I believe it is wise for Christians to abstain from drinking alcohol. This doesn’t mean alcohol is a sin. Nor does it mean that believers can’t have a beer or glass of wine. The Bible only condemns drunkenness (Prov. 23:29-35; Eph. 5:18).
However, I do believe it is prudent to abstain from alcohol for many reasons. First, Let me start off by giving you a list of grim statistics concerning alcohol abuse—I think you will notice the risks outweigh the benefits.
- Globally, alcohol addiction was the seventh-leading risk factor for premature death and disability in 2016.
- According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 88,009 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the 4th leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- In 2019, of the 85,688 liver disease deaths, 43.1% involved alcohol.
- The rate of all alcohol-related Emergency Department visits increased 47% between 2006 and 2014, which translates to an average annual increase of 210,000 alcohol-related ED visits.
- In 2015, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 10,265 deaths (29% of overall driving fatalities).
These statistics alone should convince you that drinking alcohol is unwise. It’s like throwing gasoline onto a fire and pretending you won’t get burned.
Before trusting in Jesus for salvation, I was into partying and drunkenness. There were many sleepless nights where I vomited from alcohol poisoning. It is a miracle I am still alive today.
Shame, fear, and my own health were spiraling out of control. Alcohol was the great Leviathan for me—it tried to swallow me up—but the Lord graciously rescued me from it’s evil snare.
You might be thinking—If alcohol is so bad, then why did Jesus turn water into wine (John 2:10-11)? Why did Paul encourage Timothy to use a little wine for his stomach’s sake? Are you being legalistic by persuading me to abstain from alcohol?
First, let me be clear that you are free to drink alcohol without getting drunk. There is only one group of people who were explicitly told not to drink wine—and they were the Nazarites (Num. 6:1-4).
There are well-meaning Christians today who will argue a Nazarite vow applies to believers and condemn all forms of drinking, but I don’t think there is a strong biblical case for this position.
Second, context is key. In biblical times, wine was an alternative to drinking contaminated water since the alcohol would kill the bacteria. I believe this is why Paul encourages Timothy to drink wine for his stomach’s sake. In developed countries today, we don’t have quite the risk of water-borne illnesses people experienced 2,000 years ago.
Third, biblical wine was around 10% Alcohol by Volume (ABV). The typical wine sold today is between 12-15%, with some of the strongest wines up to 23 percent ABV. This increase in alcohol content is due to advances in science and technology. Therefore, the type of alcohol we drink today is much more concentrated than before.
For these reasons, the risk of drinking alcohol today far outweighs the risk of drinking during biblical times. Moreover, just because alcohol was permitted then doesn’t mean it would be today. Personally, I don’t think it would be a wise decision to drink—especially since God has called us to be sober-minded and vigilant.
And the Bible often speaks negatively toward alcohol. For instance, the priests were not allowed to drink wine when they went into the tent of meeting or else they would die. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon called wine a “mocker” and beer a “brawler.” Whoever is led astray by them is not wise (Prov. 20:1).
Furthermore, the prophet Isaiah strongly condemns alcohol. He says to those who stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine, that they stagger when seeing visions and stumble when rendering decisions (Isa. 28:7). In summary, they are unwise.
Finally, in Romans 13:13, the Apostle Paul clearly warns believers not to partake in carousing and drunkenness. He names this sin among others, including lust, dissension, and jealousy. These are a list of vices. Why would we want to partake in that? God calls us to behave decently instead.
I want to tell you another story. When I worked at the hospital, there were many patients admitted as a result of alcohol withdrawal. They experienced extreme pain, fatigue, and hallucinations.
The sad part was these patients did the right thing. They knew their alcohol addiction had spiraled out of control and they sought for help. Unfortunately, because their bodies were so addicted, their symptoms became even worse than when they were abusing the drug.
I witnessed a patient who had told us he wanted to stop drinking so he could take care of his wife. After a few weeks, this patient had a dangerously raised heart rate.
His blood pressure was increasing, and he had frequent mood swings. His shaking never got any better and he wasn’t able to get out of bed. He got progressively worse and I never saw him again because he went to the ICU. I hope and pray that he eventually recovered from this disease.
In conclusion, I believe it is wise for Christians to abstain from drinking alcohol. There are simply too many risks associated with it. That doesn’t mean one who decides to have a glass of wine or beer is less spiritual than those who abstain.
But it does require the individual to be vigilant and careful not to allow their drinking to spiral out of control or cause another believer to stumble. I hope this article was helpful. Have a great day!
If you or someone you know needs help, the Alcohol and Drug Helpline is free, confidential, and available for calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their number is 1-800-662-4357. You can visit their website, SAMHSA’s National Helpline, for more information.
Article written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)