The Life Foundations
IS DRINKING A SIN?
By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti
Before we begin, note that we are talking
about drinking, not drunkenness. The
Bible teaches that drunkenness is a sin.
Is drinking a sin? Yes, with five exceptions.
First, let us look at the water-into-wine
miracle performed by Jesus at a wedding reception. The Bible makes a distinction between “wine” and “strong
drink.” It is obvious from these terms
that wine is not a strong, alcoholic drink.
A parallel examination of the Hebrew and Greek texts, of course, reveals
the same thing. Therefore, when Jesus
turned the water into wine, he turned it into a weak alcoholic
drink. It was an unwritten rule of
Jesus’ time that, in particular, you never got drunk at a wedding
reception. The Bible does not say that
Jesus drank any of the wine. The model
of a “holy person” in the Bible excluded the drinking of wine. Jesus refused wine when it was offered to
Some would say that by turning the water
into wine Jesus sanctioned social drinking (moderate drinking). The truth of the matter is that before the
Holy Spirit was sent this was the case.
But the Bible says that after the Holy Spirit was sent, social drinking
was no longer sanctioned. Ephesians
5:18,19 says: “And be not drunk with
wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your
heart to the Lord.” Some would say that
this passage is talking only about drunkenness but note that the Lord requires
that one be “filled with the Spirit.”
When a vessel is filled with something there is no room for
anything else. That means there is no
room for any amount of alcoholic drink.
That means there is no room for the amount of alcoholic drink that one
would consume in a social drinking situation.
Social drinking is no longer sanctioned.
We must make a fine, ethical point
regarding social drinking. Before we
proceed, don’t jump to any conclusions.
You must read this entire paragraph.
Also, for a few of you, this paragraph will be difficult to understand
but, if you take your time and think about what you are reading, you will
understand what you are reading. The
ending of the sanction that allowed social drinking (moderate drinking) in the
past did not mean that social drinking had become inherently (in itself)
evil. Rather, it meant that social
drinking had become an inherently, morally inferior activity. Good had not become evil. Social drinking had not become evil. Good had become inferior (inferior
good). Social drinking had become
inferior (inferior good). The reason
for this change is that God had provided something better – being
“filled with the Spirit.” Furthermore,
once a good thing becomes an inherently inferior thing, it
simultaneously becomes a practical evil.
Now, in this case, the practical –
social drinking is an evil – has priority over the inherent – social
drinking is an inferior good. In plain
English, social drinking is a sin.
Now, you might ask, “Why go through all this trouble of making a
distinction between INHERENT and PRACTICAL?”
The reason we do this is that many people focus on the narrow picture,
on only some of the facts. They
realize that social drinking is an INHERENTLY INFERIOR good and they stop
there. They say, “See, social drinking
is an inferior good but it is still a good.”
This failure to get ALL of the facts allows them to continue
their social drinking without a guilty conscience. Most people, on the other hand, will see the broad picture, the
big picture, which includes all of the facts.
The big picture requires that they realize that social drinking is a
PRACTICAL EVIL. Therefore, they
stop their social drinking. Finally,
real life is not always cut-and-dry.
There are five exceptions to the principle that social drinking is a
What are the
five exceptions to the ban on drinking, found in the Bible? These exceptions apply only if one does not
have the benefit of either a certain part of or all of the work of the Holy
Spirit and if one does not have a better way to meet the needs involved in
these exceptions. They are: 1) to
mitigate the pangs of death, 2) to prevent psychosis, 3) to heal (the InterClued KJV Bible says “a little wine [wine or other comparable, weak
alcoholic drink]”), 4) to dull the senses during surgery or the like, and 5)
when one would otherwise die of thirst.