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What Does the Bible Say About Drinking Alcohol?

What Does the Bible Say About Drinking Alcohol?


Alcohol in Biblical Context

The Bible presents a nuanced view of alcohol consumption, acknowledging its presence in society and its potential benefits when used responsibly. Throughout Scripture, alcohol, particularly wine, is often mentioned in the context of celebration and blessing. For instance, Psalm 104:14-15 praises God for the bounties of the earth, including wine that “gladdens the heart of man.” This suggests an understanding of alcohol as one of the many gifts provided by God for human enjoyment and sustenance.

Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11), further illustrates this point. This miracle not only demonstrates Christ’s divine authority but also indicates a certain level of acceptance of alcohol within the context of celebration and joy. The fact that Jesus chose to perform this miracle at a wedding feast suggests a recognition of wine as a component of festivity and community gathering.


Moderation and Self-Control

While the Bible recognizes the positive aspects of alcohol, it consistently warns against overindulgence and the dangers of drunkenness. Ephesians 5:18 clearly states, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” This verse juxtaposes the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption with the positive influence of the Holy Spirit, emphasizing the importance of self-control and spiritual focus.

The wisdom literature of the Bible, particularly Proverbs, offers numerous cautions about alcohol. Proverbs 20:1 warns, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” These admonitions reflect a deep understanding of the potential harm caused by excessive drinking, highlighting the need for wisdom and moderation in all aspects of life, including alcohol consumption.

The Role of Alcohol in Spiritual and Social Contexts

The Bible also addresses the role of alcohol in spiritual and social contexts. In the Old Testament, wine is often associated with offerings and celebrations. For instance, in the book of Deuteronomy (14:26), it’s mentioned that part of the tithe could be spent on wine or strong drink, to be enjoyed in the presence of the Lord. This reflects an understanding of alcohol as a permissible part of religious and communal life, when used in a manner that honors God.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul provides guidance on the use of alcohol in the life of believers. In 1 Timothy 3:8, he advises deacons to be “not given to much wine.” This instruction does not prohibit drinking but rather cautions against overindulgence, underscoring the importance of moderation and self-discipline, especially among those in leadership positions within the church.

Alcohol and Christian Liberty

The concept of Christian liberty also plays a significant role in the biblical perspective on alcohol. In Romans 14:21, Paul advises, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” This highlights the principle that while certain actions, like drinking alcohol, may be permissible, they should not be pursued if they cause harm or become a stumbling block to others in the faith. This perspective calls for a considerate and mature approach to personal freedoms, including the consumption of alcohol.

In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Paul elaborates on this idea: “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” This passage suggests that while drinking alcohol is not inherently sinful, the decision to partake should be made with consideration of its impact on oneself and others, always prioritizing the welfare and spiritual growth of the community.


In conclusion, the Bible presents a balanced view on the consumption of alcohol. It acknowledges the use of alcohol, particularly wine, as part of cultural and religious practices, often associated with joy and celebration. At the same time, Scripture consistently warns against the dangers of drunkenness and excessive drinking. The overarching biblical message is one of moderation and self-control, emphasizing the need for wisdom and discernment in the use of alcohol.

The Bible also integrates the concept of Christian liberty with a sense of communal responsibility, advising believers to consider the broader impact of their actions on the faith community. This perspective encourages believers to exercise their freedoms thoughtfully, always keeping in mind the spiritual well-being of others.

Read More

For those interested in exploring this topic further from a biblical and theological perspective, the following books are recommended:

  1. “God Gave Wine: What the Bible Says About Alcohol” by Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. This book provides a thorough examination of the biblical texts related to alcohol, offering insights into its proper use within a Christian context.

These books offer a comprehensive understanding of what the Bible says about drinking alcohol, helping readers to form a balanced and biblically-informed perspective on the subject.

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