Why Christians Should Be Perfectly Fine With Alcohol
This past week, South Carolina NewSpring megachurch asked its founding pastor, Perry Noble, to step down. While the specific reasons have yet to come to light, excessive use of alcohol was cited as the main reason for the board of directors’ action. This unfortunate incident has been seized on by those who believe Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol to further their agenda.
For years now, people have been asking me to write a defense of the recreational use of alcohol by Christians. I’ve resisted because, for one thing, from my perspective, it’s unnecessary. I’m not a member of a church where this is an issue, and as far as I’m aware, none of my friends who live close enough to hang out with me care that I drink beer.
For another thing, there’s never really been a lynchpin moment that seemed to require someone who holds to my position to wade into the fray. With the firing of Perry Noble, that’s changed.
With the old reasons why Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol being dusted off in the wake Perry Noble’s firing, now seems like a good time to tackle the subject. There is much confusion and misinformation floating around American evangelicalism about alcohol. Hopefully, and Lord willing, I’ll answer a few questions and provide a counter perspective to those using a bad situation to decry the recreational use of alcohol by Christians. To that end, I’m going to briefly interact with three frequently used objections.
1. The Bible has a negative attitude toward alcohol.
Proof-texting verses from Proverbs about wine being a mocker, well-meaning Christians declare that the Bible’s negative attitude toward alcohol demonstrates that Christians in the twenty-first century would do well to abstain. Except, the Bible doesn’t have a negative attitude toward alcohol. Quite the opposite, the Bible takes a positive and affirming posture toward the consumption of it.
The storyline of the Bible is filled with men and women of God who imbibed to the glory of God. Even Jesus Christ enjoyed wine. So much so, in fact, that according to Luke 7:34 people accused Jesus of being a drunkard.
If the Son of God drinking wine doesn’t convince you, in Deuteronomy 14:22-26, God gives the Israelites instructions regarding their tithes. Every year, they were to travel to a place set apart by God to ... well ... party. In verses 25 and 26, God tells those who have a long way to travel to turn their grain, oil, and flock “into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink.”
Honesty demands the recognition that the Bible looks unfavorably on drunkenness. But the same Bible views wine and strong drink as a positive good in connection with celebration for the praise of God’s goodness. One day, upon Jesus’ return, we will feast and drink with our King who enjoyed feasting and drinking Himself.