The world tells us to drink responsibly: Don’t drink and drive and don’t let anyone younger than 21 purchase or consume alcohol. But for the Christian, handling alcohol properly goes beyond drinking and driving and being a certain age. We have to consider the spiritual implications for ourselves and others:
1) Being sober enables us to do what God wants. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). When you’re drunk with wine or any intoxicating drink, you’re under its power. Christians should always be under the power of the Holy Spirit so we can a) clearly hear from God; b) understand proper actions; and 3) have the strength to do what we have heard and know to be right. If you don’t do what’s right, you bring judgment upon yourself (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). And what good is being a Christian if you aren’t able to follow God’s commandments?
2) Not drinking helps others to do what God commands. “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romans 14:21). Though we have freedom as Christians to consume fermented drinks, we are told that everything we do is not helpful (1 Corinthians 6:12). So if drinking in front of others causes them to disrespect you, misunderstand Christianity or drink more than they should, you should not drink. And if you do drink, you’ll have to be so much on the down low that they won’t find out because whether you drink in their presence is really not the issue. It’s just knowing that you drink that may cause them to make improper judgments. For me, being a down low drinker is not worth the hassle. I’ve just given up drinking altogether.
So can a Christian drink alcohol? Yes. Should a Christian drink alcohol? No, if 1) you will get drunk; 2) you want or need alcohol to control you; or 3) doing so causes others to make improper judgments about you, Christianity and how they can relate to alcohol. Truly, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, not just for physical safety but also for spiritual guidance, understanding and protection. This is a big job, but we are called and equipped to do it.
Copyright 2009 by Rhonda J. Smith