Can Christians Drink?

A few years ago, this question came through the web site …

Question“What does the bible say about being a Christian and drinking? Is it wrong/right and where can I find scriptures. Not only for me know but to let someone else have the answer. I need to know how to explain this to someone.  Thank you and God bless.

PS. I choose not to drink and be a Christian, but that is because I personally have been taught long time ago that a Christian should not drink cannot remember about the where and why but I choose not to because I cannot see myself drinking and being a Christian. Is this more a personal choice or is it biblical not to drink? What about a glass of wine with friends or dinner once in awhile? These are the questions I am being asked myself. I cannot seem to answer them right or good enough for them. Now not good enough for myself.. Thanks again for any reply that you can give me …”

ReplyThanks for the question! The issue of being a Christian and drinking (or not drinking) alcohol can be a tough one sometimes, especially depending on a person’s past experience with drinking, either personally or within their circle of family/friends.

One of the obvious truths of the Bible is that getting drunk is unacceptable to God. In the Old Testament, Noah’s drunkenness is portrayed very negatively in Genesis 9, and King David tries to take advantage of Uriah by getting him drunk (2 Samuel 11), knowing that Uriah will therefore not be able to think clearly, and he can have his way with him. In the New Testament, the prohibition on getting drunk is all throughout the pages of the various books (Rom 13:13; 1Cor 5:11, 6:10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1Tim 3:3; 1Pet 4:3). On the other side of the coin, is the repeated emphasis to be “self-controlled”, that is, not to be influenced by anything other than the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23; 1Thess 5:6-8; 1Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8, 2:5-6,12; 1 Pet 1:13, 4:7, 5:8). Clearly God is against anything that affects our ability to think clearly (substance abuse, addictive behaviour, etc). *All* of a Christian’s life is to be submitted to God

The tough question however, is where does social drinking fit into the above picture? The Bible does not seem to indicate that having a drink is inherently wrong (Jesus’s first miracle was to provide an alcoholic beverage, the “fruit of the vine” that he mentions during the Lord’s Supper is clearly wine, etc.). With all of this in mind, there are two important issues to consider: 1) On a personal level, will having a drink lead to you becoming drunk? If so, drinking would not be a wise move. 2) On a community level, will having a drink lead others to a) do the same, and possible become drunk, or b) cause someone else to stumble in their faith (Rom 14, esp vs. 19-21). Again, if the answer is yes, then drinking would be wrong.

In considering the Biblical principles involved, it seems that social drinking is an issue that has to be considered on a personal basis. If the result(s) of having a drink leads to anything that is un-Biblical, then drinking is wrong. However, if neither your conscience, nor the Holy Spirit (either personally or through God’s Word) indicate that drinking is inappropriate in any given situation, then you should have the freedom to have a drink.

What do you think?

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3 Replies to “Can Christians Drink?”

  1. The consumption of alcohol is not a sin, but it is something you must be careful about as a Christian because being drunk is clearly discouraged in the Word of God. Most if not all those who God used to write the Bible consumed alcohol on a daily basis, as was the custom in Bible days. Without refrigeration the only way to preserve grapes was to make them into wine. In an effort to make the Bible fit their religion many today try and say that Christ actually drank grape juice, which without refrigeration was only possible a couple weeks a year. These Christians seek to make Christ fit their 21st century legalism when in reality Christianity has become something today that Christ would not even recognize. We have become just like the religious leaders of Christ’s day with our man made rules and regulations.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Debbie! That is a good story of a key element of the Christian life (and a great description of “real life” wisdom). Very often, we find ourselves in situations that require thougthful, discerning actions, and we have only one second to make a decision!


  3. Hi Mark,
    I just read your above response to the question of social drinking. Thank you for the scriptural references. I agree with your response. I’d like to add that a number of years ago I was sitting at someone’s table in the morning. We were good, but still casual acquatainces. Her husband had just left her for another woman and I had gone to her to be a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, and a friend. She offered me a glass of wine. My mind whirred. If I accepted the wine, would she criticize my actions and not accept my offer of friendship; if I didn’t accept the wine, would she think I was a snob or self-righteous and, again, not accept what I wanted to offer. Arrow prayer for wisdom. I accepted the wine. She poured out her feelings. I gently responded, and asked her what ways I could help and if I could pray for her then and there. She accepted the offer to pray (a new step in our relationship). As I was leaving she said, “remember when I asked you if you wanted a glass of wine? – well, if you had said ‘no’ I wouldn’t have talked to you at all. I was testing you to see if you’d accept me – where I was and who I was”. She further added, “you’re lucky, you know. You have God. I wish I had that too”.
    God works in mysterious ways. And, as you said in your response, Mark, the situation one finds oneself in will most determine the personal response. Wisdom.


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