Sense of Life. Articles in English. Can Christians drink alcohol?.
Welcome to the world of language jobs!
Portal for Language Professionals and their Clients.  39,000+ Freelance Translators.  7,000+ Translation Agencies.
Articles for translators and linguists - Can Christians drink alcohol?
Home More Articles About the Sense of Life Database of Translation Agencies Database of Translators Become a Member!


  Upload Your Resume
  Add Your Translation Agency
  Become a Member
  Edit Your Profile
  Find Translation Jobs
  Find Rare Translation Jobs
  Find Very Rare Language Jobs
  Find Jobs in Rarest Pairs
  Receive All Jobs by RSS
  Work for Translation Agencies
  Post Your Translation Job
  Hire Translators-Members
  Hire All Translators
  Easily Contact Translators
  Hire Translation Agencies Members
  Contact All Translation Agencies
  Obtain Blacklisted Employers
  Apply to Collection Agencies
  Read Articles (By Category)
  Read Articles (By Index)
  Read Sense-of-Life Articles
  Read Work-at-Home Articles
  Use Free Dictionaries
  Use Free Glossaries
  Use Free Translators
  Use Free Software
  Vote in Polls for Translators
  Subscribe to Free Newsletter
  Advertise Here
  Buy Database of Translators
  Buy Translation Agencies List
  Buy Membership
  Watch Out for Scam E-mails
  Read Testimonials
  Read More Testimonials
  Read Even More Testimonials
  Read Yet More Testimonials
  Read Still More Testimonials
  Become our Customer
  Use Resources for Translators
  Use Online Directory
  Read our FAQ
  Ask Questions in Forum
  Use Sitemap
  Admire God's Creations

Can Christians drink alcohol?

Some time ago a young single friend confided in me that she was looking for a godly man to marry. She wanted a husband who shared her Christian values, so she joined an online dating service and completed a profile with the attributes of the man of her dreams.

As I looked over her answers to the profile questions, I thought that she might have some misconceptions about what constituted a "godly" man. So I posed a hypothetical question to her: If Jesus were walking the earth today and he joined the same online dating service, would you want his profile to match yours? Of course, she said. So I went on to point out that the online profile she completed would exclude Jesus as a match. In particular, her answer to the question about how often her perfect match drank wine—"never"—presented an obstacle. She selected this response because she believed a godly man would not ever drink alcohol.

Jesus drank. In fact, he drank wine—the fermented kind, not grape juice, as some will claim—and apparently he drank a fair amount of it. More on that shortly, but first, let me point out that my friend is not alone in her thinking.

For example, Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist mega-church in Southern California (led by Pastor Rick Warren, author of the popular book The Purpose-Driven Life ) would apparently exclude Jesus as a staff member: The church's "Maturity-Leadership Requirements" ask that each staff member "commit willingly to refrain from . . . consuming alcohol."

Similarly, it seems that Mormons would not allow Jesus to enter their temples because perpetual abstinence from alcohol is required for entry. For that matter, some Christian denominations might even refuse Jesus membership in their churches.

So it seems that many believe that a godly man should never drink. Is this scriptural?

Did Jesus Drink?

Jesus apparently drank enough wine that he was accused of drinking to excess. In his own words he proclaimed, "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard'" (Luke 7:34). So Jesus was accused of being a drunk.

The Greek word translated as "drunkard" in the above passage is oinopotes , which means a winebibber, one who drinks much wine. In fact, the first part of the word comes from the Greek word for wine, oinos , which occurs several times in the New Testament.

Some claim that Jesus drank grape juice or must (unfermented wine). But then why accuse him of being a drunkard? Other scriptural passages where oinos is found clearly indicate that, indeed, fermented wine, not grape juice, is being discussed.

For example, consider "Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved" (Matthew 9:17; see also Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37-38). The old skins burst because the wine contains yeast—the catalyst of fermentation—which causes expansion.

Similarly, "no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good'" (Luke 5:39). Even in New Testament times it was known that wine gets better with age; grape juice does not.

Old Testament passages also discuss wine. Unless otherwise noted, these passages translate the word "wine" from the Hebrew word yayin , meaning fermented wine. The following passages show that, indeed, fermented wine is what is intended to be understood by this word:

  • Behold, my heart is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins, it is ready to burst (Job 32:19).
  • Wine and new wine take away the understanding (Hosea 4:11). Could grape juice do such a thing? Note that "new wine" is translated from the Hebrew word tiyrowsh which can also refer to unfermented wine (e.g., Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 14:23), but clearly it is not intended to be understood that way here.
  • Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth (Joel 1:5). Would drunkards care if grape juice was cut off from their mouths? "Sweet wine" is translated from the Hebrew word aciyc which can also refer to unfermented wine, but that is not intended here either.

Is Drinking a Sin?

Drinking wine—or other alcoholic beverages for that matter—is not, in itself, sinful. Let's look at a few scripture passages that support this claim. First, consider what happened at the wedding at Cana when the wine ran out:

Jesus said to [the servants], "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." (John 2:7-10)

Apparently Jesus was a pretty good vintner! The wine steward's comments seem to indicate that it was the usual practice to serve good wine until the guests drank enough that they either weren't picky about the quality of the wine they were drinking, or they simply could no longer tell the difference between good wine and not-so-good wine. Whichever the case, this story clearly indicates that Jesus approved of drinking wine.

So did Paul. We know this from his instructions to Timothy: "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (Paul's First Letter to Timothy 5:23). Interestingly, present-day research indicates that drinking wine has health benefits.

But the approval of drinking wine goes back further than New Testament times. Several passages from the Old Testament indicate that drinking has been acceptable for a long time:

  • Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more (Proverbs 31:6-7).
  • Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18).
  • [Jacob] brought [Isaac] wine, and he drank (Genesis 27:25).
  • [S]pend the money for whatever you desire, oxen, or sheep, or wine or strong drink . . . (Deuteronomy 14:26).
  • Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man . . . (Psalms 104:14-15).
  • Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do (Ecclesiastes 9:7).1
  • On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined (Isaiah 25:6). Note that the Hebrew word translated as "wine on the lees" here is shemer, indicating fermentation.

Israel's burnt offering requirements—required by God—included the use of wine, the leftover of which could be drunk by Aaron and his sons: "[A]nd with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a libation" (Exodus 29:40; see also Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5, 7, 10; 28:7, 14). Note that Numbers 28:7 uses the Hebrew word shekar , meaning "strong wine" (or other strong alcoholic drink).

What about Intoxication?

Clearly, God has always allowed his followers to drink. With that in mind, we can understand easily why the Catholic Church does not consider drinking, in itself, to be sinful. That said, the Church does caution against excessive drinking. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess : the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air" (CCC 2290, emphasis in original).

This teaching, too, is supported by Scripture. For example, Paul often warned against drunkenness:

  • Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness . . . (Paul's Letter to the Romans 13:13).
  • I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one (Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 5:11).
  • Neither . . . thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God (Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 6:9-10).
  • . . . envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Paul's Letter to the Galatians 5:21).
  • And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit (Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 5:18).
  • A bishop must be . . . no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money (Paul's First Letter to Timothy 3:2-3).
  • For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard . . . (Paul's Letter to Titus 1:7).

Peter taught similarly: "Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry" (Peter's First Letter 4:3). The Greek word translated in this passage as drunkenness is oinophlugia , also derived from oinos .

Again, such teaching was not new to Christianity—the Old Testament taught likewise:

  • Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).
  • Be not among winebibbers, or among gluttonous eaters of meat (Proverbs 23:20). Another Hebrew word, caba , translated as "drunkard" or "winebibber," is used in this passage.
  • Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening till wine inflames them! (Isaiah 5:11). "Strong drink" is translated from the Hebrew word shekar — this applies also to Isaiah 5:22.
  • Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink (Isaiah 5:22).

See also the story related in Proverbs 23, verses 29-35.

Should We Abstain?

So far we have seen from Scripture that drinking, in itself, is not sinful but excessive drinking is clearly warned against. But Scripture passages also indicate that there are circumstances in which one should not drink at all.

For example, when it would lead someone else into sin: "Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble" (Paul's Letter to the Romans 14:20-21). This seems clear enough—when you're with an alcoholic it is good to be careful not to tempt him to drink. But this doesn't mean you should never drink.

In the Old Testament, God forbids Aaron and his sons from drinking on occasion:

"Drink no wine nor strong drink, you nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations." (Leviticus 10:9)

We also find in the Old Testament a special sort of consecration to God through vows which included not drinking: "When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink . . ." (Numbers 6:2-3; cf. Judges 13:7). It is possible that John the Baptist took such vows—see Luke 7:33.

We can see, then, that if we take Scripture as our guide, then drinking, in itself, is not a sin, but we should not drink excessively. Cheers!

Jim Blackburn is a cradle Catholic who was born and raised in Illinois. After graduating from Southern Illinois University, Jim ran his own brokerage firm for twelve years. During that time, he studied Catholicism and other faiths, eventually becoming an apologist for Catholic Answers.

Re-published from in May 2014


Read sense of life articles in the following languages:
English Deutsch Polski Český Magyar Slovenský Română Български Українською Русский

Submit your article!

Read more articles - Free!

Need translation jobs? Click here!

Translation agencies are welcome to register here - Free!

Freelance translators are welcome to register here - Free!

Subscribe to newsletter - Free!

Take part in poll - your voice counts!

Please see some ads as well as other content from

Free Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter to receive updates from us:


New at the Forum

Read Articles

# 2488
Rosetta Stone and Translation Rates

# 2467
Translation - an Ageless Profession

# 2466
Have Language, Will Travel

# 2486
Почему так мало хороших переводов и хороших переводчиков?

# 2479
Average monthly wage in different European countries

# 2487
Two New Chinese Translations of Hamlet Introduced and Compared

# 2475
Linguistic history of the Indian subcontinent

# 2474
Languages with official status in India

# 2251
The Database: Your Most Valuable Asset!

More articles
More articles for translators

Vote in Polls

All Polls:
Polls on all topics

Christian Polls:
Polls on Christian topics

Financial Polls:
Polls on Financial topics

Polls for Freelancers:

Poll # 104
Have you obtained at least one new client through your facebook account?

Poll # 100
What is the worst time-waster?

Poll # 099
If you work at a laptop, do you usually use touchpad or mouse?

Poll # 094
If you run a translation agency, do you ever outsource / subcontract your projects to other translation agencies?

Poll # 090
What do you like the most about

Poll # 088
Which translation portal emails you the largest number of job notifications?

Poll # 087
Which one of the following sites has the most appealing color scheme?

Poll # 085
Do you charge a fine (interest) fee for every day of payment delay?

Poll # 083
Do you have licensed SDL Trados software installed at your computer?

Poll # 079
Have you always dreamt to become a translator?

Poll # 078
Do you plan to be a freelance translator for the rest of your life?

Poll # 077
Is it necessary to learn translation theory in order to become a good translator?

Poll # 076
Will human translation be entirely replaced by machine translation in the future?

Poll # 074
Do you have savings?

Poll # 065
Do you know that the Bible is the most popular book in the world?

Poll # 063
What is the purpose of your life?

Poll # 059
How many hours per night do you sleep (in average)?

More polls
More polls for freelancers

translation jobs
christianity portal


Copyright © 2003-2021 by
Legal Disclaimer
Site Map