It’s okay to drink alcohol as long as I don’t get drunk.
Let’s first look at what the Bible says about being drunk. There are several but I will only list a couple because they will be able to represent the other scriptures:
Luk 21:34 “But be watching out for yourselves, lest your* hearts be weighed down with hangovers and drunkenness and anxieties over [things] pertaining to everyday life, and that day come on you* suddenly [or, unexpectedly].
The word translated here as “hangovers” is the Greek word kraipalē which means properly a headache (as a seizure of pain) from drunkenness, that is, (by implication) a debauch (by analogy a glut): – surfeiting; the giddiness and headache caused by drinking wine to excess.
The word translated here as “drunkenness” is the Greek word methē which means intoxication (overwhelmed or overpowered by spirituous liquor; stupefied or inflamed by the action of spirit on the stomach and brain).
1Co 5:11 But now, I wrote to you* not to be associating with anyone being named a brother if he is a sexual sinner or covetous or an idolater or a slanderer [or, an abusive person] or a drunkard or a swindler, not even to eat with such a person.
The word translated as “drunkard” is the Greek word methusos which means tipsy, that is, (as noun) a sot. Tipsy is defined as Fuddled; overpowered with strong drink; intoxicated.
Eph 5:18 And stop getting drunk with wine, in which is reckless behavior, _but_ continue being filled with [the] Spirit,
The word translated as “drunk” is the Greek word methuskō which to intoxicate. The word translated as “wine” here is oinos which means “wine” (literally or figuratively).
1Th 5:6-7 So, consequently, let us not be sleeping as also the rest, _but_ let us keep watching and be sober [or, clear-headed]. (7) For the ones sleeping sleep at night, and the ones getting drunk get drunk at night.
The word translated as “sober” is the Greek word nēphō which means to abstain from wine (keep sober); to be calm and collected in spirit.
I think we have established that it isn’t appropriate for a Christian to get drunk and to some extent why not.
Let’s move on to see what we can find about drinking alcohol in general. Is it really ok to drink alcohol as long as we don’t get drunk?
Rom 14:20-21 Stop tearing down the work of God for the sake of food. All [things] indeed [are] clean, _but_ [they are] evil to the person eating with offense [fig., eating something that cause someone else to sin]. (21) [It is] good not to eat meat nor to drink wine nor [to do anything] by which your brother is caused to stumble [fig., to sin] or is made to fall [fig., is offended] or becomes weak.
This verse suggests that if we are doing something that would cause a brother to stumble, fall, or become week, we shouldn’t do it.
I have to say that in looking through the New Testament scriptures, I did not find anything that said specifically, “Do not drink any alcohol,” unless it was directed to a specific individual But consider this.
So the truth is that the Bible says do not get drunk. It also indicates not to use wine or strong drink to the point that it creates a the giddiness and headache; becoming stupefied(dazed: in a state of mental numbness; dizzy). That we are to remain in control of ourselves, to be calm and collected in spirit.
In the Bible times, they very rarely drank wine straight. They usually added water to it. So it was never really full strength. There were not as many “alcoholic” drinks available. And the likelihood of becoming addicted to the contents of the wine was less likely. There is a scripture about using wine medicinally. But there is so much controversy over that scripture as to whether it was fermented or non-fermented wine. One thing that is agreed on is that it would have been watered down.
Also, as you look through the Scriptures, Old Testament, you would notice that wine or strong drink was used to bring down many people. I will leave that up to you to research.
Another thing you would notice when searching Scripture is that the men who were called for a specific purpose were usually required to take no wine or strong drink. John the Baptist is an example, his mother was even instructed not to drink while she was pregnant.
Consider this verse:
Mat 9:17 “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins; but if not [fig., or else] the wineskins are burst, and the wine is poured out, and the wineskins will be ruined. _But_ they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved together.”
When I read it, it reminded me of the old self – new self scripture.
Eph 4:21-24 Since indeed you* heard Him and in Him were taught, just as truth is in Jesus, (22) you* [are] to put off [or, be done with], with respect to your former manner of life, the old [or, former] person, the one being corrupt according to the desires [or, lusts] of deception, (23) but [you* are] to be continually renewed in the spirit of your* mind (24) and to put on the new person, the one having been created according to God in righteousness and holiness of [or, dedication to] the truth.
And this scripture:
Heb 12:1-2 So therefore, _we_ also having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, having put off every impediment and the easily entangling sin, let us be running with patient endurance the contest having been set before us, (2) looking with undivided attention to the Originator and Perfecter of [our] faith-Jesus-who, because of the joy being set before Him, endured a cross, having disregarded [the] shame, and has sat down at [the] right hand of the throne of God.
As we put all these scriptures together, I think it is important for us to consider that when we say that we are now followers of Jesus, we are indeed new creations. We are also now “called” or “set apart” for Him. We are representatives for Him and many are watching us. We need to be careful that we are not doing something that would lead another to stumble, fall, or weaken.
So again, the truth is that the Bible says do not get drunk. It also indicates not to use wine or strong drink to the point that it creates a the giddiness and headache; becoming stupefied (dazed: in a state of mental numbness; dizzy). That we are to remain in control of ourselves, to be calm and collected in spirit.
The truth is that the Bible tells us not to do anything that would cause another to stumble, fall, or become weak and that we have a cloud of witnesses and to put off every impediment and the easily entangling sin.
The truth is that the alcohol in Bible times was not something most people became addicted to and was usually watered down.
I think the truth about whether a true Christian can drink alcohol as long as they don’t get drunk, is up to the individual.
Personally, I have had a drink or two, never really cared much for it. But as I’ve read these scriptures and have given this some thought, I’m not sure I NEED to drink alcohol so why do it? I AM being watched, and I COULD cause someone to stumble, so why do it? If I’m trying to eat healthier, why do it? If I try to stay away from things like sugar, sweets, caffeine and other addicting foods, why would I drink alcohol which could be addicting? If I want to allow the Holy Spirit to have more of me, why would I want less control by drinking alcohol? Why do it? I’m not saying this if for you, just what is for me. Like I said, the truth of the answer to this question lies within each individual.
If I’ve missed a relevant scripture, please let me know.
Ring out the old, Ring in the new
Ring out the false, Ring in the true
Ring out sorrow, pain and care
Ring in happiness everywhere.
PS: I was shocked at something, and quite intrigued as well. Did you notice something? One of the word’s for drunkenness was Methe (meth’-ay). The word for sweet wine is gleukos (glyoo’-kos). Ok, maybe you don’t see it, but it sure struck me!