There isn’t a ‘magic number’ of alcoholic beverages you can have. When deciding if something is a sin or not you must look at the context of the situation, the intent, the actual behavior, etc.
There is no sin in consuming alcohol, in and of itself. If a person wishes to have a beer with their dinner, or have a quiet drink after work now and again, it’s fine. Glass of wine after a hard day? Have at it.
The problem arises when it comes to ‘excessive’ drinking. So, what is ‘excessive’? Well, a few people here have said that anything over 2 or 3 drinks is excessive, but without a time-frame to go with that, I have to disagree. 3 beers in an hour would probably be excessive. At a social function that runs for hours on end, 3 beers during the entire evening would probably be fine if properly spaced out.
About once a month I have a group of friends over and we play monopoly. Beer or wine is practically a requirement for the night. A game usually lasts well into the evening. Each of us probably drink between 4-6 beers over nearly 8 hours. Some might say that is excessive, but if you ever sat and watched us you’ll see its a rather mellow affair. Everyone acts responsibly. Nobody is “out to get trashed” or anything like that. We simply enjoy our beer and play board games.
In other words, we aren’t drinking ourselves stupid, which is what you want to avoid.
If you get together with your buddies, and go out for the night with a goal of “Hey, lets get wasted and do something crazy” then yes, I think it is safe to say you are heading toward the land of ‘excessive’ drinking.
And tolerance has a bit to do with it too. Some people handle alcohol better than others. If two drinks is going to have you dancing around with a lamp shade on your head, then two drinks has become excessive for you.
Also, as others have pointed out, drinking is sometimes merely the gateway to other sins. Remember the thief who steals your good senses. The worry here is that booze lowers your inhibitions, and you do things you would not normally do. Maybe it’s giving in to lust. Maybe it’s getting into a bar fight. Maybe its simply that you become loud or obnoxious after a few drinks and publicly embarrass yourself.
Not good things, my friend.
General rules of thumb: 1) Dont go out looking to get smashed just for the sake of it. 2) Know your own limits. If you get drunk on 2 beers, don’t have the second one. 3) Know the setting that you are in. A college party with drunk frat boys is a completely different environment than a few beers and good conversation with friends at home. 4) Know that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions. Just because your buddy is throwing back shots and being goofy doesn’t mean you have to.
And a final word of advice, especially when out with friends: SPACE OUT the alcohol. I know when you are in that young “Party Mentality” your friends want to run straight to the bar, order beers and shots and drink it all down like it is going out of style.
Dont be that guy. Why? Because two hours into the night he’s going to be all over the place. I dont care what anyone says. Being drunk is not attractive.
Get to the bar, order something sensible. You don’t have to chug your beer. Sit back and enjoy it. And there is nothing wrong with having a non-alcoholic beverage in between. Have the bartender pour a coke into a short glass. Everyone will assume it is a mixed drink, and that’ll keep them from hassling you when they get to that drunk stage of “Dude, why arent you drinking more?”
Moderation is the key. Drink responsibly my friend.