Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

You know I’m all for conversation and debate, so today I’m posing one titillating, stirring, mind-bending (or, if I’m being honest, semi-mediocre) question for you to mull over and answer. Play nice. Be respectful. And most of all, be honest.

So, how do you feel about Christians drinking alcohol? Throw your opinion in the ring!

37 thoughts on “Should Christians Drink Alcohol?”

  1. I’ve been a Christian since I was quite young, and until my 21st birthday (which was last week) I had never consumed a drop of alcohol, so this topic is especially fresh and real to me. During high school I was pretty sure I would never drink any sort of alcohol. My mom will have a glass of wine for dinner, and I’ve seen other relatives drink before, but I never thought I would.

    I don’t really know why my opinion of alcohol changed, but somehow it did, and I tried a glass of wine with dinner on my birthday. I liked it, and so I had another glass the next night. Since then I’ve had a few other drinks, and I really enjoyed them. This has not impacted my spiritual life in any way. My relationship with the Lord is still strong. I think I hold the opinion that many Christians might hold, that alcohol is OK as long as it doesn’t lead to drunkenness.

  2. I have loved Jesus for many years. Staying away from alcohol is not part of my testimony. Prayerfully it never will be. I do have friends who stay away from alcohol because it is part of their past and they have been rescued from it! I believe moderation is key to everything…eating, drinking, exercising, spending money. I do enjoy a glass of wine, however, I also come from an alcoholic family so I am cautious!! Alcohol can sneak up on you and take you captive and none of us want those chains holding us prisoner! My advice to all…be aware of the dangers of alcohol. If you aren’t at peace with it then that is a sure sign from God that you are to flee from it.

  3. Tee hee – I’ll break the awkward silence!

    I don’t think the question is so much ‘should Christians drink alcohol’ as it is ‘is it a sin if they do?’

    I am so, so, SO proud to go to a church where our pastor has actually preached from the pulpit that drinking alcohol is NOT a sin, and even though he doesn’t drink, feel free to have a beer around him. It is a big deal in our conservative community and our EV Free church – and I am SO proud to be part of a (relatively) progressive body. Did I mention proud? ;-)

    I grew up in a non-dom church where it was fine to drink, but my dad is a sober alcohol, which made it not ok to drink. My mom would have drink every once in a while – but I never thought about it. And we never talked about it…which I think was a bad idea.

    I knew that it was a BIG NO NO to drink when I was in high school, so when I went away to college, I went crazy. Girl gone wild. Lots of drinking, lots of getting drunk, lots of bad situations.

    Then I married a southern baptist right after I turned 21 – and everyone knows how the baptists feel about drinking and dancing – so there was no drinking for about 5 years. I was pretty done with the party lifestyle anyways, so it didn’t bother me.

    Then we went to seminary, where he had to sign a covenant saying that he wouldn’t drink, and I went to work for a large veterinary corporation. One of the things the corp did was take us all to a high-falooting wine tasting, where I got my first taste of Oregon Pinot Noirs.

    I couldn’t believe I had gone my whole life (ha, 4 years of being legal) without knowing Pinot Noirs existed.

    Thus commenced the sneaking of the fine wines into our seminary apartment, closing the blinds and subversive sipping.

    Fast forward 2 1/2 years and DH gets hired as a mega pastor, and we leave Southern Baptists forever for EV Free. Can I tell you how freeing it is to get together with other Christians and have a microbrew, or a nice wine, or a margarita, or a car bomb and not feel weird about it? My DH’s husband actually prescribed a glass of red wine every night for him to reduce cholesterol levels (and as a child tonic, lol). I live in a non-legalistic environment and I am so thankful. Every once in a while I run into some Christians that are all weird about alcohol and they are stiff and judgemental when they are around us and we are having wine with dinner. It used to bother me, but now I have grace for them, because I remember living under legalism, and I never know if they have had a problem with too much alcohol or an alcoholic relative.

    I’ll close with Romans 14 – accept each other in our weaknesses and our strengths, and do not judge. 14:14 says 14 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.

    And if Jesus thinks that, then it is good enough for me.

    End novel. ;-)

    1. My husband has been in seminary (online) the last couple of years, and we’ve looked at several other schools to move on to next year when this one is finished and I’ve found it odd that they ALL ask you to sign a contract about not drinking. :/

  4. Depends. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, then NO!!!! Also, if you drink only to get drunk, then NO!!!

    But if it’s only the occasional social drinking, I have no problem with that.

  5. I’ve been saved since I was 13. My parents offered me drinks many times before I was 21. I got drunk the night before my 21st birthday, and I’ve been drunk several times since then. I was never a binge drinker… it happened a few times a year, maybe. My husband and I really have seen no problem with drinking IN MODERATION. However, we’ve taken on the task of teaching the junior high class at our church on Sunday mornings and we’ve decided that at this juncture, we’re going to abstain. We have kids whose parents or family members are or have been alcoholics in the past. We decided to be the best role models, that we won’t drink. It’s been better for our waistlines and pocketbooks, too.

  6. This has been a heated topic in our house church lately. We’ve been wrestling with it. Because there are those who are part of the house-church-network we’re in who believe that drinking=hellbound. And they give all kinds of obscure references saying that when the bible says “wine” it really meant “un-fermented juice” But I’ve never found anything on my own to back that claim up.

    I was raised in a family where my mom and dad had alcoholic parents. As a result, alcohol was not permitted in the house. My dad especially abstained because he’d personally had bad experiences. But my parents have since loosened up and the family (of 12) shared a couple bottles of wine this Thanksgiving without fanfare or mishap.

    Until recently I was so afraid of accidentally getting myself drunk that I wouldn’t take more than a sip or two of alcohol. But I’ve since been educated, and I can say with a clear conscience that I enjoy a glass of wine. BUT I will not make this known to everyone. Because I know there are those in my life it would cause problems with. Romans 14 speaks to this saying, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” I am fully convinced I can drink (but not get drunk) with a clear conscience before God. But I know those who are fully convinced this will lead straight to hell-fire. And it very well may – FOR THEM (they have more colorful pasts, I understand the temptation). It’s not worth arguing over to me. I will never bring it up, and I will never drink in front of them, as the word of God instructs me. I don’t think Romans 14:19-21 could be any more clear, “Therefore let us pursue the things [which make] for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed [are] pure, but [it is] evil for the man who eats with offense. [It is] good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor [do anything] by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”

    I know there are some who will read this passage and believe that Paul is saying you should abstain altogether. But is it irreverent to say “What your brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him”?

  7. The principles outlined in Scripture dictate that, very simply, love does not flaunt its freedoms. The drinking of alcohol is an area of personal conviction–some are okay with it, others are not. It’s important that we don’t foist our convictions on one another. Other than that, we’re admonished to be not drunk with wine. So, it seems to me that if we imbibe, we do so in moderation, but not in way that would cause another to stumble. Love exercises its freedoms responsibly.

  8. Jesus drank wine, so I don’t think it’s wrong to drink wine. Spare me the fragmented story. His reputation was one of a drunkard, so it was real wine.

    The problem is never drinking, the problem is always abusing. You should never drink with the purpose of getting drunk. Drinks (a la Jesus and later a la early church) were always around meals. They were a social and purposeful experience. Never with the intentions to get drunk, diss yo momma and pick up the mule an go home (please don’t ride your mule while drunk).

    I’m all for it, but drink with the model given to us in the bible.

  9. I don’t believe that drinking alcohol is an automatic sin. I read a quote on another blog not to long ago that said, “Sin is a personal thing.’ I really believe this sums up the topic of alcohol and christians. For some people, drinking is a sin because it becomes a god to them. Something they can’t live without. Others can have an occasional drink and walk away from it. But I also think that we have to be careful about who we are around if we do drink. The Bible does say that if something we do causes another to falter we are wrong. I know I personally am able to have a drink and be fine without another but my husband has an addictive personality and tends to want to become drunk after one drink. He decided to stop drinking because it was affecting his walk with the Lord and who he knew God wanted him to be. Therefore, I chose in order to support my husband I would walk away from alcohol, too. I wouldn’t want my ability to drink to cause my husband to fall into sin. I love him too much for that.

  10. Great post Nicole. Love the conversation u generate here. So much great stuff already said. I’m along the same lines as Chad. With that said, i do love a good brew or glass of wine ;)

  11. A few years ago I actually did a tally of scripture passages that refer to wine or strong drink. I don’t remember the exact results, but I think it was about evenly split – around 20 or so passages that warn of the dangers of abusing alcohol in some manner, or make a negative comment about it, and about 20 other passages that make neutral or positive statements about drinking. (Yes, there are several pro-drinking passages in the Holy Bible!) Somehow the positive ones rarely get mentioned in most churches.

    I think it’s all about moderation.

    A few years ago I noticed a trend in my life. If I happened to go several months without taking a drink, I would begin to develop some spiritual pride about having done so. (The church I was attending at that time preached a VERY anti-alcohol message.) Then I would come to my senses, notice the spiritual pride sneaking in, and go, “WOAH! I don’t even believe drinking is wrong, and even I get spiritual pride when I haven’t had a drink in a while!” So, I’d go have a drink and give that spiritual pride a good kick in the head. :-)

  12. About a year or so ago, a friend of mine and I were talking about this very topic. Is it wrong, is it a sin, is it something we can or cannot do?

    My friend and her husband had recently decided that they wanted to see God working more in their life. For them, they thought it was more important to sacrifice the need for ones self to be indulged (alcohol of any amount) rather than to be clouded in any way. They are not opposed to the occasional drink, but she stressed the point that they wanted to clearly hear the Holy Spirit speak. For them, it was not worth adding any “mufflers” to their spiritual hearing.

    I don’t think it’s so much about it being a sin issue, but a heart issue. What if we, honestly, asked God what He thought about alcohol in our life? I’m sure He would tell us, just as He tells us all sorts of other details for our life.

  13. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had conversations like this! :) I grew up in a very strict environment (Independent, Fundamental, Bible-believing, missionary-minded, etc.) who preached from the pulpit that drinking was sin, that “CCM” (i.e. contemporary christian music) was sin, that wearing a skirt above the knee was sin, that men with hair tapering over the ear was sin… it was a very loving, accepting environment, lol.

    I can’t really add anything to what’s already been said, but in my own experience, I eventually came to grips with what the Bible says about these things. Growing up, Proverbs 20:1 was drilled into me, you know, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” KJV version, of course ;) But context was never presented, at least when it failed to prove their point. Scripture was interpreted to prove a point, not to reveal the truth. Funny, never heard Proverbs 31:6-7 preached: “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”

    As several people mentioned already, it’s all about moderation. There’s also that other element about “offending a weaker brother”. That’s where it gets tricky because there’s a big difference between “offending” and “causing one to stumble”. In the world I grew up in, the two were synonymous and I still find myself struggling with certain things because I don’t want to “offend” someone. That’s not the right reason for doing something — or in this case, *not* doing something. Just my 2 cents.

  14. I attended a church most most my life in which drinking alcohol was labeled a sin. I looked down at people for drinking alcohol. I made the assumption they were headed to hell. When I was 30, I began cutting myself from what I had been taught, and read the Bible for what it is. It wasn’t until this point of my life that I felt free to have a drink. Surprising, I liked it. I didn’t become a drunk. I didn’t even become more distant from God from doing so.

    I still don’t drink alcohol in public in my hometown. I have a fear that if I’m seen from anybody from my former church, I will get some unwanted and nasty attention.

    Moderation is definitely the key.

  15. As with all things, I think you have examine why you’re doing it. For me, the slightest bit of alcohol can make me tipsy and loosen my inhibitions. I’ve never been a big drinker, but I do drink socially. For the first time last week, I knowingly imbibed for the specific purpose of loosening my inhibitions. I was about to have a difficult conversation with a friend-we were at a bar-and I purposefully ordered alcohol because I knew it would “take the edge off”. Even in the moment I knew that I should be depending on God to give grace to the situation, rather than a mango margarita. I was essentially stunting my own spiritual growth by replacing dependence on God with dependence on alcohol. I certainly wasn’t drunk by any means, but I drank enough to calm my nerves. I’m pretty sure I could easily begin to walk down this path of having a sip here and there to make life a bit easier-that’s what scared me about that night. That doesn’t mean I absolutely should not drink alcohol. It means I need to examine my motives every time I do, just like anything else. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” {I Samuel 16:7}

    1. Keri, what a great point you bring up. I have often been tempted to use alcohol to lessen my fear or reservation. I too, have had to stop myself and trust God to give me His power, strength, or whatever else I might assume I’m lacking.

      You said it well, when you said you need to examine your motives. I relate to alcohol much the same way. Thank you for sharing. Truly.

  16. I never drank until I was 25. I was just never interested. It had absolutely no appeal to me. My mom was a bartender, and her and my step-dad would come home plastered at least a few times a month. It lead to me and my little brother seeing and experiencing things that I wish I could forget.

    So, alcohol never had an appeal to me.

    At the same time, it is clearly not a sin to drink alcohol, and I therefore have no problem with those who do. What I DO have a problem with is those who take a reckless freedom in pushing the alcohol debate too the opposite extreme of conservatives. Those who make a mission of showing how legalistic non-drinkers are have abandoned the real mission of the Gospel.

  17. I could reiterate, quote from, or simply parrot many of the GREAT comments already given, but instead I’ll just share my story:

    I come from a long line of men who have alcohol issues. Everyone with a Y chromosome in my direct genetic line (great-grandfathers, grandfathers and father) all either developed massive health issues from alcohol abuse, died from alcohol abuse, or had to struggle with ceasing to drink. As such, alcohol was always seen as vile and evil after my parents became Christians. Like many others who’ve written here, I never touched the stuff growing up, always fled from it, and turned my heart and mind away from it.

    And then – hello, college.

    Just like my issues of faith and identity that I struggled with during those years, I had to reassess my personal stance on alcohol: was it REALLY vile and evil, or was I just believing what I had been told, never questioning for myself if that was what I truly believed (see also: issues of faith and identity). And so, after I turned 21 (yeah, yeah – growing up in the South made me a stickler for rules…), I bought my first six-pack of beer.

    And I can say that in the intervening two decades since, I have been drunk maybe four times (all due to my stupid self drinking on an empty stomach). I have visited wineries, breweries, and I even have started microbrewing my own beers with a friend. And I think part of the reason is that I have managed to not fall into the trap of my lineage is that I have approached drinking with wisdom: just how I am one of those nuts who likes the taste of coffee, I drink socially a drink I enjoy the taste of. I don’t drink to excess (as a stay at home dad – and as a tightwad – I find the idea at the very least counterproductive), and I am HIGHLY cognizant of the effects alcohol CAN have on me.

    And while I don’t have a problem with drinking, I also don’t have a problem with NOT drinking in the presence of someone who does have a problem with it. While it’s not a struggle for me, I don’t want to do anything to offend or even frustrate another person, regardless of if they are a believer or not. Part of the beauty of the freedom and grace we have in Christ is having the maturity and wisdom to know how and when to exercise said freedom and grace in showing our lives to others.

    And yep – I’ll drink to grace!

    1. Sonny, I love your balanced and reasonable approach to alcohol, especially considering your family history. Too many Christians lack balance and reason when it comes to issues such as these.

      And “I’ll drink to grace…” Um, best line ever.

  18. I feel that as long as you know why you’re drinking, what your limits are and how to stop at them, drinking alcohol is not to be considered sinful behavior.

    If you know you have addictive tendencies, for instance, setting rules like No Drinking By Myself Ever is a good thing to do because it nips certain situations right in the bud, such as drinking to get over heartbreak, frustration, etc. Should you decide one day that “Hmm, I can actually drink by myself this once, no biggie”, that should ring alarm bells in your head.

    I live in Berlin, which alongside being the party capital of the universe (and I am not much of a party person) is also in Europe, where alcohol consumption is often legal at 18 (21 seems fairly psychotic in comparison). As such it’s a lot less dramatized in general. There will always be subcultures of Christianity here that don’t drink alcohol, but I find that to be overly legalistic.

    Also: when you drink alcohol, you generally do get drunk. Period. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

  19. I think that as long as people abide by the law of whatever country they are in, and they have no personal conviction about drinking, then I say throwing back a brewsky is a great way to relax. Not only that but wine and beer can enhance and develop the flavors of the food you are eating, and as a Culinary Extraodinaire this is a great means of enjoying God’s gift of Fine Dining. I do try and take a poll of the people I am around before ordering an alcoholic beverage so that I am not a means of causing my brother to stumble. I won’t drink if others have strong convictions about it. (1 Corinthians 8:13)

  20. Wine is great in moderation! If you struggle with the temptation to get drunk, don’t go there. And if others around you struggle with being tempted by alcohol, then don’t cause them to stumble. But otherwise, I don’t see anything in the Bible that says we’re not to enjoy a glass or two of wine every once in a while.

  21. I’m pretty much with everyone…moderation….drinking with meals…NOT to get drunk is key…

    Also…DON”T do it if front of someone you know has a problem with getting drunk or has had that demon in the past…

    don’t cause them to stumble…

    We all have different measures of faith.

    I drinking is a sin to you….then it’s a sin…

    if drinking is NOT a sin to you…then it’s not….via Romans 14

  22. Lots of comments above with similar thoughts. So, I won’t reiterate. But can I twist the question a bit?

    “Should pastors drink alcohol?” Should they be held to a different standard? How would you feel seeing your pastor having a beer with friends?

    PS. I’m a pastor.

    1. I would love to have a beer with my pastor… as long as he pays for them. :)~

      Seriously, drinks are a social experience. Not with the intention to get drunk, but to chat, laugh, and be… social. Also, you may get a few sermon illustrations from those social activities. Even more when you decide to smash the beer can in your forehead. Just think of what people will say when you preach on Sunday with a round mark on your forehead. Awesome! :)

  23. I think it depends. As Christians, at a point in our growth (the stage when we’re done with milk) we should grow past doing things simply because they are permissible, and ask ourselves what is expedient for every situation. Romans 14 is an awesome reference for this. I go to church/live life with people who are strongly convinced that it is a sin, and for the sake of relationship and not to be a stumbling block to them I don’t drink. Sometimes I just wish they would just stop believing that, but I should be able to lay down what I feel are my rights for their peace of mind. Love should propel us to want to “be all things to all men. So I asked myself: Is a swig of Moscato worth hurting the unity of heart and mind in these relationships? And I found that the answer was no.

  24. “Should”? No. As in, ‘Everyone SHOULD drink alcohol.’
    “Can?” Yes.

    November, 2, 2011: Orthodox Daily Readings app tells me fish, oil, and wine are allowed today. Doesn’t’ mean I have to have these things. And if I HAVE to have them, then it’s not a fast, right? But I think I WILL have that glass of Pinot Noir waiting for me in the kitchen. Yum.

  25. Am I the only non-American posting here?

    In Europe (specifically the UK) alcohol is very rarely considered a ‘spiritual’ issue. We know, and are taught, that drunkeness is contrary to scripture but social drinking is enjoyed by almost everyone, and even encouraged.

    My husband and I drink alcohol together maybe three times a week. We probably go beyond the legal driving limit but are not ‘drunk’. We do use alcohol to unwind and relax – and it works! Neither of us feel convicted to limit this type of drinking.

    However – I have, on occasion, drunk too much. I always wake feeling ill, stupid, embarrassed and generally mortified. I know the difference!

    As a church we would usually share wine when we eat together. We meet at pubs (bars?) to socialise and we use real wine when we have communion.

    I have four children – aged 14 to 6. I let the older two sip my wine when I am having some. Not to encourage their drinking – but to train them in appropriate drinking. Nationally there is a problem with youth drinking – spurred by so called ‘alcopops’ which are basically alcoholic drinks which taste like soft drinks. I want my kids to appreciate proper drinks and only drink what they enjoy because they enjoy it!

    I am encouraged by the posts here. When my husband and I met we were on a year long team which included six Americans. They were astounded by our attitude to alcohol and had never met Christians who would actually drink wine or beer before. (Several of them were under 21, our legal drinking age is 18). It caused some issues to be honest. It seems that things have changed a bit!

    Finally – we do have a church ministry to homeless people. We are, without having agreed or been taught, always very careful what we drink or how we speak when we are around these struggling ‘weaker brothers’. As an earlier person said – we are not to flaunt our freedom.

  26. my whole life i thought i was never going to drink alcohol. i think its bad now. My heart stops when i think, “when i turn 21 what if i start drinking alcohol?” i dont want to. alcohol is bad and will never be good. In the bible it says alcohol is evil. its not the amount we have its the fact that we drink it then it becomes a sin. Jesus never said it was ok for us to drink, her never approved of it. therefor i dont think it is a good idea to drink.

  27. Ok- so I have a loaded question:

    If you can drink but NOT getting drunk is key- then how buzzed is drunk? Isn’t that a fine, suggestive line?

    I come from a background with an alcoholic dad and I myself have a history of drug addiction. When I became a Christian (4 months before my 21st birthday) I stopped everything. I didn’t drink, smoke, or take any drugs stronger than tylenol for YEARS.

    Then God began showing me my judgemental pride about that stuff, and about freedom. Just last year I was able to relax about my husband having a beer on occasion. I never bugged him about it before, but now it is OK with ME too.

    Then I began to have a little rum now and then. I can’t drink wine or beer (horrible experience in high school that still brings back nightmares) so I drink rum or whiskey mixed with something. And I feel totally fine with it. We go to a church where some of the members drink and some don’t and it is so freeing!

    But back to my question- if you drink a little and get slightly buzzed, is that drunk? What would constitute “drunkenness” as the Bible describes it? In the verses I have read, it is more of a habitual state of being drunk rather than an occasional celebration where you have a few. And how do you know your limits if you never test them? So you have to sin to know your limits?

    ;0) I am just trying to define things a little more clearly here on the drunkenness being a sin thing.

  28. My only comment on this issue is that there is absolutely NO redeeming value in any form of alcohol! I am 54 years of age and not a drop of that stuff has ever and will ever cross my lips. Call me square, old fashioned or stubborn but that is not an area any true believer walking with Christ has any right or freedom to participate in. The dangers of it are well documented!! and if I’m wrong when I stand before my Father in heaven I can at least know that I have not embarrassed myself or family or caused my physical body any damage or caused anyone to fall as are silt of my decision. It comes down to how much you want to reflect God in your life as a testimony to others.

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