It seems more and more these days that those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ are seeking to justify the practice of social drinking. There can be no doubt that the consumption of alcohol is increasing and becoming more socially acceptable. There was a time when members of the body of Christ adamantly opposed the usage of alcoholic beverages in any amount. Now, it appears that many are “crawfishing” from such staunch opposition. We are told that it is ok to imbibe alcohol so long as one does not get drunk. We are told that since Jesus graced a wedding in Cana of Galilee with his presence where wine was being served (John 2), and whereat he turned water into wine when the wedding party was running short, then social drinking must be acceptable, having the approval of the Savior himself. Are we being prudish in raising objections to social drinking? Are we just behind the times? As Christians, we are not concerned with whether or not something is socially acceptable, for such does not determine our involvement or lack thereof. We are concerned about what the Bible teaches on this subject. We want to know if we have God’s approval for this, or any, practice. We want to know if this will harm, or help, our influence for good. What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol, and does it address the matter of social drinking?

Solomon warns, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov.20:1). Solomon himself had been led astray by alcohol earlier in his life. He warns his son to stay away from it, noting that the one who falls prey to it is a fool. The wise king further warns, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder” (Prov.23:29-32). Solomon had likely learned these lessons about alcohol from his own first-hand experiences. He wants his son to avoid the heartache that alcohol brings to those who take it in. His advice (And since he is led by God to write this, God’s advice)? Don’t even look at it! Sounds like a far cry from social drinking to me!

What about Jesus turning water into wine? Doesn’t that mean that he endorsed the social usage of alcohol, seeing he gave them more to drink at the wedding feast? First of all, we cannot and must not assume that every time we encounter the word “wine” in Scripture that it refers to alcohol. There was fermented and unfermented “juice of the grape,” just as there is today. Second, why would Jesus endorse the usage of alcoholic beverages when the Bible warns against it in so many other passages? Was Jesus ignorant of these warnings? One can hardly believe that to be the case. Third, the staggering amount of water that Jesus turned to wine was enough to intoxicate the entire wedding party many times over if he miraculously provided them alcoholic wine! Such was more fitting of a drunken orgy than a wedding feast!

Paul writes, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18). Brethren and friends, there is a distinct contrast made here. One cannot be filled with the Spirit of God unless he has emptied himself of the spirits of the world (alcoholic “spirits” included)! The idea of not being drunk with wine in the original Greek carries with it the idea of not even beginning the process of getting drunk. How do you begin the process of getting drunk? By taking the first drink! Our lives as Christians should stand in stark contrast to the ways of the world. How can we stand out when so many are trying to blend in by social drinking and such like? Brethren, alcoholic beverages are evil, and bring about nothing good. We must avoid them completely, no matter what others might think or say.

– Patrick Morrison

5 Responses to “Is Social Drinking Acceptable to God”

  1. Ken Gardner Says:

    Excellent article Patrick. There is a congregation in my area where at least one of the elders is an open, unashamed “social” drinker, I maintain that if the wedding feast wine was alcoholic then our Lord was a sinner and thus not our Savior. So we be without one. That’s how important this issue is. If I could figure out how to do it, I would forward your article to them. Maybe you could email it to me at the above address. Hope Ricky is behaving. God bless, Ken Gardner

  2. Kenneth Hoegridge Says:

    What makes social drinking any worse than smoking or obesity? There is a health benefit from limited amounts of alcohol, but there are no health benefits from smoking or being overweight. We somehow put these into a ‘don’t talk about’ category, but the fact is they destroy the body much more than alcohol. We make up excuses for obesity but it is plain and simply the result of gluttony.

  3. Jeffrey Jourdonais Says:

    The reading of John chapter 2, by context inferes that the wine was alcoholic. Most give the good wine first, then when men have drunk freely ( as alcohol numbs the senses) they give the not so good wine, you have saved the best for last. IMHO the scriptures teach that moderate use of beverage alcohol is acceptable, as long as you don’t become a drunk and ruin your life by it’s use.

  4. Patrick Morrison Says:

    First of all, allow me to respond to Mr. Hoegridge. Social drinking is no worse than any other sin, and nowhere in the article did it indicate that social drinking is somehow worse than any other sin. The issues of obesity and smoking are subjects that need to be addressed, but that was not the purpose of this article. There is no proof that limited amounts of alcohol provide any health benefit to those who consume them. The health benefits from wine, for instance, are the flavonoids and antioxidants that are found in the grape, not the alcohol. You can derive the health benefits that many claim comes from drinking wine by simply drinking grape juice. Also, I have to disagree with your blanket assessment of obesity. While some have arrived at that point because of gluttony, I know of others who are overweight/obese simply because they do not exercise enough, not from gross overeating.
    Now, if I may also address Mr.Jourdonais. You are drawing an inference from John 2 that is both unnecessary and unjustified. If the wine in question was alcoholic in nature, and the crowd had “well drunk” by the time Jesus miraculously created more wine, with their senses so dulled, how could they have known that what Jesus gave them was better? Our taste buds can become dulled just by ordinary food and drink. Have you ever noticed the first bite of some food you enjoy usually tastes the best? Subsequent bites, while good, may not create the same sense of satisfaction as the first bite or first few drinks. Something of inferior quality would fly under the radar after eating or drinking something far more palatable. However, if we were to introduce something later that was more pleasant and of better quality, we would be able to tell a difference. That is precisely what happened in John 2. After drinking for some time from the original source, the crowd was able to distinguish that the wine Jesus made was better. The warnings given in Scripture about the dangers of alcohol should cause the Christian to refrain from using such for the sake of maintaining our mental faculties and for the sake of our influence, no matter what quantity of alcohol we have in mind.

  5. Donnie Bates Says:

    Just heard a great lesson tonight from Patrick Morrison at Foote Street Church of Christ in Corinth, MS. Patrick’s message came from Mat. 22:36-37 – (Greatest commandment question to Jesus). The answer everyone knows is love God and love your fellow man. Whenever we try to justify social drinking or any other hot topic, I have to question the motives behind the justification. Is it someone trying to serve God and their fellow man or is this an attempt to justify sin? If I or we truly have a pure heart (Mat.5:8), we can always study and always find the truth. May God bless all of us in our search for truth.

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