate drinking is acceptable when Christians are mindful of their consumption and give moral consideration to drinking, knowing one’s intention for consuming alcohol and being aware if people you are drinking around have a history of excessive drinking. If I am aware that someone has a drinking problem I would abstain from drinking in his or her presence. Now if I had a problem with not drinking whenever I socialize with others, then I need to question whether I have a drinking issue. I also think that Christians should provide an example of how to consume alcohol without abusing it. Often alcohol has such a negative connotation to Christians that they forget moderate drinking has health benefits. Drinking in moderation encourages people to drink responsibly. A portion of Psalm 104:15 notes that wine helps strengthen the heart. When it comes to moderate drinking, Christians must maintain a balance and consider their Christian morality and why they need to drink. Each Christian should determine whether drinking in moderation is a moral conflict for them considering their consumption and the impact their drinking would have on others.

Source: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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