What Is God’s View of Alcohol?

OUR Creator, who wants what is best for us, does not prohibit the moderate use of alcohol.* On the contrary, he has given man “wine to make him happy, olive oil to make him cheerful, and bread to give him strength.” (Psalm 104:15, Today’s English Version) On one occasion, Jesus Christ contributed to the enjoyment of a wedding by turning water into “the best wine.”—John 2:3-10, New Jerusalem Bible.

It stands to reason that the Creator knows precisely how alcohol affects the function of the body and the brain. Through the pages of the Bible, our heavenly Father ‘teaches us to benefit ourselves,’ and he strongly cautions us against the abuse of strong drink. (Isaiah 48:17) Notice these frank warnings:

“Do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery.” (Ephesians 5:18) “Drunkards . . . will never inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Jerusalem Bible) God’s Word condemns “getting drunk, wild parties, and things similar to these.”—Galatians 5:19-21, Byington.

Let us now consider some of the dangers of drinking too much alcohol.

Dangers of Overdrinking

While alcohol can do some good, it contains potent ingredients that alter how the mind and body function. Overuse of alcohol can cause any of the following problems:

Heavy drinking impairs the drinker’s judgment, so that he ‘will not be able to think clearly.’ (Proverbs 23:33, TEV) Allen, the heavy drinker mentioned in the preceding article, explains: “Alcoholism is not just a disease of the body; it’s a disease of one’s thinking and attitudes. You block out the hurt that it causes other people.”

Drinking too much alcohol can also result in lowered inhibitions. The Scriptures warn: “Wine and sweet wine are what take away good motive.” (Hosea 4:11) How so? Under the deceptive influence of alcohol, thoughts and desires that we normally suppress can begin to seem quite acceptable—if not inviting. Our resolve to stick to what is right can be weakened. Alcohol can undermine our moral defenses, resulting in spiritual disaster.

John, for example, had argued with his wife and had stormed off to the bar. He had already had a few drinks to calm down when a woman approached him. After a few more drinks, John left with her and committed adultery. Afterward, John deeply regretted doing something he would never have contemplated had his inhibitions not been lowered by alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol can result in uncontrolled speech and actions. “Who is always in trouble? Who argues and fights?” asks the Bible. “Everyone who stays up late, having just one more drink.” (Proverbs 23:29, 30, Contemporary English Version) Overdrinking can make you “feel as if you were out on the ocean, seasick, swinging high up in the rigging of a tossing ship.” (Proverbs 23:34, TEV) A man who has overindulged can wake up “bruised all over, without even remembering how it all happened.”—Proverbs 23:35, CEV.

Overdrinking can damage physical health. “In the end [alcohol] bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:32, New International Version) Medical science has confirmed the wisdom of that ancient proverb. Alcohol in large quantities is a potentially lethal toxin that can lead to various cancers, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, low blood sugar in diabetics, fetal alcohol syndrome, stroke, or heart failure—to name but a few consequences. And even one instance of overdrinking or bingeing can result in coma or in death. The most serious consequences of overindulgence, though, are not described in medical textbooks.

The greatest danger. Even though a person may not get drunk, immoderate drinking poses spiritual dangers. The Bible plainly says: “Woe to those who are getting up early in the morning that they may seek just intoxicating liquor, who are lingering till late in the evening darkness so that wine itself inflames them!” Why? Isaiah explains the spiritual consequences of immoderate drinking: “The activity of Jehovah they do not look at, and the work of his hands they have not seen.”—Isaiah 5:11, 12.

God’s Word advises us not “to be among heavy drinkers of wine.” (Proverbs 23:20) Aged women are cautioned not to be “enslaved to a lot of wine.” (Titus 2:3) Why not? Slowly—often imperceptibly—people start consuming a little more alcohol with increasing frequency. Eventually, the drinker may “lie awake asking, ‘When will morning come, so I can drink some more?’” (Proverbs 23:35, CEV) Drinkers cross a perilous threshold when they crave an eye-opener, a drink in the morning to recover from the previous night’s excesses.

The Bible warns that those who engage in “excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches . . . will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.” (1 Peter 4:3, 5) And regarding the crucial times in which we live, Jesus warned: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly [Jehovah’s] day be instantly upon you as a snare.”—Luke 21:34, 35.

What, though, can immoderate drinkers do to prevent becoming ‘weighed down with heavy drinking’?

[Footnote]

In this article, “alcohol” and “drink” refer broadly to beer, wine, and other spirits.

[Pictures on page 4, 5]

Overuse of alcohol can lead to many problems