Should we Drink Alcohol as Christians?
(Luke 1:15) “….For he (John the Baptist) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb…”
Wine: Greek ‘oy-nos’ – Common Wine drank by most classes at that time.
Strong Drink: Greek ‘sik-er-ah’ – Distilling had not been discovered in biblical times so this would have been an intensely fermented liquor or aged wine.
This is an age-old discussion and a common question which Christians face, with some saying yes and others saying no. This becomes a little confusing for the hearers, so let me present the full, biblical answer to this question. The answer is yes, a little and no…let me explain. With every Christian teaching or discussion, there’s always a key to be found which unlocks the full and balanced revelation of the mind of God. On this subject, the key is quite simply to examine the church design, which makes the subject of alcohol easier to understand. So as briefly as I can, the three main groups in the church are….
Overseers – Pastors, Ministers, Teachers etc.
Deacons – Individuals who help minister and serve in the assembly.
The Congregation – Made up of individuals at various stages of their Christian walk.
These are the main groups of individuals which make up a Christian Assembly and God has a word for each on the subject of alcohol. When we look at the book of Timothy, we find two of the groups, Overseers, and Deacons. With the Overseers, Paul’s directive was, that they were not to touch wine or strong drink. The simple reason for this, was because these individuals had a serious, public position of responsibility and in light of that, their drinking of alcohol would have put stumbling blocks in the path of the individuals they were meant to care for. The Deacons had a lesser responsibility, therefore a lesser directive was given, to only have a little wine.
As for the wider congregation, we know that getting drunk and drinking spirits isn’t a Christian trait and something discouraged by God, so the decision really rests with the individual. We’re all different, so some would be quite comfortable having the odd drink and others would prefer not to drink at all. But with both, we’d need to remember one of the greatest calls of God in our lives; not to put a stumbling block before our brother. We might not have had a problem with alcohol, but we can be certain that others have, so it’s not something we’d parade around in front of a brother or sister who is weak in this area.
It could be argued though, that a non-regular, light beer or lager, drank indoors in a small amount, might be acceptable for the overseer, however, that decision would rest with the individual Pastor. I would personally encourage any overseer to abstain from any kind of regular alcohol intake, due to the dangers involved with both falling into sin and the risk of hurting a brother or a sister. However, if having a light beer is the decision made, then letting the elder Christians of the church know would be advisable so that the pastor and the church would be protected.
As a Christian man, I’ve chosen not to drink, due to being called to oversee within the Body of Christ and because I had a major problem with alcohol in my backslidden teenage years. For around eight years, I drank every Friday and Saturday night, as well as nights during the week, with my choice of drink being our Scottish Whisky. When I came back to God, the desire for alcohol just left me and very soon I wasn’t drinking at all. With me as the example, again I suppose it could be argued that I could have a light beer at a family wedding in a private setting. After all, the drink issue was sixteen years before. But I’m confident, that any kind of regular alcohol intake would be very dangerous for a person like me. So if you had an alcohol problem, overseer or not, you might find it just isn’t worth it.
I would never encourage anyone to drink alcohol, especially youth, and young folk, but neither would I tell another adult Christian not to drink. I’d challenge them if they were drinking in front of a weaker brother, but the Word just doesn’t teach abstaining from alcohol, so to teach that all should abstain, would be an incorrect doctrine, as you can see from the above. Getting drunk is a definite no-no for the larger body and it’s up to our own common sense to be appropriate and judge for ourselves, whether it’s something we’d do or not. If you want to be an overseer in the Body of Christ, then the regular, public use of most wines and strong drinks would be a big no-no.
I hope this has given a brief but complete answer to the questions of alcohol so that you can know what God’s Word says on the subject.
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