Is it acceptable to drink a little alcohol if you don’t get drunk?

Questions & Answers August 5, 2017

Q: Is there a Bible verse that says you shouldn’t drink? In class today someone said that the Bible says you shouldn’t get drunk, but it doesn’t say “don’t drink.” — Mawethu, from South Africa

A: Mawethu, the Bible says both without contradiction: don’t get drunk, and don’t drink!

Let’s consider a few texts. ​Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, ​And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” A few chapters later, in Proverbs 23:29-35, we read a very vivid description of what happens to people when they drink alcohol, and I encourage you to read it.

When Jesus turned the water into “wine” at the wedding of Cana, we can be assured that it was pure, delicious grape juice, rather than fermented, alcoholic wine.

“The wine which Christ provided for the feast, and that which He gave to the disciples as a symbol of His own blood, was the pure juice of the grape. To this the prophet Isaiah refers when he speaks of the new wine “in the cluster,” and says, “Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it” (Isaiah 65:8).

It was Christ who in the Old Testament gave the warning to Israel, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). And He Himself provided no such beverage. Satan tempts men to indulgence that will becloud reason and benumb the spiritual perceptions, but Christ teaches us to bring the lower nature into subjection.

“It was Christ who directed that John the Baptist should drink neither wine nor strong drink. It was He who enjoined similar abstinence upon the wife of Manoah. And He pronounced a curse upon the man who should put the bottle to his neighbor’s lips.

“Christ did not contradict His own teaching. The unfermented wine which He provided for the wedding guests was a wholesome and refreshing drink. Its effect was to bring the taste into harmony with a healthful appetite” (“The Desire of Ages,” p. 149).

So Mawethu, I want to encourage you, and all young people, to stay completely away from anything — including alcohol — that will cloud your bright, keen, God-given mind. May the Lord give you strength to be a bright light for him, just like Daniel and his three friends were in Babylon (see Daniel 1:8, 11-17).

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