Alcohol Use Biblical?
Some churches teach total abstinence from all alcoholic beverages, while others teach moderation.
Is either view Scriptural? What is the truth?
It is true that the abusive use of alcohol has brought much misery upon untold thousands of people since time immemorial.
Broken homes, abused and beaten wives and children, lost income, accidents and many crimes can be attributed to
the misuse of alcohol.
It is also true that alcohol is an addictive drug, and one that creates dependence on it as an emotional crutch
when misused by the emotionally insecure or unstable. I personally know and have known people who cannot "function"
(or so they think) in certain situations without a confidence-building shot of "booze."
So why, then, try to defend such an "evil" product? Does alcohol have any redeeming qualities? Let's
look at both sides of this issue, from the perspective of the Bible, the true Source of all Truth. The Bible has
a great deal to say on this subject, and as usual, we want to examine all sides of the question.
First, a couple of general comments are in order. This subject is similar to, let's say, the gun debate that is
raging in this country. The "gun control advocates" maintain that "guns kill people." No,
they do not. It is the MIS-use of guns that cause people to kill and maim. It is the same with alcoholic beverages.
Or take that most natural of all endeavors, eating. The Scriptures reveal that gluttony is a sin. Should we,
therefore, stop eating, because we might over-eat and sin? I think not. Or, should we give up sexual activity
within marriage, because we might think a wrong thought (lust) and thereby sin? Or refrain from looking at members
of the opposite sex for the same reason? No, that would be a little extreme. We can do all these things and not
sin thereby. Moderation is the key to proper use of alcohol and eating, and mind-control is the key to being able
to look upon a beautiful woman (or handsome man if you are a female), and admire her or him without thinking wrong,
Wine-making an ancient art
The very first mention of alcoholic drink (wine) is in Genesis 9, where Noah, just after the flood had subsided,
planted a vineyard and made a batch of wine. He then proceeded to overindulge and got quite drunk. In fact, he
passed out in a drunken stupor.
Gen 9:20-21 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken;
and he was uncovered within his tent.
Apparently Noah had been cooped up on the ark too long, and had temporarily lost his sense of propriety. The Scriptures
do condemn drunkenness.
1 Pet 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, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
Notice it is excess that is shown to be wrong; not the use itself.
1 Cor 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh? Be not deceived: neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves,
nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of Yahweh. And such were
some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Yahshua, …
Again, it is the drunkards, the excessive drinkers, who are spoken of here. We see here the chilling truth that
unrepentant alcoholics, among a host of others, will not be in the Kingdom. They are considered "unrighteous."
One of the fallacies of our time is that alcoholism has been classed as a disease. This is doubly bad, in that
it gives the drunk an excuse. "I can't help it, I have this disease," they claim. The do-gooders among
us want so badly to think everyone is inherently "good" that they want to excuse everything people do.
"It isn't their fault", they say, "it is society - it is the times in which we live - the pressures
of daily life."
Well, it is high time that we accepted some responsibility for our own behavior. Yahweh says drunkenness is a sin,
that it can be repented of, that we can change our behavior (an aside: the same goes for homosexuals, as shown
in the same scripture quoted above. More on this in another article some time). If it were a disease, and thus
beyond the control of the drinker, then Yahweh would not have called it "sin."
The Savior drank wine
The very first miracle our Savior performed, was to turn water into wine. Some say, "Well, this was just
grape juice." But the Greek word here is "oinos," which means, according to Strong's dictionary:
3631. oinos, oy'-nos; a prim. word (or perh. of Heb. origin. [H3196]); "wine" (lit. or fig.):--wine.
Note that this word in Hebrew is:
3196. yayin, yah'-yin; from an unused root mean. to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by impl. intoxication:--banqueting,
wine, wine [-bibber].
The expression in verse 10, "well drunk," means:
3184. methuo, meth-oo'-o; from another form of G3178; to drink to intoxication, i.e. get drunk:--drink well, make
(be) drunk (-en).
It is plain that this was not simply grape juice. Note, too, that our Savior, who did no sin, also was called a
"glutton and a wine bibber" by the hypocritical Pharisees.
Luke 7:33-34 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The
Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans
He was neither a glutton nor a winebibber, but this does show that He drank wine, yet was without sin. Can we
say that we are more righteous than the One Who died for us? What hypocrisy!
Moderation is the key here, just as it is in many other situations. Eat in moderation, drink in moderation. This
is another area where Yahweh allows us to build character through learning proper use of the things He has given
Wine is shown in the Scriptures to have medicinal or therapeutic value. The Apostle Paul told the young evangelist
Timothy to "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."
(1 Tim 5:23). Again, the word for "wine" here is "oinos," the Greek counterpart to the Hebrew
"yayin," meaning an intoxicating drink from grape juice. But notice the caution: "…use a little
In the Luke account (chapter 10) of the "good Samaritan," Yahshua Himself used the example of the Samaritan
using oil and wine to care for the traveler's wounds. In this case, he poured in on his wounds.
Eccl 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for Yahweh now accepteth thy
Isaac, the Old Testament patriarch, drank wine with the meal that Jacob brought him when Jacob was intent on procuring
the blessing of the first-born. (Gen. 27:25).
It was used in the Temple service,
Exo 29:40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and
the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. See also Num. 15:5, 7, 10.
But the priests were not to drink wine before going into the Temple to perform worship services to Yahweh. Ministers
today should follow this rule and not drink alcohol before conducting a religious service.
Lev 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the
congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
Use of wine and even "strong drink" was allowed for the Israelites during the annual Festivals:
Deu 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for
wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before Yahweh thy God,
and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
Proper use of wine and other alcoholic drinks was instilled into the Israelites at an early age. They did not think
alcohol was something to abuse, or something to sneak around with and get "stoned" as so many youth do
today, who have not had the benefit of proper training and instruction in its use. Rather, it was a staple food
- drink item that was commonly used by all. Notice some admonitions against its misuse:
Prov 23:29-35 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. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon
the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt
it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
Prov 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
In other words, the misuse of alcohol leads to all sorts of depraved, perverse and sinful actions, and we are
admonished to treat it with care. Notice we are not to be "deceived thereby." Most religionists take
this to mean we are to abstain from its use, but that is not what it says. We are to abstain from its mis-use.
Yahshua instituted the Passover symbols, reflecting His sacrifice, on the night before He died as our Passover
(Mat. 26:27-28, Mark 14:23-25, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 5:7-8 and 11:25-28). Some say the "cup" did not
contain wine, but rather, grape juice. While it was possible to preserve grape juice for six months (fall harvest
season until the following spring), it seems a stretch to claim they did it to keep from using wine for Passover,
when it was so readily available, and used in other religious rituals as well. One of the purposes of making wine
was for ease of preservation. Also, grape juice, in going from the juice stage to fermented wine, becomes more
pure. Juice alone does not have the medicinal qualities of wine. It is more fitting as a symbol of our Savior's
blood, in my humble opinion.
While there is certainly no command to drink wine or other alcoholic beverage (except for this "thimble-full
at Passover), the Scriptures on the other hand, do not condemn it, either. Used in moderation, wine is good. No
doubt all of you have heard the news recently from the medical establishment that people who drink a small glass
of wine daily are less likely to have heart problems than those who don't. It reduces stress, and helps a person
to sleep well at night.
And, most assuredly, if it were a sin, the Apostle Paul would never have told Timothy to drink a little wine for
his stomach problems.
Again, I want to stress that moderation is the key. When children are old enough, they should be taught the proper
and correct use of wine and other drinks. Then, when they are out with others or on their own, they will have the
proper perspective and have better sense than to drink to "get bombed," as so many ignorant young (and
not so young) people do today.
If you have a weakness for alcohol, or a history of overindulgence, or a propensity to be intemperate, then leave
it alone. It may cause far more harm to you and your family than any good to be derived from it. But if, on the
other hand, you have the character and understanding to use it properly, then the Scriptures do not condemn its