What the Bible Says About Drinking & The Drinking Problem Nobody is Talking About

spiritual growth Jun 09, 2021
women drinking alcohol wine

I used to drink a lot before I became a Christian, so when I gave my life to Christ, I knew I needed to do some research to answer the question, what does the Bible say about drinking alcohol?

As I talk about in my book, One Transforming Love, God woke me up and showed me that I had had a social binge drinking problem for the majority of my 20s and didn’t even know it, and he made it pretty clear that getting drunk is a sin.

But I had so many other questions about Christians drinking alcohol.

Is drinking a sin? Is it a sin to drink any amount of alcohol at all?

Do Christians drink? Should Christians drink alcohol? Should Christians go to bars?

If so, how much is too much, and can Christians drink alcohol in a way that honors God?

In this blog post, we will discuss:

  • What the Bible says about drinking alcohol & getting drunk, including bible verses about drinking
  • Why getting drunk is a sin
  • Whether Christians should drink alcohol and how much is too much
  • How a person can have a drinking problem and not even know it
  • How to set boundaries when drinking alcohol

I also talk more about my struggle with alcohol and how God showed me I had a drinking problem. I didn’t think I had a problem because I drank as much as my friends and coworkers, and I share in more detail how easy it was to get caught up in the bar scene and not realize I had a problem.

What Does The Bible Say About Drinking Alcohol – Is Drinking A Sin?

Bible Verses About Drinking Wine in A Way That Honors God

When people reference alcohol in the Bible, a lot of people point out that one of Jesus’ first miracles was turning water into wine. We see this miracle in John 2:1-11, where Jesus is at a wedding and his mom asks him to save the day since the wine is running out.

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” – John 2:11 NLT

While it is a big deal that one of Jesus’ first miracles involved wine, I’ve seen this bible verse about wine get thrown around and used as an excuse to drink a lot.

I’ll talk more about bible verses about getting drunk with wine below, but it’s important to note the context of this miracle and that if Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, then drinking at least some wine must be okay.

We also see in Ecclesiastes and in Proverbs that we can drink wine to celebrate, and that wine is considered a blessing from God.

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” – Ecclesiastes 9:7 ESV

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.” – Proverbs 3:9-10

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen the expression ‘new wine’ in the Bible, but if often appears when referencing a blessing from God. So, if a blessing from God includes new wine, then drinking wine or alcohol altogether can’t be considered a sin.

We also see in 1 Timothy that the Bible permits drinking a little wine to ease the stomach.

“Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.” - 1 Timothy 5:23 NLT

Is drinking a sin?

We see that in these bible verses about drinking wine, it is not a sin to drink alcohol entirely. And it answers the question that drinking alcohol is not a sin.

But how much is too much? Where should one draw the line with drinking alcohol?

For the people who think the Bible is outdated, they need to read these next bible verses about drinking and getting drunk. Because God has a lot to say about drunkenness and why getting drunk is a sin, and the Bible even talks about partying!

Bible Verses About Drunkenness, Partying & Getting Drunk

When I first started reading the Bible, I was shocked that God had so much to say about getting drunk.

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” – Romans 13:13-14 ESV

“You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” - 1 Peter 4:3

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…” - Ephesians 5:15-18

So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent.” – 1 Timothy 3:2-3 NLT

God makes it clear in these bible verses about drunkenness above that getting drunk is a sin and is not pleasing to God.

And God warns us not to be drunk with wine, because it will ruin our life.

If drinking some wine is okay, but the Bible says we are not to get drunk, where do we draw the line? How much is too much?

How to Determine If You Should Drink & How Much

The Bible is clear that getting drunk is a sin, and God also warns us to stay alert and of sober mind to be on guard against the Enemy.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” - 1 Peter 1:13 NIV

“Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life.” - Luke 21:34

The devil roams around like a lion, looking for his next attack. And because alcohol affects our brain and bodies when we drink, we need to be careful not to drink so much that it starts to affect our thinking and judgment.

This is why the Devil loves the bar scene. Drunk people are easy targets to attack because their minds are already affected by the alcohol.

When a person drinks or takes drugs that affects their mind, this opens up the door for the Enemy to tempt them with temptation.

Drink another shot. Sleep with that person. Take that drug.

Think about it. Why do so many girls cry when they are drunk? Because they are easy targets for the Enemy to attack and whisper lies to.

I know because I used to be one of them. I used to believe many lies from the Enemy, especially when I was drinking. You’re not pretty enough. Nobody wants to date you. You’ll always be single. You don’t have real friends.

This is why I don't think it is okay to drink to get buzzed. When you start to get buzzed, when you feel the alcohol kick in, this means that it is already affecting your body and your mind.

And the Bible is clear that we are to stay alert and fully sober with a sound mind. Once the alcohol starts to cloud our judgment our thinking, we’ve crossed the line.

And that’s why it is so important to know your limits if you decide to drink alcohol. I talk about how to set boundaries with drinking below.

Be Strong Against Temptation

Another reason to stop drinking or to drink less is to be strong against temptation.

“Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” - Proverbs 20:1-2

Drinking alcohol is like putting lighter fluid on a fire. It is much harder to say no and resist temptation when you start drinking.

Alcohol fueled so many of my mistakes and only led me to stumbling into more sin, like sexual sin, even when I wanted to stop.

If you are struggling with sexual sin, whether it’s watching porn or trying not to sleep with someone, it’s best to stay away from drinking and other situations that have led you into sin in the past.

Being Mindful of Causing Others to Stumble

As Christians, we also have the responsibility not to drink alcohol if it makes another believer stumble.

John Bevere illustrates this point well in his book, Good or God. He tells a story of a pastor who was drinking at a restaurant. One of the members from his church, a new Christian, was at the same restaurant. Before the new Christian was saved, he struggled with alcohol. But after his conversion, he avoided drinking.

But after seeing his pastor drinking in the restaurant, this guy went on a 3-day drinking binge that resulted in him making very poor decisions regarding his finances, business, and marriage.

When later asked why he had gone on the binge, he responded, “I saw my pastor drinking, so I figured, if he can drink, so can I.”

This scenario begs the question, ‘Is it a sin to drink in front of other people?’ What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol in front of others?

The Bible addresses this in 1 Corinthians and Romans 14 where we see that as Christians, we have a responsibility not to cause others to stumble, even if God has showed us that it’s okay for us to still drink alcohol.

“But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” – 1 Corinthians 8:9

“Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:20-25 NLT

I have to admit, I don’t pay attention to these verses as much as I should when I invite friends over and alcohol is present.

Even though God has shown me how to control my drinking, as a Christian, I still have a responsibility to not let others stumble by drinking alcohol that they otherwise would not have drank. Especially if I serve alcohol to others in my house.

Can Christians Drink? Other Reasons to Consider When Deciding if You Should Drink Alcohol

The Bible also points out that we are to honor God with our bodies, and that each one of us are called to follow our own convictions about whether or not we should do something.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT

“I am allowed to do anything…but not everything is beneficial. - 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT

“But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:20-25 NLT

The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we must honor God with our bodies. Sometimes I avoid drinking altogether because even after a few drinks, my body still does not feel 100% the next day. If only two glasses of wine cause me to have a headache, is it really worth putting the alcohol into my body?

And if you have any doubts about whether or not you should drink alcohol, the Bible tells us that you should follow your convictions and that you are sinning if you don’t follow your convictions.

Can Christians drink? Should Christians drink alcohol?

Like the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, just because you are allowed to do something doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. Just because the Bible permits drinking as long as you don’t get drunk doesn’t mean that you should drink.

And just because another Christian is drinking does not mean it’s okay for you to drink. You need to pray and ask God if you should quit drinking entirely.

If you’re not sure, seek out wisdom from others at your church and be honest with your experience and any struggle with drinking alcohol.

Understanding Why You Drink

It’s also important to identify what makes you drink in the first place. If you turn to alcohol to escape or whenever you feel stressed, then it may be a problem.

And you may be believing lies about why you need to drink that just aren’t true.

As a social binge drinker, I realized I turned to alcohol in social settings because I wanted to fit in and have friends. I wanted people to like me, and I believed the lie that I was more fun when I was drinking and that I had to drink to have friends.

I also thought I needed to go out and drink to find a guy to date, because where else was I supposed to meet somebody?

But I realized the issue was that I wasn’t confident in who I was. As I talk about in my book, One Transforming Love, I didn’t know my identity in Christ back then, and I thought I had to drink and go out to feel loved and accepted by my friends and society. I was also hanging out with the wrong people, but I later realized there are lots of people that don’t drink.

If you find yourself drinking more than you want to, you need to identify the triggers or things in your life that is causing you to want to drink.

For example, some women have a glass or two of wine at the end of every day. They may not think it’s a big deal since they aren’t getting drunk, but it becomes a problem when they start relying on the alcohol to relax or to unwind.

As Christians, we need to make sure we are relying on God, and not another substance or person for comfort. If we find ourselves turning to something every day for comfort, like wine, this may indicate we have a problem and need to turn to God instead. That is why it’s so important to have your own personal relationship with God.

Should Christians Drink Alcohol? Determining if You Should Drink at All or If You Have a Drinking Problem

God tells us in the Bible that getting drunk is a sin, but it’s okay to drink some alcohol or wine as long as we do not cause other believers to stumble and as long as we stay alert and of a sober mind.

It’s up to each one of us to pray and ask God if we should drink at all.

And just because others are drinking, doesn’t mean it’s something that God wants us to do.

If you have a drinking problem or aren’t sure if you have a problem, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. Discuss your experience and struggles with alcohol with mentors at your church, and read more about different drinking problems online.

I didn’t know I had a drinking problem for the majority of my 20s because I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic. And at the time, I wasn’t concerned with what the Bible said about getting drunk or whether drinking is a sin.

The American Addiction Centers defines alcoholism as the following:

“Alcoholism, clinically referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a common, chronic, and sometimes-progressive medical condition that involves the compulsive consumption of alcohol.”

When most people think of an alcoholic, they think of someone who is unable to stop drinking, has a strong urge to drink, or someone who drinks alcohol every day.

But just because you can get out of bed and still function at work and in other daily activities doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have a drinking problem.

For the longest time, I drank to get drunk. I had no desire to drink a glass or two of wine during the week, my thinking was so flawed, I even thought, what’s the point of drinking if I’m not going to get drunk?

But since I didn’t drink all the time, I didn’t think I had a problem. I didn’t drink every day after work like the “typical alcoholic” and I didn’t have this strong urge to drink all the time.

But when I did drink, once I started, my mission was to get drunk which resulted in consuming way too much alcohol at one time.

And after this pattern of getting drunk and blacking out, my drunken nights out turned into nights full of costly mistakes and I realized that drinking alcohol was holding me back from the life God had for me.

And I finally realized, that I did have a drinking problem, that I was a social binge drinker.

According to the CDC, binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.

"Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours."

And according to American Addiction Centers, while binge drinking does not necessarily mean an individual has an alcohol use disorder, a 2002 study found that adolescents who engaged in binge-drinking had a higher risk of alcohol and drug and abuse and dependence than those who did not binge drink.

The Drinking Problem Nobody is Talking About

Most people don’t talk about the fact that social binge drinking is a problem. For the longest time, I believed the myth that I didn’t have a drinking problem because I wasn’t an alcoholic.

But this pattern of social binge drinking almost destroyed my life, which is why I am talking about it.

The worst kind of problem is the problem you don’t know you have, and just because everyone else is drinking doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. And just because other Christians drink alcohol doesn’t mean it’s okay.

I didn’t think I had a drinking problem for the longest time because I drank as much as my friends and everyone else around me.

But now looking back, in college and as an adult in the working world, I realize that more people are considered to be binge drinkers than I realized.

And it is a problem. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s normal or not a problem.

And just because society has socially accepted drinking alcohol everywhere doesn’t mean it’s okay.

And binge drinking will catch up to you. It almost destroyed my life – it almost cost me my job and my life. And I don’t want it to cost you yours.

If you want to read about my full testimony of how God woke me up & saved me before drinking alcohol destroyed my life, take 25% off of One Transforming Love with coupon code 'LESSBOOZEMOREJESUS' at checkout.

While it's written as a Christian Fiction novel, it's based on my own story to show how God set me free from the drinking and party scene.

How to Set Boundaries When Drinking

If you don’t have a problem with alcohol and you don’t feel convicted to stop drinking, setting boundaries when you drink are important to protect yourself from drinking too much and from temptation.

It’s like setting physical boundaries in a relationship. Just like I would set boundaries in a relationship to avoid going too far, I need to set boundaries if I decide to drink to make sure I don’t get buzzed or drunk.

Boundaries to consider when drinking

  • No shots
  • Consuming only 2 drinks at a time
  • Eating a meal before drinking alcohol
  • Limiting drinking mixed drinks or cocktails that could include higher amounts of alcohol
  • Drinking a glass of water in between drinks
  • Not going to certain bars or hanging out with certain people where you may feel pressured to drink more

Should Christians take shots?

A shot contains a high amount of alcohol in little volume. When you consider what a shot is, my best advice is to avoid taking shots as they can quickly cause you to become drunk faster.

And it’s hard to only take one shot. Just like opening up a new bag of potato chips, it’s hard to just eat only one chip.

When you start taking shots, it’s harder to resist saying no to that second, third, or even fourth shot that someone puts in front of you.

And even if it’s free, just say no!

Saying no to shots is a rule I’ve implemented to keep my drinking in check and to make sure I don’t cross the line of getting drunk.

Should Christians go to bars?

It depends on your experience with alcohol and the types of bars you used to go to. If you are trying to stop drinking, avoiding bars entirely is probably a good idea. But it depends on the types of bars you used to go to.

If you went to bars or clubs where everyone was getting wasted, then I would not go back to those types of places.

But if you enjoy going to more casual, low-key bars, like sports bars, or restaurants that have a bar setting, where people are not acting crazy and getting drunk, then these types of bars aren’t so bad.

Based on my history, since I spent years in the types of bars where everyone was trying to get drunk and get laid, I avoid these types of bars altogether.

The best way to discern if you should go to a certain bar is considering the atmosphere and the types of people that go there.

Are they all looking to get drunk or hook up with someone at the end of the night? Or are people controlling their alcohol, doing other things besides drinking like playing games or enjoying some good food at the same time?

When in doubt, would you picture God hanging out in this bar?

If you get a weird feeling when you walk into a bar, it’s best to stay clear.

Next Steps

If you feel like God is calling you to drink less or to stop drinking, I want you to know that it is possible to change with the power of Jesus.

Acknowledging that you have sinned or have a problem is the first step. Turn to God and confess your sins, and receive his forgiveness.

And decide in your heart that you are going to repent, that you are going to change your ways and lifestyle to avoid drinking alcohol like you used to in the past.

And if you think you have a drinking problem or are unsure, reach out to your mentors or a support team at church. Some churches even have Christian addiction recovery programs to help set you free from addiction.

If you are struggling with alcohol or have misused alcohol in the past, you are not alone. God set me free from my drinking past and he is the ultimate redeemer.

Want a free devotional to help you resist temptation?

If you are struggling with temptation to drink alcohol, download my free, 7-day Resist Temptation Devotional for bible verses and devotions to pray.

Do you want to develop or strengthen your relationship with God?

Building a personal relationship with God is key if you want to drink less or stop drinking. Download your free, Spiritual Goals Worksheet for examples of how you can grow closer to God and to define your own spiritual goals.

With Love,