Is Drinking A Sin? | What Does The Bible Say About Drinking Alcohol?
While millions of people drink alcohol, many others consider it a sin. Some even argue that the Bible forbids it.
However, the Bible’s actual stance on alcohol consumption is more complex.
Like other religious texts, the Bible is open to interpretation. In general, though, the scriptures seem to suggest that while Christians should not drink heavily, they may drink in moderation.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as consuming up to one alcoholic beverage per day for women and up to two alcoholic beverages per day for men.
Bible Verses That Condone Moderate Drinking
Some parts of the Bible describe alcohol as a gift from God. For example, Psalm 104:14-15 reads, “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate, bringing forth food from the earth and wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.”
To Relax Or Celebrate
Other scriptures encourage drinking to relax or celebrate. For instance, Ecclesiastes 9:7 reads, “Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already approved your works.”
Similarly, Deuteronomy 14:26 reads, “Spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.”
For Potential Health Benefits
In addition, 1 Timothy 5:23 discusses alcohol’s supposed health benefits. The Apostle Paul tells Timothy, “Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” While some studies suggest that moderate amounts of red wine may strengthen your heart and gut, these claims have not been proven.
Jesus & The New Testament
Finally, Jesus Christ drinks alcohol at multiple points in the New Testament.
Notably, John 2:1-11 describes how he turned water into wine at a wedding. Since Jesus is the central figure of Christianity, many people interpret these scriptures as evidence that Christians are allowed to drink in moderation.
Bible Verses That Condemn Heavy Drinking
Although the above verses condone moderate alcohol consumption, they don’t condone heavy drinking, getting drunk, or becoming addicted to alcohol. In fact, numerous Bible verses condemn such behaviors. These verses include:
- “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)
- “And envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21)
- “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks” (Isaiah 5:22)
- “Wine is a mocker, and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1)
- “For drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (Proverbs 23:21)
- “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy” (Romans 13:13)
- “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-3)
- “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good” (Titus 2:3)
In addition, some Bible verses forbid alcohol consumption under certain circumstances. For example, Leviticus 10:9 forbids priests from drinking while in the tabernacle (place of worship).
It reads, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”
Likewise, Proverbs 31:4-5 condemns alcohol consumption among kings and rulers: “It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”
When It Leads To Sin
Other scriptures denounce alcohol consumption that offends others or causes them to sin. For instance, Romans 14:21 reads, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything to cause your brother to stumble.”
Similarly, 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds Christians to exercise self-control and only drink in ways that honor the Holy Spirit: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
In other words, they should only drink in moderation and never in a manner that hurts themselves, others, or their spiritual journeys.
If you feel unable to control yourself around alcoholic drinks, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. We offer personalized, evidence-based treatments for alcohol abuse and addiction.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Drinking Levels Defined
U.S. National Library of Medicine - Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy
U.S. National Library of Medicine - Red Wine Consumption Associated With Increased Gut Microbiota α-Diversity in 3 Independent Cohorts
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