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Should Christians Drink?

Two Sides

Alcohol is a very complicated subject for Christians. The reality is that there is a division today among really faithful Christians about what our attitude and our behavior ought to be towards alcohol. On the one side, there are people who like to drink. They want to drink alcohol, and one of the things they do is point to passages in the Bible like John 2, where Jesus Christ, the Son of God, takes 150 gallons of water and by a glorious display of his sovereign power as the Son of God, he turns the molecular structure of the water into the molecular structure of wine. The text in John 2 is clear that it is not just any kind of wine. It is really, really good wine. It is the really good wine that has been provided for the people at the party after they have already been drinking a whole lot of other wine. The point of the miracle is to demonstrate the glory of Jesus. And so, people who are in favor of drinking point to nothing less than Jesus himself and say, look, he made hundreds of gallons of wine, and he provided it to partygoers so that they could enjoy themselves with the alcohol at the party, and this demonstrates his glory. They point to passages like that, and they look at people with whom they disagree, and they cry legalism. They claim that those people are making rules where God has left people free, and that is really bad. So that’s the case. There are passages in the Bible like John 2, and why would we make rules where Jesus leaves people free?

On the other hand, there are people who don’t like to drink, they don’t want to drink, and they don’t think it’s a good idea for you to drink. They point to two other passages in the Bible that are maybe less well known than John 2, but passages that are in the Bible, nonetheless. A passage like Proverbs 23, starting in verse 29, it’s a powerful text. It says, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?” All these problems, all these difficulties, who has these things? The answer comes in verse 30, “Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine.” Verse 31 says, “Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end, it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.”

Here, the Bible says something different than John 2. The command of wisdom in the book of Proverbs is don’t even look at wine. When you see wine gleaming in the cup, and it’s sparkling red and looks so good, the command is don’t even look at it. Don’t even look at it. You are going to get woe and sorrow and strife and complaining and wounds without cause and redness of eyes because this stuff goes down smoothly. But in the end, it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. The point is this, this might look good sitting there in the cup, but it is going to bite you and kill you like a poisonous snake. People who don’t like to drink and don’t think you should drink they point to passages like that, and they scream, you are you’re being reckless, and you’re being unwise. It seems like we’re in a season right now where Christians are disagreeing about this more than they have before, and there is a generational element to this, and I can’t talk about all of that. I’m just going to explain to you why I don’t drink. I want you to just understand why I don’t drink, and I hope that you will receive this as wisdom.

Reasons Why I Don’t Drink

The first one is Christians might disagree about what the Bible says about whether it’s okay to drink or whether it’s not. But Christians can’t disagree about what the Bible says about drunkenness. The Bible is really clear, actually, in a number of places. But one of the clearest in the New Testament is in Ephesians 5:18. And in that passage, the Bible says that you are “not to get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” So, here’s the command, don’t get drunk. It’s debauchery. It’s sinful. It’s terrible. It’s awful. Don’t do that. So, here’s the first reason I don’t drink. I don’t drink because I know, if I know anything else from this passage right here, that it’s a sin to get drunk. But here’s the thing. I don’t know what drunk is. I know what drunk is, but I don’t know how to get there. I don’t know how many drinks it takes for me to get there. I know it takes a different number of drinks for me than it does for you. And so, the point is, I don’t want to figure this out. I want to experiment and figure out, okay, boy, if I drink, two, I’ll get drunk, or if I drink four, I’ll get drunk. By the time you figure it out, you have sinned. And so, I don’t know what it takes for me to get drunk. I don’t want to figure out what it takes for me to get drunk. I really want to honor the Lord. I really want to not be guilty of debauchery. And so, I don’t want to sin. I don’t want to fool around with this and experiment with it and figure out what it takes to sin. Because by the time you figure it out, it’s too late. That’s the first reason I don’t drink.

Here’s the second reason I don’t drink. Honestly, I don’t want to spend the money on it. Alcohol is expensive. We have known some people who drink a lot. And I’m not even saying they’re drunks or anything like that. I’m not saying that they’re guilty of the sin of drunkenness. But you talk to people who get into this world, and they are spending a lot of money. When I take my wife out to dinner, and we drink water or soda or something else, and we have a meal, our bill is way less expensive than the people who go on dates and they’re drinking alcohol. I just don’t want to spend money on that. I have kids in school, I have a mortgage, the gas prices are killing us. I don’t want to spend any more money on stuff like that than I have to. I would rather take that money and give to the church, give to the cause of Christ, give to people who need help. I just don’t want to spend money on that.

The third reason is I don’t want to give an offense. I say this as a minister of the gospel as the pastor of a local church. There are people who have very, very strong opinions and have had very, very difficult backgrounds with regard to alcohol. And the command in the Bible, to me, is to love those people and care for them. It’s to give up my preferences for theirs. I never want to engage in an activity that would make people frustrated or make people hurt. That would make people think I don’t want to listen to this guy when he preaches the Bible. I don’t want to talk to him about my problems. I don’t want to lose the trust of people as a minister of the gospel by being seen as having a reputation for someone who does something that gives them offense that, hurts them, and makes them doubt me; I just don’t want to do it.

Here’s the last reason I don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol is way more dangerous than it gets credit for. That’s just the truth. If you’re reading this and you think I’m a loser who’s out of touch, the truth is that alcohol is way more dangerous than it gets credit for. This stuff ruins lives. This stuff leads to car accidents and jail time, and revoked licenses. It leads to battered wives and battered husbands and battered kids and lost jobs.  When you get teenagers and people in their 20s who are all excited about drinking alcohol, they just can’t wait. They don’t think about the dangers. They don’t think about the risks. They don’t think about the lost lives and the broken families. It is way more dangerous, I promise you, than you think it is. I learned this in my own family. I am related to several people who have ruined their lives with alcohol. I’ve talked to my family members who moan and weep at what they have done to their lives and what they’ve done to the people they love because of alcohol. Listen, I don’t want to do that to anybody.

I don’t know what it takes to get drunk. I don’t want to find out. I don’t know how much alcohol it takes for me to ruin somebody’s life, and I don’t want to find out. One of the things that somebody said about a habit is that it is a bond that is too light for you to feel until it is too strong to break. This will sneak up on you. You will think it will be fun. You will think it’ll be a blast, and it will sneak up on you, and before you know it, you will find out that you are not the master of alcohol but alcohol is the master of you. It’s very dangerous. You need to be careful. The way I’m careful is by not touching it.