The Bible Does Not Forbid Alcohol


Whenever Christians mention alcohol, there seems to be a race to cite 1 Corinthians 8:9. We all know Paul’s warning: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Although this verse was written in the context of eating food sacrificed to idols, it is often applied to the alcohol debate. Perhaps this application is fair. Whether it’s idol food, circumcision, smoking, or alcohol, no church leader wants to do anything that would hurt the body. However, I would argue that when it comes to alcohol, things have changed.

Drinking was once an affront in evangelical circles. The sight of a drinking Christian could have even unbelievers crying, “Hypocrite!” Those days are behind us. Now, it is often those who refuse to imbibe who are in danger of being a stumbling block.

Debates about alcohol use in the church always seemed silly to me. These were hills that I was not willing to fight on, let alone die on.  


Alcohol itself is not evil; it is drunkenness that Scripture condemns. And yes, serving alcohol in a church is sure to raise eyebrows and annoy more conservative church members. And precautions should be taken to keep alcohol away from young people and those struggling with alcoholism. But from what I’ve seen, alcohol bans in church circles are usually about appeasing traditional or even legalistic members. Yet what should be more important: the effect it has on a few traditional church members, or the potential it has to reach many outside the church? Which is more serious: causing a church member to stumble or causing a seeker to stumble?

Having beer and wine in the church isn’t about trying to “out-cool” culture. It’s about acknowledging that beer and wine are gifts, good things that have their place in the kingdom. It’s about showing we have discipline, and it’s about being open and honest with each other. But ultimately, it’s about making people welcome and getting them to engage with the church and the God who loves them. 

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