1.  No, it is not a sin to drink alcohol

I cannot find anywhere in the Scripture a defining verse or passage that says that alcohol is intrinsically evil.  I have read tons of books, articles and sermons on this subject and I have never been satisfied that alcohol is intrinsically evil.  If so, then taking Nyquil is a sin.  So let’s ask a better question than this one. 

2.  Is it wise to drink alcohol? 

Not necessarily.  For many, many people it is unwise to drink at all.  A person’s background, disposition and environment must be factored into this discussion. 

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”

What this passage means is that wine and beer are powerful and one must not be led astray. The fact that one could be led astray by these liquid entities should give every Christian a heart check. 

I have heard often people comparing overeating to overdrinking.  Here is the difference: if you go to Cracker Barrel and eat 6000 calories of saturated fact you are not likely to get pulled over by the police because of your fat saturation level.  You are not likely to drive into a mini-van and kill a whole family because of it. 

There is the possibility that you may have gastrointestinal issues that cause the people in your vehicle to vomit but you won’t be going to jail for manslaughter.  You are just guilty of air-quality slaughter. 

3.  Is it unwise to drink alcohol?

Not necessarily.  A Christian can enjoy a glass of wine or a glass of beer and it not cause havoc in the world. Here are a few verses that my super-fundamentalist pastors never preached on when I was growing up.

Psalm 104:14–15 “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15 and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”

Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.”

Isaiah 62:8–9 “The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”

4.  Is it a sin for a Christian to drink in public?

I think the correct answer to this question is going to be found in the context of each unique situation. 

Remember that we are not talking about getting drunk.  We are talking about having a glass (or 2) of wine or beer. 

If, by drinking a glass of wine, a Christian selfishly causes a weaker Christian (a former addict or one who may have an over proclivity to become one) then the answer is yes.  Don’t guess and don’t go there would be my strong recommendation. 

If a Christian is sitting down to a nice dinner with their spouse or friends and has no fear or guilt about drinking a glass of wine but has faith that God has given them freedom to do so then the answer is yes. 

Romans 14:22-23 “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

Summary:

I have not addressed every single issue on this subject but I have tried to give us a “helicopter ride” over this subject. The possibility of fallout is okay with me because I really believe that a pastor must dive into the complex issues of our time with honest questions and thoughtful answers.

Joel Engle is a church-planter who pastors The Exchange Church in the D/FW Metroplex. He is the author of The Exchange, The Father I Never Had, and has written several top 10 songs in Christian music. He married to Valerie and has 4 perfectly amazing children. Joel's latest CD is titled The Great Exchange and is available at joelengle.com, iTunes, and Amazon.