With recent bans from the government to go to bars and night clubs during our COVID19 season, it seems appropriate to answer this question on drinking alcohol. One thing that I want to be clear about is to define terms when I speak of “alcohol.” I am not speaking of chang’aa, busaa, muratina, makavo, karuvu, mnazi, makombe, hand sanitizer, or anything in their likeness. These “kumi kumi” drinks, or “mama pima” drinks are not what I have in question. These are not in question; they are considered illegal even by governments and in my opinion always sinful to drink. I am speaking about beer and wine, which seem much more acceptable in the eyes of many.
Background with Alcohol
With these terms defined, the immediate answer on the question as to whether drinking alcohol is a sin would be- it depends. Drinking alcohol can be a sin, and it may not be a sin. Before I dive too far into this, I would like to share a bit of my background. I grew up within a Christian family that did not drink. I never saw my parents drink any alcohol. We had lots of family friends, neighbours, and even some family members that did drink. Most of their drinking was done socially. When I say socially, I mean that they would have a drink with dinner or while watching a football game. They generally were not drinking to get drunk and forget their problems or overcome stress. However, I did see some people get very drunk. One sad thing was my uncle got so drunk that he peed on himself in public. I also saw a close family friend show up drunk to a surprise birthday party for him and while surrounded by lots of his friends and colleagues, he publicly insulted and cursed his wife. I have had lots of experience being around people who controlled themselves, but also some terrible experiences with those who were utterly out of control with alcohol.
I write these stories above because your background and culture can shape your thoughts on drinking alcohol. You may have grown up with lots of people around you drinking. You may have had a family member or neighbour around you tell you that drinking is manly, or something that ladies do. You may have lots of societal and peer pressure, telling you how you should think about drinking. One thing that I want to encourage you though is not to let your background, family, friends, or culture impact your thinking about alcohol more than what the word of God and the Spirit’s convictions do. Letting the word of God speak is very important for us to consider as we move forward. So what does the Bible say about drinking?
Is Alcohol Biblically Ok to Drink?
The Bible tells us to not get drunk with wine (Ephesians 5:18), but it does not tell us directly that it is a sin to drink. We see, for example, that Jesus made wine for a marriage celebration at Cana (John 2:1-11). I have heard people try to explain this wine miracle away, stating firmly that the wine was more like juice and non-alcoholic or having very little alcohol. There is no substantial evidence to suggest this. We also see that the apostle Paul who was the most significant Christian missionary of all time, told his disciple Timothy to drink wine for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23). Lastly, we see in the Bible that alcohol can be a gift from God (Psalm 104:15).
Based on these scriptures, it seems hard to suggest that merely drinking alcohol is a sin. I, however, do want to caution you that if you have struggled with being a drunk, then it is never ok for you to drink any alcohol. I remember one time a very drunk guy quoted a couple of these verses above to me as I was out witnessing. It was pretty amusing how he slurred his words, justifying his drunkenness with the scriptures. The drunkard man was filthy and smelled of chang’aa. He had a reputation for beating his wife and not providing for his children, but yet he emphatically stated it was not sinful for him to drink. As I said above, we want the Word of God to give us direction on what we think about drinking alcohol, but not to use it to justify sin as the drunkard man did.
Dangers in Drinking
Even though it is permissible to drink alcohol according to the scriptures, we see lots of places in the Bible where it warns you of the dangers of alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 tells us not to get drunk with wine. Which shows you that without a doubt that getting drunk is a sin. Paul warns that drinking can cause someone else to stumble or sin by watching you drink it (Romans 14:21). Alcohol is said to take away understanding (Hosea 4:11), was something that priest were not to partake of (Ezekiel 44:21), leads to poverty (Proverbs 21:17), and can make you look foolish (Proverbs 20:1). Another interesting verse on alcohol teaches us that it is not something good for kings to drink because it causes them to make mistakes in their judgment (Proverbs 31:4-5). Lastly, the Israelites didn’t drink alcohol when they were in the desert because it could hinder them from knowing God fully (Deuteronomy 29:6).
There are many other verses that I can quote from the scriptures that say that drinking can be hazardous for your spiritual walk. But, I will tell you that sin always destroys your relationship with God, and that is what you want to stay away from. You can willingly drink in moderation and still be a strong Christian, but you can never willingly sin in moderation and be a strong Christian. Alcohol consumption in moderation is not necessarily sinning, but it can be very dangerous if you let it overtake you. Really take the dangers seriously before just jumping in to drink.
Attitudes and Motivations on Drinking
One thing that I would want to stress is that if you’re like me and don’t drink, it is easy to struggle with pride. You think, “well I don’t struggle with drinking; in fact, it is disgusting to me”. You can quickly think that you are superior in faith to others because you don’t drink, which is sin (Romans 14:1-3). My question to you would be- are you going to lose your salvation because of one sip of alcohol? The answer is no; nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8:37-39, Romans 8:1, John 5:24, John 6:36-39). But, once again, I would caution you never to use the scriptures to justify sin.
What are your motives for drinking or not drinking? Clearly, you can biblically consume alcohol, and but you can get into lots of danger and even sin. I would advise you to let the Spirit guide you as you consider the scriptures. Don’t be proud and think you’re better than others because that is just when you might fall into sin (Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 11:2). Sin is what you want to stay away from, not just alcohol. Please read through the scriptures, consider your testimony, and consider that your choices can profoundly affect the way people might see Jesus shining through you. Be willing to put aside all things that hinder you and hold you back, but let Jesus be on display (Hebrews 12:1-3). Consider your motives and pray about it and let the Spirit poke holes in your motivation and attitudes about drinking or not drinking. Trust me, there is nothing better than having a great relationship with God, and sin will always hinder that (Psalm 16:11).
In conclusion, I would like you to consider that if you do choose to drink that you’re not an island. Your choices can profoundly impact someone else in their walk with the Lord negatively (Romans 14:20-23). Walking into a Carrefour, Tuskys, or Clean Shelf to simply buy a Tusker much less drink it could cause a fellow believer to say “Well if “Nani” is drinking beer, then I am going to do it also.” That could lead them destroying their testimony and life. Leading someone into sin through your example, knowingly or unknowingly is a sin. Another thing to consider is that you’re an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Christ makes his appeal through us to a lost and dying world to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). Your choices due to your freedom can cause that message or reconciliation to be hindered and cause people to look at the one to whom you represent negatively. Take these warnings seriously and let the Word of God and the conviction of the Spirit determine your thoughts about drinking.
If you have more questions about drinking alcohol, please reach out to us at [email protected], WhatsApp or text us at 0799-254-254, or send us a message through our Facebook page. If you’re struggling with overcoming an addiction to alcohol, please read our “Live Free” devotional series on our app or website.