Is drinking alcohol a sin?

by pastortimfowler

Lately I have heard a few concerns about a statement that I make from time to time. That statement is. drinking alcoholic beverages is not a sin. Before you go off on a rampage, let me say that I do not encourage people to drink such beverages. I spent most of my teen years and young adult years as a drunk and saw my dad throw away his marriage due to alcoholism. This is a subject that I have intimate first hand knowledge about and do not take it lightly.
I would love nothing better than to be able to say that the Bible prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages. I know that there are restrictions of priests and some say that because we are a “royal priesthood” that is applies to us, but I just find too much that contradicts that. What I am required to do as a pastor is to tell the truth, even it goes against my personal feelings.
If drinking alcohol was a sin, then Jesus caused people to sin with His first miracle of turning water into wine and in the Lord’s Supper where wine is used. If my understanding of scripture is correct, it would be better for one to have a millstone tied around his neck and thrown into the sea than to cause someone to sin. Jesus was sinless. Paul, not sinless, told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach problem. Medicinal I know, but we don’t excuse a sin for medical purposes.
What is a sin is drunkenness. The abuse of strong drink in a habitual and destructive nature. I was sinning in my abuse of alcohol. I neglected family, friends and mostly, God. Drinking a glass of wine, a beer, or a scotch is not a sin. Oh how I wish it was, but this is not about my wishes or feelings and I can’t change God’s word for my own.
Now for what is a sin. Causing someone who struggles with alcoholism and is now seeking God for deliverance to fall back into drunkenness. That is a good reason for Christians to not drink in public or in front of others who may be one temptation away from falling back. In my church we have many who are in this place of recovery or deliverance. We offer a 12 step program to help them. If I were able to drink a glass of wine on occasion and this act were to be seen by someone in recovery, it could cause them to question their own ability to “just have one glass”. If my actions cause this new believer to fall back into sin, I am guilty. So Christians need to be mindful of our actions and their impact on others.
The other sinful situation of drinking alcohol that comes to mind is the one of needing a drink to “take the edge off”. You have a long hard day at work and your boss has been busting your chops all day. Everything you did went wrong even when you knew it was right. So you come home and open the fridge and grab a cold one.
If Jesus says to bring Him your burdens and troubles but you take them to Bud first, that sounds a lot like having a god before Him. Why not grab your Bible and read it for that encouragement and to take to edge off? Why not go straight to a quiet place and pray about that tough day? What do your children think when mommy or daddy say that they need a beer instead of, I need Jesus?
Drinking is not in and of itself sinful. Can it be? Yes. Far too often we are more concerned with our own wants than others and alcohol is our first thought rather than Jesus and that is sinful.
Be careful with how you throw around judgement. Be careful how you throw down your drinks. Both can feel good and in the proper time be sinless, but most of the time, we are the ones who are sinning, not someone else. Alcohol has its place and can be enjoyed in the right situation, but far to often, because of our sinful nature, we make it sinful out of our lack of concern for others or our neglect of turning to God first in all things.
It is my prayer that one day every alcoholic can receive that freedom that I did. But if Christians make it easy for an alcoholic to excuse their sin, we have just stepped into a sin that is just as great.

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