Question: Lately my heart has been so incredibly heavy. The words from 1 Cor 6:9-10 play over and over in my head… specifically “drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God”. So many of my family members and friends, even those who love the Lord, are caught up in this lifestyle. God is all righteous and His Word is the highest standard. Where does mercy come into play for those who love and adamantly try to serve the Lord but see no fault in substance use? Many churches don’t even touch this subject, or drink right along side their congregants. Are people drinking themselves right into Hell or will they just experience destruction here on earth and their souls be saved?
Boy, this is a hotly debated topic in the body of Christ! To drink or not to drink, that is the question! As always I like to try and point to what the Word says and not what it does not say. In part, however, our understanding of the Word will always be affected by our motives. I believe motives is one of the greatest reasons for this debate.
As a pastor, whenever I mention drinking in the pulpit, I tend never to do it from a positive light. This is not because I am on a soapbox, trying to force my opinions on other people. It actually comes from common sense. I often present this point in the debate on drinking. Show me where drinking, especially in this society, has ever been a positive thing. Ask any doctor about drinking liquor or beer and the effects of it. How many times have peoples’ lives been ruined by drunk driving, domestic abuse, or the various other issues that accompany drinking? Our society is literally plagued by the abuse of alcohol and yet still so many people partake of it. The question is why and the answer is because of their motives. They want to. If someone wants to do something they will justify it anyway they can.
When people argue that drinking alcohol is OK according to the Bible, they are actually being misleading. First of all, the Bible does not advocate for the drinking of alcohol. The only thing that could be argued, possibly, is that the Bible okays the usage of wine. No where in scripture do you see any righteous person advocating drunken parties, drinking to excess, or even casual usage of alcohol. In fact, the Bible CLEARLY tells us that excessive usage of alcohol called drunkenness is specifically prohibited. Anybody who says otherwise is simply ignoring scripture.
Now, I know some good Christians, who after having done extensive study of the Word, and have sought the Lord, and have sought spiritual counsel, have felt justified to partake of a little wine, for their health sake on occasion. They have never had and do not have a problem with drugs or alcohol and it is on a very limited basis. I am not in the place of judging that, and I certainly don’t think they are going to hell. However, most people would never have any idea they are doing it. Are they wrong? That’s between them and God.
The truth is most Christians that are trying to argue for the consumption of alcohol are not doing it from that perspective. They are typically people who are trying to justify doing somethings that the Bible clearly tells them they shouldn’t. People who are going and getting packs of beer, or wanting to drink with their friends and family are not supported by scripture. They will quote scriptures like when Paul told Timothy to, “drink a little wine for his stomach sake” but the truth is, this is not what they are doing. They are manipulating the Word in order that they may sin.
I know that may seem harsh, but sometimes people just need to hear it said clearly. One thing that people have gone to as good reasons for drinking is its health benefits. The truth is, there probably aren’t any. A few years ago it came out that the studies that were done on the health benefits of drinking were all funded by the alcohol industry. To me that sounds a little bit like a conflict of interest. I am not saying that wine does not have some good properties but certainly you can’t say the same really about any other kind of alcohol for the purpose of human consumption. There is a truth that before modern medicine some liquors were used for pain killers for surgeries and things of the like, to which I don’t have an issue with that because that was what was medicinal at the time. However, that too is not the same as bellying up to a bar and/or knocking back a few.
The Bible warns in many places about the effects of alcohol. Proverbs 20:1 (NASB) says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” Noah got in trouble with alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 says specifically not to be drunk and sobriety believe it or not can be seen in the fruits of the Spirit (self-control in Galatians 5:23). But even with that, what about the warnings about drunkenness? Of course the scriptures you mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 but also in Galatians 5:21 (NASB). “Envying, DRUNKENNESS, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, THAT THOSE WHO PRACTICE SUCH THINGS WILL NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God.”
My take away is this, if it could possibly take me to hell, then why on earth would I want to even get close to it? Too many Christians live, towing the line and as much as it’s up to me or in my knowledge, I want to stay far away from it. In closing, I will say that if a person struggles with alcoholism, it doesn’t mean that they will necessarily go to hell. I have great, compassion for people who struggle with addictions. But again, this is not the same as people who willfully choose to partake of things, ignoring the truth in order to do so.. When the Bible is talking about drunkards, these are the type of people it is referring to. As Christians, we have a responsibility to know the truth, accept the truth, and endeavor to live by the truth. If we refuse, then we are in the wrong.