Christians and Social Drinking

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What does the Bible say about moderate alcohol consumption? I see an increasing openness to social drinking in our circle of Christian friends. In fact, this seems to be the new norm, but I’m not sure I feel comfortable with it.

Opinions about social drinking vary widely in the Christian community; equally committed believers find themselves on opposite sides of the question. But like you, we’ve noticed a trend toward accepting casual use of alcohol in evangelical circles — especially among young adults.

It’s not our place to lay down the law here, because this is one of those gray areas of Christian life and conduct where everyone needs to be “fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5, ESV). Still, we have a few thoughts that might be helpful as you draw your own conclusions.

Drunkeness vs. Self-Control

The Bible never gives detailed instructions about drinking. It does, however, give principles every Christian should consider. Bottom line: Scripture prohibits drunkenness, not drinking. If a Christian choosees to consume alcohol, they should do so with moderation and self-control.

  • Several passages in God’s Word openly condemn drunkenness (see Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and 1 Peter 4:3). Most notably, Ephesians 5:18 prohibits intoxication, contrasting it with being controlled by the Holy Spirit: “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (ESV). In other words, Scripture warns us that excessive drinking can cause us to lose control of our minds and bodies. That is clearly sinful.
  • But the Bible doesn’t say that all alcoholic consumption is wrong. Jesus didn’t hesitate to turn water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). And Paul advised Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (I Timothy 5:23).

How does your drinking affect you — and others?

Christians have a responsibility to regulate all of their behavior in every area of life according to the law of love (James 2:8). So drinking should be handled with prayer and careful consideration.

  • If someone does decide to drink, they should guard against the progressive nature of alcoholism (the tendency to move from a free choice to a chemical addiction). It’s particularly important to be aware of any family history related to alcoholism, as this can increase the chances of a person losing control.
  • Minors should obey the law and abstain from any use of alcohol.
  • Remember the advice Paul gives about stumbling blocks in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33: The question we should ask ourselves isn’t what may or may not be permissible — that’s a self-centered approach. Instead, we should ask how our choices (and how we communicate our perspectives) might impact other people (Philippians 2:3-4).

Want to talk more about it? Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our staff of licensed or pastoral counselors would be happy to help in any way they can.

 

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