WARNING! A CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT
This is a hard subject for me to write about, because I want to be as faithful and true as possible to the correct interpretation of the Bible. I feel very uneasy but I did extensive research into this subject, and decided that honesty should be the only criteria for this study. I would just teach what the Bible teaches and let the stones fall where they may. Yes my findings may go against what many people have been taught, but my duty is not to what some people have taught or what seems to be right, but to what the truly Bible says. Whether people agree or disagree is not important, this is what is in the Bible.
Some brethren have been too eager to voice their opinions on this issue without doing some extensive research. While others have done some poor eigesis into the Bible (Eigesis, is the reading into the Bible one’s own opinions) We need to really abandon any prejudices and preconceived ideas and see what the Bible really says about wine, regardless of what any denomination believes or any preacher has taught.
I consider this teaching to be only a minor doctrine or point in the Bible, not a salvation issue. If I consider the wine in the Bible issue as not an important part of the Christian doctrine, why teach it and create divisions? As a teacher of God's word I have to teach the whole Bible, not just the parts and doctrines that are safe. I am not into the ministry to please men but God. I must teach what the Bible says even if I am not comfortable with it or even wish the conclusion was otherwise. If I did not teach the truth in all my subjects then I would be shirking my responsibility to teach the truth and nothing but the truth. So against my better judgment here I go.
THE MEN OF GOD
We first hear of wine in the Bible when after the flood, Noah makes some wine and gets drunk. Noah was indeed a righteous man, for God selected him. It is obvious that he knew how to make wine, and didn’t think it was evil to make it or to drink it. He took the time to plant a vineyard and the time to make wine, so he did not do this in a rash moment or in a moment of weakness.
Another time when we hear of a man of God drinking wine was when Lot escaped the destruction of Sodom. Granted that Lot was not perhaps the best example of a man of God, yet the Bible still considers him righteous. God sent Angels to save Lot from being destroyed, yet he got drunk in two consecutive nights so it is obvious that he did not consider drinking of wine a great evil otherwise he would not have done it twice.
Then we have Melchizedek the priest of the most high God, which brought bread and wine to Abraham. Isaac also drank wine, Jacob was blessed with corn and wine and he himself is known to have taken a few sips here and there, According to Josephus the reason that Jacob was deceived and took the wrong wife is that he was drinking and it was dark. As we can see from the Bible the patriarchs had no aversion to drinking wine.
Joseph was friendly with the cupbearer of Pharaoh and prophesied him a good interpretation of his dream.
Then we have a specific command to Aaron and his sons, they were to drink no wine or strong drink when going into the tabernacle of the congregation. This prohibition was only in force when Aaron and his sons were ministering in the temple but not during other times. The priests are later on rebuked for their excessive drinking, not for drinking, but for excessive drinking. There is a big difference in the prophets rebuking the priests for excessive drinking and rebuking them just for drinking.
King David and King Solomon had vineyards. And they gave presents of wine out of those vineyards. It was common for the kings of Israel to have their own vineyards. Jezebel went so far as to kill Naboth to get his vineyard for the wicked king Ahab.
Nehemiah for whom the Book of Nehemiah is named probably drunk wine every day. He was the king's cupbearer. This was an important job for in those times kings were afraid of being poisoned, so the cupbearer was among the most trusted people the king had. The job of a royal cupbearer was to taste the wine before the king drank it himself. This insured that the king would not be killed by a poison slipped into his drink by some adversary.
Esther the Queen made a banquet of wine where she petitioned for the lives of her people and also for the destruction of Haman. From this event comes the feast of Purim, which modern Jews celebrate with drinking.
Job was a perfect man according to God. We see that his sons celebrated their birthdays with feasts where wine was served. They were not killed because they were drinking wine. No judgment of their actions is implied when Satan killed them.
It is clear from these examples that these men of God had no compulsion against drinking wine. Of course sometimes they drank it in excess and that created some problems for them.
WINE IN THE LAW
Then we have wine in the Levitical commandments as being part of the offerings to God. From this we can see that offerings of wine were an acceptable present to God.
Then we have the vow of a Nazarite, when a person was under this vow they would not cut their hair neither would he be able to eat anything that came from the grape or strong drink. This was a special vow that did not apply to all Israelites. Once the vow was finished the Nazarite was allowed to cut his hair and drink wine. Jesus was not a Nazarite for he did drunk wine; some argue that it was grape juice, but a nazarite was prohibited from even eating anything that came from the grape vine.
The feasts of Israel included the drinking of wine. These were holy feasts ordered by God himself. During the feast of Purim many Jews consider it their obligation to get drunk on that day. Many rabbis not only encourage the drinking of wine on Purim but also themselves drink excessively on that day.
WINE IN THE LIFE OF ISRAEL
Before the Israelites entered into the land of Canaan, God promised them to give them a land rich with milk and honey. He also promised them vineyards and abundance of wine. God promised to bless and multiply their wine. Why would God promised to bless and multiply something that was evil?
In Deuteronomy 12:17 the Israelites were commanded to eat the first of the corn and the wine before the Lord in a celebration. Psalm 104 tells us that wine maketh glad the heart of man.
Reading through the whole Old Testament anyone can see that the people drunk wine in their feasts. And it was a common drink in those lands. The land had many vineyards and people gave presents of wine to each other. Wine was part of the regular Israelites lives.
NO PROHIBITION OF WINE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
There is no commandment prohibiting the drinking of wine anywhere in the Old Testament. If God had wanted to prohibit wine, he could have been specific about it and made a prohibition about it, but he never did. On the contrary he allowed people to drink wine and rejoice. You can search from Genesis to Malachi and you will find God prohibiting many things, but drinking of wine is not one of them. Wine is not even mentioned at all in the Ten Commandments, yet some people have made “you shall drink no wine” the eleven Commandment.
Even though the Old Testament never prohibits wine, it does have many warnings against the excessive drinking of wine. Isaiah 5:11 warns against the excessive drinking of wine. It continues in verse 5:22 against the drunkards. In verse 28:7 it upbraids the priests for their excessive drinking.
Some have taken some of these warning as prohibitions, but that is an incorrect position by reading the context of the warning. Warning against the abuse of something is not the same as prohibiting it. God warns us against the abuse of overeating but that is not the same as prohibiting us from eating. God warns us against oversleeping or laziness yet there is no commandment prohibiting us from sleeping or resting.
In the Law God himself was very specific about prohibiting many things like mixing clothes, or seeds. He gave hundredths of laws to Moses, many were prohibitions and punishments yet not once did he prohibit the drinking of wine to the Israelites.
SOLOMON A MAN OF WISDOM AND FOLLY.
King Solomon owned many vineyards, and he himself drank wine. Strangely enough he wrote most of scriptures that prohibitionists use to prohibit wine drinking yet he also encouraged the drinking of wine. King Solomon was not schizophrenic; he was just trying to give us a balanced view.
In proverbs 3:9, he tells us that if we honor God, God will bless us with plenty of wine
In Proverbs 9:1, Wisdom invites us to partake of her wine.
Proverbs 20:1 tell us, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” He is here defining the effects of drinking alcohol and warning against being deceive by it
Proverbs 21:17 he warns us that he that loves wine will not be rich.
Proverbs 23:29-35 tells the story of a drunkard.
Proverbs 31:4-7 discourages Kings and princess from drinking wine, and yet encourages the drinking of wine to those who are ready to perish or have a heavy heart.
In Ecclesiastes 2:2, Solomon tells us that he gave himself to wine.
In Ecclesiastes 9:7 he encourages the drinking of wine.
In Ecclesiastes 10:19 he then says that wine makes merry.
In the Song of Solomon 5:1 he encourages us to drink abundantly.
So in some places Solomon warns us against wine and yet in others he encourages us to drink it. Was Solomon a hypocrite or suffering from some split personality? Not really he was just given us wise advice about moderation in the drinking of wine. All those prohibitionists, who love to quote Solomon to prohibit drinking, are pretty selective in what they quote from his writings. They need to be reminded that they have to read all of Solomon writings about the subject, not just what is convenient for them.
After reading and studying all that Solomon wrote about wine it is clear to any honest reader that he was not against drinking wine, but against the excessive drinking of wine.
THE GRAPE JUICE THEORY
I have heard many arguments about how the wine in the Bible was actually grape juice. Well after I did some research into it, I discovered that this idea is wrong. Non-alcoholic grape juice was impossible until 1869, when Thomas Bramwell Welch created the process to pasteurized grape juice so that it stopped fermentation.
All the churches up to that time used real wine in their communion. There was no other option. It was not until Mr. Welch decided to experiment and create a non-alcoholic wine that the custom changed. Mr. Welch was against the drinking of alcohol that is the reason he invented grape juice that would not ferment. It took a long time before some churches switched to his grape juice.
Some have said that the term “yayin" means wine that is not fermented but more like molasses. That is incorrect for the term used in Noah is “yayin" and he did got drunk on it, so obviously it was alcoholic in content. This is a flagrant example of reading personal opinion and prejudice into the Scriptures.
Some have said that the term “oinos” used in the New Testament refers to non-alcoholic wine, but that is also incorrect. The story of the Samaritan shows us that he poured wine “Oinous” on the wounded man. It is reasonable to expect that it had enough alcoholic content to be used as an antiseptic, otherwise his gesture was meaningless.
The Bible never says anything about wine being anything other than wine. The Bible never makes a difference nor teaches that there were two kinds of wines. The Bible never says anything about this being a good wine and this other a bad wine. No such teaching or distinction exists in the Bible. It is an assumed distinction with no basis in reality.
The people who teach the grape juice theory have no proof. Even if the words ”Yayin” and “Oinos” did refereed to both wine and grape juice, the Bible never makes such a statement. It would be presumptuous in our part to say that in this verse the word wine means grape juice while in this other verse it means real wine. This is arbitrarily changing the meaning of a word in the Bible to conform to our expectations.
Since according to the Prohibitionists, the Bible always uses the same word for wine or grape juice, how can we tell the difference? Well according to them every good mention of the wine means grape juice and every bad mention of wine means wine; well that sure is convenient for them. Instead of taking it at face value, they twist the word of God to mean what they want it to mean.
Twisting the word is a sin, I do not care how well intentioned a person is. I would dare to say that twisting the word of God is a greater sin than taking a drink of wine. It is a perverse circular reasoning to say that all the good references in the Bible mean "grape juice", while all the bad references means it is “wine”. This method of dividing all positive mentions of the Bible and say it refers to “grape juice”, and then turn around and say all negative mentions refer to “wine” is arbitrary with no foundation whatsoever.
There are some references by Latin authors that some of the ancients had methods by which they could keep the wine from fermenting, But these only refers to other areas outside of Palestine. There is no proof of any kind that these methods (even if they existed) were widely known and employed in ancient Palestine.
Even if the Israelites did know how to make grape juice, there is no proof, nothing, zero, nada, that the Israelites made grape juice. There are conjectures and suppositions, but concrete proof is sorely lacking. Yet there are plenty of proofs that the Israelites did engage in wine making of the alcoholic kind. Many of the ancient wine presses remain to the present day. Some of those wine presses which are over 2,000 years old can actually be used today to make wine just like in biblical times.
The hot weather of the Palestine region prevents the conservation of grape juice in its natural state. The knowledge of conservation and germs was limited. The people had to drink wine mixed with water because of necessity.
The water was not clean and pure in those times. Animals died in the rivers and stayed upstream. People got many diseases from drinking contaminated water. So it is natural that people would drink juices and wines that were healthier. The wine was often mixed with water, so the alcoholic content in the wine would kill the germs and make the water safe to drink. Grape juice would not kill any germs and mixing water with grape juice would only contaminate the juice.
Even if some knew and were inclined to make some sort of grape juice, the biblical accounts clearly debunk this theory. A person can not get drunk on grape juice no matter how much he drinks. So all those stories of people getting drunk while drinking wine would not make sense if grape juice were the actual drink.
Noah obviously got drunk, so if he was drinking just grape juice then someone must have spiked it. The same goes for Lot and all the other incidents where wine is mentioned as making people drunk.
The grape juice theory proponents by now appear to have conclusively lost the argument because:
1. The particular word “yayin" is certainly used of fermented wine, as in Genesis 27:28, Hosea 4:11 and Micah 6:15
2. The Ugaritic parallel term was certainly used of real wine.
3. The Septuagint (the Old Testament translated into Greek) equivalent words always refer to fermented wine.
4. The Mishna provides no evidence that the Hebrews ever used unfermented wine.
Jesus was called a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. This clearly indicates that Jesus ate and drunk with the publicans and sinners. Now what would sinners drink? Would they drink grape juice? Jesus never tried to deny the accusation, but instead used the example of John the Baptist who was an ascetic. And he contrasted himself to him.
If Jesus was drinking grape juice, then what sort of accusation could the Pharisees make against him? It would be quite silly to cast an evil accusation if he was only drinking grape juice.
Some will say that the enemies of Jesus accused him of drinking wine, but that he never did. This is contradicted by none other than Jesus himself, when he made it clear that he was indeed different than John the Baptist. The words of Jesus are a clear affirmation from himself about his manner of living in Luke 7:33-34 “The Son of man is come eating and drinking.”
The contrast that Jesus made between himself and John the Baptist clearly shows that John came not eating and drinking. Of course we all know that John ate locusts and wild honey. Likewise when it says that John did not drink it obviously means wine. Jesus himself clearly and unapologetic did eat good food and enjoy good wine. The contrast would be meaningless if Jesus did not do the opposite of John the Baptist.
Prohibitionists, who try to deny that Jesus ever drank wine, have a very hard time with this text. For it makes absolutely no sense for Jesus to contrast the ascetic lifestyle of John of not eating and drinking wine, with his own if he did the same.
Jesus made mention of vineyards in his parables, so he was knowledgeable of the wine industry. He also understood that good wine tastes better with age. For he said that No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, the old is better.
Jesus often used wine in his teachings. If wine was an evil thing, then Jesus would have never used wine as an example in many of his parables. Mat 9:17 is one of the many examples.
The miracle of the wine at the wedding at Canaan has been a great obstacle to prohibitionists. Some say that Jesus created new grape juice. That new fresh grape juice was better than old wine, but this goes contrary to the story and the quality of wine. Jesus himself in Luke 5:39 tells us that old wine is better.
The master of the feast came and tasted the wine that Jesus made and even scolded the one that gave the feast for keeping the best “Older” wine for later. Any vintner will tell you that old wine is always better than the new one. And no vintner worth his salt will compare wine to grape juice. Everyone wanted to impress the guests and they brought the best wine out first and then after the guests were a little drunk then they brought out the cheap stuff, and the new wine is usually the cheap stuff.
Prohibitionists have tried every kind of argument and reasoning to get around this story, yet they have never been able to refute the fact that it was real wine. One well intentioned but silly prohibitionist lady got mad about this and said that when she got to heaven she would scold Jesus for making this wine.
THE LAWS OF FERMENTATION
Some people who are ignorant of the laws of fermentation have believed the theory that the wine of Jesus time was grape Juice but the whole context of the scriptures plus the laws of fermentation disprove such ideas. Let us deal with the Laws of fermentation.
Jesus said that new wine could not be contained in old bottles for the new wine would break the bottles. This goes to show that he clearly was speaking of wine and not grape juice. Jesus clearly understood that the process of fermentation would break the old bottles.
When I was a young man, I read about wine making and it didn’t seem that hard so I tried making wine myself, I got a glass jar and put a whole bunch of crushed grapes in it; I made a couple of tiny holes in the top of the cap and left it there for many days. Well if you know a little more than what I did about wine making, you can guess what happened. The glass jar was broken and my room stunk of fermentation for weeks. I sure got a lesson on fermentation that I never forgot.
After the grapes are crushed the fermentation in wines begins immediately because the yeast is a single-cell organism that is naturally present on the surface of grapes.
Grapes have wild yeast, bacteria and mold, and when the grapes are crushed; all of these organisms enter the fermentation process. If left to its own devices must or juice will begin fermenting naturally within 6-12 hours with the aid of wild yeasts in the air. In very clean, well-established wineries and vineyards this natural fermentation is a welcomed phenomenon.
This new wine was put into leather “bottles” and the fermentation process would produce carbon dioxide gas, which would stretch those skin bottles. Anyone who used old skin bottles would be stretching the old bottle beyond their capacity for stretching and the bottles would break.
THE APOSTLES TEACHING ABOUT WINE
When the apostles on the day of Pentecost were accused of being drunk Peter did not retort with “We the Apostles do not drink” instead he explain to the people that it was only the third hour of the day, 9 am in the morning. What kind of defense is that against the accusation of being drunk? A very good one, because a Jew would not start drinking that early in the day.
Later on Paul said in Romans 14:21, it is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. This clearly indicates that if a weak brother stumbles or is offended by our drinking then we should not drink in his presence. It does not say that we must never eat flesh or never drink wine; it only says that we should abstain in the presence of a weak brother. This is an allowance to the weak brother not a total prohibition on eating meat or drinking wine when that weak brother is not present.
In Ephesians 5:18 it tell us not to be filled with wine to excess. The fact that he used the excess qualifier clearly indicated that he was not against the drinking of wine only the excess. In other words don’t over do it.
One of the qualifications of a deacon is that he must not be given to much wine. He is not asked to be a person who never drinks, only one who does not drink much wine. (1 Timothy 3:8) If any drinking was a sin then Paul would have asked them to be teetotalers, otherwise is like saying a deacon should be someone who is not given to much adultery. Hey adultery is a sin no matter how much or how little it is committed.
When Paul advises timothy to drink a little wine for his infirmities he does because he recognizes the curative powers of wine. Some have tried to excuse this because the wine was used as a medicine; if something is sin, then it is sin, stealing would be wrong even if I am in my death bed. Other have tried to excuse it by emphasizing the word little, well it is like saying you can be a little pregnant. There is no such thing as a little sin, if drinking is sin, then it does not matter how little one drinks, even one drop would be a sin. It is amazing all the twisting of the word of God some will do to avoid the fact that Paul himself advices Timothy to drink a little wine.
If drinking any alcohol at all is wrong, then a lot of Christians are sinning when they take medications for many of those medications contain alcohol. Sin is sin; even a small single drop of alcohol is a sin. Any preacher who preaches total abstinence then must also include a prohibition on medication which contains alcohol, no excuses and no exceptions.
In I Corinthians 11:21 Paul reproaches the church members for being drunk when they get together in the church and then asks them if they do not have houses where they can drink. His point of contention was not the drinking but the getting drunk in the church, his telling them they have houses where to drink clearly indicates that he did not mind if they drunk at home, but he is not happy with them getting drunk in the church.
DRINKING OF WINE IS NOT PROHIBITED IN THE BIBLE
All those who selectively quote parts of the Bible to prove their point need to become a little more honest and take the totality of the teaching of the Bible concerning the subject not just what agrees with their teaching. They take verses which warn us against the excess of drinking wine and they transform them into blanket prohibitions.
Well despite their biased twisting of the word of God any honest reader of the Bible will clearly understand that the drinking of wine is not prohibited anywhere in the Bible only excessive drinking is prohibited. It is only the preconceptions and assumptions of some men that have created this idea of believing the Bible prohibits any drinking wine.
You can search from Genesis all the way to Revelation and you will find plenty of prohibitions of many things, but never do you find a single prohibition against drinking wine. The grape juice theory has already been debunked and even if it were true, the Bible never makes such distinctions.
One verse that clearly indicates that the ancient Israelites drunk real wine with alcohol is Deuteronomy 14:26 'Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink ('strong drink' KJV), or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice' (NIV)
This is a commandant from God clearly authorizing a celebration where wine and even stronger drinks were allowed. How could the wise God give such a commandment, doesn’t God know any better than to command people to drink a strong drink?
I am glad that the NIV has here restored the sense of the original Hebrew from the KJV (which the NKJV had lost), 'strong drink', or, 'fermented drink'. This word is 'shekar' which in Hebrew means 'intensely alcoholic drink'; Hebrew word number 7941 in Strongs. It was a spirit drink probably something like Rum or Whisky and almost certainly made from dates; it was extremely strong! The Israelites were encouraged to drink wine or 'strong drink' when they feasted before the Lord (This is in complete contrast to the idea that some Christians teach that it is only acceptable to drink alcohol for 'medicinal purposes' but never for enjoyment!)
THE JEWS TEACHING ABOUT WINE
The Talmudic rabbis cited Psalms 104:15 to explain why their ancient predecessors instituted a cup of wine to accompany various joyful prayers, declaring, "One says religious songs of praise only over wine" (Brakhot 35a).
The Mishna, in the treatise on the Passover, informs us that four cups of wine were poured out and blessed, and drunk by each of the company. This occurred at the eating of the Paschal lamb, and that water was also mixed with the wine, because it was considered too strong to be drunk alone (Pesachiz, 7:13; 10:1). Their wine was very strong, and not fit for drinking without being mixed with water." The Gemara adds, "The cup of blessing is not to be blessed until it is mixed with water;"
According to Rabbi Eliezer Finkelman, classical Judaism treated temperate drinking with approval, yet it demanded abstinence when the priests were to undertake the solemn tasks of performing the Temple ritual, ruling on Jewish law and of saying prayers.
According to Jewish week, Alcohol is a key ingredient in Jewish life and rituals. Wine is used for every type of simcha imaginable. We drink it every Friday night, at every wedding, bar and bat mitzvah and brit milah. Wine makes people happy. It tells us in Tehillim, “Wine gladdens the hearts of men.” It loosens people up and lets them celebrate more easily with friends and family. The Gemara even says, “Ain simcha elah basar veyayin” — There is no happiness in a simcha unless there is meat and wine present. Even as far back as the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, wine libations were an essential part of sacrificial services.
But for every place that says that wine is good and needed for simcha, there are also places in Tanach and other teachings that tell us that wine is bad if used excessively or in the wrong context. In Brachot, it tells us that saying the Amida while drunk is akin to serving idols. It’s against halacha to drink to the extreme. There are many comments and guidelines that forbid us from becoming too drunk and harming our own bodies.
THE HISTORY OF WINE IN THE CHURCH
The early Christians always used wine following the biblical example. This continued for hundreds of years.
A few of the church fathers preached against drunkenness while at other times they actually encourage the drinking of wine, no they were not being hypocritical, instead they were stressing moderation in the drinking of wine. Many of them were quite explicit that they were indeed teaching moderation in drinking, not prohibition.
The excess of the priests, cardinals and popes are well recorded in history. The priests of Rome were certainly not known for their moderation. Some Popes were out and out drunkards. And many of the priests continue this tradition of drunkenness till the present day. I personally can vouch for that.
The Churches of the Protestant Reformation were universally tolerant of drinking. This was unwittingly attested to by Erasmus of Rotterdam, who although remaining loyal to Rome, yet when rebuked for drinking Pommard on a fast day, said, "My heart is Catholic, but my stomach is Protestant." He was neutral to the Reformation, but he was not neutral about wine.
Calvin thundered against drunkenness yet he himself used to drink wine. Calvin got barrels of wine as part of his salary. Calvin was no friend of the drunkard, yet he warned against making the peril of drunkenness "a pretext for a new cult based upon abstinence."
Luther was another preacher who lashed against drunkenness from the pulpit. Yet Luther in his letters to his wife asked her to send him some of the wine that she brewed. When Luther went to the diet of Worms he brought a tankard of German beer. He advised depressed students to drink some wine to cheer up.
Luther told those who would destroy wine. “Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and the stars have been worshipped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? … See how much He has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.”
John Knox, the colossus of the Scottish Reformation, one time ordered a fresh hogshead of wine to be drawn. A hogshead was no pittance. It measured about fifty-one gallons. Knox even lamented that because of the imminence of his death that he would probably not be present to finish the hogshead.
Many of the other reformers like the great Swiss Ulrich Zwingli, Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus were also fond of wine. They saw no conflict or hypocrisy in their preaching against drunkards while they themselves took a few sips.
Tolerance toward drinking continued until the rise of the Puritans in England.
THE RISE AND FALL OF PROHIBITION
The Puritans observed the misuse of wine and alcohol and started to wonder whether Christians should ever take alcoholic beverages, nevertheless many Christians undoubtedly continued to drink alcohol, though strictly in moderation.
A more organized anti-alcohol stance emerged with John Wesley in the 18th century and the new rigorist Methodism which followed Wesley started to outlaw the use of alcohol among Methodists.
The Methodist influence spread to most fundamentalist chapel-goers, Baptist and others groups. The Salvation Army (which emerged from Methodism) was probably the most anti-alcohol Christian movement of all.
William Booth was only too happy to re-affirm Methodism's drinking ban for members when he observed - at first hand - the dreadful suffering involved in much of the alcoholism of London's infamous East End.
Apparently Booth completely lost sight of the fact that all of God's blessings to Mankind (food, prosperity, sexual love etc) can be abused where sinful lifestyles predominate. He had at his fingertips a book, the Holy Bible, which while certainly warning against drunkenness, continually paints wine in a very positive color.
The temperance movement, which at first accepted drinking of alcohol in moderation, hardened into absolute intolerance. Their power was such that they were able to pass prohibition in many cities and counties, and eventually states. At the peak of their power they enacted prohibition in America.
Prohibition lasted from 1920-33, and it failed miserably for it only made people drink even more. Prohibition was a total failure that eventually had to be scrapped from our nation laws.
After the repeal of prohibition the power of the prohibitionists waned. The decline of prohibitionism was reflected in the number of their members who started to take up wine. Even among churches who had firm laws against drinking those laws were ignored by many of the members. Some churches finally had to accept reality and soften their laws from absolute prohibition to banning the excess of wine drinking.
Nowadays prohibitionists are a minority who wield little power in most churches. They are still preaching against any drinking of wine. Yet the numbers of people who absolutely abstain and obey their mandates are few.
I have no doubt that many Christians sincerely believe that drinking any wine is wrong, and I do not question their sincerity, but when studying the Bible we must take into account all that the Bible teaches on a subject not just a few selected texts.
WHY THIS STUDY?
Many years ago, when I first begun studying this subject, I was in the camp of non-drinkers. I had been taught that it was wrong to drink even a sip of wine. I read all the imprecations and thundering denunciations even against moderate drinking. Well I read many books against wine and those who taught wine was actually grape juice. I knew all the arguments against drinking any wine, but I eventually realized that those words just generated a lot of heat, but no illumination.
I then decided to search thoroughly the Bible up and down. Finally after I did much research on this I subject, in the Bible, I looked at every single scripture dealing with wine, yes I read all of them and then I realized that I had been taught wrong. The Bible overall taught me that there was nothing wrong with moderate drinking. When the subject came up I kept silence and listened, hoping to learn something that would help me understand better this issue and have a clear understanding. Yet even after I knew this teaching was incorrect, I still did not drink for many years for fear of offending my weaker brethren.
After many years passed I decided to do this study. I started by reviewing what I had learned and adding new material as I saw needed. I welcome anyone to do as much honest research and listen to both sides and come up with their own belief on this topic. If you have something to contribute or disagree with me I am quite willing to hear it, but I am more interested in facts, than opinions or ideas. If you intend to launch attacks and imprecations upon me, please save your breath I already know them. I lived in the prohibitionist camp for many years; I have heard all the usual rants and probably uttered some of them myself.
PROHIBITION AGAINST WINE
Some will say that they prohibit wine out of good intentions. Well how can I put it gently? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Yes there are many good intentioned people who want to prohibit wine. Entire denominations are against wine because of the harm done by its abuse, but they will have to do it without using the Bible. They cannot twist the word of God to teach what it doesn’t teach. That is outright lying. They will have to be honest and teach their members that their prohibition of wine does not come from the Bible but from their own ideas or beliefs.
If a person wants to abstain totally from drinking wine, I say go for it. You have my full support, I applaud you and will encourage you; just don’t expect me to twist the scriptures to conform to your personal conviction. I will no twist the scriptures about what God commands, even for a good cause.
I will give my full moral support to anyone who decides to quit drinking or decides never to drink, but never will I say that the Bible prohibits people from drinking, for then I would be lying. I do not subscribe to the Catholic doctrine that it is acceptable to lie in the name of a good cause. Two wrongs don’t make one right.
Some prohibitionists will say that I must be a carnal Christian, that maybe I am not even saved. Others will say that my research must be faulty. Some will say that I am encouraging drunkenness. Others may say that I must be in the pockets of the wine industry. And of course there are those who will probably accuse me of being an obstinate drunkard.
First of all I want to make this perfectly clear.
I am saved by the blood of Jesus Christ; I was baptized in his holy name and received his precious spirit, and yes I am a spiritual Christian living in holiness and fear of God and keeping his commandments. If you judge me otherwise you will have to take it up with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I simply refuse to accept your personal condemnation.
I am a man of God, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a preacher of righteousness just like Noah was. If others do not believe this it does not affect me in the least. As a teacher of the Bible, I have to teach what the Bible says. If this goes contrary to what some believe or what a denomination teaches, well then one of us is wrong.
I have clearly stated the facts; any attacks on my character will not change any of the facts. Some may call me carnal or any other names they may wish to heap upon me. It doesn’t make any difference. The truth is the truth regardless of its popularity, tradition, offensiveness, political correctness or the character of the messenger.
DOES THIS STUDY ENCOURAGE DRINKING?
First of all I want to say that I did not make this study to encourage drinking, I made this study to find the truth of the Bible; not encourage anyone to drink. I would much rather prefer that people stay away from wine, but that is personal decision and a matter of Christian freedom. I do not condemn any Christian who drinks; he is even welcomed to drink in my presence for I am not a weak brother. He is my brother as long as his drinking is not out of control.
I get no money from the wine industry; I don’t even know any of them. I don’t even know anyone who works for the wine industry. If my research is wrong then go ahead and send me your research proving that I am wrong.
I am not a drunk; I have not been in rehabilitation or had any tickets for driving under the influence. If I was a drunkard, I would be unable to think soberly and right and I could not write this clearly if my mind was affected by alcohol.
WHY I QUIT THE CAMP OF THE PROHIBITONISTS
Like I previously said I was convinced for many years that drinking in moderation was not prohibited in the Bible, yet for the sake of others and to avoid confrontations, I went along and avoided drinking for many years even after I understood the correct teaching regarding wine.
After those years passed I then realized that I was never going to be able to please every Pharisee in the church. “The tyranny of the weaker brother” has been used as a club in the church to punish and hit anyone who dares to do things which are not sin, but are outside the approved list of the Pharisees.
So yes I did begun to drink, and despite all the propaganda of the prohibitionist, no I did not became a raging drunken fool, For the information of those who want to know, not that I have to justify myself to anyone, only to God, I sometimes drink on New Year’s eve a cup of champagne, but I rarely drink at other times, I have frequently gone for many months without drinking any wine, for I see no need to do it.
I will not drink in the presence of weak brethren not because I agree with them but out of respect for their weakness, so no one should consider me hypocritical for I am being quite upfront about it. However the weaker brethren better not try to impose on me their weakness, for I simply refuse to join them in their weakness.
BEWARE THOSE WHO WOULD JUDGE
If my drinking of alcohol once a year or on an occasional festivity makes me a drunkard in your denomination or in your eyes, then you have a problem. I do not seek your approval or your judgment, just like Christ did not seek the approval or the judgment of the Pharisees. You are free to go around and tell everyone that I am a drunkard and a friend of sinners. I therefore do not let anyone judge me by what I eat or drink. (Colossians 2:16) Before you judge me for once in a blue moon indulging in a cup of wine, go and read Romans 14:10 “But why dost thou judge thy brother?”
It has been many years since I wrote this article and yet in all that time I have not become the drunk living in the gutter that is pictured in the propaganda of the prohibitionists. I have gone long periods of time without a single drop of wine. From this I have learned that anything can be addictive if indulged too much. But not if done occasionally and with restraint.
I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” My master is Jesus Christ and I stand or fall before him. He is able to make me stand even if I have a couple of cups of wine in me.
Some may ask me; if I seldom drink anything for months, or even years why not just abstain totally? Because there is nothing wrong with having an occasional glass of wine to celebrate an occasion. There is no sin at all in that action. I do not drink because I do not feel the need to drink, but if I am at a wedding or festivity I have no problem grabbing a cup. Even if I took to more frequent use of wine, there still would not be anything wrong with it. It would only be wrong if I had to have a drink every day in order to function normally. If a person needs a daily drink, then that person most likely has a drinking problem.
If I seldom drink at all, why not just keep that a secret, for after all who would know if would sneak a cup once in a long while? After all some preachers drink in secret when they are sure no one is watching. Well I simply refuse to be hypocritical about it, sneaking around would mean that I have something evil to hide, but I have absolutely nothing to hide. I am not committing a crime before men or God that I should have to hide.
Shouldn’t I as a preacher set up a higher standard of living and don’t drink at all? Jesus is the highest standard possible of holy living and he drunk wine, not grape juice. Would not drinking wine somehow make anyone superior to him? Would not drinking make me better than Jesus? Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler and so was Pancho Villa; some gangsters like Mickey Cohen and others were also teetotalers. Being a teetotaler does not make a person a saint.
I am not to follow the example of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ? Well Jesus drunk wine and ate with sinners. So why should I be condemned for following the example of Jesus my Lord? Come on seriously, if we are going to condemn people for drinking then we would have to start with our leader, Jesus Christ and then go on down condemning Noah, David and many more of our biblical heroes of faith.
Why not just stick with the grape juice and keep the peace? Because our Lord has instituted wine and not grape juice. If peace at this juncture is more important than obedience to God's truth, then why baptize in Jesus name? Since there is so much debate over baptism in the name of Jesus then we apostolics should just quit baptizing in the name of Jesus just to keep the peace. Well I am going to keep on preaching baptism in the name of Jesus even if it destroys the peace and I am going to insist that wine is real wine even if it destroys the peace of some.
BEWARE YOU THUNDERING PROHIBITIONISTS
To those who thunder and rain judgement on people who drink moderately, I would caution that your self-righteousness does not bode well for you. You will one-day face God and then you will have to explain why you prohibited something that he never did in his holy Bible?
When you say that anyone who drinks even a little is a drunkard, you just passed judgement upon Noah, the old biblical patriarchs, many other holy men of God and even on Jesus himself. You have just joined the crowd of Pharisees who misjudged Jesus. By what authority or right did you took it upon yourself to be a judge?
The only times when a Christian minister should definitely not drink is when the days he has to go before the congregation and lead them in worship. Just like the priests were forbidden to drink when they were doing service in the tabernacle, likewise no minister of the gospel should taste any alcohol on that solemn day.
The only time that wine may be used in the church is when there is a memorial service unto the Lord and the cup of communion is used. A small amount of wine should be served for the adults and grape juice for the children. Of course alcoholics and people who have problems with alcohol should take the grape juice instead of the wine.
THE ANSWER IS MODERATION
The Bible has always warned about drinking in excess and it clearly disapproves of drunkenness. Yet the Bible has always taught moderation. The problem has never been the wine, but the person. There are people who have no moderation to eating or drinking.
Gluttony is wrong, yet we do not prohibit people from eating, we just warn them about overeating. Greed is wrong, yet we do not prohibit people from having money. Excessive sunlight causes cancer, yet we do not prohibit people from going into the sun. It is all a matter of moderation.
What is moderation in drinking? After all everyone is different and what makes one person drunk doesn’t necessarily affects equally another. Well the point is not to drink to the border of intoxication, the point is to eat a good meal and then relax with a good cup of wine. Just one cup to wash down the food should be enough.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommended one drink a day for women and two a day for men. Some American doctors think that this is too generous and instead recommend a more conservative 1 glass of wine a day.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that women have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two drinks per day.
Two Canadian doctors, Dr. Lipp and Dr. Whiten recommended in 1994 that every adult in North America drank 2 glasses of wine a day and no more.
The Europeans are even more generous and advice 3 glasses a day. But of course they have a long history of wine drinking. So they early on develop a tolerance for it.
The general consensus from all the doctors and medical groups is that 2 glasses in a day at most is considered moderation. This amount reaps the health benefits of wine, without getting the bad side effects.
A glass of wine is 5 ounces. Table wine usually has an alcohol content between 8 – 14%. In the U.S., if the wine is designated as a “Table Wine” on the label, it must have less than 14% alcohol by volume. Low alcohol wines have 7% alcohol.
My recommendation to those Christian brethren, who don’t have a conviction against drinking, is that you limit yourself to just 1 glass of low alcohol wine at lunch or at dinner. And please do not drink in front of those church brethren who are weak and are offended by your drinking, but you should feel free to drink at home and do not let anyone send you on a guilt trip.
And no you can not save all your drinks for the weekend. Your body is not made for overindulgence. If your drink 7 cups of wine at one time it will make you drunk and you will certainly be in sin.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WINE
There have been over 50 research articles from universities indicating health benefits from wine. They all have basically concluded that wine drinking in moderation is good for the human body.
Wine in moderation can lower the risk of heart disease and dementia. There appears to be some evidence alcohol with a meal may lower your risk of food poisoning, and ulcer-causing bacteria is reduced.
Wine reduces the risk of kidney stones in women by 59% and men by 39%. In comparison to tea, coffee, fruit juices, milk or even water.
Men who are ‘moderate’ drinkers -- between 5 to 10 drinks per week -- have a lower risk for adult-onset diabetes than either abstainers or heavy drinkers,
Findings over a five year period conclusively proved that wine has anti-aging properties
In low dosages it causes mild euphoria, sociability, talkativeness, increases self-confidence; decreased inhibitions and relieves stress.
EATING AND DRINKING
Eating and drinking are usually mentioned together and that is the way most ancients drunk their wine. The ancients were not people who drank wine at the drop of a hat. Most of them only drunk wine after a good meal, and usually their wine was mixed with water.
Food taken along with wine results in a lower, delayed blood alcohol concentration peak (the point of greatest intoxication).
There are two major factors involved in this phenomenon.
First, because alcohol is absorbed most efficiently in the small intestine, the ingestion of food can slow down the absorption of alcohol into one's system. The pyloric valve at the bottom of the stomach will close in order to hold food in the stomach for digestion and thus keep the alcohol from reaching the small intestine. While alcohol will be absorbed from the stomach it is a slower and less efficient transition.
Second and equally important is the fact that alcohol elimination rates are inversely proportional to alcohol concentration in the blood. Therefore the suppressed levels of alcohol due to food ingestion cause the body to eliminate the alcohol that is absorbed at a faster rate.
The larger the meal and closer in time between eating and drinking, the greater the diminution of peak alcohol concentration. Studies have shown reductions in peak alcohol concentration (as opposed to those of a fasting individual under otherwise similar circumstances) of 9% to 23%.
OTHER BENEFITS OF ALCOHOL
Alcohol is a natural antiseptic that has been used in the medical field for over 100 years because it kills germs in seconds, without water, and evaporates quickly, leaving no residue on the skin. It physically destroys the germs. The use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers has been shown to reduce illness and absence rates in places where germs are commonly spread, such as in schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of alcohol or alcohol based products in hospitals, home, work, and schools to stop the spread of germs.
WINE IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
Excessive drinking will nullify any health benefits and even worsen some medical conditions. Excessive drinking will lead to alcoholism and moral decay. When a person becomes dependent upon alcohol in order to function he clearly has a problem. Excessive drinking will impair judgement and lead to making bad decisions.
Alcoholism is a problem, it is a serious problem. It causes many accidents and untold suffering. Men spend their money on drinking instead of their families, and it has caused many tragedies. So yes alcoholism is a very bad thing.
DRUNKENESS IS CLEARLY PROHIBITED
Some will ask “Is drunkenness prohibited in the Bible?” Yes it its, the Bible clearly tells us that no drunkard will enter into heaven. 1 Corinthians 6:10.
If drunkenness is prohibited in the Bible, then why does the Bible allows the drinking of wine? Well God never felt that it was necessary to prohibit wine. Not only that but on some festivities he even encouraged the drinking of wine. So I guess self-control is the issue and that is one of the fruits of the spirit.
I wish all preachers would just quit twisting the scriptures and just take them at face value. Yes I agree with them that drunkenness is wrong and a sin, but I can never agree to make the bible say something it does not say. I will not lie, not even for a higher purpose; the Bible is clear, God has never prohibited the drinking of wine and that is the Bible truth, no matter how much some prohibitionists wish it wasn’t.
Dear brethren do not take the Bible or this study as advocating drunkenness, for it does not. Hear this and hear it well. Just because the Bible does not prohibit drinking you can not use it as an excuse to get drunk as a skunk. I really do not care if you call me a hypocrite because I also drink. (Yes I am preacher of the gospel who drinks; but not often, nor excessively) You are without excuses for your drunkenness; you can not hide under any chapter or verse for that despicable abuse of God’s gift of wine.
If you have a problem with alcohol then you should not drink wine or anything with alcohol in it. If you are a recovering alcoholic then you need to stay away from anything that has alcohol.
Some of the problems with drinking wine excessively.
A. It makes you think foolishly (Mind)
B. It makes you talk foolishly (Words)
C. It makes you act foolishly (Actions)