You may already have your own opinion on drinking and drunkenness, biblical or not. You might have read a blog, book, or article on the topic before - there’s plenty out there. Whatever the case as a team we wanted to share some of our thoughts with you.
What’s important to clarify at the beginning of this is the difference between drinking and drunkenness. This difference between having a drink and getting drunk is important in the bible as well. Nowhere does the bible say ‘Do not drink’, but it definitely warns about drunkenness.
Ephesians 5:18 is a clear example of this teaching,
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (NIV)
Having a drink at a social occasion, a celebration, or just at the pub with your mates is not a problem. In fact, we can break down stereotypes by having a drink with at the pub - “You can drink? Is that allowed?” The classic story of Jesus at the Wedding in Cana (John 2:1-10) shows how important alcohol & celebrating were in culture. This is often used to justify a drinking lifestyle, but what does the bible really say?
What we think God is speaking about on drinking in the Bible is more about our character when we do drink. We’d love for the bible to give us a limit, like Jesus saying ‘3 pints is allowed, but no more’. Instead God gives us a reason for not being drunk, and it’s about knowing THE why and OUR why.
It’s not the outward appearance of ‘good behaviour’ or ‘bad behaviour’, but about our internal and spiritual relationship with God in those moments and decisions.
1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NIV)
When we drink to excess we can often become a different person when we ‘lose’ our inhibitions. It’s easy to see this as a good thing, gaining confidence etc.
In our drunkenness we can ignore God and find our satisfaction and self-worth in more selfish and worldly reasons. THE why is that it’s simply not God’s best for us to be drunk.
Understanding ‘our why’ is different. It’s hearing the still small voice of God in the midst of it all. Ephesians 5:18 (mentioned above) puts this differently in the Message version,
“Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs.”
‘Why am I out tonight?’ Is it to get attention? To be a Lad? This list goes on … If it’s to have some fun and connect with friends - great! - that’s okay. James Brown said in our office, “Fun: don’t be shy, just don’t forget why.”
It’s hard to let God have control and wisdom over our lives when alcohol is a need or priority. We all take missteps, honestly, but we should be striving to live for God in and after those mistakes - that’s the power of God healing love and forgiveness.
This post in not meant to be about ‘rules’ or ‘law’, because that doesn’t help anybody - knowing what we should do doesn't make it happen. Rules don’t help us to feel free, rather it’s God’s grace. Many of us have been in that position; struggling to act any differently because we couldn’t understand why we were doing it in the first place.
The other week we were at the Uni of Sheffield Halloween Party, not as clubbers, but giving out water and chatting to people as they went past. One girl said to me, “Do you hate us because we’re drinking?” My answer: “Of course not, I like a drink too sometimes.”
There’s no condemnation in Christ. When we are in relationship with Him, He is transforming us all from glory to glory.
Things to think about:
Why do you drink? Is it essential to a good time?
How do you react to a friend getting drunk? What if they're a Christian? Is it an excitement that they get drunk too? Or anger and judgement?
Do you feel like your the same person on a Saturday night as you are on a Sunday in church?