Posted by: rmbrowning | July 25, 2010

A case for moderation – Part 2

The second part of this colossal brain fart deals with how one should deal with alcohol and Christianity.  It is not as relevant to those who are not part of the faith.

Throughout the Bible wine is mentioned hundreds of times in both the Old and New Testaments making it very commonplace.  Now in Christian circles alcohol is a substance of some contention with some people and religious groups advocating complete abstinence.  There are also those (particularly within recent generations) who seem to think that binge drinking is morally permissible.  I shall now provide a brief look at the Bible to provide a scriptural argument on how best to view alcohol.

Throughout the Bible wine is mentioned hundreds of times in both the Old and New Testaments making it very commonplace.  I do remember a total prohibitionist mentioning some years ago that only the negative instances refer to alcoholic drinks and other instances involve “new wine”.  I was somewhat confused by this at the time as the name of this grape juice has the word wine in it (which I take to mean it has been fermented) and being at a time before refrigeration any sugars are going to end up oxidised into ethanol anyway.  This idea seems to be further weakened by the fact that there does not seem to be any distinction made between alcoholic and non-alcoholic because the words used are the same.  In the Old Testament the Hebrew word yayin is used very commonly and in the New Testament the Greek word oinos is used.   As far as I know both are regarded positively and negatively within it’s respective testament, so can one really make a distinction?  Prohibitionists also tend to focus on verses that condemn drunkenness and ignore those that portray alcohol in a positive light.  Two examples of positive lights include Ecclesiastes 9:7 and 1 Timothy 5:23 (where Paul instructs Timothy to drink more wine as the unsanitary water of the time probably caused him stomach problems).

Now to our other group who seem oblivious to the fact that alcohol abuse is condemned in scripture which is more cut and dry.  Both the Old and New Testaments contain warnings against drunkenness.  Within the Bible we find that those who spend a great deal of time drinking find woe, sorrow and strife (Proverbs 23:29-30).  We also find that drunkenness is listed among acts of sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21 and Corinthians 6:9-1).  The apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  Jesus also warned his followers not to be drunk (Luke 21:34).  Clearly binge drinking is not supported at all.

In conclusion I believe that alcohol consumption is best done within strict moderation.  This is because moderate consumption promotes good health while heavy drinking is likely to cause health problems (don’t get me started on smoking).  Also Biblically drunkenness is condemned while alcohol itself is ok.  I have no problem with those who do abstain completely as long as you’re not trying to pass it off as Biblical idea or commandment from God.

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