(1 Tim. 5:23) Is it right or wrong to drink alcohol?

CLAIM: Many Christians argue that consumption of alcohol is sinful. However, Paul specifically tells Timothy to drink alcohol. Should we drink alcohol or not?

RESPONSE: This is an example where we need to get our morals from Scripture, rather than importing our own morality from Christian culture. In other words, if the Bible says that it’s okay to drink, then it’s okay.

Jesus turned water into wine, so that people could celebrate at a wedding (Jn. 2:1-11). Jesus himself drank wine (Mt. 11:19), and he promised to drink it again in heaven (Mt. 26:29). Solomon writes, “Drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works” (Eccl. 9:7). The psalmist writes, “He causes… wine which makes man’s heart glad” (Ps. 104:14-15). After God had brought the Jews out of captivity, he promised them that “they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine” (Amos 9:14). God even encouraged the Jews to “come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Is. 55:1). Deacons are told not to be “addicted to much wine” (1 Tim. 3:8). However, this does not exclude all consumption of alcohol. In fact, it implies that deacons were permitted to drink at least some wine.

Alcoholism and drunkenness are both prohibited in Scripture (Eph. 5:18; 1 Cor. 6:10; Is. 5:11). However, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Not all drinking is the same –just like not all sex is the same. While adultery and fornication are prohibited by God (Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18; Gal. 5:19; 1 Thess. 4:3-4), marital sex is promoted by God (1 Cor. 7:5). Some of the early church fathers could not distinguish between the two, and this led to an unbiblical attitude toward sex (i.e. considering sex inherently sinful). Unfortunately, modern fundamentalist Christians make the same mistake toward alcohol. In this way, we should be careful not to “exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).