Drink Your Beer To The Glory Of God!

Recently I asked on the Facebook page if a pastor who has a drink occasionally is above reproach. The answers were varied, with supporting biblical and historical texts for both arguments. This led me to ask myself a question: “Since there is so much controversy surrounding alcohol(and smoking), should Christians bother putting themselves in the midst of this debated issue?” In the Bible it would be pretty hard to say that alcohol and smoking in themselves are sins, since it doesn’t explicitly say this. It does say we should not cause another brother to stumble into sin, and there are many people who have struggled with alcohol and smoking addictions. Some of the great reformers drank beer and wine, in fact part of John Calvin’s salary was paid to him in barrels of wine. John Calvin in his commentary on Psalms 104:14-15 writes, “it is lawful to use wine not only in cases of necessity, but also thereby to make us merry.”

We see there are varied positions on this subject, but let me push us a little further. I don’t think alcohol and smoking are the only problems here. Don’t get me wrong, they are huge problems and they have ruined many lives. But what about TV, money, sex, and so many more things that can either be used for the glory of God or the ruin of man. Has the thought ever crossed your mind that the husband of the couple you have invited over for dinner struggles with lust and pornography, and some of the commercials that you watch during your hockey/football game might cause him to stumble? What about the innocent PG rated movie you are watching with your kids that has a distorted and sinful view of sex and marriage? I think the problem goes above and beyond alcohol and smoking.

My hope isn’t to spur you on to legalism, rather to spur you on to a life of holiness in Christ. If we are serious about Jesus then it only makes sense that he will affect every aspect of our life. Be sensitive to those around you. Know that there might be some brothers and sisters that struggle with what you use to bring glory to God. All that said, we can and should redeem all these gifts for the glory of God, after all that is what they are – gifts.

  • Jared

    Shouldn’t we base our answers of the teachings of Jesus, not the lifestyle and teachings of John Calvin? Alcohol in today’s society is a completely different brew and alcohol % than it was in biblical times. Not to mention scholars believe that the “wine” Jesus turned from water was likely to not have alcohol in it.

    • Stephen McCaskell

      I completely agree with your first statement, Jared. In regards to your second statement: Is today’s alcohol in and of itself sinful then? No matter how much you drink, etc? Or is it only sinful when it leads to drunkenness? Obviously people in biblical times got drunk, otherwise they wouldn’t have mentioned not to get drunk on wine.

      So is it really different? People drank back then, some got drunk, others didn’t. People drink now, some get drunk, others don’t.

    • Harley

      Drunkenness seems to be the issue all through scripture, not consumption of alcohol in any quantity.

      In the time of Christ (and previous) it was virtually impossible to keep grape juice for any length of time without it fermenting. The pasteurization process to preserve grape juice for longer periods of time was first implemented by the Welch’s company in the 1800′s.

      I would agree that the water Jesus turned to wine was probably non-alcoholic given that people at the wedding feast probably had over-indulged already, and that Jesus would never contribute to the sin of drunkenness.

      I choose not to consume alcohol, not because my conscience forbids it, but because I may cause a brother to violate his conscience, or give in to a desire over which he has no control. The factors that must be kept in view are the teaching of scripture, one’s own integrity in response to scripture and conscience, and the effects of one’s behavior upon both fellow believers and the unsaved.

    • Derek Rishmawy

      Guys, seriously, I get that this is a legitimate argument about the wisdom of alcohol use. Just to be straight with you, though, the whole, “Wine in the NT was unfermented” argument is really, really, really weak.
      I highly commend this helpful article. There’s some good biblical argumentation worth paying attention to here.

    • John C

      The alcohol debate is relatively new in the life of the Church. American Protestant churches served wine (with plenty of alcohol) in communion services prior to prohibition. With the growth of Alcoholism as a disease, Puritans and some Protestant denominations used the bible to find justification to outlaw it as sinful. The bible nor Jesus preached absintence of alcohol and to infer so is using the bible to meet your own needs. Sin by definition is to “miss the mark” or to do something for seemingly “good” reasons but ultimately selfish and self serving purposes. I think we make a grave error puting too much emphasis on anything as of a greater level of sin, including sex. All sin is taking something God intended as Good and using it for selfish purposes.

  • John Ingram

    While evidence suggests that some of what is called “wine” in English translations of scripture is non-alcoholic, it is clear that the wine Jesus and the apostles drank did contain alcohol. Jesus occasionally makes reference to the production process of wine, and it is clearly the production of alcoholic wine.

  • naomi

    We are to be a royal priesthood unto God 1 Peter 2:9.
    Part of the requirement in the old testament was for priests to abstain from strong drink – not exclusively alcohol, otherwise they would die instantly in the presence of God. And since Jesus came to fulfil the law..not do away with it – shouldn’t we look into an altogether sold out to holiness lifestyle?
    Proverbs 31 :4 states that Wine isn’t for Kings, and leaders shouldn’t crave beer because it clouds judgement, and brings with it, oppression.
    We are to be living life, and life more abundantly… since that is the truth – I feel compelled to walk that way – Not in a manner suited for those who are perishing in anguish (proverbs 31:6ish).
    Alcohol is for health purposes, or for those who need to forget something horrid…unless of course the leadership and priesthood Jesus spoke of is what someone may desire to forfeit – It seems clear to me that alcohol is a big no-no…and I am thankful that God provides me with a life that keeps me far from the desires of cheap substitute stimulants.

  • Joshua

    Moderation, that is the biblical rule on drinking, there really is no argument about it. But, if you choose to not drink that is perfectly fine as well, again the bible does not forbid it and Jesus Himself drank it…in moderation.

  • Rod

    Someone at Westminster Cal blog recently posted this about Luther’s household budget
    300 guilders for meat
    200 guilders for beer
    50 guilders for bread

    • Stephen McCaskell

      Wow, that’s a lot of meat and beer!

  • Gladys Acklin

    great blog! I only found you the other day but I loved reading your last post. Keep up the great work.

  • Will

    Not what goes into a man that defiles him, it’s what comes out.

  • David Hostetler

    I ran across something a while back that really opened my eyes to this. Deuteronomy 14:24-26 reads..

    And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and 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.

    It would appear that you can actually drink to the glory of the Lord. Now, that being said, I fully agree that we should be aware of our brothers and never do something that would cause them to stumble. Also, we must keep Tota Scriptura in mind and recognize the prohibitions against drunkenness.