Is it a sin to drink alcohol?

Scripture doesn’t state that drinking alcohol is a sin. Having said this when we look at scripture it is vital that we look at it as a whole. We must not be thinking 'is this a sin?' but 'does this build me up and is it wise?' Although there are no specific commandments against drinking alcohol in the Bible I believe it is biblical to look at the 'pros and cons' in order to decide if an action such as drinking alcohol is wise, necessary and beneficial.

 

The Bible clearly states that drunkenness is a sin, we read in Ephesians 5:18 "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,".  We also see in scripture the importance of looking after our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:12, 2 Peter 2.19). It is a known fact that alcohol is a substance that influences the human brain while causing serious medical problems such as destroying blood vessels and brain cells. If we take the knowledge that we have of alcohol and search the Scripture we cannot ignore the amazing fact that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and so our bodies are not our own to harm. If alcohol has the potential to harm our bodies even if we do not drink to the extent of drunkenness we must ask ourselves is it a wise and Biblical thing to do?


You may be thinking 'the Bible is full of references to wine so surely drinking alcohol is fine?' This is the counterargument. There is no black and white answer for 'is it okay to drink alcohol?". If we turn to Scripture once again we will find that it is true; there is much talk of wine in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 9:7, for example, says "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do."  Although wine is certainly a Biblical thing we must take into account that the water in the Bible times was not pure enough to drink. Water carried bacteria and diseases that we, in general, do not have to worry about in our modern age. We see this in 1 Timothy 5:23 "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." Paul is telling Timothy to drink wine as a form of medicine, to help his stomach illness caused by the impurities within the water at the time. To extend this point we must also note that the "wine" in Bible times was not the alcohol we today are familiar with. Wine 2000 years ago was nothing like our vodka, beer, shot and cocktails today.

 

The reality of the situation is that in our modern world drinking has become a trend. Instead of asking is drinking alcohol a sin, we must always ask ourselves, is it wise to go out drinking, when all people want to do is get drunk? As Christians, we are witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are going out drinking not only are we putting ourselves in danger of stumbling into drunkenness which certainly is a sin but we could also be causing our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble for they may be weaker than us. Although you may have self-control you must take into consideration the possibility that your actions could cause other Christians with perhaps less self-control to stumble and sin. Romans 14:21 makes this clear by saying "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.”

 

Although drinking alcohol alone may not be a sin the Bible makes it clear that going against our conscience is. If you are someone who likes one glass of wine in the company of your wife and has self-control as long as it is not going against your conscience then biblically this is not a sin. But if your having doubts about drinking and are questioning it, I would encourage you not to go against your conscience for by doing so you are sinning. Romans 14:23 warns us about this by saying "But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is a sin."

If you are struggling to decide I would encourage you to ask yourself is drinking alcohol a wise and beneficial thing to do? Will drinking cause you to fall into drunkenness? Will the nature of drinking in modern society lead you to stumble into other sins? Will drinking alcohol be a helpful witness to non-Christian friends? Will drinking cause other Christians to stumble?

A good policy follow is this; if the topic is unclear in the Bible, but personally goes against your conscience then it is a sin. The topic may not be written in black and white but by meditating upon Scripture and wrestling in prayer certain aspects of the Christian life may be very clear in our consciences.

 

"Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way.” Hebrews 13:18