Two Christians fellas walk into a bar. Not only is it the best place to watch the game, but it is also a good place to meet those who need Christ most. Following in Christ’s steps (hangin’ with tax-gatherers and drunkards), these two guys pull up a stool at the bar. The bartender says, “What il ya have?” Having been down this road before, the two guys order a beer. They do this for two reasons. First and foremost, they like beer. They call it “Nectar from above” (they are from Oklahoma so cut them some slack). Second, it helps them should a witnessing opportunity arise. Not only does it make them feel a bit more relaxed, but, most importantly, it makes others at the bar feel more relaxed. The first time they went there, they just ordered water. After sitting there with their water, tracts, and Bibles decorating the table, smiling at all the passers-by, they soon realized that they were one step away from a honky-tonk plague. No one would talk to them. They found that having a beer in their hand was like a soothing balm for their personality. Besides, they love beer.

However, there is always the awkward situation when the bottle runs low and the bar-tender asks “Do you want another?” They don’t know how much is too much.

Christians fall all over the board on this issue.

Alcoholic Christians (drunk all the time): Some Christians are alcoholics who can’t get the problem under control. They drink nearly every day. They know its wrong, but they have accepted this as “their sin.” Others have anger issues. Some don’t share their faith. Many are gluttons for worldly possessions. These are alcoholics who drown out their sorrow and depression with a bottle.

Social-drinking Christians (drunk sometimes): Many Christians drink alcohol on “special” occasions. Whether it is a ball game, the staff Christmas party, an after work glass of wine (or two), or just a weekend, they are game. Every once in a while, they drink “too much,” but they would not consider this a sin since they believe the Bible’s primary prohibition is against being progressively controlled by alcohol. After all, Ps 104:15 says that God made wine for the purpose of making the “heart glad.” Yes, the Bible is against being a “drunkard,” but they don’t consider themselves “drunkards” since it is only occasionally that they get drunk and a “drunkard” is one who is always controlled by alcohol. Even in Eph. 5:18 where we are told not to get drunk, the verb is in the present progressive tense which may be understood as the continual act of getting drunk. As well, in 1 Tim. 3:3, the qualification for an elder is one who is not addicted to alcohol. So, to them, getting drunk from time to time is not sinful.

Gospel-driven drinking Christians (tipsy sometimes): Some Christians drink alcohol intentionally in order to open doors for the Gospel. They may or may not like alcohol themselves. Either way, they go to bars and social events where alcohol is involved in order to engage the unbeliever. They might even sponsor events where they provide the alcohol. “After all,” they think to themselves, “Wasn’t Christ a bartender at the wedding of Cana?” (John 2). In many places, they actually start churches in bars. While they are careful more about how much they drink, they don’t mind “feeling the effects.” They are drunk rarely but as they drink, they may have one, two, or three past the border of sobriety becoming “tipsy.” For them, while getting drunk is a sin, being “tipsy” is not.

Soft teetotalism (never drink themselves): Many Christians are teetotalists, meaning that they abstain from alcohol all-together. A “soft” teetotalist is one who personally does not ever drink, but does not think it is necessarily wrong for others. The reasons for the abstinence here vary. Many are recovering from their own addictions. Others have family members who have been deeply affected by alcohol. Some just don’t like the taste of alcohol or the feeling that accompanies drinking.

Hard teetotalism (no Christian should ever drink): There are quite a few Christians who not only abstain from alcohol themselves, but think that all Christians should abstain. “Wine is a mocker and strong drink a brawler and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). Wisdom humbly stays away from alcohol. These believe that the effects of alcohol on individuals and societies are tremendously harmful to the Gospel. Christians should set the example by ensuring that they are always sober minded. Social drinking, even if just one drink, can cause others to stumble. Its best just to stay away all-together. For these, the type of alcohol offered today is much stronger than what was available in Biblical times, so any comparison is misleading.

Where do you fall?

If you are a drinking Christian, how much is too much? When has the line been crossed?

(I have also put a poll up about this).

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    117 replies to "How Much is Too Much? Alcohol and the Christian"

    • eric


      I would re frame the question. How mature is the individual who consume alcohol? In other words does he know his/her limit? Is the consumer ‘ at risk ‘

      I appreciate your overview/classification of alcohol consumption however when one consume Etoh ( alcohol ) we need to address ethnicity, age, medication, are they children of alcoholics ( they are high risk ), pregnant ( 10-40% children will develop fetal alcohol syndrome)

      AT RISK

      Men who drink more than 14 drinks per week or more than 4 per occasion
      Women more htan 7 per week or more than 3 per occasion

    • NorCalMike

      I like beer. Good beer. Social Drinker. I have gotten drunk.

      In my teens and twenties I used to drink alot. Even got a DUI at age 22. Stupid.

      Since getting married, I really cut down my drinking. I don’t usually drink at home. I don’t want to drink in front of my kids. I don’t want alcohol in my house. Too much temptation for my kids.

      I have a lot of friends that are recovering alcoholics. I do not drink in front of them.

    • John From Down Under

      Carrie – as I said in the first sentence of my third paragraph:

      IMO it is hard (if not impossible) to make a biblical case for ‘occasional drunkenness’ being ok.

    • Lynne

      When I read this, my first thought is :this is such an American issue. Over here, very few Christians are teetotal (and when they are they usually have specific personal reasons for it) most Christians i know are social drinkers, but never tipsy. Personally i think nothing of having 2-3 glasses of wine with dinner when I go out, but I have never drunk more than that, and never been tipsy in my life.

    • Michael T.

      “I say we have a Scotch and Cigar night at Credo House and we discuss nothing but Spurgeon whilst doing it. The problem is, only Baptists would want to come but they wouldn’t because of the scotch and cigars.”

      You know why you always take more then one Baptist with you fishing??? Because if you only take one they’ll drink all your beer.

    • Wolf Paul

      First, a clarification from Europe:

      Teetotalism is NOT limited to American Evangelicals/Fundamentalists; it is a feature of various evangelical/fundamentalist traditions in Europe as well. My wife is of a UK Plymouth Brethren background (raised exclusive then semi-exclusive, as a teen started attending an open assembly). Among those folks the saying is, “the open Brethren don’t drink, the exclusives don’t smoke.” I am aware of teetotalist groups in the rest of Western Europe as well as in Eastern Europe. Some of the WE groups may have been influenced by American missionaries, but not all.

      Personally, singling out Alcohol, particularly beer and wine, for special “moral” attention seems to have little biblical authority. And to ban wine outright requires some pretty extreme hermeneutical gymnastics or else the introduction of extra-biblical criteria. It seems clear to me that the Bible allows us to drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, whether our motivation is the enjoyment of the beverage or some sort of “evangelistic” motive.

      If that were not the case, then “Gospel-driven” drinking would be just as illegitimate as “flirty fishing” — using one’s attraction for the opposite sex as a way to initiate “evangelistic” relationships, as practiced by the bizarre “Children of God/Family of Love” group that grew out of parts of the Jesus People movement.

      The same argument applies to, for example, sports enthusiasm, something which in secular circles is often taken to extremes but is not wrong in itself, and can therefore be used as a Gospel approach.

    • TruthSleuth

      I answered “tipsy sometimes”, but I wouldn’t say it is gospel driven drinking. I definitely don’t drink to give myself an in with the drinking crowd to then witness to them. I just enjoy the flavor of good beer, and more dangerously good scotch. In my misspent youth I would definitely take the drunken route, but not anymore.

      I would say that I use the tipsy feeling as a sign it is time to put the drink down. In most cases when I do drink, it is no more than 2 beers or 2 drams of scotch in a night, so in those situations I don’t really get tipsy, maybe just a little warmer 🙂 But there are times when I am out socially or just not paying as much attention to what I am drinking as I should and I will feel tipsy, and when that happens I know it is time to switch to water for the night. It is definitely not a fool proof plumb line, but I don’t really rely on it too often.

    • Dave

      This seems like a uniquely modern issue. For thousands of years, if you wanted to drink something safe (ie wouldn’t make you sick) you had to drink alcohol. I can’t remember how much hard apple cider the average american colonist drank, but it was a large quantity.

      Lest we not forget about the health benefits, Paul reminds Timothy that a little wine is good for you.

    • EricW

      Yes, Dave #59., if the colonists and their children had drunk the water straight without using it to ferment wheat and barley for their daily liquid, few of their descendants would have been born or lived long enough to produce offspring, from what I’ve read. Sanitary drinking water was not the norm. The DAR would have a membership of near zero.

    • TrueHope

      One more category needs to be added to the list. I believe there are many Christians (myself included) that are somewhere between “gospel-driven drinking” and “soft teetotaling”. I’d call it “occasional drinker” (not tipsy). That is, I would probably never go to a bar myself, but if I’re enjoying a meal with family or friends, and they open a bottle of wine and ask me if I would like a glass, I won’t always decline (even though I might say “half a glass is good enough for me”). Drinking alcohol is not sinful, although getting drink is definitely sinful.

      For the hard teetotalers out there, if they dilute wine to that similar to biblical times, and just have a little, would that then be not sinful? If it’s not sinful for Timothy to drink a little “wine”, why would it be sinful for Christians today?

    • Vladimir

      I don’t find the Scriptures’ statements either ambiguous or vague. Nor do I think such a stance is of limited circumference (geographically or ecclesiastically).

      If wine treats with contempt and ridicule – the user or the used – and beer (strong drink) a brawler (raging) then with whom? The user or the used? This is a rhetorical question.

      Yes St Paul advised Timothy to drink alittle wine because of his stomach afflictions, but this instance of instruction was medicinal in nature.

      Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
      whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

      Yes Jesus turned the water into wine (not just fruit juice) at the marriage at Cana. What? Well, ok, yes He did. What then?

      A nominal Christian’s remarks will always differ from those who are more enlightened. Consider the source.


    • Lee H

      I would say I am the ‘Social-drinking Christian’. I think it is likely that I am younger than alot of you here and that I will move up to the ‘tipsy sometimes’ stage when I’m older. I don’t think I’ve ever been fully drunk, but very tipsy.

      Being drunk may be unwise, but I don’t know whether it is a sin.

      I am quite confused by the fact that safe drugs (little to no side effects to health) are illegal but alcohol and caffeine are legal. Its quite strange. By the way I havn’t taken drugs before.

    • Amy Jo Garner

      I didn’t vote in the poll because I don’t see a category that reflects my alcohol consumption choice.

      I drink a glass of wine or two with dinner maybe once or twice a month when we are out at a nice restaurant. It doesn’t make me tipsy and certainly doesn’t make me drunk. I don’t drink as some sort of “front” to evangelize someone else–that seems a bit underhanded and not open and honest about who I am or who God is and what he’s done for me in my life.

      People engage in a lot of self-destructive behaviors. Alcohol is only one. I know plenty of teetotaling obese Christians who battle high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Is their gluttony any less sinful than someone else’s drunkenness? How about anger issues that alienate Christians from family and friends, and cause them to lose their jobs?

      I guess I don’t see a point in singling out one issue and ignoring so many others. Each of us must let the Spirit work in our lives to work out our own bad habits and sinful desires. For some that may be too much to drink. For others it may be too much to eat or some other vice.

    • cherylu


      Umm, so Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding. He did this so people could sin by drinking a glass of it, right??

      No one here is at all denying that there are grave dangers involved in too much alcohol and I have said that I do not all believe that it is right for a Christian to get drunk.

      And if you are going to quote all of the negative verses regarding alcohol use in the Bible, don’t you think in all fairness you ought to also quote from Ps 104 where God is being praised for all of the good things He has given us–one of them being wine to make our hearts merry?

      And please, enough of the condesending attitude that every one that disagrees with you is a nominal Christian while you are more enlightened.

    • Vladimir

      Dave Z wrote:

      “Yeah, Vladimir, shallow and flippen [sic], that’s me. Probably from drinking too much, huh?”

      I didn’t say that. That is simply your inference. You may very well be shallow and flippent like your analogies used, but I have not committed to that – generally speaking.

      Again Dave Z wrote:

      “Finished dinner just a bit ago. Had tacos. My wife brought me a beer, which I enjoy with tacos. So now I better go debauch. Either that or work on my sermon for Sunday.

      ‘Night all!”

      Debauchery is not beyond you. I don’t know why you think it is. But yes go sleep your buzz off. I just hope your brain functions on all cylinders when you theologize. We already have a world overrun with heresies.

      Cherylu wrote:

      “Umm, so Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding. He did this so people could sin by drinking a glass of it, right??”

      Again, I didn’t insinuate that – Did I? That is your inference and presumption. Hint: Sin is not a substance. Sin is disobedience to the revealed will of God.


    • cherylu


      Maybe I am reading you all wrong. But it certainly seems to me that you are saying that it is obviously wrong and therefore must be a sin, according to the Scripture, to drink alcohol? Am I wrong in my understanding of what you said?

    • Vladimir

      Cherylu wrote:

      “And if you are going to quote all of the negative verses regarding alcohol use in the Bible, don’t you think in all fairness you ought to also quote from Ps 104 where God is being praised for all of the good things He has given us–one of them being wine to make our hearts merry?”

      Psalm 104:14f

      He makes grass grow for the cattle,
      and plants for man to cultivate—
      bringing forth food from the earth:

      15 wine that gladdens the heart of man,
      oil to make his face shine,
      and bread that sustains his heart.

      Are merry hearts the goal of the creation of grapes or is wine labeled with a warning to man in Psalm 104 and its consequence if used?


    • Jugulum


      Interesting. I don’t remember hearing your take on this verse.

      There’s a difference in translations:

      The majority make it a simple statement of fact that wine does gladden our hearts. NRSV, ESV, and some paraphrases indicate that God made wine to gladden our hearts.

      1.) Apparently, either the Hebrew is definitely a simple declaration of what wine does, or it’s ambiguous enough that it could be either a statement of fact or a statement of purpose.
      2.) Does anyone know how it compares to the other verses in the section, grammatically? (Maybe the rest are definitely “purpose” statements, and this is the only simple declaration–maybe it stands out. Or maybe they’re all the same, and we can’t actually single out the wine verse and treat it differently.)

      3.) If it’s a declaration, that doesn’t mean you can assume it’s a warning about a negative consequence. That’s how you want to read it, apparently–and I see two things going against that:
      4.) First, it’s in the middle of a list of God’s creations, and his bountiful providence in what he has made. If this is a warning, then it sticks out like a sore thumb as the only negative about God’s creation. (Now, if it said “wine, which makes men fools and leads them to destruction”, then that would be a clear warning in spite of the weirdness in context. However…)
      5.) … However, “gladden the hearts of men” isn’t a negative thing. Not on the face of it. (It’s possible for us to commit idolatry by enjoying the creations in place of the Creator. But you can’t leap from “gladdens the heart” to “takes an idolatrous position”. Or you might have another suggestion for how “gladdens the heart” could be bad–but you still have to eisegete it into the passage, in contradiction to the rest of the context.)

      So… Interesting attempt, but I can’t go along…

    • Dave Z

      Vladamir, everything else in that list is a good thing, grass for cattle, food from the earth, oil (though I don’t know about the shiny face part), bread…so why would you think in the midst of all that good stuff, a warning creeps in? What makes the wine remark different than the others? I suspect it’s your presupposition that wine is bad.

      Edit: Ah, I see Jugulum beat me to it.

    • cherylu


      I agree with Jugulum. Unless there is some very definite grammatical reason to think that this verse is a warning and is negative, I can see no reason to take it that way. Not when it is given in a list of blessings that God is being praised for.

      Or are we to assume that maybe oil to make his face shine and bread to sustain his heart are also negative things? Then at least it would sort of fit in context. Except of course for the fact that these are listed among all of the good things that God has given us.

    • Jugulum

      One final thought:
      6.) If the rest of Scripture was definite and explicit that all consumption of alcohol is wrong, then I could maybe go along with your reading of Psalm 104:15. It would still be very weird, but it’s imaginable.

      But there isn’t much of a “conflict” between (1) the “wine is a mocker”-style proverbs and (2) Psalm 104:15 interpreted as “God made it in order to gladden our hearts in a good way” or Prov 31:6.

      The negative proverbs about wine are cautions. Wisdom regards wine with caution—particularly tarrying over wine, ala Prov 23:30. Wine gives pleasure, and taking pleasure in God’s gifts is thanksgiving—but pleasure can lead us astray (Prov 21:17). Pleasure requires moderation.

      This is less of a “conflict” than between Proverbs 26:4 and 26:5, with two contradictory pieces of advice:

      “4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
      lest you be like him yourself.
      5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
      lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

      Sometimes you should answer a fool, sometimes you shouldn’t—and it takes maturity and discretion to tell when it’s a good idea or not.

    • Stuart B

      My pastor recently went over with us guys a study he found by John MacArthur on drinking alcohol. My pastor said it was the first time he ran into an actual teaching that believed like he did, which he arrived at organically, through the years, reading Scripture, and listening to the Holy Spirit speak to him.

      MacArthur used many Bible verses to argue his point, including 1 Tim 3:3, which says “Elders must not be given to wine.”

      Notice any word missing in that sentence?

      That says a whole lot about most “biblical” treatments of alcohol: dishonesty, faulty logic, and incompleteness. Pretty much the only sermon I’ve heard that attempts to even be balanced, albeit with some off conclusions, is Mark Driscoll’s Good Wine, Glad Hearts from his Proverbs series.

    • hmkjr

      Hard teetotaler.

      I like Stuart’s comment – “Abstinence is a lot easier than perfect moderation.”

      We are to be above reproach.

    • Dave Z

      Stuart, I’m not sure of your conclusion. Referencing both MacArthur and Driscoll is akin (in my mind) to quoting both Rush Limbaugh and Bill Clinton. I’m missing your point.

      I’m not even sure about the 1 Tim. reference. Different translations use different words. What’s missing?

      The charges of “dishonesty, faulty logic, and incompleteness” are pretty serious, but again, I don’t know what “biblical” treatment you’re aiming them at.

      Perhaps you’ll clarify?

    • Stuart B

      hmkjr – Unless there was another Stuart I missed, I would never say something like that.

      Vlad – Responding like you have been is not a way to endear people to your position, or even to consider it honestly. You may be making good points, but your chosen method of dialogue is disrepectful. In fact, you are solidifying people against you.

      And that doesn’t mean “against the Bible.”

    • Stuart B

      hmkjr – Sorry, there is another Stuart who commented earlier, and I’d disagree with him, even though I applaud him for spelling his name right. lol

      “Abstinence is a lot easier than perfect moderation.”

      First, this is referring to alcohol, so any attempts to drag the phrase into other analogies is futile (“oh, so adultery is ok in moderation?”, etc).

      Second, that may be true in certain settings, with certain friends, with certain groups, in certain communities. It is not, however, universally (and thus ‘Biblically’) true.

      Third, that is a personal conviction, and as such we can respect it when it remains personal and does not become gospel to be shared with everyone. If it’s easier for YOU to abstain than to moderate, so be it.

      Fourth, define “above reproach.” According to what? God’s standards? Well, then Jesus is my Savior, I’m a son of God, so I’m above reproach already legally, plus Jesus drank and the Spirit through the Bible encouraged us to drink. Man’s standards? Why, those pass with time. Cultural standards? Culture says drunkedness is a sin but consuming alcohol is ok and in fact highly encouraged. Medical standards? All sickness was carried by Jesus on the cross, right? Church standards? Perhaps, but is being part of a Biblical church more important to you than aligning with a group of believers who are united on an issue that is un/extra-biblical (ie, we all choose not to drink, in covenant).

      Your standards? Well, frankly, I don’t care, because I don’t know you, nor am I judging you, just your idea. Emphasis on ‘your’.

    • Stuart B

      Dave Z – I wrote that before reading the comments, I was kind of anticipating where things would go. The point I was trying to make was that MacArthur either left out a word deliberately or deliberately chose a translation that left out the word “MUCH” from that verse. “Not given to MUCH wine”, which is a whole different thing than “not given to wine.”

      Because, of course, one is just so clear on what is God’s will regarding alcohol…and the other isn’t.

      Hence my charge of dishonesty, and also faulty logic and the like. If the Bible is true, it has to be 100% true, or so goes my reasoning. If a sermon or series is presented on alcohol, it should use the whole counsel of the Bible, every conceivable layer of context, to show what it has to say about the issue. If you preach a sermon and use 1 Tim 3:3, but then neglect to mention Deut 14:26, for example, I’d call that being dishonest about what the Bible actually says. It’s also great to say that certain people have a “higher calling” than others, and so should abstain completely from alcohol, but faulty logic would be not being consistent with that view and then attempting to apply it to all believers.

      Example – priests were forbidden to drink in the OT (whether “on duty” or all around is up to debate); NT, all believers are priests; historically, there was no separation of clergy and laity; therefore, all believers are priests and should not drink, because God hates that.

      I applaud the Driscoll sermon because he attempts to use as much Scripture as possible, along with summaries of various positions, as well as a historical overview of how the church viewed and used alcohol. That said, it was preached early in his ministry, so I’m sure things have changed since then; it’s a little rough around the edges.

      (Subthought – Googling for that reference, I saw one person say “the wise choice is not to drink at all”. Funny, I thought the “wise choice” was to be Biblical in practice…)

    • Dave Z

      Hey Stuart B, that last post (#77) cleared thing up for me regarding your position. Thanks. **Quick edit – post 78 confirms we are on the same page.**

      I’d add this to it – reproach is often in the eye of the beholder, not in the action of the observed, and I don’t think it’s our responsibility to meet the expectation of everyone who might have an opinion. In fact, that would be impossible.

    • Dave Z

      Re: post 73.

      In MacArthur’s defence (a new area for me) some translations (KJV, NKJV, YLT) do not include the word “much.” However, they still specify “Given” to wine, which implies an addiction. Other translations generally use some form of “drunkenness.”

    • Chris

      Interesting post, I’m glad you are thinking about this because it is true. Many Christians do drink, some too much. Your categories are interesting. I would probably fall into the soft-teetotalist section. Bearing in mind that if I were to ever offend anyone by not drinking, I would drink and if the water was bad and I’m thirsty I’m going to drink whatever is available that isn’t polluted. I used to drink beer but am torn over the “gospel driven” drinker. This can be tricky in the church, especially if you have friends who are really offended by your drinking, we do set examples, I’m not so sure if I want to set an example by my presence at a local tavern or by my sipping beer at said place. I know about Luther and his love for beer but we gotta remember that was 16th century Germany, to them, beer was like apple juice or something, i.e., I don’t think any German would be offended with Luther’s beer drinking or remarks. But in 21st century USA we gotta be careful.

    • Lee

      I guess I don’t fit into any of the categories.

      I have a drink or two a couple of times a year. (Not that I think a drink a couple of times of year is preferable to a drink a couple of times a week.) I used to drink heavily as a young man, drinking exclusively for the purpose of getting drunk. As a Christian I decided that I would no longer get drunk, understanding drunkenness to be a sin. The easiest (and for me the wisest) way to do this is to limit my consumption of alcohol to one drink or on a longer evening two. I have no desire to be controlled by alcohol or any other drug. Tipsy for me is simply mild drunkenness and describes that state when we are incapable of making sound and sober judgments (such as how many drinks are too many or what speed is appropriate for the current driving conditions).

      I’d be curious to know if there is any credible information out there that would enlighten us as to the level of alcohol that was commonplace in biblical wines. Could the Cana wine that Jesus made be consumed a quart at a time with the only side effect being more stops to the biffy or was one glassful enough to get the average person tipsy?

      I’m not opposed to having a drink with a neighbor for the purpose of being sociable and accepting an invitation into his life. However we’re fools if we think that the habit of social drinking with the gang doesn’t come with some very serious risks. I doubt there are many alcoholics whose intentions were other than to simply have a good time with friends.

      As I find myself determined to invest myself in the lives of my non believing neighbors in order to demonstrate the love of Christ to them I find this to be an issue that is important to grapple with.

      Ephesians 5:18 and the like only prohibit daily drunkenness??? Are you serious?! That sounds to me like a conclusion reached with the aid of a few beers.


    • Stuart B

      Dave Z, post 79 – fully agree, and that’s a trap I’ve fallen into way too many times, ie, wanting to be liked by everybody (fear of man).

    • Jugulum

      “Abstinence is a lot easier than perfect moderation.”

      That can make sense as a motivation for not yourself drinking. As a reason to say “No Christian should drink”, it strikes me as both (1) not a good argument (I agree with Stuart’s critique), and (2) directly against the explicit teaching of the New Testament on regulations like “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.”

      By way of comparison, “Abstinence from all food except bread and water is a lot easier than avoiding gluttonous obsessions & food idolatry.” (Or modify “food and water” to any bland food that includes the basic nutritional requirements.)

      Read through Colossians 2:16-3:17.

      These kinds of regulations “have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Instead of asceticism or abstinence, Paul exhorts us to seek Christ. We put to death that which is sin, and put on Christ, letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, doing all things with thanksgiving.

      Paul doesn’t approve of forbidding what God doesn’t forbid, as a way to avoid indulging sinful desire. Instead, we seek Christ, and do all with thanksgiving.

    • Jimmy James

      I take the hard teetotaler position… All things may be “lawful” for me, but not all things are helpful… and I will not be brought under the power of any…

      As I see it, every drunk driver started with one drink… every drunk girl with an unplanned pregnancy or STD started with one drink… everyone with alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver started with one drink… we live in a day when we have so many other beverage options, why start with something that has the potential to be so harmful…

    • Jesse G


      I’m curios what you would say to this passage:

      Deu 14:24-26

      (24) And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there,
      (25) then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses
      (26) and spend the money for whatever you desire–oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

      The context is how an Israelite is to consume the tithe of his produce. God reveals to him the place in which he is to carry the tithe to both consume it himself, and share it with the Levites/ widows/ sojourners etc. If the distance is too far to carry the produce, he is commanded to sell it, take the money to the place in which God directed and then purchase “whatever [his] appetite craves” . . . God’s suggestions. . . “oxen, sheep, wine or strong drink.”

      God is directing an Israelite to purchase and consume wine or strong drink should his appetite crave such a drink – with the money that is set aside for God Himself – and rejoice!

      I’ve never heard a hard teetolalism response to this passage.

      Jesse G

    • Stuart B

      #86, JesseG…that’s because that passage is not in their Bible. Or, their pulpit, I suppose I should say.

      #85, Jimmy James. I’ve heard that argument used before. It doesn’t really hold much water, because for all those things listed, you could also say “sin”. So really it’s all Adam and Eve’s fault. Or Satan’s. Or God’s. But I understand your point. Why would you give a baby an energy drink? It would harm their heart.

      The point is what the Bible says, not how we can go beyond it and only drink water and other beneficial drinks out of the abundance we have. Many in history (and throughout the world currently) did not have nearly as much of an abundance, and I’m not going to go condemn or deny them.

      So of course we should set an example and not drink, because they should model themselves after us.

    • EricW

      God is directing an Israelite to purchase and consume wine or strong drink should his appetite crave such a drink – with the money that is set aside for God Himself – and rejoice!

      I’ve never heard a hard teetolalism response to this passage.

      Jesse G

      Jews are allowed to get happy on liquor. Baptists and other good Christian folk aren’t. ‘Nuff said. End of explanation.

    • Vladimir

      I have not looked at the Hebrew syntax in Ps 104 (103) – but I will. The fact however that vine is a product of a human fermentation process (Jesus’ miracle at Cana excluded) and the fact that it does effect the human psyche and a warning of prudent caution is not out of line here – even amid God’s blessings. In fact, even without looking at the Hebrew syntax, the fact that the syntax is capable of being understood otherwise does in fact not exclude the precautionary warning sense.

      I find Jesse G’s passage from Dt of far more interest. Tomorrow – God willing.


    • Vladimir

      Dave Z wrote:

      “I suspect it’s your presupposition that wine is bad.”

      Actually, its your presupposition of what you think my position is. Your understanding of my position is what is suspect.

      Connect the dots – dude. If Jesus made wine at Cana, how can that substance in and of itself be bad? If bad, then how so? By misuse or inherently.

      The Scriptures state : “Eat honey for it is good.” But – and this is a big but – to an infant it is fatal.

      Go figure.


    • Vladimir

      BTW – Vladimir is spelled Vladimir, not Vladamir. For those who use Vlad, the diminutive use of a name is limited to very close relations. Used otherwise it is deemed hurtful and offensive.

      Don’t worry Jesse G, I know your not sweet on me.


    • Michael T.

      Didn’t you state earlier that you were a hard teetoler and believed that Christians should never drink (which would imply that doing so was a sin)??

    • Vladimir

      Michael T wrote:

      Didn’t you state earlier that you were a hard teetoler and believed that Christians should never drink (which would imply that doing so was a sin)??

      No, what I said was this:

      “I haven’t drunk in 17 years. The last words out of my mouth back then were “God damn it.” He has”

      …for 17 years now in my own life. Like David my heart rejoices in God my Savior! – sane, sober, in my right mind.


    • Vladimir


      I looked at the Hebrew last night. SHMH is definitely expressive of what effect wine has on man’s heart/personality.
      Apparantly the full effect of exactly what this mood altering effect is and how it evidences itself in a person’s character and actions is multifarious. The single and perhaps even somewhat misleading translation of SHMH only renders one possible translation of this verb. The Hebrew text definitely is focused on what the wine does/how it effects the hearts of men.

      Other language translations suffer from this same semantic limitation.

      Hope this helps.


    • Lee

      For a teetotaler position that is well defended you might be interested in this and related articles on the same site.

    • Susanne

      I found this site helpful a couple years ago. The writer shows the good, bad and neutral verses on alcohol in the Bible. Also he shares how the alcohol-is-wrong view is very cultural in America.

      I’ve never drank alcohol and prefer others not to do it because I’ve seen how the abuse of alcohol has hurt others in horrible ways. However, I cannot say the Bible condemns drinking in moderation.

      I think the key is if we do something that offends a weaker brother then we have sinned. So these people who drink and do it to flaunt their “Christian liberty” yet they don’t care about the weaker ones out there….I am not really for that.

    • JesseC50

      I figured this topic would elicit a lively discussion. By way of disclosure I am in the soft-teetotaler camp. It seems a few people have drawn attention to the social dimension of alcohol, but it seems to be a little under-represented to me. I don’t think anything about alcohol is inherently wrong nor do I think that drinking in itself is a sinful behavior. I think that when we get into the mindset of “what am I allowed to do” we are setting ourselves up for failure. Paul’s comment that “everything is permissible, but not beneficial” has been mentioned, but somewhat neglected. For Paul, everything was brought under the furtherance of the gospel, both inside and outside the church. Regarding food sacrificed to ideals his chief concern was how the practice would influence fellow believers and whether it would offend those inside and outside the church (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 8 &10). If the partaking would have a negative impact, then it should be jettisoned b/c the question should not be “what am I allowed to do?” but “what is beneficial for the building up of the church?” My conscience may not be offended by partaking, but does my partaking grant permission to someone whose conscience would be offended? To me that question is only magnified when one stands in a position of leadership and authority in the church. Do I have the freedom to drink? Yes, absolutely! But is that the best question to ask?
      Though I do not think that it is necessarily a sin, to those that think it is ok to drink but a sin to be drunk, I would ask “where is the line?” Again I would ask is that the best question? We often live in a state of asking “how far can we go without it being a sin”, or “how close can I get to the line” rather than taking Paul’s advice to flee. Why should I tip-toe around the line of my conscience being offended rather than running in the opposite direction? I have so much trouble keeping other sinful behavior in check why should I add another…

    • JesseC50

      I agree with Susanne that our views of alcohol are largely culturally conditioned and that Wallace’s article is helpful, and obviously with her point about offending a brother. To the cultural angle though we need to respect the culture within which we find ourselves. I live in the Bible belt and cannot avoid the negative perception of alcohol that is present in the culture. But why should I be asked to refrain when someone in another culture doesn’t have to? Indeed, how could Christ ask such a sacrifice of me 🙂

    • mbaker

      I also think a lot of tee-totallers don’t realize that by saying no one can ever take a drink, they too are making their brother stumble by shaming them into believing that any drinking is wrong. The Bible doesn’t speak against it per se, except as drunkeness, or losing control of one’s self.

      We all know Christians who don’t smoke, drink, or curse, yet they are insufferable in other ways.

      To me, it’s like overeating. There are far more people in Christianity who are guilty of gluttony,which the Bible states as sin, yet no one takes them to task. Just another case of old satan’s trap, catering to our egos by trying to make us believe that someone else’s sin is worse then ours. 🙂

    • Cadis

      One hundred bottles of beer on the wall ! one hundred bottles of beer! you take one down and pass it around…

      Anyway, I think there is too much emphasis placed on alcohol consumption. It is, for the most part, a personal issue. Some can drink one light beer and be intoxicated and others 5 lagers. Some dislike alcohol and it’s affects and others appreciate alcohol and can use alcohol to mantain (yes, mantain). It is all about who is in charge. You or the drink.

      Abstaining is also good, if the motive is right or if you are so inclined.

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