Alcohol Consumption Beliefs and Practice

This thread is to discuss differences in attitudes towards alcohol consumption between orthodox, catholic, mainline, and evangelical denominations of Christianity. It would be helpful to put some sort of actual numbers on alcohol use rather than just share anecdotal stories. I’m just interested in what people have to say.

ETA: the thread this is a spin-off from is closed so I reckon this one will be too.

From the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod website:

*Q: What is the LCMS view on the consumption of alcohol?

A: The Bible nowhere condemns the proper and responsible use (consumption) of alcoholic beverages, and neither does The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Scripture does warn strongly and repeatedly against the abuse, misuse or excessive use of alcoholic beverages, and the Missouri Synod has also repeatedly warned against such dangers.*

Actual use or abstinence likely varies by geographical area. In the South you have many members with a personal or family background in Christian denominations or churches that do not permit alcohol use and this carries over to their practice in the Lutheran church. Areas which were settled by Germans in the MidWest are likely more tolerant of responsible alchohol useage.

To me it is just like everything else that is consumed in our bodies, do it in moderation. That does not mean you can’t enjoy it though.

The Scriptures speak often of the destructive power of alcohol. Noah’s drunkenness brought shame to his family (Gen. 9:20-27). Lot’s drunkenness resulted in an incestuous relationship with his two daughters (Gen. 19:30-38). An inebriated Xerxes sought to humiliate Queen Vashti publicly (Est. 1:9-22). The consumption of alcohol impairs judgment, inflames passions, and invites violence (Lev. 10:8-11; Prov. 20:1, 23:29-35, 31:4,5).

Alcoholism and the depression associated with it often leads to a breakdown of moral inhibitions, indiscreet or violent behavior, or loss of consciousness (drunkenness). Long-term drinking can terminally damage liver, pancreas, brain, or heart. Binge drinking on university campuses has caused instant death. It is estimated there are 14 million problem drinkers in the United States. Half of the fatal automobile accidents are caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. The annual cost of alcohol-related accidents, illness, violent crime, and loss of work time is estimated to exceed 100 billion dollars.

First Corinthians 6:19,20 has historically been held in high regard by holiness and Pentecostal Christians. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” This and other passages warning against drunkenness have been considered sufficient reason for advocating complete abstinence from the use of alcohol. Not only is the human body the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is not to be defiled; but there are other reasons for complete abstinence: (1) contemporary society is plagued with the destructive consequences of this addictive substance and (2)even moderate use of the substance often leads to a disastrous life of addiction. Thr addiction then becomes the “god” of the individual.

Do not be a drunkard but drink only a little wine.

*Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. (1 Timothy 5:23)

There is no ruling for a complete abstinence from alcohol, not in the BIble anyway. Jesus in fact made wine (remember that at a wedding somewhere) and it was definitely not just sparkling juice.

Drunkeness is the work of the flesh (Gal 5:21) and do not drink if you are weak (Rom 14:21).

Thus one must know the level of drink that one can take and therefore prudence is the right order of the day, Both extremes are not Biblical and neither do we want to take that stance.

Personally I do not drink, not because I think it is intrinsically wrong but because I cannot hold it and do not derive pleasure from it. And scripture gives me the wisdom and I concur. :wink:

God bless.


After watching half of my 18 uncles and aunts fall into alcoholism and drug abuse, I made the decision in my teens not ever to touch the stuff. I never have and will be 40 on Thursday. My spouse has also never drank. Sadly, the relatives who have dabbled in this have had more divorce, troubles with children, and fallen away from the church. I don’t regret this decision one bit. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

Alcohol is not forbidden, but like many things, can be used irresponsibly. I know people who have the occasional drink with no issues, as well as people who I simply refuse to be around when they drink because they can’t control themselves.

I personally do not drink, and know several people who should probably stop drinking, but that something is a problem for some people does not mean that it should be forbidden to all.

Actually, in many Jewish areas, adult Jews (without drinking problems) are obliged to get drunk (tipsy drunk, anyway) on Purim, to celebrate the wonderful thing God did for them. So yeah, the Book of Esther cuts both ways. There is an official Talmud definition of how drunk is drunk enough: so drunk you can’t tell the difference between saying “Blessed is Mordecai” and “Cursed is Haman.”

Christians are never obliged to get drunk, though!

Wine was one of the basics of life in Mediterranean and Mideastern countries.

That said, It’s “wine that cheers both God and men.” (Judges 9:13)

“Give strong drink to them that are sad: and wine to them that are grieved in mind.” (Proverbs 31:6)

“Go, eat fat meats, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to them that have not prepared for themselves, because it is the holy day of the Lord; and be not sad, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

“Thou waterest the hills from thy upper rooms; the earth shall be filled with the fruit of thy works, bringing forth grass for cattle, and herb for the service of men; that thou mayst bring bread out of the earth, and that wine may cheer the heart of man; that he may make the face cheerful with oil, and that bread may strengthen man’s heart.” (Ps. 104:14-15)

One of the important OT texts for Christology and Communion comes from Proverbs 9:1-5:

Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars. She hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table.

She hath sent her maids to invite to the tower, and to the walls of the city, "Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me."

And to the unwise she said, "Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mixed for you. Forsake childishness, and live, and walk by the ways of prudence."

Sirach isn’t accepted by all denominations, but it has a lot to say about the good and bad of wine use, especially in Sirach 31.

“How sufficient is a little wine for a man well taught! and in sleeping thou shalt not be uneasy with it, and thou shalt feel no pain.” (Sirach 31:22)

“…Wine taken with sobriety is equal life to men: if thou drink it moderately, thou shalt be sober.” (Sirach 31:32)

“Wine was created from the beginning to make men joyful, and not to make them drunk. Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart. Sober drinking is health to soul and body.” (Sirach 31:35-37)

That “from the beginning” is very important, as it’s the same phrase Jesus uses about what is proper to marriage (staying married) and what is the work of hardhearted men (divorce).

Sirach also has a very nice verse about friendship:

“A new friend is like new wine. He shall grow old, and thou shalt drink with pleasure.” (Sirach 9:15)

This is a bit aside from the original poster’s question, though, which was about practices and teachings of various denominations and faiths. Sorry about that, and I’ll spare you more verses!

The tendency towards substance abuse and addiction seems to run in families and probably has a genetic component. So your decision is no doubt a wise one.


Thank you. Hoping my children follow suit.

Drink = okay
Drunkenness = not okay

:slight_smile: My (mostly German) LCMS college friends and I were fond of calling good German beer “The Lutheran Beverage”.

More tolerant? Heck, it’s de facto required! :smiley:



My family background is a combination of Catholic, mainline Anglican, Methodist and Baptist and probably the one thing that has always been emphasised in my family is responsible drinking. Alcohol per se was and isn’t treated as some forbidden fruit, but there still is an emphasis that if you drink, you don’t get bladdered drunk.

I’m drinking rakija right now funnily enough.

Here is an excerpt from my denomination’s official position on the consumption of alcohol (Assembly of God):

‘Alcoholic beverages should have no place in the life of the Christian. Let there be no doubt about the Assemblies of God stand on this critical issue. We declare unequivocally our conviction that total abstinence from alcoholic beverages is the only acceptable way of life for the Christian. We call upon every member and adherent in our Fellowship, including both the ministry and the laity, to teach by word and example a life-style that abstains totally from the consumption of alcoholic beverages’.

The whole article can be found on

Note: I now realize that puts me at odds with my denomination’s official teaching because my wife and I occasionally have had a glass of wine with a meal, probably about 3 times a week, ever since we went on a vacation to Spain a couple of years ago and partook of it there with our meals, which is pretty common there.

We hadn’t remembered hearing a sermon from our pastor that addressed it and had assumed that light usage was ok. Sounds like I need to stop based on my denomination’s teaching.

Before they built the new church, my previous Catholic church in Alaska had a bar in the back. The bar was shuttered during mass (of course). Now it is used as a parish hall. They had/have some wild Polka dances on weekends.

From your article:

For two reasons we urge all believers to avoid the Satanic tool of alcohol

I am quite uncomfortable with this view of alcohol, it paints Christ as meth cook. Christ made wine at the wedding, I’d stop way short of accusing Him of creating Satan’s tool.

From what I gather Catholic, orthodox, oriental, and eastern churches allow consumption and virtually mandate it for clergy leading mass. High church Protestants like anglicans, old Catholics and some lutherans are also generally non judgmental on alcohol drinking . Mainline protestants vary but generally speaking mainline denomination churches discourage alcohol without outright banning it. Methodists are a good litmus test for this group and they have a stance of shunning alcohol use and mandating that clergy don’t drink so as not to send a bad example. Some Evangelical groups, pentecostals, baptists upfront outright ban alcohol and many areas in the American south dominated by these groups are dry to this day.

The Pentecostals I grew up with were utterly against all kinds of alcohol, going so far as to say that Jesus didn’t really drink wine, he drank a kind of grape juice. The southern baptists I know down here seem to frown on beer from the pulpit, but more unruly members will drink it outside of church with little hesitation.

This is exactly what I was taught (Catholic mother, Protestant father).

Mom and Dad drank like responsible adults and taught me the same. In fact I was allowed to drink beer with Mom and Dad out of my child-size glass.

I firmly believe that the ones who come from families where it’s a “forbidden fruit” are the ones likely headed for trouble. I knew some early teens who thought it was cool to drink alcohol in the woods without their families knowing.

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