I mentioned in my last post that I needed to post on this.  What do you think about Christians drinking alcohol.  Now I don’t mean getting drunk, but just having a beer or two or a glass of wine on occasion.  I’ve been in circumstances on opposite sides of the spectrum.  I went to school where you had to sign a covenant you wouldn’t drink (even though I was 21 and married), and serving in churches where it was expected the pastor wouldn’t (but seemed to be ok that it was in deacon’s refrigerator).  Then I’ve been involved in ministry where wine was served during a Christmas party.

I want to hear from you, and then I’ll share my thoughts in a follow-up post.  Looking forward to a robust debate as I’m sure I’ve got readers in both camps or somewhere in between.

Update: Welcome Head Noises readers!

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  1. I am in leadership in a church that requires those in leadership to refrain from drinking.

    I am comfortable in settings where Christians drink in moderation, although I do not. I do not think any less of those who do it responsibly.

  2. I don't think there's anything wrong with or non-Christian about alcohol. Like pretty much everything else we put into our bodies, it can become a problem if abused: prescription drugs, junk food, etc. Heck, Christians throughout the ages have enjoyed beer.

  3. I think the Bible is very clear on this, but we have gotten in the way, there are two commandments love God, love others. Everything we do should be to glorify God. so with that in mind how does my drinking effect that? Me drinking to the point where my words are slurred or I'm dancing on top of the bar probably doesn't glorify God. On the other hand Jesus turned water into wine, the good stuff too & his 1st miracle no less. How does having a beer, or glass of wine bring dishonor to God, except from those who can not practice self control. Like Paul says, If I am around those people and my actions help them justify theirs, then I probably shouldn't drink around them, that's the love others part.

  4. I like a good beer. Too much is not good. I do try to be mildly discreet because it is a strong temptation for some people.

    But I'm also not shy if people ask. When my students used to ask if I drank, I would say, “Yes, but I'm older than 21. And I never more than two drinks in a sitting–and that would be a Christmas party or something.”

  5. I don't drink any alcohol and stopped drinking when I rededicated my life to Christ. I didn't want to do anything that would taint my witness or stumble anyone else. Also, there is the whole thing about refraining from any appearance of evil. I won't even take anyone else to a liquor store. I won't be seen at one either … even if it is just to run in and get a soda.

    I don't sit in judgment of those Christians who choose to drink. I just don't think it is right for me and would be a hindrance in my walk. 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing Angel. What if you are in an environment where not drinking (responsibly) would hinder your witness?

    Just curious. I'm intentionally not sharing my position – I'll do that tomorrow, but want to get a good discussion going.

  7. Honestly, I have not come across any environment where not drinking has hurt my witness. Since I am a part of a ministry for people who are overcoming life controlling problems … I know it would not look good for me to drink. Even just one beer. It would definitely hurt my witness and most likely stumble those I am working hard to help.

    And, I love a cold beer on a hot summer day. Believe me! It just isn't worth it to have it. 🙂

  8. kinda Pharasetic in my opinion, I could careless what they think, to be honest, they are not my God. as mentioned earlier where is the outcry toward gluttony, or coveting, lust, judgmental…, my experience is some who have the biggest problem with other people drinking are afraid of how they individually will respond to the same temptation, that's why they see it as sinful. at the same time some people who might concurrently agree with me to justify their lack of self control. but a look at Church history will show there is always been a close relationship with recreational alcohol & the church except for a few denominations

  9. Shiner Bock (local to Texas). Guiness. Frankishe Hefeweissen. I also like
    Oktoberfest brews. One of my favorite memories is an afternoon I spent with
    family at the Augustiner Abbey & Müllner Bräu Brewery in Salzburg.

  10. Thanks. I just remember seeing a friend blog on a neighborhood block party where non-Christian neighbors drank and thought the person not drinking was being a “snob” and “judgmental.”

    I think sometimes in our approach we can seem to come across this way. I'm not saying you are, but I have seen others.

  11. Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. ~Benjamin Franklin

    Wine is necessary for life ~Thomas Jefferson

    Drunkenness, that worst of evils, makes some mere fools, some beasts, and some devils ~Benjamin Franklin


  12. Stop drinking only water, but use a little wine for your stomach because of your frequent illnesses. — I Timothy 5:23

    “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.” – Romans 14:1

    There is nowhere in the Scriptures where imbibing alcohol is forbidden. Let's not forget that at the Wedding at Cana, Jesus turned water into wine. Wine, not grape juice — since the comment of the steward was that usually the host used the best wine first and saved the cheap wine until after the guests were too deep into their cups to care.

    If a particular brother or sister feels called to abstain for any reason — because they're prone to alcoholism, because they'd rather spend the money on the poor or on something else, or because they feel that's their particular calling — that's all very fine. But there is no prohibition in Scriptures.

    And as you've said, getting plastered is another matter entirely.

  13. I stopped drinking 4 years ago. Not a drop since. I stopped because I felt like it was wrong. That was MY conviction. If another Christian is not convicted by it then maybe it's ok for him to do. I think drinking is an issue everyone should work out with God on thier own. I don't think it's one way for everyone.

  14. It's highly possible that I got the name wrong. Franken is where I lived.
    Hefeweizen is a “heavy wheat” beer. Now I'm feeling weird for posting so
    much about beer. I'm not a lush, I promise!

  15. Personally, I can't stand alcohol and have not had an alcoholic beverage in years. And I honestly do not understand the enjoyment of alcohol. However, I don't have a problem with one enjoying “a” drink. At the same time, I think it is wiser to abstain than to indulge…for practical reasons. — There is the issue of being an example to the world. Most non-Christians might find it completely hypocritical for a Christian to have even one drink. We are not supposed to do something that will push others off or cause other Christians to stumble. I don't think my pastor could effectively counsel and champion a newly sober person if he was allowing himself to have a drink even now and then. — Perhaps though, Christians have done it to themselves by making all alcohol an evil. I mean, it's rather silly that we drink grape juice for communion when Jesus drank wine. Yes, I know alcohol today is different from alcohol of 2000 yrs ago, but perhaps we have created our own unnecessary intolerances and taboos out of self-righteousness. And that is just as much a sin as drinking too much.

  16. Perhaps the non-drinker did come off as snobbish and judgmental. I don't drink, but I am careful in how I decline. One must decline anything with tact.

  17. Although history books about Prohibition point out many of the same arguments were made in the 20s to justify the public policy pushed by teetotalers, there is no evidence that fermented drinks were not as much a part of the Roman, Jewish, and Greek diets as other forms of grape drinks.

    Take, for instance these links:

    They seem to show that the Roman Empire was actually a huge developer of wine, drank it most meals, allowed even slaves to drink wine, and often created wines with very high levels of alcohol.

    Alcoholic drinks – especially wine – have been a critical part of Catholic mass, Lutheran Eucharist/Communion, and other Protestant and European church traditions since before Constantine. It has only been the spiritual offspring of the Puritans and John Wesley that have propagated the idea that alcohol by itself was to be avoided. Most other Christian faith traditions have said alcoholism and drunkenness are to be avoided.

    Wine, in the original language and in English, is a very specific term used to describe alcoholic drinks. I'm fine with teetotalers and wouldn't dream of suggesting that abstaining from alcohol is a bad thing (make sure you get your antioxidants another way! :)) but am not OK with revisionist history fabricated to force legalism on others that does (in my opinion) more harm to the Kingdom than good. I don't think Anne-Marie is doing this consciously, but articles like the one on Biblinfo's site are typical of that kind of nonsense.

  18. I have pastored in churches on both sides. At the churches where drinking was considered “loose living Christianity” I abstained out of respect for their position. The current church I serve doesn't see it as a big deal, so I drink about a dozen beers a year. I enjoy a good beer with a steak at home or sometimes with pizza, and I appreciate the freedom to do so. But, I'm somewhat discreet about when and where I drink. My children are grown, and they were the ones I was most concerned about in regard to using alcohol. We had several discussions throughout their teen years about alcohol use and abuse, and from what I can see they are responsible young adults in regard to alcohol use.

  19. Last time I drank alcohol with the intent of getting a buzz was almost 27 years ago – it goes with knowing I am an alcoholic. That being said, I've celebrated communion on a number of occasions where wine was used and have had no problems with it – it was actually rather funny watching the reactions of people afterwards worrying about “did we cause you to lose your sobriety?”

    It is because Christ is the giver of my life that I can drink either grape juice or wine at communion and not worry about the alcohol content. My sobriety – soundness of mind – is not based on cheesy legalism or shrill teetotalism. I won't be around folks who drink like I used to without good reason, but neither do I condemn them. Those who drink, whether it is beer, wine, or distilled, so long as they are not drinking in an alcoholic manner and giving people cause to talk about their behavior? Tip one back and enjoy it – I'm looking forward to drinking holy wine in heaven, so you enjoy yours now, and I'll have some later 🙂

  20. I am careful not to come across that way, as I have declined the offer of a beer on more than one occasion. I normally say something that lets the person know that I have no problem with them drinking, I just don't happen to do so. Same with cigarettes or any other drug. I have found that if you make it about you as casually as you can, most people don't become offended and realize it is just a matter of preference.

    And, as Anne-Marie stated … that person could have come across that way too.

    When we are working in neighborhoods where you are likely to see drugs, alcohol, prostitution, drug deals right in your face, and so on … we don't take anyone with us who hasn't been there and lived that. Even those with the best of intentions sometimes wear their emotions on their sleeves and can come across as very judgmental and “too good” to those around them. It is just human nature. 🙂

  21. I'll have a Heineken with a Lime Thank-You-Very-Much. =)
    That's actually my favorite adult beverage although I have enjoyed Mojitos while on vacation this past year. I had a fantastic Mojitos down in Austin at a wonderful Sushi restaurant somewhere on 6th street. I don't remember the name of the place but the food was good and we had a great time. I don't have a problem with people having adult beverages as long as they are being responsible and they are at least 21 years of age.

  22. Alcohol is permissable, in moderation. Having said that those of us who are in ministry positions MUST be cautious because of the over arching belief that Christians do not drink. If a new believer, or one coming into the knowledge of Christ sees me drinking and they stumble, I should put the millstone around my own neck and get it over with.

    I grew up Baptist, very conservative Baptist, and drinking was just a no way no how situation. I now only drink occasionally, and in the privacy of my own home or with VERY trusted friends who know me and we are on the same playing field spiritually.

    I also believe if you come from a home where alcholism is prevalent, such as my wife's family, that you should abstain. Genetics, as well as the culture of the family are strong indicators of how you will handle alcohol. Some just do not have the faculties, physically, mentally and spiritually, to stop when they should. Just never starting is not a bad idea.

  23. Well, I have to say that being ELCA Lutheran we still have wine every Sunday during communion. Saying that, I have say that there is a time and place for everything. I don't think it is so much the achohol but the activity that surronds the drinking. I have had some wine while at a church family camping retreat, the kids were all in bed and the … Read Moreadults were enjoying the peaceful night and campfire. Is that worse that going out with a group of people to a bar, but you are the designated driver so it is o.k. that you are there? Not that I am saying all bars or people that go to bars are evil.
    Only God knows what is in our heart, I just have a real problem telling anyone that I am a better person than they are, I happen to be a big country music fan and there was a review of a new song. Someone was upset because the song said “Beer is good, God is great” they thought it was terrible that the song refered to God and beer together. Obviously they had not been a country fan for long.

  24. I think it's more about your intentions. If you're drinking just to get drunk, you are sinning, biblically speaking. So this is where personal responsibility and Christian conscience come into play.

  25. My wife and I don't now and have never been drinkers. While we are both Christians, our reasons for not drinking are more related to family histories and personal experiences than they are to Christian conviction.

    Often it seems like people have more of a problem with us choosing not to drink than we have with people who do. And often it's Christians who give us the hardest time about it.

    While I know many Christians are able to drink responsibly I've been unimpressed far too many times with the way Christians have behaved while drinking, especially at parties where alcohol has been freely and openly provided to minors. Thanks to Facebook I now get to see even more evidence of this now.

    What probably bothers me most about alcohol is the culture, which suggests that you need alcohol to have a good time and in general disrespects the power it has to ruin lives, destroy relationships and turn people into something they are not.

  26. Wow.. 45 comments.. guess this stuff really gets everyone talking 🙂

    I do wonder if we will ever get past the “thou shalt nots”? It seems that these are all a part of a self-righteous fundamentalist Christian culture. We would do well to take to heart what Paul wrote:

    Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. (Col 2:20-22)

  27. Here is the whole passage from Colossians 2:

    20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21″Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

  28. There are 47 comments so far, but since I'm a little pressed for time this morning, I'll just add my $0.02 without reading most of what's been said so far.

    1) Jesus changed the water into wine.
    2) Jesus had wine at the last supper (and it would probably be safe to assume that he had no problems with wine as a drink).
    3) The Bible cautions about drunkness but does not say to abstain from alcohol.
    4) Paul tells Timothy to have a little wine for health reasons, but I don't think you can build a case that this is the only “permitted” use of it.
    5) The Bible also says to keep yourself from causing a brother to stumble–probably not a good idea to be drinking around folks who have problems with alcohol.

    That all being said: one or two glasses of wine or beer is probably fine. Everyone should know their limitations. Historically for me, my limit is two glasses of wine or beer. Beyond that, I'm not interested. I've never been drunk and have no desire to be. But every person is different to a point.

    I think you have to use your judgment. The world is always looking at Christians like fish in a fishbowl. We should be aware of that and let that guide our public behavior and choices. We are at greater liberty in our homes, but God still sees all and therefore, it's never okay to drink to drunkenness under any circumstances.

    What I've always found interesting is that in my Catholic upbringing, Catholics seem to have ZERO problems with alcohol (they have wine during the Mass!). When I became a born again Christian, boy did things change: alcohol was nothing but evil and of the devil. Now at communion it's “bread and juice.” I still wince when I hear that because it sounds so…I don't know…like wine is evil. I think there is a balance between the two.

  29. I think it is fine for Christians to drink responsibly. And by drink responsibly. My definition includes more than not getting drunk…I think it is important to be cognizant of if drinking at certain times can be a stumbling block…

  30. Alcohol is no more sinful, in itself, than chocolate or lamb. (or sex, or driving, or…you get the idea)

    It can be involved in sinful acts, but there's nothing inherently sinful about the food-matter.

    Some abstain from alcohol, chocolate, lamb, etc because it hurts their own faith if they do not; those folks, I don't mind, and won't mess with.

    Some abstain and demand others abstain ostentatiously; sometimes, they do so to cover up their own weaknesses– for example, an a-religious person I know who will be as prim as a Prohibitionist at the THOUGHT of a beer at four in the afternoon– no matter when your day started– but will empty a bottle of wine a night on their own. (K, I think that's generic enough to not be carrying tales….)

    Depending on the style of the evangelical anti-beer drinker, I'll :

    gently avoid the matter on their grounds and warn them if they're invited to mine;

    find out what they're basing their prohibition on, and do my best to rationally take the argument apart– although they're welcome to abstain, themselves;

    if they are the usual anti-Catholic “Bible only” Christians who may throw in accusations with their assertions, I rather gleefully prove God ain't a prohibitionist with whatever Bible they happen to be using. ^.^ I tend to get ignored, but oh well.

    (on a side note: my mother tends to attract a lot of these folks, because when we visit someone and they offer mom and dad a beer, mom often says “no, thank you.” This results in “Oh, you don't drink! How wonderful!” Mom's gut-reply: “Nu-nu-nu-nu-no, I just don't like beer, have any whiskey so I can make a highball?)

  31. See my post from today on this for more details on my position.

    I agree with your first statement that each of those things are in and of themselves amoral.

    Taken to places that God doesn't intend is where we sin. Alcohol can lead to drunkeness. Sex outside of marriage is sin. Not obeying traffic rules, etc. Food – gluttony… you get the picture.

    I think most people commenting here are pretty reasonable.

  32. Anyone know the difference between a Catholic and a Baptist?

    [timpani drum roll please]

    The Catholic will wave at you in the liquor store.


  33. I blame fierfox for forcing me to post here (she highlighted this post on her blog). I am not a Catholic, and never will be a Catholic, but I am a Christian.

    Okay, that disclaimer over with.

    I have met a few people of some denominations who believe alcohol consumption in any quantity is a sin. They are wrong. And I occasionally will feel free to get into a debate with them on the subject. But I won't crack a beer or drink a pina colada (yum) in front of them.

    26 years ago, I had a high school friend who actually had a prescription for a 16-ounce beer a week. He had kidney issues already, and the beer acted as a preventative for further kidney stones. But that doesn't give anyone the freedom to pickle their livers.

    I fully admit I have a less-than-acceptable “tude” about many issues and I am frequently hard to get along with, but I do consider the “stumbling stone” thing to be important. If it causes someone else to stumble, I try to avoid some things. But I feel a certain joy in eating a large steak in front of a PETA freak.

    I will say if I've had enough alcohol to give me a buzz, I've already had too much.

  34. Oh, and a brief bit of clarity, I consider myself Grace Brethren, which is an off-shoot (sorta) of Baptist, but without the “Southern Baptist” charisma.

  35. Good point John. I've never heard of anybody being prescribed a beer, that's different.

    PETA people need to be harassed and often, but of course in Christian love ;).

  36. Just over 17 years ago, I had my last drink, and by the grace of God, I won't have another.

    If anyone wants to drink, it is their choice. It has nothing at all to do with Christianity.

    Salvation does not come by not drinking. It comes by faith, and faith comes by hearing the Word. Salvation was granted in spite of my actions, not because of them.

    Sometimes, it takes the painful consequences of wrong decisions to get a man's attention. So it was for me. But, once God got my attention, it was much easier to hear the Truth. And, that has made all the difference.

    And, that is also the paradox.

  37. Many wonderful thoughts here. I didn't see this one addressed and wondered about others' experiences:

    As a Christian, I have found that when I drank too much, or even just a little for the wrong reasons, this profoundly and instantly affected my own relationship with God. It immediately distanced me, and put me in a very self-centered place. Much is discussed about how alcohol can negatively or positively affect our connection with others. . .but I have also experienced a sort of grief, a sorrowful experience akin to spiritual loneliness, during such times. . .it's like, God is still in the room, but there I am, over in the corner, with my dunce cap on, face to the wall!

    On the other hand, I've certainly had those experiences without an alcohol 'assist'! But there is a peculiar loneliness to the break that alcohol can bring to our relationship with our Creator.

  38. Jesus drank wine and so I believe it is okay. However there are many who feel that drinking might cause the weak (alcoholics) to stumble.
    I am a recovering alcoholic and do not drink.

  39. in and of itself i do not think alcohol is wrong…remember when God brought down the carpet with all the animals to peter, God said do not call anything that God has made/called clean unclean..i think its acts 10….but then again if by drinking u lay a stumbling block in someones path u sin..n if ur alcohol consumption leads to drunkeness or impairement of thought in the slightest then it is wrong and sinful..also remember that the Bible says anything that you do not do by faith is sin romans 14:23…i learnt this today because i previously believed alcohol was wrong in n of itself but i still took a i sinned because that was done against my faith n wat I stood for in God…..but also going to bars n clubs n drinking i believe is wrong because the atmosphere is not one in which believers should be found…especially indulging in the very attraction of such gathering places

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