On Drinking Alcohol: My Personal Stand and Practice
I’ve been wanting to blog about drinking alcohol, but I just don’t know when to do it. Now, Christmas is fast approaching. Dinner tables will soon abound with wines and champagne. Since Christmas is nearing, and Tim Challies happened to blog on the same topic, I believe now is the perfect time.
My Personal Stand
I’m only basing my conviction on the Bible. So let us know what the Bible says about drinking alcohol. (From now on, I’ll refer to drinking alcohol as drinking, unless I otherwise indicate).
But before anything else, let’s define drinking. I will define it this way: It is the moderate intake of alcohol. By moderate I mean “not given to drunkenness.” Throughout the blog, I will use this definition.
So what does the Bible say about drinking? As far as I know, there is no place in the Bible where drinking is forbidden or condemned. What is clear is that drunkenness is forbidden (Ephesians 5:14). It is associated with other sins (see Matthew 11:19, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 6:10, Galatians 5:21, 1 Peter 4:3). Christians shouldn’t even associate with drunkards (1 Corinthians 5:11).
So I believe that drinking is not a sin. In fact, at a wedding in Cana, Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11). I believe that as a guest in this celebration, Jesus drank wine. But even if He did not, He wouldn’t turn the water into wine if He knew that drinking is sinful.
Also, the apostle Paul advised Timothy, his child in the faith, to drink “a little wine for the sake of [his] stomach and [his] frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23). Clearly, alcohol has health benefits and medicinal value. Just like Jesus, Paul wouldn’t advise Timothy to drink wine if drinking is sinful.
Now, I’m ready to share my practice. To guide myself, I will attempt to answer the following questions: What and how much do I drink? When and how frequent do I drink? Where do I drink? And with whom do I drink?
I usually drink red wine and a special kind of beer. (I say special because I dislike the taste of beer. Believe it or not, I couldn’t even finish a bottle of light beer. I only drink dark lager [recently learned about this], in which Cerveza Negra is one. Cerveza Negra tastes like red wine. That’s why I like it). I only drink a glass or two of red wine or a bottle or two of beer. Two is enough for me.
And I usually drink when there are special occasions, such as birthday celebrations and reunions. Sometimes I drink when I hang out with (Christian) friends. I love to drink red wine after a good meal, especially when there is an excellent piece of meat. Since I usually drink on special occassions, I guess it’s safe to say that I only drink occasionally.
I drink at homes (where birthday celebrations and reunions are usually held) or at restaurants. I drink with friends and relatives (usually Christians) who shares the same convictions as I do or understand my conviction and wouldn’t stumble. I normally ask first for my friends’ permission. If they permit, then I drink.
(I might write another blog in the future. This time, it’s about the believer’s freedom).
I expect some questions to be thrown at me. And I’ve already thought of some. I will post them below in the form of a question, and I will answer one by one.
Am I actually encouraging drinking?
No. I leave the decision to drink to the Christian and his conscience. And I still prefer coffee over alcohol. (By the way, coffee is my favorite drink in the world).
What do I think of speakers who may not be explicitly condemning drinking, but in their talks they sounded as if it is a sin?
I have to be careful here. I want to believe that those speakers are concerned with the context or the place where the drinking is done. Maybe they are against drinking if it’s done in a questionable place, such as a bar or a night club.
But if they’re saying that drinking per se is a sin, then there’s something wrong. They are setting themselves as authorities, going beyond the Bible. I want to encourage them with the words of my pastor, “Do not go beyond the Bible.”
Am I willing to give up drinking if the authority tells me to?
Of course! The Bible says that we must submit to authorities (see Romans 13:1-7). And I’m more concerned with the unity of the church than with red wine and Cerveza Negra.