Scrupulosity over alcohol

Hello, friends!

I know alcohol has been posted about before and is a topic that people have many different opinions on. And I hope I’m not posting something that has been posted about too often, but I feel like my situation is, in a way, unique.

I grew up in a Baptist leaning Protestant family. I was raised to pretty much believe that alcohol does nothing but bad things to and for people, and as such, it should not be indulged in at all, or if it is, only a single drink.

When I became older, I joined the Catholic Church. And obviously the theology and attitude towards alcohol is quite a bit different. When I turned 21 I learned that I enjoy drinking. The problem is that I have it drilled into my mind that having over a drink or two is a pretty major sin.

I also fear that when I drink enough to where I’m feeling “merry” or more happy than usual, I am committing a mortal sin, or am “drunk” by some people’s definition. I have drank enough to where I lost control of what I was doing or distinguishing between right or wrong, but that is not the case when I’m just feeling “merry”, as I always pay close attention to what I’m doing.

I have had trouble with scrupulosity a lot in the past with many different things. And I guess my question is am I worrying too much about this? Am I giving into the Baptist-type anti alcohol beliefs I was raised with?

As far as to whether or not you’re sinning, I’d say consult a priest especially if you have other issues with scrupulosity.

If you are not comfortable with the amount you are drinking, you may stop. You are not required to drink alcohol. You can refrain while still recognizing that it is not sinful for others to consume alcohol.

If you are concerned about your experience or judgement when using any amount of alcohol, just don’t drink at all. What may be a non issue for others might be an issue for you.

It would be all kinds of wrong for me to drink alcohol because it does lead me to sinful behavior. But that is not a condemnation of alcohol or on others drinking it. We each have our own temptations that we must avoid.

Thank you for your reply!

My parish is actually getting a new priest on July 1st, and I plan on consulting with him about it.

I know that it isn’t required that Catholics drink alcohol, but it is something that I enjoy, especially socially. I guess my thing is I was raised to think that having more than a couple drinks and feeling good and maybe a little tipsy is what being drunk is. I’m trying to figure out if that’s the case, and if I need to be going to confession before recieving communion if I did drink that much. Or should I just not be worrying about this if I’m comfortable with the amount that I’m drinking so long as it’s not destructive to me, my morals, or the people around me.

Thanks for the reply!

I’m not concerned with my experience or judgement. I know I am in full control. My only problem is worrying about what my family with their Baptist type beliefs told me is true. That having more than a drink or two is extremely sinful.

To re post an older post of mine:

I will answer in general – not to specifics (numbers of drinks etc- for that will change from person to person - body weight etc)

When it is excessive there is sin. When drinking is contrary to temperance or health etc.

Examples of when drinking is grave sin (mortal sin) would be - getting “drunk” -that is -total loss of ones reason, drinking leading to other mortal sins etc.

Going beyond temperance can be venial sin

(I set aside any question of driving…that brings other aspects into things! - we do are not to put ourselves or others at risk - so I go with the saying “don’t drink and drive”.
Remember too that women and men are different and body weight plays into things - I believe there are charts to help here -but go to a valid source–that tell one how long it takes for how much alcohol to leave ones system…)

(And of course a person with a history of overdoing it -ought to take great care - and if any have say alcoholism - that is a “never drink” situation.

And one ought to look a new research as well in terms of health.


1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart."72 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites."73 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world."74

To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).75

I will re-post another older post of mine.

A person struggles with scruples - what ought they do?

A person with scrupulosity --ought to have a* “regular confessor” who can direct them --and even give them some general principles* to follow -to apply (principles for them due to their particular scruples -they are usually not for those with a normal conscience).

Thus with their direction they can “dismiss scruples” (in the older language despise them) - “act against them” (agere contra).

Scruples are to be dismissed ~ not argued with.

To borrow and image from a Carthusian from centuries ago: Scruples *are like a barking dog or a hissing goose -one does not stop to argue with a barking dog or a hissing goose does one? * No one keeps walking.

Such ‘obedience’ to a regular confessor who knows of ones scruples (except in what is manifest sin - such as if he told them it was ok to murder someone or something certain like that) is key. Such is the age old practice.

Also counseling -(especially if one also has OCD) could be helpful depending on the case -but one would want to look for a counselor who can assist one in following the Churches Teachings - not go contrary to them (I have heard CA staff mention

Here was a not too long ago post from Jimmy Akin of CA that I saw in the Register and saved for those who struggle with such.

One has a “renewal of the mind” not keeping old ideas that are not in keeping with the Catholic Faith or theology…no matter what they are.

As to what is sinful regarding alcohol use - and what is gravely sinful – see the post above.

)Myself - I know that more than two drinks is going beyond temperance for me.)

Most dr’s will tell you that more than that is unhealthy as well, soooo respect your temple of the Holy Spirit and don’t drink more than that.

Thank you very much for your replies. This helps a lot! God bless.

Actually 3-4 drinks is considered moderate drinking (for men) among the medical community.

I think this is good advice. There is no requirement for you to consume alcohol. If something is a stumbling block for you, you may avoid it.

I agree that if alcohol is a stumbling block for people, that they should avoid it. But it isn’t a stumbling block for me so much as I’m just wondering if consuming moderate amounts is a mortal sin.

I think two is an excellent limit. And yes, I know from experience.

From the standpoint of health, 2 should be your limit.

Then one should be your limit.

One IS my limit.

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