Is all alcohol "bad," so to speak? I thought at a point in my studies that if someone imbibed alcohol at any point that it was a sin, but recently I've begun to read scripture that might be interpreted differently.
I know that any form of drunkeness is a sin. However, there are illusions to a possible use of alcohol as a healing agent in "a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities" (1 Tim. 5:23). The question I have, is that the gospel of Matthew speaks about John, and how he ate sparingly and drank nothing (indicating alcohol, unless by divine favor he could exist without fluid whatsoever). Then it says that the Son of Man, which I have been told is how Jesus referred to himself, ate and drank, even going so far as to say that people called him a "winebiber" (Matt. 11:12-20). Does this mean that Jesus drank wine, meaning that it is not a sin to drink wine? For we know that Jesus did not commit sin while here on earth, therefore if he did drink wine, it is not a sin to do so, unless you cross the boundries of gluttony or alcoholism. Or is Jesus repeating one of those slanderous terms to refer to the way that people intended to demean his name?
Then we come to another verse that states that we as Christians should not do anything that could be perceived as wrong, that we may not lead another to do the same (1 Cor. 10). Would buying and drinking alcohol fall under this category of sin? Drinking beer or wine may appear sinful to those who believe it to be so, therefore would it not be a sin for me as a Christian to go purchasing a bottle of wine or brandy, even if for cooking or celebrating a special occasion?
Your reasoning appears quite sound from my perspective. I believe that Jesus did drink wine based on the accusation you mentioned and the fact that he turned water into "good" wine at Cana. Even if this wine was of a lesser alcohol content than our current choices, the fact remains he wouldn't have made wine that he didn't expect people to drink with his approval.
Your concern about choices we make that concern a weaker brother or sister are valid. This is also a personal choice. However, many Christians I know who do drink alcohol, only do so in the privacy of their home or at a restaurant where they do not expect to see someone who might be offended. This may seem risky but it also has a lot to do with the church you fellowship at. If the vast majority of your fellowship believe any drinking of alcohol is sin, this would seem a large risk not worth taking. Other churches are more tolerant and there may be little risk at all. This does explain why many pastors choose not to drink alcohol and many seminaries and Bible colleges require students, faculty and staff to sign statements promising not to drink while associated with the institution. Many of their constituents would not understand.
Using alcohol in food preparation is a different issue. If there is to be cooking involved, the alcohol from the beer, brandy or wine is boiled off by the time it gets to the dinner table (alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water). It's the flavor you're after. Various kinds of alcohol, depending on the recipe, add just the right flavor and no alcohol is consumed.
I see nothing in Scripture which forbids the drinking of any alcohol. There are plenty of warnings for over-indulging. Sometimes the decision of whether to drink at all needs to be based on the ability to resist the temptation to drink too much. Some people never really learn to just enjoy a glass of wine or a beer without adding two or three more. Such an individual is better off not drinking at all. (If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, Matt. 5:30.) And I do know of Christians who drink a little wine with certain meals because it actually does aid their digestion! This is not a myth. Some people have trouble digesting beef (a real uncomfortable feeling results) without some red wine. But the decision regarding a weaker brother or sister is one of individual conscience and the particular fellowship in which you reside.
I hope this helps.
About the Author
Raymond G. Bohlin is Vice President of Vision Outreach at Probe Ministries. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S., zoology), North Texas State University (M.S., population genetics), and the University of Texas at Dallas (M.S., Ph.D., molecular biology). He is the co-author of the book The Natural Limits to Biological Change, served as general editor of Creation, Evolution and Modern Science, co-author of Basic Questions on Genetics, Stem Cell Research and Cloning (The BioBasics Series), and has published numerous journal articles. Dr. Bohlin was named a Research Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture in 1997, 2000 and 2012.
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