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Alcohol And The Bible - Some Sobering Thoughts

Updated on August 26, 2015
Marsala Wine - It typically has 15-20 percent alcohol content.
Marsala Wine - It typically has 15-20 percent alcohol content. | Source

Alcohol, sometimes referred to as liquor or spirits, is used by people all over the world on a day to day basis. Some people think it is good for the body when used properly and others write it off entirely.

There is the belief that drinking a glass of wine everyday will help one to live long and strong. There is another belief that those who consume rum on a regular basis never get the cold, flu or the latest virus around. Some people believe that when someone is under the influence of alcohol, their true nature is revealed while others believe that a demon takes over when the drinker over indulges in alcohol.

But what does the Bible say concerning alcohol? Is it good or bad or neither?

The very first time, alcohol is spoken of in the Bible is in The Book of Genesis after the flood. Noah had planted a vineyard and, after drinking the wine that he made from the vineyard, he became very drunk. So drunk in fact that he passed out naked and his son, Ham, walked in and saw his father in a disgraced state. This led to Ham's son Canaan being cursed.

"And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." Genesis 9:20-27 K.J.V.

Since this is the first introduction to alcohol and its consequences, it should not be taken lightly. We see Noah, the man of God who was saved from the wrath of the flood, over-indulge in alcohol so much so that he drinks himself into a stupor. Some of his descendants become cursed as a result of his drunkenness.

"Noah damning Ham," by Ksenofontov Ivan Stepanovitch
"Noah damning Ham," by Ksenofontov Ivan Stepanovitch | Source

Also in Genesis, when Lot's daughters wanted to ensure that their family line would continue, they persuaded their father, Lot to drink wine until he was drunk and then, when he was no longer aware of himself, or his surroundings, they went into him and conceived two children by him. (Genesis 31-38)

"Benhadad and The Kings Drinking In The Tent" by James Tissot
"Benhadad and The Kings Drinking In The Tent" by James Tissot | Source

Consequences For Drinking In the Bible

Just as Noah and his offspring had consequences for drinking, there were others in the Bible who faced some bitter consequences as well.

Elah, the king of Israel, drank himself drunk, according to the Bible. His drunkenness presented Zimri, his servant opportunity to seize the kingdom from him and his descendants forever. Zimri killed him while he was too drunk to do anything about it, and he killed all of his family as well so that no one from his line could ever be on the throne of Israel again. (See 1 Kings 16)

Benhadad, the king of Syria, also fell because of drunkenness. He went up against Ahab (one of the wickedest kings of Israel) and was well equipped to defeat him but the Lord gave the victory to Israel because of Benhadad's foolish statement that limited the power of God. In his arrogance, he declared that God is a God of the hills and not of the valleys. God gave Ahab the victory in the valley so that all would know the strength and length of the protective arm of God and that He indeed, is God.

While Benhadad was drunk, along with the thirty-two kings who had come along with their troops to help him conquer Israel, Israel's troops were on the move. They slew the Syrians with a great slaughter that day and that was the beginning of the end for the move against Israel by the Syrians. (See 1 Kings 20)

A Doctor Explains What Happens to the Brain on Alcohol

Effects of Alcohol

According to the Book of Proverbs, there are certain effects of continuous consumption of alcohol that always occur.

  • woe
  • sorrow
  • contentions
  • babbling
  • complaints
  • wounds without cause
  • redness of eyes

In Proverbs Chapter 23, the above are listed as things that people have when they drink continuously. All of these things seem join together and present the picture of a drunk individual. It is not unusual for a drunk individual to have complaints about everything. Some say that they drink because they have sorrows and woes to begin with but if Elah and Benhadad are anything to go by, the sorrows and woes that exist before drunkenness look less like sorrows and woes when the consequences of drunkenness take shape.

Indeed, contentions are known to occur much easier when one individual is drunk than when all involved are sober and it is not unusual for those who are drunk to end up with wounds, that is, injuries, and all because they were drunk. In that same Chapter, it says that alcohol bites like a serpent and causes a person to utter perverse things. That means that the things that one would not ordinarily do in a sober state, one does without the blink of an eye totally oblivious to the consequences of one's action.

Giovanni Paolo Panini's 'The Wedding At Cana'
Giovanni Paolo Panini's 'The Wedding At Cana' | Source

Jesus And Wine

It is a well known and argued fact that Jesus Christ drank wine. This fact is used by many to say that it is alright for a Christian to consume alcohol.

One of the first of Jesus' miracles recorded is occurred at the wedding at Cana. The wine ran out and Jesus turned water into wine. When the wine was tasted, it was declared to be the best wine of the wedding. Since Jesus turned water into wine what does it mean? Indeed, it is recorded that Jesus drank wine.

He said:

"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children." Luke 7: 33-35 (K.J.V.)

What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink - Alcoholic or Non-Alcoholic?

Did Jesus drink grape juice or something like it or was His wine fermented? This is a sub-question that is a popular one among many people, both Christian and non-Christian. For some, the answer to this question can either help or hinder their cause either for or against alcohol consumption.

It cannot be proved that the wine that Jesus drank was not real wine but I believe with certainty that Jesus never became drunk because of His intake of wine. The Bible states that He was without sin and since drunkenness is a sin Jesus would have never committed it.

So then, since Jesus drank wine can't we also?

In his letter to the Ephesians, 1 Timothy, and Titus, Paul says that one must not be given to much wine. 1 Peter lists excess wine as a sin. It is clear that moderation when it comes to alcohol is key but how do you know how much is too much? Personally, I think it is easy to slide into a life of constant alcohol consumption. One may argue that every person is different and does not become intoxicated by as much alcohol as the other. One may argue that if someone has self- control then it is safe for them to be able to drink and have a free conscience.

I, however, am weary because I am not Jesus Christ and therefore I was born with sin.This treacherous, traitorous flesh has been known to turn my soul to wickedness in the blink of an eye. I know that all self- control comes from the Holy Spirit and so I do not like to tempt Him and indulge in wine or any other spirits. He is the only Spirit I want to have as my guide. Each person makes their choice and moderation certainly does not seem to be a sin. It just seems to me to walk a little close to the edge and that cliff is not one I want to fall off of.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."1 Peter 5:8-9 (K.J.V.)



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    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      5 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Tamarajo,

      There must be a line that we draw with ourselves. Paul did say that if it feels that it might be a sin to you, don't do it. That cleared up a lot for me and if I do feel doubt I refuse to do it because I can't take the feeling of guilt. I know that I am not perfect but I would still like to try to please God as best I can. I would have Him know that I am His subject and know and embrace it.

      Thank you so much for reading and for the agreement.

      God bless you!

    • Tamarajo profile image


      5 years ago

      Excellent presentation and position on this matter.

      That has always my question.. how much is too much and what point is one considered drunk and are we truly honest judges about that when it concerns ourselves, considering the varying degrees of sensation that are induced by alcohol.

      I like you would prefer not to fool myself into thinking I would not deceive myself in judging as to when I have crossed over into a sinful dependence or escape mechanism with it. I have made plenty of poor choices in life with it enough to know my sinful flesh cannot be trusted ...not to mention all the biblical examples of bad behavior produced from it which by far outweigh the very few scriptures mentioned in favor of it.

      I am with you in your quote..."He is the only Spirit I want to have as my guide"

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      5 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hello shofarcall,

      Yes, once you know that it offends someone else, you should not do it in their presence. Sometimes we deny what our stumbling blocks are or they are very hard to see. I understand how you would recognize the cigarettes as a stumbling block but I do know a few people who do not.

      Thanks for your visit and for the interesting contribution.

    • shofarcall profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi North Wind, I do have a glass of wine occasionally (months may go by without) but it has never been something that has been a stumbling block to me. And I would not have a glass along with someone I knew it was a stumbling block for. But cigarettes I stay away from completely, because I know it has been a stumbling block for me many years ago. Is it a sin? To get drunk, yes. To have a glass of wine - I don't think so. But we each have to know what our stumbling blocks are and avoid them. Good hub, voted useful and interesting.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Thanks for the votes Ebower,

      Self-control is a result of having the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If we get carried away that is proof that He is not with us.

    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      This is great. I don't believe it is wrong for Christians and other people to drink alcoholic beverages, but it is wrong to get drunk by them. Drunkenness leads to a loss of inhibitions and that can lead to sin. You chose some good examples from the Bible to explain why people shouldn't allow themselves to get drunk. I voted this up and useful.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Hyphenbird,

      Yes that is so true about food and indulgence on the whole. There are so many different things like food that can lead us over the edge. I actually think that even if you are sure of your self control you should avoid alcohol because sometimes our confidence can lead us straight into sin.

      Thanks for the visit and the great comment, Hyphenbird.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hello BlossomSB,

      Thanks so much reading. I think that if more people thought responsibly and recognized that we are examples whether we like it or not, many children would not give into temptations such as drinking and smoking.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Anything can be sin if used in excess, food is a perfect example. For us to spend any length of time questioning what Jesus ate and drank is a waste of time. To read the Word and know it tells us to maintain a vigilant and pure temple tells me not to indulge. If one doubts his/her self control it is better not to use alcohol at all.

      This is a great and useful article.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A well-written hub about a very controversial issue. I was brought up (many years ago) to think along the lines of what Faith Reaper has written. It would be a sin if I drank alcohol and someone copied me, so it is better to abstain and be sure. Voted it up.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I have heard so many people discuss this issue on Jesus and wine. I would tend to agree with you that if he did drink the wine, he didn't get drunk. This would go against His Word. And, He is the personification of The Word. Good post and well covered. Voted up.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Faith Reaper,

      Good point - drinking can also cause someone else to be influenced and go in the wrong direction. It should be noted that Christians who do drink should be aware that they are examples to others whether they like it or not. Consequently, a Christian is his brother's keeper and can be blamed for influencing him to go in the wrong way. The road is a straight and narrow one and it is difficult. Leaning on the Lord and asking for His guidance in everything is what we truly need to do so that we please Him and glorify His name. I know many an alcoholic who started drinking because someone they admired drank alcohol.

      Thanks for reading and for your great comment.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hey Caleb,

      I truly believe that both the Old and the New Testaments go hand in hand and that each word in the Old actually backs up the New. I cannot differentiate from the two really, they are one being God's word.

      I keep hearing about Dake's Bible - apparently there are some great reference notes there. I will have to get me one. I had heard about the Greek word for wine and that the meaning was associated with wine that was not fermented but I did not want to put it into the Hub without knowing about it for sure and I could not find a reference for it.

      You are right - the evidence is insufficient in Luke but people use this argument to justify their actions. I have been told that just as there is no enough proof to show that He did drink anything fermented, there is not enough evidence to prove that He did not drink anything fermented. One thing I know for certain is that as you said, Jesus Christ is sinless. I personally have seen what alcohol does to the mind and I do not think that Jesus' mind was ever cloudy or that He was never not in control of His actions. Alcohol gives an excuse for poor behavior, and in my personal opinion, it is a cheap replacement for joy through the Holy Spirit. Obviously, I can't stand alcohol and have nothing to do with it. The Holy Spirit does not compete with anyone or anything especially not something like alcohol.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Michele,

      I am so sorry to hear about that. Drunk drivers seem to be the cause of many deaths. There are many campaigns that talk about not drinking and driving but I really do not understand why, if a person has the reputation of drinking like that, someone would continue to provide the alcohol for them in the first place. It is a terrible thing and most of the time the drunk drivers live.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hello internpete,

      Thanks for reading. I think that with some alcohol presents more of a temptation than for others. Once you get a taste of a certain sin, and do not learn to revile it, then it is perhaps easier to be caught in the trap of it.

      I suppose we are free to do anything but why would we want to do it? Our wants and needs change when we are turned to the straight and narrow. The old passes away. As it is written - no one puts new wine into old wine skins.

      Thanks so much for the comment. I appreciate it!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Very insightful and well-written hub. Good subject for a hub. I know in His Word that it says for us to not do something as to cause our brother to stumple. For example, I may be able to drink a glass or two of wine and be fine, but then someone who sees me and drinks it thinking, well she is drinking wine, and she is fine with it. But sometimes it just takes one drink for certain persons and then it is a unending battle for the rest of their lives. Thanks for writing on this subject. This is very thought-provoking and interesting. God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Caleb DRC profile image

      Caleb DRC 

      6 years ago

      Another insightful hub, North Wind.

      One aspect of your hubs that I think is very beneficial is using the knowledge, and wisdom of the Old Testament as well as the New. If memory serves me accurately I believe I read in Dake's Bible that the wine Jesus transformed from water was not fermented; it was just grape juice. It had to do with the original meaning of the Greek word used for wine in that instance.

      Personally, I do not think Christ ever drank anything fermented( alcohol). If we take the Scripture where Paul said to abstain from any appearance of evil, plus what he said about considering your weak brothers conscience, plus the Scripture you used in this hub, and then link this to the sinless nature of Christ, then He could not have had any alcohol ever. Much more argumentation and scripture can be presented to back this up. I believe there is insufficient evidence at Luke 7:33-35 to conclude "drinking" was alcohol. It could have been a Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper or Latay( Oh, I know it is spelled wrongly, but I don't care!). It is late, and my dogs are snoring.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Thank you for this hub. It is very good. Alcohol has caused many problems in our society today. This week one of my friends, her daughter had a friend who was killed by a drunk driver. The two children were walking to school in the morning. The driver hit the little boy, who was 12 years old. The little boy died when he was hit. The driver kept going until he hit a tree.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 

      6 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      This is a good look at the Bible and what it says about alcohol. I believe, once saved, we are free to do anything, but some things have consequences (Stealing, murder, hate, etc. etc.), such as becoming drunk. Thus, if someone might be tempted to drink too much, they should probably avoid alcohol, and their friends should not tempt them by drinking around that person.

      With that said, I enjoy a beer or glass of wine here and there, and love sharing it with my family and friends. In this kind of setting, I think it is appropriate.

      The statements that:

      -No Christian should drink alcohol.

      -All Christians should drink alcohol.

      are both incorrect.

      Good hub!


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