In a business setting is it okay for a Christian to drink alcoholic beverages?
Let us review what the Bible says about wine and strong drink. First, I believe that the Biblical reference to wine is actually wine, not grape juice. I believe that strong drink is what is classified as “spirits” in our modern nomenclature.
The Old Testament refers to refraining from wine and strong drink in the following cases:
1) When the priest is serving in the tent of meeting (tabernacle or sanctuary) Lv 10:9
2) When taking a vow of consecration or Nazarite vow – Nu 6:3, Jgs 13 4, 7, 14; 1 Sm 1:11-15
The Old Testament informs the reader that wine and strong drink can impair one’s judgment and spiritual vision:
1) Proverbs 20:1 – Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.
- Proverbs 20:1 : Gen 9:21; Prov 23:29, 30; Is 28:7; Hos 4:11
- Proverbs 20:1 : Prov 31:4; Is 5:22; 56:12
2) Proverbs 31:4-7 – 4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire strong drink, 5For they will drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter. 7Let him drink and forget his poverty And remember his trouble no more.
3) Isaiah 28:7 – But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
4) Isaiah 56:8-12 – 8The Lord GOD, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. 9All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. 10His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. 12Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
The New Testament talks about the consumption or use wine in various contexts, not as much about strong drink; the caution is typically to pursue moderation:
1) Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. (John 2:1-10)
2) Wine is used for antiseptic purposes, as it is poured on a wound. (Luke 10:30-34)
3) Our actions should not cause a brother or sister who is weak if faith to stumble.
Romans 10:13-23 – 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
4) Paul advises Timothy to use wine instead of water, for therapeutic purposes, for the sake of his stomach and frequent ailments. (1Timothy 6:23)
Paul gives specific instructions to Timothy and Titus regarding the qualifications for leadership in the church. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul lays out the qualifications for an overseer (bishop or presbyter). He states that they should not be addicted to wine. They must be temperate, prudent, and respectable. They must have a good reputation with those outside the church. In 1 Timothy 3:8-13, Paul lays out the qualifications for the office of deacon. He states they should not be addicted to wine. Among other things, they should be people of dignity and integrity. In Titus 1:5-11, Paul lays out essentially the same qualifications for overseer (bishop or presbyter) as in 1 Timothy. They need to conduct themselves in such a way that they can teach sound doctrine and refute those who contradict sound doctrine.
Based on the above review of scripture, I believe it is not sinful to consume alcoholic beverages, such as wine, in particular. I believe a Christian should avoid the consumption of spirits. Clearly, one should abstain from alcoholic consumption during periods of fasting or consecration. We should be mindful of those whose spiritual walk is not as strong as ours. We are responsible to not cause anyone to stumble.
Further, we know from the Bible and from experience that alcoholic beverages can impair our judgment and we always want to emanate a positive image of Christ. I do believe that each believer is called to be an ambassador for Christ. The question you should ask yourself is: What is the highest and best life that I can live as a Christian and be an example to draw others unto Christ? I believe Christians are to be light in darkness. We are to live our lives in a way that would draw people to Christ.