Is Drinking a Sin?

Jerry Walch By Jerry Walch, 8th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2p2ns9e_/
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Religion

This is one of the most hotly debated topics in the Christian community today, especially with those Christians actively involved in a ministry. When I first became involved with the ministry that I am involved with, I was told that drinking was not allowed, which was no big deal for me because drinking was something that I could take or leave, but as time passed I discovered that there were exceptions to that rule. According to God’s Word, drinking is not a sin, becoming a drunkard is a sin.

Changing Water into Wine

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record 37 miracles performed by Jesus during His earthly ministry. The very first of those 37 miracles is recorded in the Gospel of John, Chapter 2, Verses 1-11, where Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding in Cana. If drinking were a sin, would Jesus have turned that water into wine? No, Jesus never would have been the cause of someone to sin. There are many respected theologians who teach that the wine miraculously produced by Jesus was non-alcoholic in nature and they based their belief on the idea that man did not invent fermentation, the processes for distilling alcoholic beverages until many centuries later. These respected theologians go to extreme to prove their belief; the problem with their teachings is that the Bible is full of stories where people got drunk on strong drink.

The shift in the paradigm of American Evangelicalism

Back in the day when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper, abstinence was the litmus test for sanctification. Almost every preacher shouted from the pulpit, “We are godly because we don’t drink.” As extreme as that sounds, it was a reality of that time. I believe the thinking behind those dogmatic professions was that if believers abstained from drinking altogether was not in danger of becoming an abuser of alcohol. Over the last twenty years, the paradigm has shifted from abstinence to grace with the recognition that “tee-totaling” is a personal choice, not a law set down by God. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians church,” All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth (1 Corinthians 10:24-25 KJV). Although drinking alcoholic beverages is not a sin, and is not forbidden by God’s Word, we, especially those of us who are in the ministry, should not be quick to advocate drinking. We need to be careful that we do not become the stumbling block for another. As Paul wrote in Romans 14:20 (KJV) “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.” Romans 14:20 in the English Standard Version (ESV) puts Paul’s words this way: “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.” As mature Christians we have many freedoms, such as drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation, but if our drinking in moderation cause another to become a drunkard, than our drinking becomes sin too because we caused another to sin.

Now the $64,000 Question: Is it a sin for a Christian to drink?

The quick, simple answer is a resounding “No.” I have walked with the Lord for forty years, I have read the Bible from Genesis through Revelations every year since coming to Jesus on September 8, 1974, have completed numerous Bible studies, and have read hundreds of books on Christian theology, and nowhere have I found anything that states that drinking alcoholic beverages is intrinsically bad or sinful. On the other hand, the Word does state that drinking is not always wise for a Christian. Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) says “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” The ESV puts it in these words, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” I think that what these scriptures mean is that alcohol is powerful and is a tool that the evil one can use to lead us astray and we must be very careful not to give the evil one that opening in our Christian life. These scriptures are not saying that a Christian cannot have a glass of wine or a beer without causing havoc in your walk with the Lord.

When I was growing up and attended fundamentalist churches, the message I heard from the pulpit, Sunday after Sunday that it was OK to drink. Those messages were based on Psalm 104:14-15 (ESV) “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart.” Ecclesiastes 9:7 (ESV) goes on to say, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” The pastors also quoted Isaiah 62:8-9 (ESV)The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” Based on those scriptures, it certainly appears that drinking is not a sin in the sight of God as long as we do not become drunkards or as long as our drinking does not cause another to stumble into sinning.

Is drinking in public or in the presence of another Christian a sin? Keep in mind that I am talking about having a glass or two of wine or having a beer or two, not drinking to become drunk. Drinking in public or in the presence of another Christian is only a sin if your drinking causes a weaker Christian, a former alcoholic or a Christian with a proclivity to become an alcoholic, to fall into alcoholism.

I have barely touched on the debate in this article. Do you feel that drinking is a sin? Do you feel that it is OK for you to drink as long as your drinking doesn’t cause a weaker Christian to stumble into sin? Let me close this discourse with what Paul wrote in Romans 14:23 (ESV) “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” If in your heart you believe that drinking is a sin, then it will be sin from you and you should abstain from drinking. If you believe that you have the freedom to drink in moderation, then for you drinking is not a sin as long as you do not cause another to sin because of your drinking.

Tags

Alcohol, Beer, Causing To Sin, Drinking, Not Sin, Personal Choice Gods Word, Sin, Wine

Meet the author

author avatar Jerry Walch
Jerry Walch is a 71 year old freelance writer for hire living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been writing since the late 1970s, and writes for both the print and online media. He specializes in

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Comments

author avatar Retired
8th Apr 2014 (#)

I always thought that it was okay to drink...but getting drunk was a sin....

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author avatar Jerry Walch
8th Apr 2014 (#)

That was what I said in this article, Starrleena.

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author avatar Retired
8th Apr 2014 (#)

I always thought that it was okay to drink...but getting drunk was a sin....

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
9th Apr 2014 (#)

I would have to agree that drinking in itself is not a sin, drinking to excess is a sin, but then again, pretty much doing anything to excess (eating, and so forth) is a sin. Personally I like a glass of red wine now and again but see no need to get drunk.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
9th Apr 2014 (#)

I agree with you completely Mark. I have enjoyed a glass of good Scotch or a cold beer from time to time in the past, but try to abstain now because of the people I minister to--the homeless. Many of them have a problem with alcohol and I don't want to be a stumbling block for them.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
9th Apr 2014 (#)

Everything in moderation as the old saying goes. I'm not much of a drinker myself. But there's nothing wrong with a glass of wine once in a while.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
9th Apr 2014 (#)

You are right inline with the Word, Connie.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
9th Apr 2014 (#)

If I were to drink alcohol now Jerry I would probably be seeing double , so I'd best refrain ...but I don't disagree with my friends if they would like a drink ...However , I have seen first hand what drinking to access has done to someone close to me and the havoc it has caused , so I don't care for it .Nowadays there is so much cheap drink to be had it is scandalous .
Many blessings to you
Stella ><

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author avatar Jerry Walch
9th Apr 2014 (#)

Alcohol has never been a problem for me but, like you, I know people who have a real problem with strong drink. As for so much more cheap drink being available today...I don't think that's the case here in the U.S., at least no more so today than in the days of my youth.
Have a blessed day.
Jerry

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author avatar ritzwitz
9th Apr 2014 (#)

Good Evening Jerry. I also feel its ok to take a drink or two....extreme of everything is bad...one should avoid getting drunk.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
9th Apr 2014 (#)

I agree. The only other thing that we have to remember is that God's Word also tells us that although something may not be a sin in itself, if doing it causes a weaker brother or sister to stumble and fall into sin then it becomes a sin for us too. Drinking has never been a sin for me but i abstain from drinking now because of my ministry to the homeless, many of whom have a problem with drinking and I don't want to be a stumbling block for them.

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author avatar ritzwitz
10th Apr 2014 (#)

My respects to you for thinking and caring for the weaker sections of society and for being a role model to them!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
11th Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you!

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author avatar spirited
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

"for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb."

Luke 1:15. This is about John the baptist.

I believe that alcohol fuddles the brain and so disconnects us in a way from being able to listen fully and continually always to the Holy Spirit within us.

I am a teetotaller myself, and I believe that Jesus was too. That's only my own belief though.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

If Jesus was a teetotaler as you suspect, why then did he turn the water into wine?

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author avatar spirited
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

As I said that's only just my own belief, it appears he didn't condemn others for drinking, but if he was greater than John the Baptist, and John never drank, I would assume that Jesus himself would not drink alcohol either.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
23rd Apr 2014 (#)

You shouldn't assume anything spirited--there's nothing in the Holy Scriptures to support your assumption.

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author avatar sukkran
12th May 2014 (#)

Good question. Many religions, even Pentecostalists and Methodists of Christianity, strictly forbidden drinking. In my opinion, too much everything becomes a sin.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th May 2014 (#)

According to God's Word, drinking is not a sin as long as it is not to excess and as long as it doesn't cause another to sin. Drunkenness is a sin, drinking in moderation is not. Sects, like the Pentacostals and Methodist that forbid drinking are putting their own spin, their own interpretation of what God is telling us in His inspired Word. Being a Christian, sukkran, is not about a religion, it is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

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author avatar dis-cover
3rd Jun 2014 (#)

Very interesting topic and excellent analysis. Making wine is the art and a way of drinking wine is even greater art. So if you enjoy a glass of wine, it cannot be a sin. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
3rd Jun 2014 (#)

My pleasure, dis-cover.

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