The Christian and Social Drinking
“Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with a little alcohol.” “The Bible says, ‘don’t get drunk,’ so we can casually drink.” “You’re going to get judged anyway, so drink your wine!”
Have you ever heard a fellow believer say this? Maybe you believe or have said one or all of these statements?
Social drinking is done by many individuals to celebrate an event or have casually during dinners with friends or family. Among Christians, social drinking has been heatedly debated. This article is not one of argumentation, it’s one of encouraging all to lay aside personal opinions and consider honestly what the living and abiding word of God has to say.
Understanding Your Influence
“Wine” and “strong drink” are mentioned abundantly throughout Scripture; however, I only want to focus on one passage: Ephesians 5:15-18
So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled with the Spirit.
In verses 15-17, Paul is calling Christians everywhere to live carefully and wisely, staying alert about the Lord’s will. In verse 18, he contrasts two influences for the Christian—wine and the Holy Spirit. This verse is used by many believers to advocate drinking in moderation because the apostle wrote, “do not get drunk with wine.” It is important to understand that Paul laid out two contrasting influences that control the Christian’s actions and thinking. The first influence, alcohol, leads a person to a fleshly-driven (or “reckless”) lifestyle (Galatians 5:19-21); the second Influence, the Holy Spirit, leads the Christian to a sober, Spirit-filled lifestyle (Galatians 5:22, 23).
Take note of the word “but” right after Paul wrote not to get drunk with wine. He uses this word to oppose and negate the first influence altogether and commands Christians to be influenced by the Spirit instead. The term “be filled” in the Greek is plēroō which means, “to flood, to fill, to spread throughout one's soul.” Simply put, the apostle is saying, “Instead of drinking, let the Holy Spirit fill you and spread throughout your life and body as a flood.” When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit and are allowing Him to work in their lives, there is no room left in them for any amount (be it in moderation or binge) of secular substances.
Another perspective to consider is the Christian’s influence before those outside of Christ. Our new way of living in the Lord is being observed. The apostle Peter wrote,
For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you (1 Peter 4:3,4, NKJV).
Christians in the first century understood their influence before others and abstained from former practices they once did which, for some, were “drunkenness” and “drinking parties.” They did what the apostle instructed in chapter 1 of his letter when he wrote, “gird up the loins of your mind [and] be sober” (1 Peter 1:13a). Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defined “sober” from the Greek word nepho as “free from the influence of intoxicants” (Vol. 3, p. 44). Christians in the first century took their influence seriously as we should today as members of the body of Christ.
Additionally, it is important to note a few detrimental effects of alcohol:
It affects most areas of your brain.
It is not digested. Alcohol enters straight into your bloodstream and does not go to your digestive system.
It slows brain function. Even consuming one glass of wine is considered to be low-level intoxication.
It reduces your ability to make proper judgements.
It is known to be an aiding cause of certain types of cancers.
After considering the health risks and understanding the Christians’ influence, I pray that all personal desires will be sacrificed to follow God’s word.
(A moment of transparency: in my early months as a new convert I advocated for social drinking because I liked drinking wine. It was because I liked to occasionally have a glass, I convinced myself there were passages in God’s word that solidified my belief, but the holy scriptures are clear: any amount of consumption of alcoholic beverages for pleasure is not in accordance with Christian, Spirit-filled living.)
For a more in-depth study on drinking regarding:
Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding
Timothy instructed to use wine for his illness
Elders and Deacons’ instructions on wine
And other topics in the Bible on alcohol
watch this video by Don Blackwell below:
Grace and peace be upon you.