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  • Writer's pictureAnush A. John

A Christian and Alcohol

Over the years I have heard many arguments for and against the use of alcohol by Christians. So I thought I would study the matter systematically. In so doing, I have attempted to be as objective as possible. There are two parts to this post:

1. Arguments for the use of alcohol

2. Arguments against the use of alcohol

A. Introduction

Both sides agree the drunkenness is wrong. The question is "Can somebody drink a little bit?". One side says you should not, the other side says you can. Are these two questions opposed to each other? Could it be that both questions are correct?

The question is not can a Christian drink alcohol. Of course, the Christian can drink alcohol – there is no direct command against it.

The real question is: considering the weight of the pros and cons should a Christian drink alcohol. If a Christian is trying to fully please God in all that they do – should he or should he not.

When people usually have discussions about this topic, the discussion usually degenerates into a nonsensical, pointless, futile effort. The reason I believe this is the case is that the argument and counter-argument is usually point-by-point. By doing a point by point argument it is impossible to convince a person one way or the other, because there is no direct command one way or the other. I believe in lieu of a point-by-point argument the way to look at this matter is similar to the arguments that look at the existence of God.

When we look at the arguments for the existence of God, there is not one argument that will definitely convince a person that God exists. The Leibnizian cosmological argument or the poetic argument or the argument from fine-tuning by themselves are not enough to convince a skeptical seeker that God exists. But when all the arguments are taken as a whole, it is more PROBABLE than not that God exists.

Similarly, taking the arguments for or against the use of alcohol point by point is completely futile. Instead, I believe a person should take the entire argument FOR the use of alcohol versus AGAINST and consider not whether there is conclusive evidence for or against, but rather: is it more PROBABLE than not that one is better than the other in our effort to please God? And then, do accordingly.

Can a Christian drink alcohol?

Should a Christian drink alcohol?

Based on the arguments for an against, I will leave the conclusion to your own biblically influenced, God-honoring conscience.

B. Arguments for the use of alcohol

1. The Bible only condemns drunkenness.

Romans 13:13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. (See Galatians 5:19, 21; 1 Peter 4:3; 1 Corinthians 5:11)

In Paul’s lists of leadership characteristics, he says: 1 Timothy 3:3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. (See 1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7).

Just because someone drinks alcohol in moderation, it does not necessarily mean that it will lead to excess or drunkenness. This is a common refrain I have heard. Advocates against the use of alcohol point to alcoholics and assume that every person who drinks in moderation will end up as an alcoholic. This is not true – the statistics of alcohol abusers are much lower than those who drink alcohol in moderation.

2. Christian freedom.

The Christian faith, in the New Testament, as opposed to Judaism in the Old Testament (or any other religion, for that matter) is not about following rules and regulations, especially about food and drink. Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

3. The purported health benefits of alcohol.

Every now and then there is a random study that points to the health benefits of consumption of 1-2 four-ounce glasses a day of wine.

a. Reduces Heart-Attack Risk.

Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers, per a 16-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 11,711 men, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007.

b. Lowers Risk of Heart Disease.

Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France have more procyanidins than other wines, per a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006.

c. Reduces the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes, per research on 369,862 individuals studied over an average of 12 years each, at Amsterdam's VU University Medical Center, published in Diabetes Care, 2005.

d. Lowers Risk of Stroke.

The possibility of suffering a blood clot-related stroke drops by about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol, per a Columbia University study of 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, published in Stroke, 2006.

e. Cuts Risk of Cataracts.

Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers, per a study of 1,379 individuals in Iceland, published in Nature, 2003.

f. Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer.

Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent, per a Stony Brook University study of 2,291 individuals over a four-year period, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005.

g. Slows Brain Decline.

Brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers, per a Columbia University study of 1,416 people, published in Neuroepidemiology, 2006. (1)

B. Arguments against the use of alcohol

1. Destructive Nature.

The Bible clearly warns about the destructive nature of alcohol.

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler…

Proverbs 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.

Proverbs 23:29- 35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. “They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.”

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.

According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Inc: