The various approaches to alcohol consumption in the church are about as vast as the number of different denominations within the body of Christ. For this post, I will share the approaches and narrowly define the subject matter, in the pro versus con methodology.
Those who favor alcohol consumption are rapidly becoming a growing number of Pastor’s, church leaders and denominational groups. Scriptures that are often cited as promoting this theological viewpoint are as follows:
John 2:1-10. On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
I Timothy 3:8 In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
I Timothy 5:23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
Luke 7:33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
I have many friends who subscribe to this theology. However, arguments are made from the opposing side reasoning that the wine was not fermented, which means it was non-alcoholic, by today’s standards. Those who share this theological persuasion use the following verse to substantiate their point of view:
Romans 14:21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
Of course, Scripture is riddled with verses exhorting humanity that drunkenness constitutes sinning. Alcohol is clearly associated with the dreadful disease of alcoholism, which has been a plague on our society. Alcohol then becomes the “Sine Quo Non,” to alcoholism. Without alcohol, there would be no alcoholics.
Being that I am both an Ordained Minister and CADC (Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor), I see both sides of the issue. There are those who may partake in an occasional 6 - 8 ounce glass of wine and use extreme moderation, careful not to violate the mandate of drunkenness. Those who drink alcohol believe that they are exercising their religious freedoms and are not sinning, as long as they do not get drunk. Studies suggest that one glass of red wine may actually have long-term health benefits. On the other hand, there are many reasons why one would choose to abstain altogether from alcohol. By abstaining, you are less likely to make your brother stumble. You are far less likely to end up with an addition. There are a myriad of other reasons, as well. Suffice it to say, the solution is not an easy one, which is why alcohol consumption is such a contentious issue among the church.