Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
Both wine and beer are drinks that contain alcohol. The act of drinking too much wine (drunkenness) is continually condemned in God's Word while wine in itself is spoken of as a good thing when used responsibly in moderation. The same principle may be applied to beer and stronger alcoholic drinks.
The apostle Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23). Also it is obvious from several scriptures in the Old Testament that wine moderately consumed on the proper occasions during God's festivals has our Creator's blessing (Deuteronomy 14:26).
Jesus Christ's first recorded miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding celebration in Cana (John 2:1-11). Christ never sinned, and He would not create something that was a sin in itself. The use of a little wine in the annual observance of the New Testament Passover is clear from the instructions Christ left for His followers (Matthew 26:27-29).
In this case it is not the substance itself (alcoholic drink) that is a sin, it is the wrong use of the thing. Proper application of God's Word is very important. We are to "rightly divide" or correctly comprehend God's truths (2 Timothy 2:15).
The Creator wants us to exercise character by rightly using the minds He gave us in applying biblical principles to specific situations. For instance, if a person is an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic, almost all counselors would advise him or her not to drink alcoholic substances. Also if we know we are going to be driving our cars afterwards, it is wise to abstain at social occasions to safeguard our own lives and those of others.
God wants us to build His character into our lives by exercising righteous judgment. Some things are intrinsically wrong in themselves and others are not. Alcoholic drinks are a blessing from God if used rightly in the appropriate circumstances (Psalm 104:14-15).
On the other hand, the wrong use of alcoholic substances that results in drunkenness is a sin against God. It has caused untold misery and countless premature deaths. The apostle Paul wrote: "Do not give way to drunkenness and the ruin that goes with it" (Ephesians 5:18, Revised English Bible).But the moderate, sensible use of alcohol is perfectly acceptable and nowhere condemned in the Bible.
Of course, if one chooses not to consume alcoholic beverages, this is certainly his individual prerogative. There is no biblical requirement that he do so (other than in the proper observance of the annual Passover service).
©2004 United Church of God, an International Association