Should Christians Drink Alcohol? Is it a sin to drink alcohol? What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol?
The Bible is clear the being drunk (drunkenness) is a sin. Paul instructs believers, "Don't be drunken with wine, in which is an abandoned life, but be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18 WEB)
However, drinking alcohol is not a sin. Even Jesus drank wine, "But I tell you that I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matthew 26:29 WEB)
Even so, there are situations when it might be considered wrong for a Christian to drink alcohol.
Paul explains that what we eat and drink should not become a source of stumbling for what he calls "weak believers." This is Paul's reasoning when talks about eating food sacrificed to idols, saying, "Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forevermore, that I don't cause my brother to stumble." (1 Corinthians 8:13 WEB)
Paul also tells believers, "Don't overthrow God's work for food's sake. All things indeed are clean, however it is evil for that man who creates a stumbling block by eating. It is good not to eat meat, drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles, is offended, or is made weak." (Romans 14:20-22 WEB)
Essentially, Paul says that eating meat sacrificed to idols is okay and drinking alcohol is also okay, because everything is clean. But, it is wrong to do so if it would cause a fellow believer to stumble.
However, Paul tells Timothy, "Be no longer a drinker of water only, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities." (1 Timothy 5:23 WEB) It appears that Timothy had not been drinking alcohol, likely for the reasons that Paul gives, but Paul instructs him to drink due to him frequently being sick (it was widely believed that alcohol helped cure illnesses).
Whenever someone in the New Testament speaks of stumbling, they are talking about spiritual or religious stumbling. Therefore, it is important to clarify what it means when Paul speaks of causing a believer to stumble due to what we eat or drink.
When Paul speaks of food sacrificed to idols, he is talking about believers who have previously worshiped these idols. Due to this fact, these new believers still had a difficult time viewing the meat as simply meat. Instead, they still viewed the meat sacrificed to an idol as partaking in the worship of that idol, so it was a source of stumbling for them.
However, if a person does not eat meat because they simply think it's wrong to do so (maybe they are vegetarian), a Christian eating meat is not a source of stumbling. The Christian is not risking that fellow believer's faith by choosing to eat meat or by choosing to drink.
Likewise, if you choose to drink alcohol, know that while it is a sin to be drunk, it is perfectly fine to drink moderately even if another Christian disapproves. Your drinking alcohol is not going to cause this believer to lose faith in Jesus Christ.
An exception to this fact is if you are drinking around an alcoholic, which may cause them to sin by getting drunk due to their addiction. Another exception is if you are the pastor of a church, in which case new believers might stumble from not understanding your freedom.
For those Christians who choose to partake in their freedom to drink, keep in mind that our attitudes are important. If we are drinking with the intention of provoking another believer, then we are certainly sinning.
Paul instructs believers, "Don't let him who eats despise him who doesn't eat. Don't let him who doesn't eat judge him who eats, for God has received him." (Romans 14:3 WEB)
Whenever Paul speaks of not judging others, he is speaking of non-sinful subjects like food and alcohol (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, etc.).
Paul is never speaking about sin when he makes these statements. In fact, Paul says the exact opposite when it comes to sin, "But as it is, I wrote to you not to keep company, if any man who is named a brother is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person." (1 Corinthians 5:11 WEB)
Paul says to not fellowship with those who claim to be believers yet continue in sin. Later he explains why, saying, "Don't be deceived! 'Evil companionships corrupt good morals.'" (1 Corinthians 15:33 WEB)
What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.
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