The Bible says that “wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling” (Proverbs 20:1). The Bible also says, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk” (Habakkuk 2:15). Yet the Bible does not say that drinking a glass of wine or beer, or a cocktail with dinner, is a sin. Drunkenness is a sin, forbidden by the Bible, but having one drink may not be wrong.
Is drinking alcohol wrong? I do not drink alcoholic beverages for one major reason: My conduct might cause someone else, who is weak, to stumble. The apostle Paul established a rule of conduct that I think is very good. He said he would not eat meat or drink wine or do anything else which would cause a weaker brother to stumble (see Romans 14:14-21).
In a country where there are at least 20 million problem drinkers, and millions of others who use alcohol to excess, Christians just cannot stand by and say, “I can drink alcoholic beverages because the Bible does not say not to.” My conduct should be governed by the law of love. If I love my brother, I will not cause him to stumble and be offended. I personally refrain from drinking alcohol for that reason.
There is another reason for not drinking. The believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is hard to think that we could pour liquor into the temple of God without defiling it. Liquor destroys blood vessels and brain cells. Long-term consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause cirrhosis of the liver, lead to delirium tremens, and make for habitual alcoholism.
It is also very difficult to think that anyone could worship God with his mind befogged by drinking. Even one ounce of liquor can begin to bring on intoxication. Two or three ounces can make a person legally drunk. Half of all the traffic deaths in the United States are caused by people who have had at least one drink prior to driving.
To take our money, our lives, and our bodies, all of which belong to Jesus, and subject them to a state of intoxication can hardly be said to glorify the Lord or be an act of faith.
Some would raise the issue of what Jesus did when He changed water into wine. In ancient Israel there was almost no alcoholism, and there is little problem with it in Israel today. But in Jesus’ day, wine was used at meals and in ceremonial functions or for special parties. As a national matter, wine was not a problem for them. Their wine was probably a low-alcohol-content grape derivative, and it was more of a refreshing beverage than it was an intoxicant. Jesus lived in a society in which alcoholism was not the problem that it is in our day. So, for Him, in the context of that culture, wine was all right. But for us in America today, alcohol is not all right.