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“Wine to make us happy, olive oil to make us cheerful, and bread to give us strength.”—Psalm 104:15, “Good News Translation.”
DIFFERENT PEOPLE, DIFFERENT VIEW
For many people in their homes, alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer are almost a staple with certain meals. However, with others, drinking alcohol is strongly opposed for various reasons. There are different factors for the different positions on alcohol, such as culture (wine is common in Latina homes with meals), health matters, and religious reasons.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY
The Bible is very clear in its condemnation of drunkenness and overindulgence when it comes to alcoholic beverages. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Certainly, from the very beginning of God’s people, men and women of God drank wine, a very common beverage mentioned over two hundred times in the Bible. (Genesis 27:25) It should be noted that wine in Bible times was diluted with water, so one would have to drink much to get drunk. Never, the less it was an alcoholic drink. “Eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do,” says Ecclesiastes 9:7. Wine provides those who drink it a joyful spirit; therefore, it was normally served on happy occasions, the most common wedding feasts. It was just such a wedding feast where we find Jesus performing his first miracle by turning water into wine. (John 2:1-11)
The Bible describes wine as a gift from God that enables humans to enjoy life more. (Psalm 104:14-15; Ecclesiastes 3:13; 9:7)
2:3. To run out of wine at a wedding was a social faux pas that could become the subject of this village’s jests for years; the host was responsible to provide his guests with adequate wine even if the feast lasted seven days.
Women were often closer to where the wine and food were prepared; thus Mary learns of the shortage of wine before word reaches Jesus and the other men. Her words may be a polite Middle Eastern way of implying that he should do something; guests were to help defray the expense of the wedding with their gifts, and it seems that their friend needs some extra gifts now.
2:4. “woman” was a customary address for one’s mother. Jesus’ statement here establishes further polite distance (though “What have I to do with you” is usually a harsh, not a polite, expression in biblical language). One’s “hour” could refer to the time of one’s death. Because Jesus’ “hour” in John refers especially to the cross, here Jesus is saying, “Once I begin doing miracles, I begin the road to the cross.”
2:9-10. Soon after the grape vintage, all wine would contain some alcohol (neither refrigeration nor hermetic sealing existed). But the alcohol level of the wine was not increased artificially (distillation was not in use); rather, the wine was watered down, with (on average) two to three parts water to one part wine. Sometimes at Greek parties drunkenness was induced through less dilution or the addition of herbal toxins, but Jewish teachers disapproved of such practices; that drunkenness is part of the celebration at Cana is unlikely. Yet it normally made sense to serve the better wine first because, drunk or not, guests’ senses would become more dulled as the seven days of banqueting proceeded. – The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament –
The wine was also used for healing purposes. (Luke 10:34; 1 Timothy 5:23) “Both oil and wine had medicinal value (Isa. 1:6; m. šabb. 19:2). The oil soothed and the wine served as a disinfectant.”— Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 416.
Does the Bible say how much one can drink?
“nor [be] enslaved to much wine” (Titus 2:3) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, … (Ephesians 5:18) Hosea is saying do not be enslaved to much wine and Paul is saying do not get drunk with wine but neither are saying, do not drink wine. The Bible recommends moderation, not abstaining.
THE PROBLEMS THAT RESULT FROM ABUSING ALCOHOL IS OURS NOT THE BIBLE
There are literally millions of homes where the families are in a life of chaos because someone is abusing alcoholic beverages. Many assaults on spouses, child abuse, murders within households have happened when someone was drunk. Millions around the world have been killed by drunk drivers. Moreover, abuse of alcoholic beverages can damage the brain, the heart, the liver, and the stomach.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
The Bible is very clear that it is all about moderation in both drinking and eating. (Proverbs 23:20; 1 Timothy 3:2, 3, 8) The lack of someone’s self-control is their fault, not the Word of God, it brings them disapproval from God. The Bible states: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”—Proverbs 20:1.
The abuse of alcohol is unwise and will lead anyone astray by eroding their moral character. Says Hosea 4:11: “wine, and new [sweet] wine, take away heart.” There are a countless number of cases where the husband and wife argue, so the man stomps out of the house in a rage and then goes to bar to drink and ends up committing adultery. This one moment of lack of self-control can never be forgotten by him or his wife even if he should get past it. Abuse of alcohol can harm us physically, morally, and spiritually. And the Bible declares that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God, that is, receive eternal life.—1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Is there a time when drinking is improper?
“Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”—Proverbs 22:3, “Good News Translation.”
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
“Alcohol is a powerful drug. It affects several neurological pathways and causes significant changes in the brain,” says http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Consequently, there may be some circumstances or times when we would want to avoid moderate consumption of alcohol, as it would be unwise.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
People often find themselves in an innocent appearing situation because they drink alcohol at the wrong time. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,” the Bible says. This would also include a time to stay away from alcohol. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) The physical attraction between the opposite sexes is very powerful and being alone and under the influence of alcohol is a means and opportunity for immoral activity. This would be one of those innocent appearing situations. Therefore, this writer would caution his readers against being alone with the opposite sex, who is not a spouse or family member. If we are to persevere in our walk with God until the end, we must avoid over-confidence and placing ourselves in innocent-appearing situations. Other examples of when it might be a bad time to drink are if the person is not legally old enough to drink, or the person is a recovering alcoholic, or the person is on medication that says no alcohol when taking it. Another very wrong and dangerous time to consume alcohol is before going to work, especially if they drive for a living or operate heavy machinery, like a tow motor in a factory. The time that we absolutely would never drink alcohol is if we are pregnant. The one principle that needs to be remembered is this, our life and the lives of others are precious gifts from our loving God. (Psalm 36:9) We need to show respect for the gift of life and apply Bible principles to guide us and our attitude toward alcohol. The Bible permits drinking alcoholic beverages, but only in moderation and at the right time. God allows us to determine these two qualifications because he gave us knowledge, wisdom, insight, and the ability to reason.