What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol?

Scriptural Guidance

Scripture provides various perspectives on alcohol consumption (Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 29:6; Judges 13:4, 7, 14; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4; Isaiah 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12). However, it does not outright prohibit Christians from drinking alcoholic beverages like beer or wine. In fact, some passages even portray alcohol in a positive light. Ecclesiastes 9:7 advises, “Drink your wine with a merry heart,” while Psalm 104:14-15 suggests that wine brings joy to people’s hearts. Amos 9:14 describes drinking wine from one’s own vineyard as a sign of divine blessing, and Isaiah 55:1 encourages buying wine and milk.

Biblical Commands

What Scripture does command Christians regarding alcohol is to avoid drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18), as drunkenness and its consequences are condemned (Proverbs 23:29-35). Christians are also urged not to let anything, including alcohol, master them (1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). Excessive drinking is acknowledged as addictive and Christians are advised against doing anything that might lead others to sin (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). Therefore, it would be challenging for a Christian to justify excessive alcohol consumption as glorifying God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Jesus’ Example

Jesus’ actions, like turning water into wine (John 2:1-11) and possibly drinking wine (Matthew 26:29), are cited. During New Testament times, water was often unsafe to drink due to lack of sanitation, leading people to favor wine or grape juice. Paul even advised Timothy to drink wine for health reasons (1 Timothy 5:23). While wine in biblical times likely contained alcohol, it was not necessarily as potent as modern wine. Scripture neither condemns nor endorses alcohol itself but emphasizes the importance of avoiding drunkenness and addiction (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:12).

Christian Perspective

Moderate alcohol consumption is generally deemed harmless for most people, with some health benefits attributed to red wine. However, it’s considered sinful when consumption leads to drunkenness or addiction. Due to biblical concerns and the risk of causing others to stumble, many Christians choose to abstain from alcohol. Ultimately, alcohol consumption is a matter of individual conscience and freedom, guided by biblical principles.

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