"and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”" -John 2:10
The best book on these issues is God Gave Wine by Kenneth Gentry Jr.; Gentry describes three positions on alcohol prevalent among Bible-believing Christians. His work is helpful because while he argues for the biblical freedom of God’s people to consume alcohol in moderation, he does not drink alcohol, and therefore he is arguing from pure motives. We should only be concerned with the truth, not traditions, family teaching, nor personal experiences. Here are the positions:
1. PROHIBITIONISTS: they teach that all drinking is a sin and that alcohol itself is evil. This teaching has roots in American feminism, more than Biblical Christianity. This position is untenable because the Bible teaches that God makes “wine that gladdens the heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Also, Jesus’ first miracle involved creating over one hundred gallons of wine at a wedding party. It appears that Jesus ate enough food and drank enough alcohol to be falsely accused of gluttony and drunkenness (see John 2:1-11; Matthew 11:19). So if alcohol is inherently evil, then God is evil because he makes it, and Jesus is sinful because he drank it. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, are we trying to be holier than Jesus by not drinking?
2. ABSTETIONISTS: teach that drinking is not sinful but that all Christians should avoid drinking out of love for others and a desire not to cause anyone to stumble. No doubt Christians should avoid drinking in the presence of others who are unable to practice moderation and self-control (see Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 10:31-32). The Bible teaches that God gave wine to his people despite the abuse of it in use to worship the pagan god Baal (see Hosea 2:8). Jesus drank alcohol even though there were undoubtedly people in his day who were alcoholics (see Matthew 11:19). Paul says that only a demon would compel Bible teachers to forbid things that God made good (see 1 Timothy 4:1-5) and that drinking alcohol can be done in a way that glorifies God. Can you think of a situation where abstaining from drinking would hinder your witness?
3. MODERATIONISTS: teach that drinking is not a sin and that each person must let Christian conscience guide them without judging others. The position is both reasonable and biblical. Wine itself is neutral and can be used in both good and bad ways (see 1 Samuel 1:14, 24; 25:18, 37; Joel 1:9, 10). When used in the right and redeemed way, alcohol could be viewed as a gift from God, especially when feasting (see Psalm 104:14-15; Ecclesiastes 9:7; 10:19). Here are a few examples of when alcohol has been used by God’s people: celebration (Gen. 14:17-20), the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18), medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6; 1 Timothy 5:23), worship (Exod. 29:40; Num. 28:14; Matt. 26:27; 1 Cor. 11:25-26), thanksgiving to God (Proverbs 3:9-10), and happiness (Deut. 14:26). Can you think of a situation where drinking alcohol could cause a weaker brother to sin or fall?
We must consider our context and responsibility. It is always permissible, but is it always wise?