14 July, 2024

To Drink or Not to Drink?


by | 11 August, 2012 | 90 comments

By John Caldwell

I decided many years ago totally to abstain from alcohol, and it is my opinion that all Christians would do well to make the same decision. I believe this issue is important because it relates to a broader, and thus even more significant subject””that of the modern church”s ongoing move toward becoming more and more like the world.


My Bias

In the interest of full disclosure, I am biased. I hate alcohol””not the taste (although to be honest, I hate that too), but what it does to people. The first funeral of a teenager that I conducted was of a young man killed by a drunk driver. I”ve had literally hundreds of counseling sessions with couples and spouses as their marriages teetered on the brink because of alcohol. I can”t count the hours I”ve spent in jails and prisons visiting inmates whose lives have been forever negatively impacted because of crimes they committed while under the influence. Even more hours have been spent in emergency rooms, trauma units, and at hospital bedsides, while ministering to victims of alcohol.

The horror stories I could tell could fill a book: the teenaged girl losing her virginity while drinking, the college student brain damaged after a fraternity initiation, the young minister involved in a terrible wreck after having just a couple of beers to relax, and scores of others.

Let me be blunt! I see absolutely no positive argument for something that will make you act like an idiot, smell like a brewery, fight like a fool, impair your motor functions, drain your bank account, give you a hangover, scare your kids, alienate your spouse, make you a danger to your fellow man, and has the potential to enslave you.

I wish I could tell you that all I know about this is from the vantage point of a pastor. Regrettably, I must admit that during my prodigal days drinking was very much a part of my social life, and for the same reason most people start drinking””peer pressure. I wanted to fit in.

I can also tell you the time I decided to quit. It was early one morning when I woke up in the middle of a street in front of a frat house across from the Southwest Missouri State University campus. I decided right there and then that drinking could get you killed. I was right.


The Bible”s Counsel

Before we go any further let me state the obvious. I know that Jesus miraculously created wine as his first public miracle in Cana, and that a person could have consumed enough to get drunk. Yes, Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for medicinal purposes. It is true that the Bible nowhere forbids the drinking of alcohol, only its abuse to the point of drunkenness. Paul said, “Don”t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life” (Ephesians 5:18*). It is also true that many people, including many Christians, drink only in moderation; a glass of wine with their dinner or a cold beer on a hot day. And I”m not suggesting that such will make you descend into the gutter.

But let”s consider the whole counsel of God concerning the use of alcohol. Proverbs 23:29, 30 says: “Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks.”

There are six consequences listed in verse 29, all in the form of a rhetorical question, the first of which is, “Who has anguish?” The Hebrew word for anguish is an expression of despair and impending doom. It is no coincidence that 40 percent of suicide attempts are alcohol related. The wise man goes on to ask the source of sorrow, fighting, complaints, unnecessary bruises, bloodshot eyes; and makes it clear that the source is overindulgence of alcohol.

Most people in the ancient world drank alcohol. The Egyptians and Babylonians were manufacturing beer 3,000 years before Christ. But here”s something you need to know. Alcohol use changed radically in AD 700 when Arab chemists discovered how to distill alcohol, which led to the ability to produce highly potent concentrations. Thus the wine and beer produced previous to that was, for the most part, very low in alcoholic content. You could get drunk, but you had to drink a lot to do so.

However, today, if you buy a bottle of whiskey, liquor, or even wine, the natural fermentation is bolstered by the addition of distilled alcohol. New wine in biblical days had very little alcoholic content, and even aged wine had a low amount compared to today”s standards. Don”t take my word for it. You can easily research it using the Internet.

So-called “adult beverages” are very much a part of American social life. However, the advertising industry doesn”t sell intoxication, but fantasy; it doesn”t sell reality, but fiction. Ads for alcoholic beverages tout happiness, wealth, prestige, sophistication, success, maturity, athletic ability, virility, creativity, and sexual satisfaction””but these are the very things alcohol abuse destroys. Proverbs 23:31, 32 says, “Don”t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.”

I haven”t even mentioned that millions of Americans are in bondage to alcohol because of their addiction to it. But listen to the closing verses of Proverbs 23: “You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, “˜They hit me, but I didn”t feel it. I didn”t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?”” (vv. 33-35).


A Simple Question, A Larger Concern

Let me ask a simple question: Why should you drink? If you never take the first drink, you”ll never become addicted. If you don”t drink, even if you could handle it, you won”t be a stumbling block to those who can”t handle it (and I believe Paul said something about not causing your brother to stumble). And if you don”t drink, you won”t be supporting an industry that has caused untold heartache for millions of people.

Try a little experiment. Carefully read a city newspaper for the next seven days. Make note of all the stories of tragedy and heartache that somehow involve alcohol. Then, against that backdrop, try to defend its use. A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln is, “Alcohol has many defenders, but no defense.”

At the beginning of this article I suggested that this topic is representative of the broader subject of the church becoming more and more conformed to the world. I have a number of preacher friends who are social drinkers. I know of several churches that have changed their policy manuals to allow for social drinking. I”ve even heard it defended as a tool for evangelism (I wish I had the space to deal with that one).

But let”s be honest. Is it not simply an attempt to fit in with the world? What happened to “Don”t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking . . . “? (Romans 12:2, The Message).

America”s No. 1 problem drug is not an illegal drug like cocaine, marijuana, meth, or heroine, as big a problem as they are. The No. 1 problem drug is a lethal one””alcohol. It causes more deaths and more addiction than any other drug. More than 55 percent of highway deaths are alcohol related. There are more than 17 million alcoholics in America, and that number is rising. And it is impossible to quantify the death, disability, psychosis, and relational harm done by alcohol.

No, the Bible doesn”t say, “Thou shalt not drink,” and you may be able to handle it. But what about your children who are introduced to the use of alcohol by your example and who are not able to handle it? I can point to many parents who would give anything to be able to go back and become abstainers if only for the sake of their kids.

Taking all this into consideration, isn”t it best to remember the words of Paul? “You say, “˜I am allowed to do anything”””but not everything is good for you. You say, “˜I am allowed to do anything”””but not everything is beneficial. Don”t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24).



*Scriptures are from the New Living Translation of the Bible, unless otherwise indicated.


John Caldwell is the retired pastor of Kingsway Christian Church, Avon, Indiana.


  1. Dan First

    A portion of my sermon from last week addressed Christians and alcohol. I’m in a rush so I’m not including Scripture references, and most of them have already been brought up, but here is what I included:

    -God does not forbid alcohol, so we should not teach that it does
    -God does forbid drunkenness
    -We should not have any other gods; if you are addicted to anything it is your god
    -The Bible offers a warning when it comes to consuming alcohol

    Have you ever heard anyone say, “I had a really important decision to make yesterday . . . thank God I was drinking when I made it”?

    – or –

    “I’m really glad I grew up surrounded by addiction. My parents passed it on to me and now I’m passing them on to my children”?

    I’ve chosen to abstain completely too. When I was a younger guy and drank alcohol, the sole purpose was to get drunk.

  2. harold

    Drinking is no different from any other activity that’s not required for survival. They all can be, and are carried to excess. About the only difference I see, alcohol can expose character flaws. Want to know what your own personnel weakness is? Drink some alcohol.

  3. Liz Barnett

    A point I recently made to someone put all of this aside, but I said: “If you had the choice between buying an $8 drink at a bar OR taking that $8 and freeing a girl from sex trafficking which would you choose?” She said freeing the girl. Then I said, “You have that choice every time you drink something. You are choosing to fulfill your temporary desire in that moment over tithing or giving your money to another cause.” So it can be a stewardship issue as well.

  4. EPMiller

    While I understand the sentiment, I am less than impressed with the reasoning. By the same logic i should abstain from sex because of abortion and abused children. I have seen this approach to alcohol used by others and it hasn’t worked with their children. And for those who’s children abstain, I am not certain it was because of the parental example so much as overall strong character and a good family life, but even that is not a guarantee.

  5. Alisha Wolf

    This post raises a VERY important question in my mind. . . . If a “Christian” can’t/shouldn’t drink alcohol because of its lack of feeling Christlike, what about being hypocritical? I have seen this more times than not in many people who claim to be “Christians” but yet don’t know how to act like a nice respectable human to others . . . can someone clarify this? Pretty sure this is not “Christlike”?

  6. Debbie G

    We all know that we should abstain from hurting our witness with others. If what you are doing would hurt an unsaved or young Christian, what does that say about your habits? I cannot remember what it was I read a few years back, but it was pertaining to Anderson, IN and camp meeting. The locals who work in the restaurants and bars complained about all of the attendees coming there to hang out for the week. They stated that many of the attendees go to eateries and drink, they become loud and rowdy and obnoxious. They made it clear that they do not take our witness, while we are there, seriously. They think we are all a joke. The problem here is that those imbibing may be few but everyone gets added to the pot by those who do not know better. People, think before you act. You never know who is watching. Is it worth it if you allow one soul to not make it to heaven? I’m just saying . . . we all make mistakes, but to continue on after you know the danger, what does that make it?

  7. Kevin Wicker

    In the sense that you mentioned, I would agree with everything pointed out in this article. But at the end of the day, it deals with a matter of a person”™s CONSCIENCE, more than anything else.
    Fanatical fundamentalists will heartily provide an argument for me, I”™m sure. Strong drink is considered evil”¦the “˜devil”™s drink”™, yet even Apostle Paul suggested a”little wine for the stomach”™s sake”. (And what fundamental enthusiast would argue with that? Oh, and I am almost CERTAIN Christ turned the water into Welsh”™s!)
    Now, I prefer to stay away from alcohol, simply because I don”™t need it as a crutch anymore. Not just because of the “˜spiritual consequences”™.
    As a former CHRISTIAN alcoholic, I can tell you I came to deliverance at the Cross of Christ when I was READY “” and NOT because I was told is was right or wrong. That isn”™t enough. Waving a holy wand and praying until you bleed has no use if the heart isn”™t ready.
    THE REAL ISSUE HERE is the argument itself. This is just another legalistic argument that fanatical Christians use to separate themselves from the pack. Just another “˜do/don”™t”™ rule from a useless list of doctrinal rhetoric, that do nothing to address the real issues behind alcoholism.
    Jesus said “you are in the world, not of it”, true. But He didn”™t mean you were supposed to be in your own world! God so loved the world that He gave His Son for it. People make up the world. God loved the world enough to make the ultimate investment for it. He didn”™t toss us a rule book, and expect us to join a church club.
    WHEN CHRISTIANS STOP ARGUING among themselves about what and who is right or wrong “” in a variety of issues, not just alcohol “” they may be able to focus on SOLUTIONS instead of being right. Whether it”™s right or wrong is not the issue. Get to the heart of the matter.
    Drinking alcohol is neither right or wrong “” when it”™s not a crutch, or a means to wash away pain. The AB– USE of it is wrong “” not because of the drink itself, but because of the CONDITION OF THE HEART.
    Get a clue. Stop making an issue of it.
    Let me hear an Amen!

  8. James Ford

    To the person that suggested the $8 donation instead of the $8 drink.

    Perhaps the next time you get dessert from a restaurant, or indulge in french fries instead of broccoli, or go to a movie theater instead of waiting for it to come out on dvd/blu-ray, or buy video game for your kid or another’s kid, or buy that extra special piece of wrapping paper, or buy that diamond studded watch, etc…you should opt to do the same as you suggested.

    Matthew 7:1-5

    1. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother”™s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, “˜Let me take the speck out of your eye,”™ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother”™s eye.”

    Point is, indulgent food makes you unhealthy and indulgent spending can hinder your bank account. Alcohol isn’t inherently evil. We as sinners make things evil because of our sin-filled nature. Having a few drinks every once in a while is no more dangerous than an all you can eat buffet.

  9. Brett

    I wonder when churches will start dealing with obesity? Gluttony? Some 30+% of Americans are obese.. over 60% are over weight… figures might be slightly off – but close. Yes alcohol can cause ALL kinds of problems… SO doesn’t being obese.. yet you do not hear much about that, why? too many people would say that the pastor is meddling?

    More people die each year from “obesity” related issues – than alcohol related

    Most Diabetes type 2 are overweight/obese – MOST not all!

    so when will we start dealing with the way we EAT?

    Alcohol is just an easy target…

  10. Carl Friedrich

    “Let me state the obvious. I know that Jesus miraculously created wine as his first public miracle in Cana, and that a person could have consumed enough to get drunk. Yes, Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for medicinal purposes.”

    Pastor Caldwell, you need to get your facts straight. The NT states that Jesus created “oinos” at Cana and Paul advised Timothy to drink “oinos”. This Greek word “oinos” can be translated as either wine or grape juice (see Young’s Analytical Concordance.) “Oinos” is not necessarily an alcoholic beverage. When you say, “let me state the obvious,” you are completely off base.

    Likewise, in the OT, the primary Hebrew word for “wine” is “yayin”, which literally means “what is pressed out, grape juice.” “Yayin” is not necessarily an alcoholic beverage.

    I would like to meet a single minister or churchgoer anywhere who even knows these basic facts. Erroneous premises lead to erroneous conclusions.

  11. Gregory

    OK, so you can’t say it’s a sin, but you believe that Christians would be better not to do it, that it is unwise, that it doesn’t show proper concern for those who might have a problem with it, that there is not possibly any positive associated with it. However, you know that Jesus did it–He even made it. Doesn’t this obviously imply that you think Jesus would have been better not to do it, that He was unwise to do it, that He didn’t show proper concern for those who might have problems with it, that He did something that was not possibly positive in any way? Do you want to imply those things?

    Some have suggested that the harm done by such an example in our society could be more than the harm done in first century Israeli society. First, there is no reason to think so. Additionally, and more disturbingly, this argument seems to assume Jesus didn’t know about societies like ours or that He didn’t know societies like ours would hear about His example. So, this would be a suggestion that Jesus is not God. Jesus is the ultimate example for all people, especially Christians. Being an unwise example would be a far more damaging thing for Him than for any of us and He knew this.

    And as for this argument: “If you had the choice between buying an $8 drink at a bar OR taking that $8 and freeing a girl from sex trafficking which would you choose?” Do you ever spend money on entertainment, going out to eat, bacon for breakfast, etc? If you ever spend any money on anything beyond absolutely necessary food and shelter, you could have given it to charity. Jesus never bought theater tickets or cable TV, but He drank wine which could have been donated to charity. Did He do the wrong thing or the right thing?

    As for those few who still try to cling to the thoroughly discredited prohibitionist era fantasy that Jesus was carrying around leather bags of unfermented grape juice, there’s very likely nothing I can possibly say to change your mind. However, most everyone else knows that Jesus drank fermented beverages and you are probably going around saying that drinking wine is a sin. You need much better evidence than you have to comfortably make such a claim. Please reconsider your level of confidence on this matter on which nearly everyone, even among those with no stake in the matter, disagrees with you.

  12. Jerrold R. Asal

    All of the arguments for complete abstention from all alcohol are based on man made extensions of God’s rules, and, yes, God did give us a set of rules. Either you believe God is perfect or you don’t, and if He is, and He is, then His first set of rules, the Torah, was perfect as given to Moses on Sinai. Yeshua (Jesus) could not change any of those rules or He was a false Messiah.

    True, alcoholism is one of the worst of addictions on the planet, and is forbidden and despised in the Scripture. So is over eating, and just as strongly. Look around most congregations. Are there more overweight people or more drunks? True, overweight people do not go crazy and commit atrocities after eating, but they are slowly killing themselves and damaging their families.

    I have read of Spirit Filled Christians going home from their congregational meetings, fully sober with no alcohol in them and not having overeaten, but they regularly have sex with their children after their church services. Personally, I believe that this and the other conditions I have mentioned and the other conditions others have mentioned are primarily the result of the abominable teaching of “once saved always saved or unconditional eternal security.” Of course, people will use any and all excuses they can to justify their evil behavior. And that is caused by the very common Christian Teaching that the “LAW” is no longer in effect since Yeshua went to the cross for all of us. That is a damnable teaching that tells us G-D changes the rules of life as He wills at any time and thus, no one has any security at all.

    A glass of beer or glass of wine or a good meal, etc. are perfectly in order for most people. For those for whom there is no tolerance in their bodies for even one drink, they should not drink. And, it would be prudent for the rest of us to accommodate that person in our presence. But, this does not require us to totally abstain.

    Oh, by the way, grape juice, was invented/developed in the 1800’s to accommodate some Christians who did not want to continue taking Communion with real wine. That is their choice, but it is not their choice to force that position onto others. In the Middle East, the “fruit of the vine” begins fermenting immediately without refrigeration.

    Shalom, be well and be blessed in Messiah Yeshua

  13. Clinton Johnson

    I agree with John Caldwell, Dwight Smith, and Ken Idleman on their views which I believe are based on Bible teachings. One person talking about the communion service he used the term wine. I don’t know where it says wine. I think it says fruit of the vine.
    Look at the results of alcohol.

  14. Jay Jenkins

    Kevin Wicker (Feb1, 2014 post) You get an AMEN from me!! You have hit the nail on the head.

    If we would stop focusing on sin as some action and start to focus on Jesus we would never be having these conversations. The Christian community today is so wrapped around the axle worrying about this sin or that sin, or breaking or keeping this law or that law that we have completely missed the true Gospel – Jesus and Him crucified. We interpret the Bible carnally, seeing it only from the fleshly perspective, thus missing and misinterpreting what it really says. We read that God remembers our sins no more, that He has cast them as far as the east is from the west, yet we love to call ourselves sinners and see nothing but the fruit of a belief system that comes straight from Satan. The Father does not know us according to our flesh – He only knows us according to the spirit, regardless if we drink or not, regardless if we are miserable ugly people that treat others badly and regardless if we fail to follow the “Christian code of conduct” (legalism!). The only voice about who we are comes from Jesus – He came to this earth to show us who we truly are and who the Father is. If we dwell in that fact we will find ourselves being lifted above the carnal arguments of do this/don’t do that and begin to live the life of our design!

  15. Jo Jacobson

    Thank you Barry Cameron and John Caldwell for your articles. I truly believe that many people have just not suffered enough or seen enough others suffering as a result of alcohol, and many other sins as well, to really hate those sins. I have four dead brothers as a result of alcohol. My father beat my mother when he was drunk. I have seen the destruction in the lives of others around me (pastor’s wife for 35 years). I have dealt with broken marriages and wayward children of parents that felt wine or social drinking was OK. Neither article was saying that it is the only sin or telling you you’re not saved if you drink. They were trying in love, not judgment and legalism, to let you know what I know from experience—I have seen no good or positive reason to even be connected with that activity. To be honest–when you read through these entries–those of you defending it sound every bit as self righteous and haughty as you accuse the writers of these articles of being.
    I have never been sorry for giving the advice: “avoid it”…only sorry when I see the ruin from those who chose not to take my advice.

  16. Ken

    I’ve read quite a few articles and heard quite a few sermons that express similar thoughts as this one. I, in every way, really do sympathize with the urging of caution in regards to alcohol. Used improperly, it can be terribly dangerous. But I find one major flaw with the logic and reasoning of this author and many other Christians: they are essentially implying that the Bible is flawed. They seem to argue that even though the Bible doesn’t say drinking is wrong, it really should. God must have made a mistake when he left that out. Why didn’t he just come right out and say it: “Do not drink alcohol”? When a Christian says, “The Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong, but . . . ” they seem to perceive that Scripture just doesn’t go far enough on the topic, and they feel the need to add to it.

  17. Mike

    I’m with Ken on this one.

    For me personally, I plan to continue going thru life with the same approach toward alcohol, only drinking a glass on very rare occasions like at weddings.

    Admittedly, I”™m still trying to adjust my thinking on this subject. Growing up, I was led to believe that all drinking of alcohol was a sin. I”™m now in my 50″™s & I still find myself doing an internal hiccup when I see, or hear of, Christians drinking some form of alcohol. But that”™s my problem, not theirs.

    I shouldn”™t disapprove of responsible drinking ““ a glass or two here and there and not getting drunk. It doesn”™t appear that God frowns on that approach toward alcohol, so I shouldn”™t either. In His Word, God tells us not to get drunk, and He provides us with the stern warnings of how consuming too much alcohol can cause tremendous calamity. If that”™s God”™s position, who am I to add to it? I have internal work to do.

  18. vicky

    Anything you do to alter your mind gives the devil opportunity. I don’t want to take that chance.

  19. Kevin

    Why do so many come from the view that wine in the Bible is and has to be alcoholic wine. While there is certainly a debate of the word for wine and other drinks, plain common sense can tell you that you should not drink. We seem to liberalise so much to fit our desires.

    Just think about these point:
    1. If alcoholic wine can lead to alcoholism, fetal infant syndrome, accidents and other problems, why would Jesus, who knows this, make alcoholic wine?
    2. Unfermented grape juice is new and fresh and good. It can be stored for long periods without spoiling or fermenting.
    3. What is drunk? We usually use the world’s definition. If the legal limit is .07 in one state and .08 in the next, then are you not drunk in one, but as you cross over the l8ine you are drunk in the next? Does that mean you are not Biblically drunk and then you are?
    4. Any teen taking a driving course will tell you even after a few sips your thinking ability starts to change. If you are not thinking fully right, then are you in your right mind?
    5. If a leader is not to drink, if a king is to not drink so they are ready to make a judgement or decision or give council at anytime, then when is it ok for a christian to allow him or herself to not be ready to minister. Are we not all ministers and ministering christians at all times.
    6. Is your lamp filled and wicks trimmed?
    7. If Paul had to say, use a little wine, doesn’t that mean he didn’t? And again, why is that alcoholic wine and not wine that is simply grape juice?
    8. Wouldn’t new wine that is the best wine be that which is fresh, straight out of the grape, the first of the wine. Why is the wine Jesus turned from water alcoholic? Yes, many will tell you the word is always the same, but man’s textbooks can be wrong.
    9. Would a believer have any type of intoxication, even if it is not drunk, be ok> How does this line up with the harmony of scriptures? How could it be good in some areas and bad in others?
    10. If you started completely neutral, not trying to defend your right to drink, and did a deep research of the Scriptures and the words for wine and strong drink in the original languages, would you come to the same ending? Remember, it is not about you, it is about God and His Kingdom and you carrying out the Great Commission.

    Thanks. Kevin.

  20. George

    Christ in us, the hope of glory… Is drinking alcohol an act of faith? Does it bring glory to God? Will it lead to the fulfillment of making disciples, and the building up of the church? More fundamentally, what would our motive be to drink in the first place? No judging you here…these are internal questions only you can answer

  21. Robbie Watkins

    Luke 17:2

    New Living Translation
    It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.

    Our actions may be the only Bible a lost person might ever see! Should someone follow your lead in drinking alcohol, only to become an alcoholic, the above verse should bring a little fear! Is it worth the risk?

    1 Corinthians 6:12
    New Living Translation
    You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

    1 Corinthians 8:13
    New Living Translation
    So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live–for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.

    In modern times, “drink” could easily be seen as interchangeable and even more relevant than “eat” !

  22. Kj

    Look up and research weinke korsakoff -tragic – the church has a responsibility to warn!!! Thank you for this article!

  23. md

    thank you for the article. why risk it?

  24. Michael Chaney

    I think others have torn this apart as well as anybody can, but I will point out one other major mistake:

    “Most people in the ancient world drank alcohol. The Egyptians and Babylonians were manufacturing beer 3,000 years before Christ. But here”™s something you need to know. Alcohol use changed radically in AD 700 when Arab chemists discovered how to distill alcohol, which led to the ability to produce highly potent concentrations. Thus the wine and beer produced previous to that was, for the most part, very low in alcoholic content. You could get drunk, but you had to drink a lot to do so.

    “However, today, if you buy a bottle of whiskey, liquor, or even wine, the natural fermentation is bolstered by the addition of distilled alcohol. New wine in biblical days had very little alcoholic content, and even aged wine had a low amount compared to today”™s standards. Don”™t take my word for it. You can easily research it using the Internet.”

    No. First, “wine” and “beer” refer to very specific beverages that are made in specific ways. If someone has added distilled alcohol then you no longer have “wine” or “beer”. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the alcohol content created by natural fermentation is higher now than it was in antiquity, particularly when you can read that the effects of overconsumption back then are pretty much identical to the effects of overconsumption nowadays.

    Distilled liquor is a different substance and few people drink such beverages straight. They do so at great risk to their health. Such beverages are typically used as mixers with fruit juices, water, etc. to produce “mixed drinks”. These became popular during alcohol prohibition in 20th century America as it was easier to transport smaller quantities of high-proof alcohol and then mix it down at the destination to something drinkable.

    Now, yes, I can find all kinds of “research” on the internet conducted by people with an agenda (such as the article’s author) who claim that wine and beer barely had alcohol. Or, better yet, the greek word for “wine” can also mean “grape juice” so that’s obviously what Jesus drank and created.

    We have an interesting position in history where we have refrigeration and the ability to easily prevent spoilage, allowing us to consume actual grape juice. This is a very recent invention and in the ancient world any juice would quickly spoil. The point of wine-making was to make it spoil with some friendly yeast that would eat some sugar and produce alcohol – a substance that would then kill other agents of spoliation as long as the concentration was high enough. The reason the Greeks had but one word in the ancient world is obvious – unfermented grape juice wasn’t something they would have drunk.

    This had another advantage – humans could drink wine or beer without getting sick. In the absence of treated water (also a recent invention) most water was suspect and getting sick was probably a fairly usual occurrence from bad water. That’s why Paul told Timothy to quit abstaining from alcohol and at least drink a little bit for his stomach problems.

    Alcohol can be a cruel master – I’ve seen it. But the idea that total abstention is Biblical or Christian is simply manmade religion – nothing more. When you trot it out it makes you look like you don’t know the Bible or that you don’t care about it, and people notice that. Don’t bother with the “weaker brother” thing, either. I always find it odd that the “weaker brother” is almost always a guy who spends Sunday morning in a pulpit. Odd how that works.

    As others have said, if you really want to impact the church get as gung-ho about gluttony as you are alcohol. Well, not quite a gung-ho – otherwise you’ll tell people that have to abstain from food.

  25. Mary Smith

    What I remember hearing, which really helped me to gain a perspective on the issue of alcohol, was someone saying, “I’ve never heard anyone say that they drank so that they could bring glory to God.” And I thought, “that’s a good point. How does drinking alcohol bring glory to God?” Then I thought, “how does drinking Pepsi bring glory to God?” Then I thought, “but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the things God has made.” Then I thought, “so couldn’t that apply to alcohol?” Then I remembered the one and only time I consumed anything alcoholic, when my family and I were visiting a church that served wine for communion. I didn’t even realize it was wine until I drank it. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but just that sip gave me a buzz. In essence, for at least a couple of seconds, I was not in my right mind. And I realized, “I can’t bring glory to God by letting a chemical control my brain.” I might consider drinking wine as an alternative to pain killer, but other than that, I don’t see how I can bring glory to God by drinking alcohol/wine. I know everyone doesn’t respond to one sip in that way, but I think it’s a good general principle that the point at which alcohol/wine affects you is the point at which you shouldn’t drink–which is for at least some people one sip.

  26. Gary Hoffman

    This is an important issue to keep in front of the contemporary church. Conformity to the world is a continuing pressure for the Christian who seeks to reach out to those who need to know about Christ. The issue of alcohol rears its head in nearly every social setting ( and business setting) where you are trying to build relationships. What will they think if I abstain? What message am I conveying if I share in the social drinking? We should not shy away fr this discussion but keep a fair and non- judgmental attitude toward sincere Christians who share differing points of view.

  27. Jim

    Well said. Sound logic. Personally, I think the only reason a Christian would have a problem with this article is because he just wants to abuse his liberty with a clear (or seared rather) conscience. In this contemporary laodicean church age which we live, it’s nice to know there are still some Philadelphia age brethren still out there.
    Keep up the good work.

  28. John Pyke

    A great resource on the subject is Jack Van Impe’s book: Alcohol, The Beloved Enemy. I highly recommend it! Anyone reading this book with an open mind would be unable to support this industry afterwards & he provides many compelling Scriptures.

    My father-in-law is a retired Pastor. Now that his four daughters are married, the common social norm is wine at a family gathering. My father-in-law has caved & recently started to participate in social drinking. My 11 year old son recently asked me, “Why does “Poppa” drink wine?” It is an embarrassment for me to have to answer this question but nonetheless, a great opportunity for us to have the conversation regarding “The Beloved Enemy.” We need to protect our kids sometimes even from our own extended family.

    In my view, too few people are unwilling to take a stand on virtually anything anymore. Our pulpits are mostly silent on anything with even a hint of controversy.

  29. Bonnie Linda Vlk

    I abstained from drinking wine and all in 1999. We know 80% of people who have served time in prison or been homeless have had an addiction problem. How can you counsel with them to encourage none drinking when you are still drinking?

  30. Margaret

    I enjoyed your articles, Barry Cameron and John Caldwell.

    But some of the remarks from the readers are interesting.

    The subject that Barry was really commenting on was that churches who formally did not recommend alcohol now allow and participate in drinking alcohol and John’s was Alcohol and Believers.

    Our denomination does not recommend alcohol, and I am thankful for that. People can call us legalistic or whatever, it doesn’t bother me.

    I was a problem drinker before I came to the Lord, and actually gave up 6 years before I became a Christian.

    I know the downfalls of alcohol abuse and the things you do and feel so ashamed of.

    I have been alcohol-free for 33 yrs and it was the best decision I ever made.

    But, when I see how many Christians are now starting to imbibe, it worries me, because they actually become a stumbling block to those who have had problems in this area before becoming a Christian.

    They may be a responsible drinker, but to me it is a dangerous thing for their own children and others in the congregation who have had alcohol problems before and for new Christians who are trying to overcome that addiction and the problems it has caused in their life.

    I have seen people who drank before they came to the Lord, then were delivered and lived alcohol-free for many years, and now their pastor and leadership have allowed “social drinking” in their church, and they have started drinking again and had occasion to get totally drunk. It is very, very, sad to see.

    Some churches are becoming like the world to win the world, and to be honest, there is no victory for the ministry or the saint in that, because we become a “lukewarm” church, and most of us know what God will do with that church.

    I pray for those who have been enticed back into that addiction, and pray for their deliverance again, because it is a dead-end street, but I hold the church leadership to account for these decisions they are making, and so will our Lord Jesus.

  31. Henry Scott

    There are many good responses on this important issue, many are stating that there are no scripture that states you can’t drink, and I agree with that. But, and there is always a but. Since no one refer the readers to Romans chapter 8, then I will. In Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. This scripture tells if I’m in Christ Jesus, truly living my life for Him I should not have the desires to follow the flesh. Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law sin and death. What is desire? Is it not the flesh telling you that you need to drink. Isn’t it the flesh that causes us to sin in the first place?

    I won’t write every scripture in Romans Chapter 8, but I will put these two that will sums up the the question about drinking. Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. So if you are truly in Christ Jesus then you should want to do the things that will pleases Him, and not what would please your flesh. Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to spiritually minded is life and peace. I don’t have ftime for people who don’t want to here the truth, you say you are Christian then live your life the way God would want you to, stop all this nonsense about is it ok to drunk or not to drink. The word of God tells us to separate ourselves from the wicked, and the sinners, and to let our light shine unto the darkness. How can we as Christians do that if they can’t tell us apart?

    Just live for Christ Jesus, and let Him lead you, if you want to live your life according to your way of thinking then stop looking to bring this foolish to the church if you don’t want to stop doing what you are doing, then ask yourself this question; if I say God has saved me then why am I still wanting to do what I did as a sinner?

  32. Dave Wood

    I agree with much of what you say concerning alcohol, but your argument is really laid out in a way that’s conflicted. Replace alcohol with processed food, sugar, modern wheat products, colas, hormone injected meats. All of these are prematurely killing people and destroying lives. They alter our emotions and affect us spiritually. Eating any of these is making us more and more like the world. I’m glad you dropped alcohol because you hate what it does. Do you hate what these other things do? Have you dropped them as well?

    You ask why should one drink? Why should one put any garbage into the body that belongs to Jesus? Alcohol in excess creates ruin, just like processed food produces diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, etc. As far as the example we set for our children, how can we feed our children sugar (which is a poison the body cannot effectively assimilate). We cannot pick and choose.

    Your argument as presented only holds if you follow this same standard for every other product you put into your body. My experience has been that often those who preach the loudest about alcohol, go out after the service for some delicious fried chicken, mashed potatoes . . . and wash it all down with a sugary beverage.

    That kind of inconsistency hurts the testimony of the believer as much or more than holding that glass of wine!

  33. Suzette

    God clearly states that alcohol is not for Kings and Priests . . . and He makes it clear that true believers are a royal priesthood. We can’t have it both ways. What about where He says . . . “Woe to you who gives strong drink . . .”? I don’t know about you, but when God says “Woe to you” it gets my attention. Alcohol had no part in the church 30 years ago, but like everything else, the relevance lie and the moderation lie creep in. It is a dangerous place for the church in America to be. There is absolutely NO reason for a true believer to drink alcohol . . . no sense in arguing, though, people can do what they want. If they delve into the Scripture, the truth is there. There is an absolute truth . . . and one day we will all know. . . .

  34. Alicia

    I’ve read the article and all of the comments. Reading my Bible this morning, I came to this verse:

    “For I say to you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18).

    Perhaps we, who follow Jesus, are meant to wait as well until we’re in glorified bodies that can handle it “” When His kingdom has come and the brokenness of this world is no more . . .

  35. Anthony Walker

    We all just need to get back to JESUS JESUS JESUS JESUS!

    “The Gospel is the Good News that God became man in Jesus Christ. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died–in our place. Three days later , He rose from the dead, proving He is the Son of God and offering the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins to anyone who repents and believes in Him.”
    “”Rice Broocks, God’s Not Dead

    I can do all thing through JESUS!

    That is were my strength, hope, peace and joy come from. Amen

  36. Blake Edmondson

    I recently found this article while looking for quotes and references for my own sermon on this subject. I’m constantly amazed by the EXTREMELY uninformed people who try to justify sin by claiming Jesus made and drank fermented wine. In the comments, people said this over and over and one even made this assertion while at the same time mentioning the Greek word oinos can mean fermented or unfermented wine. We know in the Old Oestament, fermented wine or beer “shekar” is universally condemned. Go read Proverbs 23:29-35 and tell me if you think God is all about going out and drinking. The Bible doesn’t contradict itself. If drinking alcoholic beverages is universally condemned in the Old Testament, the New Testament wouldn’t contradict it. The New Testament fulfills the Old. It never changes what is sinful to being not sinful anymore. I find it utterly offensive to claim that the perfect, sinless, spotless Lamb of God would drink an alcoholic beverage. I guess God commanded John the Baptist not to drink (Luke 1:15) but told His own Son “go drink all you want Son!” Saying ridiculous things like this is just an excuse to give in to temptation. If you’ve been saved, you should know in your heart it’s wrong to drink. Thank you, Brother Caldwell, for having the guts to say what so many pastors should already be saying if they weren’t afraid of being “fired” by their congregation. People want a pastor who will stand against the things they don’t like and tell them the things they do like are OK. Many of you, I hope, have repented of this lifestyle and belief since this article was written.

  37. George

    I came across this article because I was researching alcohol for a message. I can pick out in these comments who drink and who doesn’t. Which is basically divided by who defends it and who doesn’t. And who cries “Do not judge unless you be judged.” I am not into legalism, but I am also not into causing my brother to stumble. I am a retired cop from a university setting. Probably 95% of every vandalism I investigated had alcohol involved. 95-99 percent of sexual assaults had alcohol involved. Most assaults had alcohol involved. I have investigated missing students and been present as they were pulled dead from rivers simply because of alcohol. I had a friend in the Marine Corps whose brother died because he attended a party where he drank, fell asleep sitting up on a couch with his head leaned back and suffocated on his own vomit. I have investigated the deaths of individuals riding motorcycles and hitting trees because they had been drinking. I grew up with an alcoholic dad, not a lot of money, and there were many times what little we did have got destroyed because of the influence of alcohol. I volunteer at a house where meals are passed out to homeless individuals and every week, men walk up intoxicated, barely making it there. For those who defend the use of alcohol, do you think it would be okay for me to have any of those people to my home and have a glass of wine with dinner? If they were currently addicted and had made it to where they were clean, that one act could be a trigger for them to head back down a dark path of addiction. I have never — and I mean never — seen good come from alcohol. I have never been drunk but I can’t say I never drank. But I also never justified it when I did. I always knew I shouldn’t be doing it. Alcohol is the number one legal drug is the United States. I have known of many people leaving a bar and either hurting/killing themselves and/or others because of alcohol. I have never heard of anyone leaving a buffet after eating too much (which I agree with those using that analogy …it is not a good thing to be doing) and killing or hurting themselves or others because of the mac and cheese they ate. For those of you who are defending the use of it, I hope you never have a police officer show up to your door, who tells you your child has been killed and alcohol was a factor. Everything changes when it affects your world.

  38. Brent E Kovac

    The number of alcohol defenders commenting using whattaboutism as a line of reason is pretty telling about how acceptance of generally harmful things has permeated the church and God’s people .


  1. Can a Christian Drink Alcohol • ChurchLeaders.com - […] wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? Here"™s the link to his…
  2. Can A Christian Drink Alcohol? - JeffManess.com - […] wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? Here"™s the link to his article. John"™s article…
  3. Can a Christian Drink Alcohol - Barry Cameron - Gospelbaze - […] John Caldwell, "To Drink or Not to Drink," Christian Standard 11 August 2012, 18 September […]
  4. Can a Christian Drink Alcohol? - Ministry Exploit - […] former megachurch Pastor John Caldwell, wrote an article in Christian Standard magazine called To Drink or Not to Drink? John"™s article…

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