Christian denominations have opposing views on the use of alcoholic beverages. Others openly prohibit the practice of drinking wine, while there are those who don’t necessarily forbid it, but rather warn their followers against drunkenness.
In America alone, alcoholism has caused serious health attention since the ‘90s, affecting millions of individuals and families. There’s no exact figure as to how much alcoholism is costing the governments but we can “guesstimate.” According to The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, it’s estimated that the US government spends around $40 to $60 billion annually on alcohol-related causes
What does the Bible teach about wine?
In its entirety, the Bible has 17 words of warning against abuse of wine and strong drink, and illustrates 19 instances of its misuse. In the three epistles, Churches are advised not to select leaders who are “given to drunkenness” or “given too much wine.”
The King James Version of the Bible shows 228 references to wine and 19 mentions to strong drinks. In fact, it’s surprising to know that the most frequent reference to wine connotes drinking as an acknowledged element of the Biblical culture. In other words, drinking of wine has been an accepted practice.
As a blessing – Genesis 27:28 states “Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.” Here, wine was used as a literal representation of blessings.
As an offering – Numbers 18:12 shows how wine was used as an offering to God. It says “All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the first fruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee.” If wine, by its nature, is really bad, it wouldn’t have been considered as a worthy offering.
Celebratory uses – It’s interesting to note further that the very first miracle the Lord Jesus performed found in John 2:1-11 talks about changing 120 to 180 gallons of water into wine in the Wedding at Cana. Let’s not forget that during the Last Supper, Jesus also used wine as symbol of His blood.
So, is it okay to drink wine?
A couple of points:
- Wine is not to be abused – To balance the picture, the Bible relates many stories where the use of wine was abused. In short, drunkenness is the harmful image of alcoholic drinks.
- Follow your conscience – Regardless of the pros and cons about wine, Christians are taught to follow their conscience when it comes to eating or drinking.
For example, with regards to earing sacrificed meat to idols, Paul stated in I Corinthians 10:25-30: “Eat anything sold in the market without raising questions of conscience, for, the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” The succeeding verses explain that when a particular food offering is viewed sinful, no matter how good, it’s better not to eat it.
In summary, the Bible doesn’t specifically prohibit wine. What we are warned about are the abuse and misuse of wine that causes a person to sin when drinking (Romans 14:21) and getting drunk.
Let’s all remember what the Scripture says in Colossians 2:16: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath day.”