Is it wrong for a Christian to drink alcohol? Is it wrong to have a glass of wine with a meal, a pint of beer with friends, or a cocktail at a business gathering?
Today there has been much debate over Christians drinking alcohol. Most Christian universities currently enforce a no-drinking policy, most church staff are prohibited from drinking alcohol, and large segments of Christianity view drinking alcohol as being sinful.
Where does God stand on the issue?
I know this topic could occupy multiple pages of blog space, so in order to keep the discussion to a tolerable level, I want to share 3 principles that I hope will be helpful in navigating through this issue.
1. The Bible Assumes People Drink Alcohol
The vineyard and drinking wine were a central part of Israel’s history (e.g. festivals, weddings, Passover, etc.). The blessing of God was often described in terms of drinking wine (Proverbs 3:9-10). We also see the first miracle performed by Jesus was turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), and Paul the Apostle recommending that Timothy drink wine instead of water to help his stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23).
Truth: You Can’t Make a Biblical Case That Simply Drinking Alcohol is Sinful
2. God Prohibits Getting Drunk
The Bible is filled with many scriptures that clearly state that although God allows drinking, getting drunk is a sin (c.f. Deuteronomy 21:20, Isaiah 5:11-13, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Peter 4:3). There are also many scriptures that highlight how getting drunk can lead to other types of sin (c.f. Genesis 19:32-35, Proverbs 4:17, 20:1, 21:17, Ephesians 5:18).
I suppose this begs the question, what is “drunk?“. Rather than tackle this slippery slope, I will let the authorities define this issue with their BOC ratings.
Truth: It is Always a Sin to Drink in Order to Get Drunk
3. The Drinking Debate is a Cultural Debate
I will never forget the first time I worked together with other pastors overseas in Europe. After a fruitful day of ministry, we celebrated all the Lord had done with a stein of beer at a local pub. It felt so counter-cultural to what I had been used to in the United States. Remembering the 1980’s Christian song, “Hide the Beer the Pastor’s Here!”, now felt like I was the one hiding the beer!
It was at that point I realized the issue of drinking alcohol is not a biblical discussion but a cultural one.
If you review church history you will find that all the church fathers drank alcohol. From Clement of Alexandria to Martin Luther, all of them enjoyed social drinking. In fact, part of John Calvin’s salary package included 7 barrels (250 gallons) of wine! 
Restricting Christians from drinking alcohol is primarily an American phenomenon dating back to the early 1900’s with Prohibition. It was at that time the U.S. concerns over alcohol crossed over into the church and became a spiritual discussion. Today with the proliferation of alcohol sales being at an all-time high, Americans have certainly embraced drinking alcohol once again, thus exposing the unbiblical prohibition stance within the church.
Truth: Don’t Confuse Biblical Truth With Cultural Preferences
I recognize there is much more that can be said on this topic as it relates to personal history, alcoholism, “making a brother stumble”, DUI laws, etc. But in order to keep this discussion to a blog level instead of a dissertation, I wanted to at least cover the basics in hopes of helping us live out our Faith in the Real World!
 Jim West, Drinking with Calvin and Luther: A History of Alcohol in the Church, (Oakdown, June 2003).
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