What does the Bible say about the evil effects of alcoholism?
Rev. J. Thungjamo Lotha
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]y former paper titled, “Why the NLTP Act & How is it a failure?” was an analytical approach. Today I would like to address the issue directly from the Bible. An extremely important question that demands our attention is, Why does the Bible warn against the use of alcohol or intoxicating drink? There are 75 Bible verses that warn against the use of alcohol. Here are some of them.
1. Genesis 9:20-26 – How shameful it was for Ham to see his father-Noah naked when his father became drunk.
2. Genesis 19:30-38 – Lot was so drunk that he did not know what he was doing; this drunkenness led him to immorality.
3. Leviticus 10:8-11 – “And the Lord said to Aaron, you and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come…..”
4. Numbers 6:3 – Through Moses, the Lord warned the people Israel to abstain from wine and other fermented drink.”
5. Deuteronomy 21:20 – “…This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard. Then all the men of his town will stone him to death.”6. Deuteronomy 29:5-6 –God spoke to the people of Israel through Moses, “You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”
7. Deuteronomy 32:33 – Intoxicating wine is like the poison of serpents, the cruel venom of asps.
8. Judges 13:4, 7, 14 – God told Solomon’s mother not to drink wine or fermented drink.
9. 1 Samuel 25:36-38 – Nabal died after a drunken spree.
10. 2 Samuel 13:28-29 – Amnon was drunk when he was killed.
11. 1 Kings 16:8-10 – The king was assassinated when he was drunk.
12. 1 Kings 20:12-21 – Ben-Hadad and 32 other kings were drinking when they were attacked and defeated by the Israelites.
13. Proverbs 4:17 – Alcoholic drink is called the wine of violence.
14. Proverbs 20:1 – Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging.
15. Proverbs 23:19-20 – A wise person will not be among the drinkers of alcoholic beverages.
16. Proverbs 23:21 – Drunkenness causes poverty.
17. Proverbs 23:29-30 – Drinking causes woe, sorrow, fighting, babbling, wounds without cause and red eyes.
18. Proverbs 23:31 – God instructs not to look at intoxicating drinks.
19. Proverbs 23:32 – Alcoholic drinks bite like a serpent, sting like an adder.
20. Proverbs 23:33 – Alcohol causes the drinker to have strange and adulterous thoughts, produces willfulness, and prevents reformation.
21. Proverbs 23:34 – Alcohol makes the drinker unstable
22. Proverb 31:4-5 – Kings, Princes, and others who rule and judge must not drink alcohol. Alcohol perverts good judgment.
23. Ecclesiastes 2:3 – The king tried everything, including intoxicating drink, to see if it satisfied. It did not. (Ecclesiastes 12:8)
24. Ecclesiastes 10:17 – A land is blessed when its leaders do not drink.
25. Isaiah 5:11-12 – Woe to those who get up early to drink and stay up late at night to get drunk.
26. Isaiah 24:9 – Drinkers cannot escape the consequences when God judges.
27. Isaiah 28:3 – Proud drunkards shall be trodden down.
28. Isaiah 28:8 – Drinkers’ tables are covered with vomit and filth.
29. Daniel 1:5-17 – Daniel refused the king’s intoxicating wine and was blessed for it along with his abstaining friends.
30. Hosea 4:11 – Intoxicating wine takes away intelligence.
31. Hosea 7:5 – God reproves princes for drinking.
32. Joel 1:5 – Drunkards awake to see God’s judgment.
33. Amos 2:12 – Israel is condemned for forcing Nazarites to drink wine.
34. Habakkuk 2:16 – Drinking leads to shame.
35. Luke 1:15 – John the Baptist drank neither grape juice nor wine.
36. Luke 12:45 – Christ warned against drunkenness.
37. Romans 13:13 – Do not walk in drunkenness or immorality.
38. 1 Corinthians 5:11 – If a Christian brother is a drinker, do not associate with him.
39. 1 Corinthians 6:10 – Drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God
40. Galatians 5:21 – Acts of the sinful nature, such as drunkenness, will prohibit a person from inheriting the kingdom of God.
41. Ephesians 5:18 – In contrast to being drunk with wine, the believer is to be filled with the Spirit.
42. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7 – Drunkards belong to the night and darkness.
43. 1 Timothy 3:8 – Deacons are to be worthy of respect and not drinkers.
44. 1 Peter 4:3-4 – The past life of drunkenness and carousing has no place in the Christian’s life.
Having seen the warnings given by the Bible against the use of alcohol, Dr. Robert Teachout, A Semitic scholar who, in 1979, wrote his doctorate on The Use of Wine in the Old Testament, stated, “Alcohol is never approved by God in any amount for the obedient Christian.” Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, author of Wine in the Bible, 1989, says, “Drinking Alcohol is…a moral issue. It is…a transgression of God’s law.”
Over the years there have been numerous attempts to point out that the Bible does not condemn drinking wine. To do so many have quoted verses from the Bible to prove their arguments. However this has been the result of failing to read and understand the verses contextually. To quote a bible verse out of context is a grave mistake. Not only are we to read them contextually but even more important is to understand the use of the words with their meanings then and now. For instance in this particular case, the use of the word “wine” used in the Bible. The term “wine” is used in the Bible in two different ways and one must bear this in mind to avoid unnecessary confusion. There are two different types of wine used in the Bible. One is referred to the unfermented grape juice which is also known as new wine or sweet wine. When we come across verses that mentions “wine” and “new wine” for celebratory purpose one must realise that it is referring to unfermented grape juice. This is the “wine” or in other words, in today’s context what we call “juice” is what is approved by God. Thus those verses that contain the term “wine” such as in Genesis 27:28 which reads “May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness– an abundance of grain and new wine” cannot be used as advocating liquor or alcohol.
The second type of wine is the intoxicating wine. All the above verses mentioned above with the term “wine” refers to the intoxicating wine. They all clearly show that it is disapproved by God. It is this intoxicating wine which has been or is condemned by God. When we talk about the NLTP act we should understand that it is against “Liquor” as the name itself suggests. We all know the meaning of the word “liquor”. To call a drink as “liquor” or “juice” has entirely different meanings. Liquor falls under the intoxicating wine which God condemns outrightly. As someone writes, “It is not just the amount one drinks that makes drinking a sin. God condemns the drink itself.” This is referred to the intoxicating wine. For example, Prov. 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (KJV). Alcohol, the intoxicating wine, goes direct to the brain which is the communication centre of our body. When God made “Man” He made him/her in such a way that he/she can have fellowship with Him. But this fellowship is breached when the communication centre of our body is disturbed by alcohol or intoxicating wine. God, therefore condemns the drink itself.
As Christians we need to be true followers of Christ. To do so we not only need to know the Bible, but most importantly make efforts in understanding it appropriately. To quote bible verses out of context is a serious issue. The key to be a sincere follower of Christ is to know and understand the Bible correctly. Without this there will certainly be confusion. The NLTP,1989 Act was enacted purely in line with the warnings given by the Bible against the use of alcohol
Finally, each of us have been given the freedom to make choices. What choices are we going to make? Here, the choice is, as followers of Christ we choose to do what is approved by God or as followers of Christ we choose to do what is disapprove by Christ. Whichever we choose ultimately we will be held accountable. Let not our weakness hinder us from making the right choices.