Why no drinking?


I’ve gotten the impression that some Protestants (or let’s just say “non-Catholic Christians”) do not drink any alcohol for religious reasons. Can anyone verify that this is the case and explain why?


This is one of those cases where Catholics are more “Biblical” than some Protestants. The Seventh Day Adventists go so far as to use water instead of wine at Communion, and I believe some other Protestant churches do as well, despite the clear instructions given by Jesus at the Last Supper.

This Prohibitionist thinking has extended to Judaism, too. In some synagogues the wine served at the Kiddush is replaced by either water or grape juice.

It came from the temperance movement in the 1800s. They saw alcoholism as a social evil (which it is) but couldn’t distinguish it from light consumption of alcohol. It culminated in prohibition in this country which caused the streets to run red with blood.

Bad theology makes for bad laws.

Thankfully that dumb law was repealed.

The Southern Baptist Convention prohibits it’s members from drinking even on this day.
Their president Al Mohler even went so far as to say that 90% of church services would
be denied to those who drink.

Many Fundamentalist Protestant in my native South Africa also prohibit drinking.

The Dutch Reformed Church (of which I was once a member) offers the option of grape juice instead of wine during communion services to members who have a moral objection to drinking.

The prohibition movement eventually took on an anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant character, and they often portrayed Irish and Italian immigrants as drunks. It also played a role in the 1928 election when the Democratic nominee, Al Smith, was pilloried by the Prohibitionists both for his Catholic faith and his opposition to prohibition.

Interestingly the Prohibition Party is still in existence in the US today, and they field a candidate in the US Presidential election every four years. To date, they don’t hold any elective offices anywhere in the US.

The two verses I remember being associated with my Pentecostal-Holiness church against alcohol are:

  • numerous condemnations of strong drink (Proverbs 20:1)
  • an exhortation to remember that our bodies are the Temple of God, (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20)

The latter was followed by the belief that nothing should be brought into the body that would pollute the Temple, whether that be alcohol, nicotine, or various drugs. Caffiene, thankfully, was never mentioned. They never mentioned high-fructose corn syrup, either, though a ban against that would have been helpful.

In fairness, how else does society prevent alcoholism?

“How else” implies that involuntary temperance prevents alcoholism. It doesn’t.

A person I know, who is an alcoholic, partakes of the Precious Blood. It does not affect him wanting alcohol. But if he thought it would, he could always just take the Body alone.

Yep. Just like anti drug laws don’t prevent people from using drugs.

In all fairness, a lot of the temperance movement stemmed from the early feminists - suffragettes, for good reason. Many had husbands, who, when they came home, would get drunk and beat their wives and children. The thinking was that if alcohol was banned, then their husbands would stop beating them. This, plus the idea floated around by many Protestant ministers - that alcohol, was, in and of itself, intrisically evil, was what led to the Prohibition movement.

The Pharisees accused Jesus and the Apostles of the same thing, too. So, I guess we’re in good company in regards to that kind of persecution. :smiley:

Jesus never disapproved of anyone drinking wine with a meal or with friends, but drinking to the point of drunkenness is a different story. His first public miracle was to turn water into wine at the wedding feast. Even at the last supper, one of His last lessons to the Apostles was to bless bread and wine, then eat and drink them in memory of His sacrifice, so those who think prohibition is absolutely necessary are ignoring what Jesus taught us to do. Jesus started and finished His public ministry with wine, which gives us a definitive lesson that we can also use wine responsibly.

Catholics are allowed the freedom to drink alcohol (beer, wine, liquor), but they are also expected to practice self-control when doing so. This teaches us to be able to subject our bodies to our will as God intends us to do, which is a very important spiritual exercise. If someone is prohibited from drinking alcohol, which is not really a problem when done in moderation, then they might not learn how to use self-control in other areas of life, either. Do all Catholics use self-control consistently? Nope. Those are the people that tend to make Catholics look bad when drinking. :rolleyes:

I heard that the claim is that the wine that Jesus used was very weak in alcoholic content.

I can only admire those Christian who give up alcohol due to religious reason. It would be so much more Christian to be sober rather than drunk. I would wish more Catholics would do the same.

But of course it does not mean that wine is prohibited totally, like it is poison; just don’t get drunk. And that’s really the point - most people who drink will get drunk. Well.:shrug:

I go out of my way, when with certain company, to drink moderately just to prove it’s a-ok.

Hopefully you are sure that certain company, if they decide to follow your example because it works for you, has your self control and a high enough body weight to handle a drink.

Just curious how the basis for this claim came about. Did they have a meter to measure the alcohol content?:smiley: But on a serious note, traditional wine making 2000 yrs ago would probably result in alcohol level of 10-15% depending on the amount of sugars in the grapes. Not low by any standard.

From historical sources. I drank some wine made at home in that area, and it was very watery, not too much different from weak grape juice.

Good for you, Syro. :thumbsup:

I can’t hold my drink, can’t say whether it is a blessing because obviously I would have more friends if I could. My brothers who do, have bigger circle of friends. I do give it a glass or the most two, when in those company and then quickly excused myself as I would be feeling drowsy. Never got hooked into it, probably due to that reason, and not so much of wanting to avoid it. :o

God bless.


In the days of Jesus, wine and beer were considered healthy drinks. Distilled beverages had not been invented yet. At one point, wine was considered an integral and recommended part of healthy food and drink menus.

It was a consequence of the invention of distilled beverages that alcohol could be consumed in concentrated forms.

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