Why do Christians get so pissed off about drinking? I have often wondered about this to myself and have spent considerable time deciding where I stand on the matter. Don’t you think that if Drinking was totally and 100% against the Bible and the Law that Jesus would have been more careful about what He did? Look at the story of His first miracle:
On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother told Him, “They don’t have any wine.” “What has this concern of yours to do with Me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.” “Do whatever He tells you,” His mother told the servants. Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons. “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did. When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from–though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom and told him, “Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.” Jesus performed this first sign in Cana of Galilee. He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:1-11 HCSB)
If drinking was against the Law, than what was Jesus doing at this wedding party and why did He give a room full of people who were completely wasted more wine? Hmm…
Anyway, here are my thoughts.
Why are we Christians so obsessed with external behavior? At my school, it has come to my attention that people actually don’t like me and some of the people I hang out with, and one of the reasons this is the case is because we don’t go to chapel on Wednesdays. How foolish is that? Since when is the dedication of a Christian measured by whether or not they go to a short devotional once a week?
This goes right into the issue about drinking. Since when is the devotion of a Christian measured by whether or not they drink some alcohol? If drinking is a sin, than Jesus was a sinner. In fact, this is what the pharisees called Him:
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luke 7:34 HCSB)
The same kind of judgment still abounds in the church today. The church has added so many rules for the external behavior of the Christian that we have forgotten what Christ set us free for. The church teaches that Christ set us free so that we wouldn’t do a long list of things that we used to do before Christ saved us. But that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says,
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NASB Emphasis mine)
We were set free to be free! I don’t know what is so hard about that idea to the modern church.
Back to the topic at hand. The church seems to think that if you drink, you’re not saved. If you watch R Rated movies, you’re not saved…which is ironic considering the majority of the evangelical community endorsed, promoted, and exhorted their congregations to go and watch The Passion of the Christ.
But the Bible doesn’t give a flat out answer on the issue of drinking. Proverbs states,
Wine is a mocker, beer is a brawler, and whoever staggers because of them is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1 HCSB)
Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine, or with those who gorge themselves on meat. For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor, and grogginess will clothe them in rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21 HCSB)
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has conflicts? Who has complaints? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has red eyes? Those who linger over wine, those who go looking for mixed wine. Don’t gaze at wine when it is red, when it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and you will say absurd things. You’ll be like someone sleeping out at sea or lying down on the top of a ship’s mast. “They struck me, but I feel no pain! They beat me, but I didn’t know it! When will I wake up? I’ll look for another drink.” (Proverbs 23:29-35 HCSB)
But wait…in other places wine is seen in a positive way…
I have come to my garden–my sister, my bride. I gather my myrrh with my spices. I eat my honeycomb with my honey. I drink my wine with my milk. Eat, friends! Drink, be intoxicated with love! (Song of Solomon 5:1 HCSB)
Your navel is a rounded bowl; it never lacks mixed wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat surrounded by lilies. (Song of Solomon 7:2 HCSB)
Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. (1 Timothy 5:23 HCSB)
So what is the Christian to do? Condemn drinking altogether? Allow it fully and freely? Here is what I think the Christian should do. The Christian should take the issue of drinking as a matter of conscience. The Bible is clear that there is good and bad to the use of alcohol. You need to be cautious. If you do drink, drink in moderation, and if you don’t, don’t be a jerk about it.
To those who do decide to drink, take this into consideration:
About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth–as there are many “gods” and many “lords”– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him. However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now, that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat. But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. For if somebody sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall. (1 Corinthians 8:4-13 HCSB)