Vol. 3, No. 8
When all is said and done, Scripture is still explicitly plain that alcoholic beverages are disapproved of God regarding its pleasurable consumption by mankind.
That there was an intoxicating wine in antiquity is not denied. The Bible and early secular writers however are clear in their denunciation of such wine. (W.D. Jeffcoat, The Bible and “Social” Drinking, c. 1987, p. 35.)
These two following verses summarize the biblical teaching about the pleasurable consumption of alcohol.
"Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder" (Proverbs 23:31-32).
"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!" (Habakkuk 2:15).
Rather than approving some degree of intoxication, the New Testament teaches sobriety. Christians are forbidden to surrender control of their faculties to drugs, inclusive of alcohol.
"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Numerous New Testament passages admonish the children of God to be sober.
Vine defines the term in these words of weighty warning, "signifies to be free from the influence of intoxicants." Thayer says it means to be temperate. Obviously, one is not free from the influence of intoxicants in social drinking. (Garland Elkins and Robert R. Taylor, Jr., Social Drinking: Unjustified, Unsocial, Unwise, Unscriptural, Memphis, Getwell Church of Christ, p. 11.)
According to history, medical science and the Bible, alcohol is a great liability to any one, not only while we are on earth, but especially as we each cross the threshold of eternity. The evidence is insurmountable against beverage alcohol. Especially professed Christians who make themselves apologists for the evil of social drinking, do so to their own harm and in opposition to the obvious.
The positive considerations of an alcohol free life present a stark contrast to the fruit of beverage alcohol.
. . . abstinence can make life fuller, healthier, more satisfying, enjoyable, and beautiful. It can add years to your life, money to the pocketbook, harmony to the home. It sets a better example for others to follow, it makes highway driving safer, it sharpens ability to make right decisions and to react quickly in case of emergency. It improves one's own self-image and his relationship to others and to his God. (attributed to Francis A. Soper, Alcohol: Ten Reasons Why You Don't Need It and quoted by (Mark Davey, “Alcohol,” The Drug Data Series, An Information Sheet from the National Drug & Alcohol Statistics Unit, Australia,” 2-8-98. http://www.powerup.com.au/~mdavey/ alcohol.htm [14 Sep 1998]))
Vigorous, though unpersuasive, defense of social drinking, in view of biblical condemnation of alcohol and plenty of contemporary evidence of the harm it causes, notwithstanding that Hebrew, Greek and English definitions of "drunkenness" likewise condemn it, only portrays the degree to which society esteems that which will destroy all it can--physically, spiritually, financially, socially and eternally. The proverb still reads:
"Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. . . . Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again" (Prov. 23:20-35)
The warning is not even to look at the intoxicating wine. Hamburgers, were someone desirous to justify alcohol consumption on the basis of comparison to food, do not fall into the same category. Hamburgers we can and should eat in moderation, but we should have nothing to do with alcohol.
[Editor's Note: A book entitled Beverage Alcohol, written by the Editor is available for sale ($3.50 + S&H). This title is published in paperback format. Please contact us via email to purchase it.]