A gracEmail subscriber asks whether it is wrong for him and his wife to drink a glass of wine. His church flatly condemns drinking, with no exceptions. He wants to know what the Bible actually says.
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The Bible does not condemn temperate drinking as such. Wine, like food, is God’s gift to humankind from the earth (Psalm 104:14-15; 1 Tim. 4:4-5). Used properly, it benefits both health and conviviality (1 Tim. 5:23; Deut. 14:22-26). Jesus himself once miraculously provided wine for a wedding feast (John 1:1-11). By Jesus’ day, the Passover Seder involved several cups of wine, one of which Jesus endowed with fresh significance in instituting the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:17-20). Even fundamentalist Christian churches in America used fermented wine for Communion until the temperance movement of the 1860’s when Dr. Thomas Welch, a Methodist minister and New Jersey dentist, developed a process for preserving unfermented grape juice for that very purpose.
However, the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is sometimes forbidden. Alcoholic consumption in any quantity is wrong for the person whose conscience is trained to believe that all such consumption is sinful (Rom. 14:22-23). Christians are to refrain from drinking when they know that doing so will cause someone else to drink for whom it would be wrong (Rom. 14:14-21). One also does well to forego drinking in cultures and circumstances when it will create an unnecessary hindrance to the acceptance of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
Clearly, according to the Bible, God disapproves of drunkenness under any circumstance. It is foolish (Prov. 20:1), debilitating (Prov. 23:29-35) and has led to additional evil from earliest times (Gen. 9:20-27; 19:30-38). Drunkeness is a manifestation of the fallen nature (Gal. 5:19ff). It is part of the debauchery from which Jesus delivers us (Rom. 13:13) and is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle (Eph. 5:18). The unrepentant drunkard is not to be permitted fellowship in the Christian community (1 Cor. 5:11-13) and will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21).