Relaymedia

Should Christians Drink?

Nov 16, 2002 03:00 AM EST

If Jesus drank wine, then is it OK for Christians to drink alcoholic beverages? I have a friend who thinks it's OK to drink, but not get drunk.

Your friend is right about not getting drunk. The Bible is quite clear: "Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). What Paul says here makes a great deal of common sense. You can't walk and live by the Spirit and be intoxicated at the same time. When someone is drunk, they're not in control of their life. The alcohol is in control.

I come from a family where alcoholism is prevalent. I believe there's a biological disposition toward alcoholism. Which means if you have blood relatives who are alcoholics there is a much greater chance you could become one. Your body may handle alcohol in a different manner than someone who doesn't have alcohol in their family background. I choose not to drink. My three main reasons are named Christy, Rebecca and Heidi—my daughters. If they see me drink even one glass of beer, wine or even champagne at a wedding, they may think, Dad drinks, so I will too. Then they may find out the hard way that their bodies crave and react differently to alcohol than some other people's.

But even if alcoholism wasn't a problem in my family, I'm concerned about setting a bad example. I'm the leader of a Christian organization that helps teens; what would anybody think if they saw me with a beer? Even if it was just one beer, it would give the wrong impression to many people. As Chris-tians, we need to think about how our actions will affect people who are watching us. And people are always watching.

You didn't say how old you are. If you're younger than 21, the answer is clear: It's against the law for you to drink. Period. And anyone who follows Jesus is certainly called to obey the law. Personally, I think the law to not drink until 21 is an important piece of legislation to protect young people from great amounts of harm. Many problems occur in the lives of teenagers and their families because of alcohol. And these problems could negatively affect the rest of their lives.

Rhonda was one of the student leaders in my youth group; she drove home drunk from a party. Today she is dead and so are the children and mom in the van she plowed into late one night. And that's only one example.

Now to answer the other part of your question. You're right. Jesus drank wine—at special events like weddings—but he never got drunk. I don't have a problem if an adult (21 or older) has a glass of wine or a beer. But I do have a problem with drunkenness. I've chosen not to drink and I'm deeply impressed with so many wonderful teens (and parents) who are courageously making a decision not to drink.

By Jim Burns