Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#18 - Is it OK to drink alcohol?

Response by Dave Marr

The skeptic's quandary:

"He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried." Numbers 6:3
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Proverbs 20:1
"Be not among winebibbers.... For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty." Proverbs 23:20-21
"Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." Proverbs 23:29-30
"Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Proverbs 23:31-32
"Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!" Isaiah 5:11
"Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink." Isaiah 5:22
"But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment." Isaiah 28:7
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." Daniel 1:8
"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken." Habbakuk 2:15
"For he [John the Baptist] shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink." Luke 1:15
"Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness." Romans 13:13
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14:21
"Drunkenness ... and such like ... they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:21
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." Ephesians 5:18

"Wine, which cheereth God and man." Judges 9:13
"Wine that maketh glad the heart of man." Psalm 104:15
"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." Proverbs 31:6-9
"And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. ... His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. ... Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine ... the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." John 2:3-10
"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake." 1 Timothy 5:23

Alcohol is commonly known as a “spirit”. To be sure, when consumed, it alters the spirit, or temperament, which already resides in a person.

To understand the Biblical view of the consumption of alcoholic beverages, a differentiation must be made between a moderate ingestion of alcohol, and that of drunkenness. Drunkenness is a condition which is most often found in alcoholics. Alcoholics drink in excess amounts, regularly. Essentially, this foolish way of life permanently alters the disposition, or spirit, of the person: in such a way that he/she loses sound judgment, and opens up to sinful behavior.

Indeed, alcoholism is a disorder that has a proven hereditary factor. A person who is normally sober is just as guilty as the alcoholic when they drink too much at a party in the name of “socializing”. Being drunk, no matter what the usual drinking patterns are, breaks down a good spirit in the body, and opens the door to sinful, filthy, demonic spirits to interact with it. (Notice that Isaiah 28:7 perfectly describes drunkenness, and Proverbs 23:31-32 illustrates how a drunk looks at his drink.) It is for this same reason that a Christian will avoid illegal drugs.

The key is moderation. As the Apostle Paul said, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phillipians 4:5) So, a small “buzz” would be acceptable at times: if the situation allows for it from a Biblical standpoint(such as at an appointed feast), and as long as it is not a regular occurrence. An exception would be for the sick(whose spirit has deteriorated), as in the case of Timothy (1 Tim. 5:23) and those with a depressive mood like the type of man mentioned by Solomon (Proverbs 31:6-9). However, this is NOT the recommended treatment for someone who is chronically depressed.

But the question is raised about eliminating drinks altogether in those people of a strong spirit, or spiritual disposition. The Nazarites were not allowed to drink alcohol because God wanted no outside impediment in their mission for Him. As well, there is no record of Jesus drinking, except for at the Last Supper. (He was called a “winebibber” by some because He associated with those that did drink when He attended the feasts. Also, at the institution of Communion, the wine that He and the others there drank was symbolic, and was dedicated for this purpose through prayer. Essentially, it can be argued that the spirit that was normally attributed to wine was removed and replaced by the Spirit of God for the Last Supper meal. Using wine for this sacrament was a way to show that Jesus’ blood, when shed, gave access to God’s Spirit, the Holy Ghost, for all believers.) When Paul was addressing the Romans, he said it was best not to drink wine, in the same breath that he said only to eat kosher foods around Jewish legalists- even though he, Peter, and the other Apostles believed that God lifted the restriction on certain meats.(Romans 14:21) This small sacrifice would be one less obstacle in preaching to the strict, unyielding Jews.

Summarily, what all of this means is that a follower of Jesus Christ should avoid alcohol altogether(except perhaps at Communion- but even then many churches use juice) if they seek to have the closest relationship possible with God.
Response by Kim Sheil

Is it OK to drink alcohol?

They claim the Bible says no to drink, then, yes. Here is what the Bible says about drink, that even a monkey can point out AND understand: It is ok to drink alcohol but not ok to get drunk. Was it not Jesus who turned water into wine and God who warned against drunkenness?

Anyway, I haven't been drunk since I was 16.

(good for you Kim!! -W-)