Should Christians Drink Alcohol
By: Dr. David L. Sampson
For many Christians today the use of alcohol is a controversial subject. Regardless of the controversy and debate, the believer in Christ must side with the Bible and development a biblical worldview on the matter. I am aware that based on our American culture, and even among some Christian circles, that my stance against drinking alcohol is not popular. The Bible tells me, however, not to be concerned about the world’s opinion, but God’s opinion on matters of faith and practice. I agree with Dr. John MacArthur who wrote, “The quest for the world’s approval is nothing less than spiritual harlotry.” In fact, that is the imagery that James used when He wrote, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Furthermore, I realize that many contemporary evangelicals have abandoned the noble practice of the Bereans in the Bible, who were admired for carefully examining the claims of truth—“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11…emphasis added.) The problem Christianity faces today is that there has been a departure from the truth, and many have allowed the culture to dictate what Christian ethics, convictions, and morals ought to be. Again, to quote Dr. MacArthur—
The only times the church has made any significant impact on the world are when the people of God have stood firm, refused to compromise, and boldly proclaimed the truth despite the world’s hostility. When Christians have shrunk away from the task of confronting popular worldly delusions with unpopular biblical truths, the church has invariably lost influence and impotently blended into the world. Both Scripture and history attest to that fact. And the Christian message simply cannot be twisted to conform to worldly opinion. Biblical truth is fixed and constant, not subject to change or adaptation.
One cannot help but see the disturbing and damaging results of alcohol consumption in our world. In his 1991 book entitled, Biblical Answers to Tough Questions, Dr. Charles Ryrie points out that the money used for alcohol consumption could easily address some of the social problems that we face today. He writes,
Think what could be done for other social problems if that money could become available for positive use! The grain used to make alcoholic beverages in one year in the U.S. alone would feed at least twenty million people for one year. If we could recover that grain for people in famine areas of the world, a basic resource could be used to save lives, instead of to destroy them.
Because man has been corrupted by sin, his depraved nature has produced an insatiable appetite for corruption. Sadly, our society is increasing in more addicts and fewer withdrawals. Millions of Americans habitually use alcoholic beverages. No wonder alcoholism is increasing at an alarming rate.
To justify drinking within Christianity, many will turn to (I Timothy 5:23), where Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake. Let’s look at the verse closely. First, he said a little and not a lot. Secondly, it was for his infirmities (i.e. sickness), not for pleasure. Third, the Bible speaks of the evil of wine. It produces hardships on those who partake in excess (cf. Isaiah 5:11). Alcohol will lead to disgrace and even judgment (Amos 6:6-7). Another thing that must be taken into count is that the wine today is not like the wine of biblical times. According to Dr. Norman Geisler he points out that,
The wine that was used in the biblical times was mixed with three parts water to one part wine, thus diluting it to a relatively harmless amount of alcohol. When this was taken in this minimal amount in conjunction with a meal, there was little chance in a non-alcoholic society for it to be personally or socially harmful. The same is not true today, since the wine, beer, and whiskey being imbibed is by biblical standards “strong drink.” And this is even more problematic in an alcoholic culture where one out of ten persons who begins to drink becomes a problem drinker.
It is disturbing that believers are trying to justify why they should not obey the mandate to—“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). My mind immediately goes back in history to the theologians who championed the cause of Christ in our nation and around the world preaching to “be ye separate!” Where is the evidence of their work and effort? Has it been buried beneath the moral decay of the church and the depraved culture of the day? It is remarkable that the craving of some Christians is liquor and not the Lord. The believer in Christ, and especially the leadership, is to strive to be temperate. Dr. John MacArthur points out that, “The Greek word translated “temperate” (nēphalios) means without wine or not mixed with wine. It speaks of sobriety—the opposite of intoxication.” The believer in Christ is—saved, sealed, sanctified, and should be sober! As one preacher said, “Many things can be preserved in alcohol, but Christian character is not one of them.”
What’s The BIG Deal?
The big deal is the believer’s neglect to heed the various warnings given in the Bible concerning the consumption of alcohol.
- Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
- Proverbs 23:29-33 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
- Isaiah 24:9 They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
- Habakkuk 2:15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
- 1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
- Ephesians 5:18 "Be not drunk with wine."
- Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…drunkenness…”
- 1 Peter 4:3 “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine…”
Digging a little deeper, let’s consider Genesis 9 and the sad story of Noah's drunkenness. The Bible says in Genesis 9:20“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.” After the flood,Noah planted perhaps the first vineyard, made the first wine, and ended up the first man to get drunk. From that drunkenness, came the shameful episode where Ham saw his father's nakedness, which led to the breakup of a family and the fragmentation of the human race. That story stands as a warning to all who would minimize the dangers of drinking alcohol.
My point is this—The Bible warns us repeatedly of the dangers of alcohol. How it is deceptive, associated with sinful activities, becomes a stumbling block to others, and can lead to many tragic results. If you have been trying to justify your drinking while reading this blog, read the piece below from Ann Landers that was printed years ago entitled, Positively Negative, and see if you find yourself in the words:
- We drank for joy and became miserable.
- We drank for sociability and became argumentative.
- We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.
- We drank for friendship and became enemies.
- We drank to help us sleep and awakened exhausted.
- We drank to gain strength, and it made us weaker.
- We drank for exhilaration and ended up depressed.
- We drank for "medical reasons" and acquired health problems.
- We drank to help us calm down and ended up with the shakes.
- We drank to get more confidence and became afraid.
- We drank to make conversation flow more easily, and the words came out slurred and incoherent.
- We drank to diminish our problems and saw them multiply.
I want to encourage you to stop drinking alcoholic beverages and get under the spout where the glory of the Lord runs out. Don’t be a stumbling block to others. Begin today drinking from the Lord’s well of joy and walk in obedience to His Word. In eternity you will be glad that you did.
Missional Until He Comes,
Dr. David L. Sampson
 Ibid. (3–4).
 Charles C. Ryrie, Biblical Answers to Tough Questions (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1991), 127.
 Norman L. Geisler and Thomas A. Howe, When Critics Ask: a Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992), 500.
 John F. MacArthur Jr., The Master’s Plan for the Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 221.
 Ann Landers, The Chicago Tribune. (Positive Negative) Verse On Adverse Effects Of Alcohol (January 15, 1999) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-01-15/features/9901150365_1_dear-ann-landers-noise-neighbor (accessed June 8, 2014.)