I’m straying off-topic a bit here, because I need to share my views on a subject before I get myself into a heated argument with someone who might not be capable of comprehending what I’m saying anyway.
The Bible is very clear that drunkenness leads to sin, and that it’s foolish to get drunk. That said, it does not, at any point, say that drinking itself is a sin.
I, personally, have used alcohol medicinally on numerous occasions, and actually love the flavor of hard drinks. I, however, have never been drunk (I did get a buzz once, but that was when I was too stupid to know how much it took, and when someone else was handing me the drinks).
The argument that was put to me was that “Christians should never drink” and later that it was a sin. When I put this to question, by vaguely mentioning a few scriptures (such as the one where Jesus turned water into wine for a wedding party where everyone had already been drinking for days), asking for a clarification as to whether he was speaking of drinking or rather of getting drunk, he either didn’t understand the distinction, or just tried to avoid it.
He made the argument that drinking then was different because he thinks the wine was only 1 and 2 percent alcohol back then. He argued again against drunkenness, saying “nobody ever became an alcoholic without taking the 1st drink”. But he never addressed the original question, which was whether he put drinking (in any case) with the sin of being a drunkard.
So… here’s my response, which I’m not sure I will give him, because I’m not sure it would be productive…
Wine is created by a fermentation process that is introduced by adding yeast to a sugary liquid. The process has not changed in thousands of years, and the roman empire had wine with the same basic alcohol content as what we drink today, which ranged from about 12-18%. The only reason wine was less potent in ‘those days’ was because people diluted their wine with water, often drinking 1:2 or 1:4 parts wine to water with their meals.
This does not mean that they never drank wine straight, though. If juice is left to ferment completely it will always reach 12-15% abv. The Roman empire was known for it’s wine consumption and production, and even without distilaries they had figured out how to get even higher alcohol contents (up to about 25%) (see the alcoholic beverage wiki for most of these facts). Re Acts 2:15: at 12%, the average man can still get drunk on 3 glasses of wine. Peter wasn’t saying there was no possible way they were drunk at that hour, he was just pointing out how incredibly unlikely it was that that many people had been drinking that early in the day (the taverns weren’t likely open).
Jesus himself drank wine, and the Pharisees and lawyers tried to use this passage in Proverbs to accuse him:
23:19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
23:20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
His reaction to this is recorded in two different gospels:
7:33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
7:34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
If Christ had been a glutton or a windbibber then He would have been a sinner. We know this is NOT the case even though He drank (and said of Himself that He drank). The only way to rectify this is to admit that it is possible to drink without being sinful.
That said, I’m not saying that one should drink. There are a number of people who probably should never drink, or who are incapable of drinking in moderation. The argument can also be made that a Christian should never drink around anyone who might believe that drinking (even without getting drunk) is a sin, as this would be “causing one’s brother to stumble”. This particular argument could even be taken to the extreme that someone seeing you buy alcohol could be caused to stumble as well, so Christians should never be seen drinking or buying alcohol.
However, the not causing one’s brother to stumble argument was made in regards to eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols, and I don’t believe that’s something that Jesus ever did. The fact that Jesus openly drank, and that anyone reading the Bible can see these scriptures, leads me to the conclusion that anyone who is so finnicky that they get confused by seeing me buy alcohol is probably going to get just as confused reading the scriptures. I believe this is a case of needing to educate them about the difference between drinking and being a drunkard, rather than avoiding it in hopes of not offending them.