Beer & the Pulpit

Why churches need to talk about alcohol.

I drink beer. Let me be more precise: I love beer. I think the quote "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," is onto something.

While I love my choice libations, I am disturbed by the Church's lack of commentary on drinking. Alcohol, like food, is a good gift from God.

Did you catch that? Alcohol is a good gift from God, to be enjoyed appropriately.

Unfortunately, the Church has one of two damaging responses to alcohol: Either we say it's devil's brew or we are mute on the subject.

Alcohol is a good gift from God, to be enjoyed appropriately.

Just briefly, because it doesn't need to be a long discussion, nowhere in the Bible does it say drinking alcohol is inherently bad. It may be bad for some people who recognize their inability to control themselves around it, or it may be unwise for certain people to drink in certain situations. But the Bible does not condemn moderate drinking.

However, Scripture does clearly state we should never get drunk. In early college, with no guidance on alcohol other than how "evil" it was, I began drinking, and not just the casual couple beers here and there. I pounded drink after drink trying to get drunk. Why? Because at the time it seemed fun, friends were doing it with me and it was a good escape from things I refused to deal with.

As it so happens, I was engaged to Rachel at the time and she gently, and sometimes not so gently, questioned my drinking habits. I realized I had never personally questioned what I was doing. My drinking lifestyle was a cleverly crafted system of lies that only perpetuated my bondage of self-medicating.

My fiancé was the first person to challenge that lifestyle—at the age of 21. I thank God she did, but where was the Church? Why didn't the Church help me navigate what it meant to drink well?

Since then, I've discovered I'm not the only one who was never given wisdom about alcohol. Too many of my dear friends who follow Jesus have serious drinking issues. Not because they are alcoholics (though some are), but because they haven't been shown there's another more beautiful, life-giving way to address alcohol.

The Church needs to talk about alcohol because how we handle it often reflects how we understand God.

The Church needs to talk about alcohol because how we handle it often reflects how we understand God. If we never touch alcohol because “it's evil,” then our view of God is as a mere man who tells us not to do things. He's not looking out for our joy or pleasure, but rather making sure we do what He says.

If we are on the other extreme and drunkenness is a state we commonly find ourselves in, then we abuse creation. It's very evident that the individual who gets drunk without repentance believes their pleasure is of highest value. This leads to the ever-present idol of self. And when we worship ourselves, we abuse all other forms of creation.

Alcohol is a good thing. A nice scotch on a cold night while reading a book is heavenly. Drinking Scottish Ale for dessert is sublime. Enjoying a great wine with a sirloin at dinner with friends is simply fantastic. And abstaining from alcohol because you can't have just one is beautiful. Ultimately, not everyone should drink. But not everyone has to abstain.

Romans 14 says: “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

When you drink, drink for the glory of God. And when you abstain, do so for the glory of God. Enjoy His creation, but do not exploit it. This is the way of Jesus.

Top Comments

John Hughes

2

John Hughes replied to Marty Pierce's comment

The provided source also rails against contemporary worship music, translations other than KJV, the holiness of the candy cane, how pokemon and pocohantas are part of the occult and assorted other perceptions of one man's viewpoint on biblical issues. I'm not sure it constitutes a solid reference in any argument.

109 Comments

Stephan

2

Stephan commented…

Great article indeed! I do love my occasional "cold one" as they call it here in South Africa and also a good glass of red with my medium-done steak. There is however a time where I don't drink at all, when I am out with a friend, that still struggles with alcohol and regularly gets drunk. The whole principle of "not causing your brother to stumble" applies here. Thought I might just add that...

Eddie Becker

9

Eddie Becker commented…

Great article David. I think that the church has to start talking about this with middle and high schoolers, really diving into Galatians and discussing our freedoms, and how not to abuse them. Too many churches just tell young people "don't drink" and leave it at that. We've got to discuss the legal ramifications as Americans certainly, but we need to understand what the Bible really says rather than treat alcohol the way early 1900's prohibitionists did.

David Rivera

1

David Rivera commented…

Cheers to this! I drink, but I see to it that I don't drink to get wasted. I don't like getting drunk. And I totally agree with the principle of "not causing your brother to stumble". Drink responsibly.

Jamie Ann Norton

1

Jamie Ann Norton commented…

It's interesting that throughout this whole article you used only one scripture, and even that scripture was grossly misapplied and taken out of context. Even basic Bible students would be able to see through this article.

Anthony Vernon

4

Anthony Vernon commented…

I don't think that drinking alcohol is bad. Every now and then without getting drunk is okay. It's only when alcohol consumes your life to where you can't live without it and it destroys your life and relationships that it becomes a problem.

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