Alcohol, fundamentalism and the Wedding of Cana

After a conversation between me and a friend at mass, I was struck with a question; for those Christian denominations which preach that all partaking of alcohol is a grave sin forbidden by the bible, how do you explain Jesus’ actions at the Wedding of Cana?
Or the other references to the consumption of alcohol in the bible?

I do not believe that partaking in the consumption of alcohol is a sin, just the abuse of it.

The wine in Cana was not about the wine. It was about Jesus taking the water into something else, which is wine. In today’s mass, that same wine is taken by Jesus to become his blood.

It’s not about what the wine is, but about what it represents.

Ask them was Christ then sinning.

I was raised in a Baptist church by a tee-totaling family.
Here’s how I would answer your question.

In the time of Jesus, there was no evil associated with alcohol. People used it at appropriate times for appropriate purposes, and no one associated it with any evil. It would be the equivalent of drinking Pepsi today.

But for much of the history of the United States, alcohol has been associated with evil. Here are a few examples:

  1. White people tricked Native American tribes out of their valuables and land by offering them alcohol, which they were (and still are) highly susceptible to. To this day, Native American reservations have a high rate of people who abuse alcohol and who are addicted to it.

  2. Women have always been victims of their husband’s alcohol use, but never more so than during the settling of the United States. During these times, a wife was totally dependent on her husband, as she had very few rights and resources of her own. When her husband went off to the saloon to drink, he could come home and mistreat and abuse her and any children with no legal consequences. If he became addicted, she would suffer not only physical abuse, but the real possibility of him not doing what was necessary to keep his property and possessions; e.g., working the land, doing the heavy chores, etc… If he gambled while drinking, everything they owned could be lost. And if he died in an alcohol-induced crime of passion, she was left bereft, and might have no other recourse than to take up prostitution.

Alcohol use and abuse by men was one of the main reasons why the Suffragette Movement gained ground. I just finished reading the biography of one of the leaders of the Suffragette Movement; she not only lectured on Votes for Women, but also for Prohibition of alcohol.

  1. During Prohibition in the U.S., organized crime grew and was rampant, mainly for the purposes of making and selling alcohol. Even after Prohibition was repealed, organized crime continues to flourish in the U.S… Nowadays, the adult crime syndicates work with teen gangs to recruit teenagers and children into their network of crime.

Friends, everyone should find this shocking–that for the sake of ALCOHOL, people were AND STILL ARE willing to break the law to make or purchase hooch, often knowing that they were buying from mobsters who were at war with each other and killed their fellow men and women as easily and carelessly as we kill flies.

How can Christians associate themselves with a substance that has so much power to lure good, decent people into committing illegal and dangerous acts?! How can Christians justify this?! I am amazed and just plain scared that Christians, especially Catholics, will argue in favor of alcohol use when they know the power of this substance. It’s like the Evil Ring from the Lord of the Rings trilogy–NO ONE should take a chance and use it because it has too much power.

  1. Association of alcohol with date rape. Like it or not, it’s the Number One Reason for date rape and other crimes against women.

  2. Association of alcohol with drunken driving murders. Yes, these are murders. The person who drinks alcohol and drives a car is doing nothing different than a person who picks up a gun. And the reason that nothing happens to people who are arrested for DUI and DWI is that everyone does it, even people who should know better, like medical professionals, lawyers, pastors, and judges. Disgusting. Drunk drivers who murder innocent people should be made to suffer an equivalent consequence that their victims and families suffered. And people who are caught driving drunk should be punished so severely that they will never ever consider drinking and driving again, and if they do, they should be considered potential murderers and put away for a long, long time so that the rest of us will be safe from them.

  3. The association of alcohol with addiction (alcoholism), which can lead to loss of home, family, job, health, dignity. Visit any rescue mission. Visit the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, and witness the waste of human lives and hear their sad stories of one-time success and happiness ended by their addiction to alcohol. None of them started drinking with the intention of becoming addicted, but it happened anyway. People who have the tendency to alcohol addiction often don’t know it until it’s too late.

It’s hard for me to believe that Christians would ever use a substance that may be OK for them, but deadly for others. How arrogant of us! How selfish!

Stuckinavortex, you and others are right. The Bible never tells us to “not drink.”

But the Bible makes it clear in many places that we are to avoid sin and the occasion of sin, and even the “appearance of evil.”

For many Christians, not just the “fundamentalists,” this Bible and traditional church teaching about “avoiding the appearance of evil” is the reason that they avoid alcohol use and condemn its use by other Christians. There is little good associated with alcohol and much, much evil and heartbreak, a tragic history of sorrow. What I listed above is just a small sampling of the havoc and tragedy that alcohol use (not just abuse) has caused and continues to cause.

How Christians can endorse its use is beyond me.

This type of alcohol-associated evil didn’t exist back in Jesus’ time when He performed the miracle of the changing of water into wine. But it does now. We can’t live in the past, and we can’t cite examples of life in the past to justify actions today that are associated with so many tragedies, crimes, and heartbreak. Alcohol use is not necessary for Christians to experience joy and freedom. We already have that.

I hope this answers your question. I recommend that you and others stop thinking that non-drinking “fundamentalists” are idiots. They are not.

Having grown up in a Fundamentalist home, I was always told that the wine was grape juice. Never mind that the text makes it clear that it was indeed wine, but I was told there was no word for grape juice when the text was recorded.

The last I heard that was a few years ago when a person claimed Catholics were sinning by consuming alcohol, no matter how little. He asked if I really thought Jesus would make a substance everyone knows to be harmful. The man backed it up with saying airline pilots cannot fly after consuming alcohol, so claiming that Jesus made wine would be saying that He knew less than today’s aviation authorities. I did not find that argument convincing.

Whilst I understand the particular US historical context that motivates these outlooks they would not be relevant for most Catholics worldwide. In Ireland where I come from they had some resonance as men abusing alcohol was at times problematic and led to movements like the pledge whereby people would vow to give up alcohol totally. I am not much of a drinker and never was (a good quality glass of ale or beer is as much as I ever usually drank and for medical reasons I now nearly never drink) but the use of alcohol in moderation is not something the Church has ever had problems with. Many other societies have managed to integrate it more effectively and responsibly such as much of continental Europe where seeing teens have watered wine or small glass of wine with their dinner is not uncommon.

Drunkeness existed in Christ’s time as well, the Church hasn nothing to say about the usage of alcohol in moderation been wrong and in fact the Bible also directs us to use a little wine as you may recall. You are carrying over Puritanical attitudes from the Baptists into Catholicism that have some merit and make some good points but that do not reflect Catholic teaching.

I agree.

My wife and I have a glass of wine with our dinner a few times a week. One of those reasons is because of the documented health benefits associated with the brain and heart when wine is taken in moderation. Plus, we like the taste of moscato.

However, I agree with Cat that alcohol can lead those with biological addictive tendencies to have problems, and a valid argument can be made that it is best to not start something if there is a risk you may not be able to handle it, because alcohol can be addictive to many.

However, some people can handle it and not have problems, so it is not a cut and dry issue for me. However, if you have a family history of alcoholism, it would probably be best to refrain from it, but that’s just my unprofessional opinion as a layman.

I understood that the problem with the “grape juice” argument was that, lacking refrigeration, there was no way to prevent grape juice from fermenting and turning into wine anyway. Plus, since in that climate fermentation would have begun relatively quickly, the idea of putting-aside different qualities of “grape juice” to serve at different times of the celebration seemed to make no sense.

Genesis 9:20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and lay naked inside his tent.


Not the best verse we could cite though as Noah’s behaviour in that instance and the following verses is pretty bad.

You mean like, when the daughters of Lot got him drunk and exploited his vulnerability so as to have sex with him and get pregnant by him? “No evil associated with alcohol” in Scriptural times, eh? :hmmm:

Drinking wine or other alcohol is not sinful…drunkenness is sinful.

When the water, turned to wine by Jesus, was tasted…they said the best wine was saved for last! :thumbsup:

Our IFB preacher years ago said Jesus turned water into grape juice…seriously. :cool:

Cat, the same thing about alcohol and its abuses can be also said about food and sex.

Which is easily shown to be false via the gospel accounts.

A lot mental gymnastics went into his explanation. They said “the wine they had back then wasn’t fermented the way we do it now”, or something to that effect if I remember.:rolleyes:
They were parroting stuff learned at Bob Jones University.

Abstinence and temperance for me has never been about moderate use of alcohol being a sin. It has always been a matter of discipline and avoiding temptation and the appearance of evil.

I don’t condemn people who drink in moderation as sinners, even though I don’t believe I could attend a church where the pastor and other leadership drank. However, I do feel outrage when I see examples in Christian churches where leadership do not even manage to drink in moderation. For example, the recent case of the Episcopal bishop who killed a cyclist while driving drunk.

The Bible tells us to be filled with the Spirit rather than drunk on wine.

I think we can safely say it would certainly have been wrong as far as God is concerned. :wink:

In Biblical times, the process for distillation of alcohol had not yet been discovered. It takes much more wine or beer for a person to get really drunk. Not counting all the trips to the restroom.

I think the Mormon Word of Wisdom, as originally written, does it well. Low alcohol drinks are OK in moderation, avoid the concentrated ones.

Bob Jones university has perfected a unique form of gymnastics over the years in many fields.

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