I was attending a mid-week bible study at a local church when the subject of drinking alcohol came up. It became a hot topic with people making a passionate case for both sides—Sure, Christians can drink as long as it is done in moderation—it’s not a sin. Others say, Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol at all because it can cause others to stumble (in their faith and into addiction)—it’s definitely a sin. So what does the Bible reveal about drinking alcohol? Abstain or entertain? You decide…
The case against: Sure, you could drink but…Drinking is Not for Kings.
- Proverbs 31:4, King James Version – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”
- Ephesians 5:18, King James Version – “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, King James Version – “…Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
- Romans 13:13-14, King James Version – “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
- Luke 21:34-35, King James Version – “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
The case for: Of course, you can drink, in moderation—the Bible only says being drunk is a sin.
- Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee because the host ran out of wine. (John 2:1-10)
- Luke 7:33-34, Living Bible – “For John the Baptist used to go without food and never took a drop of liquor all his life, and you said, ‘He must be crazy!’ But I eat my food and drink my wine, and you say, ‘What a glutton Jesus is! And he drinks! And has the lowest sort of friends!”
- 1 Timothy 5:23-24, Living Bible – “Be sure that you yourself stay away from all sin. (By the way, this doesn’t mean you should completely give up drinking wine. You ought to take a little sometimes as medicine for your stomach because you are sick so often.)”
- 1 Timothy 3:8, Living Bible – “The deacons must be the same sort of good, steady men as the pastors. They must not be heavy drinkers and must not be greedy for money.”
- 1 Corinthians 2:16, Living Bible – “So don’t let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating Jewish holidays and feasts or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.
Are there health benefits from drinking alcohol?
According to MedicalDaily.com’s article, “7 Health Benefits of Drinking Alcohol”, moderate consumption (only 1 glass of red wine per day for women or 2 glasses of red wine per day for men with a meal), can: 1. reduce cardiovascular disease by raising the amount of HDL or “good cholesterol”; 2. Lengthen life; 3. Improve libido; 4. Help prevent the common cold; 5. Decrease the chances of developing dementia; 6. Reduce the risk of gallstones; and 7. Reduce the chance of diabetes.
However, after researching the seven health benefits listed in the article, consuming alcohol is not the best way to achieve any of them. For instance, the best way to reduce cardiovascular disease is to reduce the amount of fatty foods, salt and sugar in the diet, exercise regularly, quit smoking and eat more fruits and vegetables. Want to prevent the common cold? Hand washing, good sanitation practices, nutrition and rest are key. Consuming alcohol is not a primary factor for maximum health. In fact, “any health benefit from alcohol hinges on it being consumed in moderation. “Non-drinkers are not encouraged to start drinking alcohol,” says Edward J. Neafsey, Ph.D, co-author of the study on alcohol and dementia.
Is drinking alcohol harmful to your health?
- According to researchers, women who drank even moderately increased their chances of getting cancer of the breast, liver, rectum, throat, mouth, and esophagus. Additionally, the risk of liver, head, neck and colorectal cancer increases for all drinkers.
- Drinking alcohol stimulates the appetite which, in turn, causes weight gain.
- Excessive drinking (more than 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 5 ounces of 80-proof spirits a day) can cause cirrhosis of the heart, cirrhosis of the liver and can trigger high blood pressure. Keep in mind, storing up the daily amount of alcohol allowed per day and drinking it all in one setting is considered binge drinking, which doctors agree is unhealthy. Moderate drinking is not consuming seven glasses of wine Friday night while abstaining the rest of the week.
- Drinking alcohol, in any amount, can lead to depression–it is a depressant.
Biblical and medical sources seem to agree—drinking in moderation is permissible. Perhaps the better question is: Are you able to be moderate?
1 Corinthians 10:23, King James Version
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
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- Karyn Repinski/Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, D. M. (2016, 01 16). 11 Tips to Cut Your Cholesterol Fast By, WebMD Feature . Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/11-tips-to-cut-your-cholesterol-fast
- Kathleen Doheny, W. F. (2016, 01 16). FAQ: Alcohol and Your Health–Experts answer questions about the impact of drinking on cancer risk, heart health, and more. Retrieved from WebMD.com: http://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/faq-alcohol-and-your-health
- Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD & Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR. (2016, 01 16). 10 Tips to Prevent The Common Cold. Retrieved from MedicineNet.com: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53472
- WebMD. (2016, 01 16). Alcohol and Depresssion. Retrieved from WebMD.com: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/alcohol-and-depresssion
- WebMD. (2016, 01 16). Heart Disease Risk Factors. Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-risk-factors