Is drinking alcohol okay according to Jesus?
Today we received the following question:
Is drinking alcohol okay according to Jesus? Support your answer with a Bible verse.
Alcohol and Christians, an interesting combination. From our own experiences, it is usually not a problem in Germany, in the Netherlands 50/50, in the south of the United States absolutely a “no-go”. In Poland, it is also often as no-go, as there are quite a few problems with alcohol abuse here…
The Polish police takes a strict approach to public drunkenness. You are not even allowed to consume alcohol in public places, you can be fined for that. If you are found drunk in a public place, you may even be taken to rehab, where a doctor or nurse will evaluate you….
These are also the questions where people in a church can go “full blast” from a cultural point of view.
So, if we get someone with these kinds of questions, it remains the question, what is the cultural background of that person? On the other hand, the answer is very simple if you separate the culture from the question and look at it from a Biblical point of view. Not “I think”, “I feel” or “my pastor says”, but 100% “what does the Bible say”. If you don’t do that, you go straight into the quicksand and people go FULL blast with all the misery that entails. How did we answer this question:
Is driving in a car okay according to Jesus?(correct, we disconnected the question from the alcohol)
I don’t see any Biblical grounds why you shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car according to the Bible, but speeding is not OK, and using the car for a robbery and things like that is not OK either. And if your driving behavior tempts other people to sin, that’s not allowed either. (Drag race the thing at the traffic light with another person on the public road) Taking the car to the hospital, work, playground, (etc) is fine.
The biblical explanation?
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.1 Peter 1:13-17
Are we there yet? No. Let’s read a little more:
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 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 sin.Romans 14:13-23
And now that you’ve come all the way to the end of the answer, let’s look very specifically at verse 17 again:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,Romans 14:17
So yes, there is nothing wrong with driving, but what matters is how and why you do it. What would Jesus think if He comes back and sees you driving your car, like a madman endangering your own life or the lives of others…or if He sees you sitting on the couch drunk…even just a little “off”. Would He consider that wise, self-controlled, obedient, holy, clean, not offensive, good? (as it says in the texts above)
And if your fellow Christian were to walk in…who may be from a different culture…where they have massive alcohol problems and your brother has experienced the dramatic results of that…and he opens your fridge to get a juice and finds it full of beer… remember this verse?
If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.Romans 14:15
What do we do ourselves? In our house in Poland, there is no beer. The problem of alcohol abuse is quite big around here, and we don’t want to “offend” anyone, as stated in verse 15. Is that appreciated?
Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.Romans 14:18
Don’t we drink a drop ourselves? No, 3 glasses of “something” a year are certainly acceptable, but not in Poland, not in an environment where we “stress someone else” with it, and certainly not to become “peaceful” or to get more “joy”. That joy and peace comes from somewhere else:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy SpiritRomans 14:17
And with that, you have the answer. Unfortunately, it may not be as black and white as you hoped, such as “yes, that’s fine, do what you want” or “NO! That is a huge sin!”, the answer goes much deeper… how wise, self-controlled, obedient, holy, clean, non-offensive, do you live your life? And that goes beyond that pint of beer or driving in your car…