Are You Thinking About Drinking?

By Royce Frederick

Please consider the following points carefully before you decide to drink alcoholic beverages.

1. Not all “wine” in the Bible contained alcohol. Did Jesus make “wine” by a miracle? Yes (Jn. 2:1-11). Did Jesus drink “wine”? Yes (Matt. 11:19). Did Jesus make or drink alcoholic wine? We do not know. The word “wine” does not tell us whether it contained alcohol. Much of the “wine” did contain alcohol, but some “wine” did not contain alcohol. Fresh juice from grapes was called “wine” (Isa. 16:10; 65:8; Jer. 40:10). All of the “wine” was merely grape juice at first, before any of it was allowed to ferment. When the word “wine” is mentioned in the Bible, we must study the “context” (the nearby words and verses). The context sometimes reveals whether the wine contained alcohol, but not always. You may form an opinion based on the context, but the Bible does not clearly tell us whether there was alcohol in the wine Jesus made or in the wine He drank.

2. Many alcoholic beverages today contain higher concentrations of alcohol than in Bible times. Yeast causes the wine to “ferment” and produce alcohol. But when the alcohol content reaches about 14% to 16%, the alcohol stops the yeast cells from working. People in Bible times did not know how to distill alcohol. Historians believe that alcohol was first distilled in the eleventh century, about 1,000 years after Christ was on earth. Today, people distill alcohol and add it to many drinks, which increases the concentration of alcohol and makes those drinks more dangerous.

3. People in Bible times often drank their wine mixed with water. Historians tell us that some people mixed one part water to one part wine. Others added more water, sometimes as much as twenty parts water to one part wine. They may have noticed that a small amount of alcoholic wine made water safer for drinking. If Jesus drank alcoholic wine, the percentage of alcohol may have been very small. Because of refrigeration and other developments, safe drinking water, juices, and other beverages are often available without the potential problems of alcoholic wine.

4. People in Bible times knew about some medical benefits from the proper use of wine. Paul told Timothy to “...use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23). Some medicines today contain small amounts of alcohol. People in Bible times did not know about bacteria, but they apparently noticed that alcoholic wine helped prevent infections in wounds: “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine...” (Lk. 10:34).

5. Drunkenness is a sin. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God...And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:19-21, 24). Many people who try to drink “moderately” become habitual drinkers, then drunkards. A person who drinks is more likely to get drunk at some time in his life than a person who never drinks.

6. “Drunkenness” is a matter of degrees. If a man is not staggering, but has drunk enough alcohol to slow down his mental alertness, he is “drunk” to some degree.

7. I don’t really know how much alcohol it would take to make me truly “drunk.” It would be a sin to drink enough alcohol to learn the answer. Also, one amount of alcohol can have different effects under different circumstances.

8. Alcohol can hurt the brain, liver, and other organs. As the amount of alcohol increases, the damage soon begins to out-weigh any medical benefits.

9. Alcohol reduces alertness and often leads to injuries and death. Drinkers often harm themselves and innocent victims — on the highway, at work, and elsewhere. Modern machines increase the harm that can come from alcohol. If an oxcart driver gets drunk, the cart can still travel safely, because the brains of the oxen are still sober. There is no such back-up system for drinkers who operate powerful motor vehicles and machinery.

10. Alcohol reduces moral restraints. The part of our brain which guides moral behaviour is effected very soon by alcohol. Alcohol weakens a person’s willpower and often leads to sexual immorality, cursing, and crimes, such as wife abuse, child abuse, and murder.

11. The first drink is a “can opener” — it can open the door for more. The person who decides to take “only one drink” is then under the influence of alcohol when he tries to resist the second drink.

12. One drink could hurt my influence. If a person takes only one drink, that may influence someone else to begin drinking, and eventually ruin their life.

13. Alcohol multiplies troubles (Prov. 23:29-35). Alcohol makes family problems and other troubles far worse. A person who tries to drown his troubles by drinking alcohol is like a person trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline or petrol on it. A person who drinks “moderately” when life is going smoothly becomes “comfortable” with alcohol, and he keeps it nearby. Then, when serious troubles come, he may reach for the alcohol and seek refuge in it — at the very time when he desperately needs a sober mind. “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’” (Prov. 23:29-35).

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).