Alcohol gets misunderstood in Christianity a lot. Here are four misconceptions cleared up. My goal is that this post will set you free from the bondage of religion and give you permission to enjoy life to the fullest!
Alcohol misconception #1: “God is disappointed with you if you drink alcohol.”
Do you think God was disappointed with Jesus when He drank alcohol? Or what about that time when He turned water into wine? No! Of Course He wasn’t!
God is not disappointed with you either if you drink alcohol. (Actually, He’s NEVER disappointed in you!)
So why do we think this way? Alcohol has negative connotations, I understand that. There’s no ignoring the cultural abuse of it as a substance. However, scripturally there is nothing wrong with alcohol. While some try to make a case for why alcohol is a sin, nothing could be further from the truth. Alcohol is actually given as a gift from God for our enjoyment!
In a song of praise for all the wonderful things God has made, the Psalmist writes: “..wine to gladden the heart of man..” (Psalms 104:15) Here the bible actually praises God for wine as a gift to mankind!
The problem is that many Christians and non-Christians alike feel guilty for drinking alcohol. They think that God is somehow angry at them because they drink alcohol. But let me tell you plainly, alcohol is actually a gift from God!
Check out this awesome quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”
Alcohol misconception #2: “Biblical references to wine are really just references to unfermented grape juice.”
The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for wine is yayin. Yayin is used 130 times in the Old Testament. In using the bible to define the bible, let’s look at a passage that uses this word and see if it make sense to either be fermented or unfermented grape juice.
In Genesis 9:21 we read that Noah drank too much wine, and accordingly he became drunk. The word for wine in this verse is yayin. If wine here is not alcoholic, but rather unfermented grape juice as some would have you believe, then how could Noah get drunk on it?
Obviously, if Noah got drunk on yayin then the wine the bible refers to is not grape juice, it’s wine. Pure, alcoholic wine!
Some have tried to say that the biblical version of wine was a non-alcoholic grape juice. But if this is the case, then the story of Noah is an impossible story. Grape juice doesn’t intoxicate. Therefore, wine in the bible must have been an intoxicating substance.
Not only is it biblically inaccurate to say this, but scientifically as well. Science backs up the idea that wine in the bible was most likely alcoholic wine. Science has understood for centuries the process of fermentation. Fermentation is a process that happens naturally, and in order to stop it we must intervene with certain chemical processes. This is why in 1869 Mr. Welch (of Welch’s Grape Juice) invented a way to keep grapes from fermenting.
Which means, when Jesus made wine He made real wine, not grape juice. It also means that He drank that wine! How many Christians would readily admit that our God is the kind of guy who enjoys a nice glass of vino every now and then? Maybe God is in a good mood after all!
Alcohol misconception #3: “Alcohol takes away from your spirituality.”
Here’s the deal. If alcohol takes away from your spirituality then Jesus wasn’t very spiritual (because He drank alcohol and so did His disciples). And if Jesus fails to be “spiritual” enough (whatever that even means!) then He is ultimately inadequate as a savior.
It’s a plain old Gnostic idea (Gnosticism is a heresy in the early church that taught that earthly things are evil and heavenly things are perfect) to say that alcohol takes away from your spirituality. This way of thinking dangerously takes up that early heresy and presents it again in the name of “wisdom”.
Don’t give in when someone says things like “it’s not wise to drink alcohol, it could mess up your spiritual life.” They are preaching a Gnosticism! This sort of teaching was refuted heavily in the early church, especially in the writings of Paul.
Take for example Colossians 2:20-22:
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (ESV)
Paul here is combating this very idea. Gnosticism came into the early church and sought to destroy its very life blood by infusing it with self-made religion. Those who say that drinking alcohol steals away from your spiritual life are nothing short of gnostics hiding their ideas behind “wisdom.”
Remember, Paul said “All things are permissible, but not all things are helpful..” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Don’t let anyone add rules where God has none.
Alcohol misconception #4: “Drinking alcohol will ruin your witness./Avoid the appearance of evil.”
1 Thessalonians 5:22 says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
This translation comes from the King James Version. If you know much about translations you will know that the KJV is probably one of the least accurate translations. It is filled with errors, and mistranslations.
Sadly, from this one verse many have come to the conclusion that we as Christians are supposed to avoid all appearances of evil. Which has lead to a separatist mentality.
But check out this verse from the highly reliable New American Standard Version: “Abstain from every form of evil.” (Emphasis mine)
The word here in the KJV that is translated “appearance” is more properly rendered as “form”. As you can see, this verse is not saying that we should try to avoid looking evil. This is saying that we should avoid all evil!
That’s a huge difference! The KJV makes it sound like Christians have to clean up their lives and pretend to be perfect little peaches. But that’s not at all what is implied here! We aren’t supposed to “avoid the appearance of evil” we’re supposed to “avoid evil.”
This has lead many to think that drinking alcohol somehow ruins your witness, but if this were the case Jesus must have had a terrible witness!
Jesus was not at all afraid of appearing evil. In fact, He was often accused of being a sinner because of the company He kept! (See Matthew 11:19)
Many Christians live in bondage because they believe it’s their job to “look perfect” and “avoid the appearance of evil.” But let me tell you the good news! Don’t worry for a second about what other people think! Stop trying to make yourself look perfect in other peoples eyes. Stop trying to avoid the appearance of evil! You don’t have to! Just be you, and let the rest of the world deal with it!
If anything, NOT drinking alcohol will ruin your witness. Jesus is the best example of this. He came eating and drinking with sinners. He was totally okay with getting His hands dirty with the down and outs of life. He wasn’t afraid to spend time with sinners. We shouldn’t be either!
Going to your local pub and making friends with whoever you find there is a more Christ-like thing to do then going to church!
Don’t limit your witness by NOT drinking. Don’t outcast your friends with how “holier than thou” you are. Just be yourself, and have a good drink! Enjoy life and be Jesus to everyone you meet!
If you want to drink alcohol, don’t let religion stop you. But also don’t lose your self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23) I know some people have personal convictions about this, and I respect that. You should totally listen to your convictions.
Just don’t make rules where God hasn’t! Just because you have a conviction for something doesn’t mean that you should require everyone else to follow that.
The bottom line is this, as Robert Capon once said, “Religion begins after relationship has broken down.”
It’s relationship with God, not with His rules that Christianity is all about. We are not the “rule keepers of God” we are the “ones He loves.” Remember relationship, and religion will lose any hold it every tried to have on you.
You are free, and in your freedom you are allowed to enjoy your life! God actually wants you to enjoy this life He’s given you. So get out there, enjoy life, love God, and preach the good news to everyone you meet!
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8 MSG)
What do you think? Do you drink alcohol? Share you thoughts with me below!
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