Beverage Alcohol? Don’t Give Yourself a Headache over This!

FrontLine 20th Anniversary Edition

How hard can this be? We honestly have to wonder if anyone who is toying with the idea of drinking alcohol has ever had a drunk in the family. Broken homes, abuse, disease, early death, financial ruin, reckless homicide—the list goes on and on. The next time you hear Dave Ramsey screaming “Don’t cosign!” imagine him saying, “Don’t drink!” That’s the short version of the position that FrontLine takes on drinking. The more thoughtful approach has appeared in the articles referenced below.

“Does the Bible Condone Alcoholic Beverages?” Gary Reimers, Fall 1993

Fundamentalists find themselves in a difficult and awkward position concerning alcoholic beverages. By instinct, tradition, and Biblical principle they are convinced that believers should abstain entirely. Yet that position is under strong attack today by others who also claim to believe the Bible. Among New Evangelicals the trend is toward “social drinking” as the acceptable practice for Christians, and they point to the Word of God for support. . . .

In Bible times the purpose was to purify drinking water. In our world good drinking water is usually available. Instead, most people who drink alcoholic beverages today do so either because they like the effect of the alcohol or because they want to be accepted by others. . . .

While the Bible does not prohibit the use of wine for people in general (assuming the proper dilution), there are three classes of people for whom no amount of alcohol is allowed. The priests serving in the tabernacle were not to use alcohol lest it hinder their ability to communicate the truth of God’s Word to others (Lev. 19:9–11). Kings were not to use alcohol lest it distort their ability to discern what is right (Prov. 31:4, 5). Nazarites were not to use alcohol lest it deter their dedication to the Lord (Num. 6:3).

Those are not outdated Old Testament categories. God has designated us “kings and priests” (Rev. 1:5, 6) and calls on us to dedicate ourselves to serve Him (Luke 9:23). Certainly God’s standards for His kings, priests, and dedicated servants today are at least as high as they were then. The only question is, “Are we willing to submit to His will and His Word?” Consider carefully the apostle Paul’s exhortation:

  • The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof (Rom. 13:12–14).
“Is Separation Old Fashioned?” Frank Bumpus, May/June 1997

We live in a day when the entertainment industry continually sinks to new lows of immorality (flaunting its nudity, profanity, and violence), and the media becomes increasingly brazen in its ridicule of Christian beliefs and standards. Yet in the midst of all this, some Christian leaders want to rethink the most basic positions. While addiction ravages our nation, some look more favorably on social drinking. . . . The loosening of standards is not a result of theological enlightenment, but of a theological erosion that betrays a deeper heart problem.

The leadership of the American Association of Christian Schools was greeted by then-President George W. Bush in the briefing room of the Old Executive Office Building of the White House in 2002. He made it a point to meet with us, since that same group had to run from the building with everyone else during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. During that meeting, he commented that the media and his critics could not understand or would not accept that he had conquered his drinking by becoming a Christian. In his recent book, Decision Points (pp. 33–34), he recounts how he became a teetotaler. His salvation testimony there is not as clear, but he gives God the credit.

After making essentially the same arguments that Dr. Reimer’s article made, the following article referenced President Bush’s testimony and presented six arguments against beverage alcohol.

“The Christian and Alcohol,” Chuck Phelps, May/June 2005

Did you know that President George W. Bush is a teetotaler? His abstinence has not limited his career. Quite the opposite is true! President Bush claims to have trusted Christ as Savior and put away alcohol. What does our Christian president know that you need to know too?

  1. Alcohol is very addictive, enslaving one out of every ten users! First Corinthians 6:12 forbids such addictions, as does Ephesians 5:18.
  2. Alcohol harms your body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20). “Beer, wine, and hard liquor form toxic substances called aldehydes that can destroy the liver, kidney, and brain cells” (Robert Haas, MD, former president of the American College of Sports Nutrition).
  3. The Bible forbids the use of “strong drink” (Prov. 20:1; 23:29–31). All modern alcoholic drinks are forbidden by this prohibition!
  4. Your example will cause others to stumble (Rom. 14:21). According to a survey by the Daily Journal newspaper (Oct. 26, 1988), one of the top five reasons teenagers drink is because their parents drink.
  5. Christians are kings and priests (1 Pet. 2:9). The Bible says that kings and priests are not to drink (Prov. 31:4, 5; Lev. 10:8, 9).
  6. The cost may be huge (Prov. 21:17)! The annual consumption of alcoholic beverages in the United States has reached 2.7 gallons of pure alcohol for every person fourteen years and older, the equivalent of 591 beers each (a substantial financial expenditure).

Just last year, Dr. Phelps’s article “May Christians Drink in Moderation?” appeared in the May/June issue of FrontLine (republished on P&D yesterday, see link). We will no doubt have to address this problem again in the future as the “deeper heart problem” that Dr. Bumpus mentioned manifests itself more and more.

May we add another reason not to drink? Waking up with a headache is the anecdotal consequence of excessive drinking. Excessive argument on the subject may have the same effect.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January/February 2011. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)