Can you show from the Bible that alcohol is prohobited?
The Bible seems to be pretty clear that drunkenness and alcoholism are not part of God’s plan for our lives. But what does the Bible say about having a glass of wine over dinner? Many Christians point to verses in the Bible that they say prove that a person should never touch or even look at alcohol. Although this certainly is true for people who struggle with alcoholism from a practical (as opposed to theological) standpoint, it can’t be shown from the Bible that this is true for every person.
If alcohol causes so many deaths and can be such a stumbling block, isn’t it better to try to use the Bible to say it’s prohibited?
There’s no doubt that man’s weakness concerning the abuse of alcohol has caused much suffering and sin. If you want to argue that someone should never touch alcohol on these grounds, you could make a good case. You could also make a case that drinking alcohol in front of Christians who believe it is a sin, and thereby causing them to experiment with it in violation of their own conscience, is wrong. That is reason enough for many to never touch alcohol. The problem is when people want the Bible to condemn alcohol so badly that they systematically abuse the word of God by redefining language and misinterpreting Bible text to suit their doctrine.
Verses that are used to support prohibition of all alcohol
Lev 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations:
Unfortunately when a command is given to a group of people, the usual interpretation is that the command is given to that group for a reason and does not extend to the people outside that group. Why would God tell Aaron and his sons not to drink wine if the command were for everybody? Even worse, it doesn’t tell them to never drink wine or strong drink, only when they were going to go into the tabernacle. Similar verses that are given as a command to a specific group of people are:
Pro 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Pro 31:5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
What about this:
Pro 23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
Pro 23:32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Although this verse, at first glance, seems to present an airtight case that one should never drink wine, it seems clear after reading the context that it is talking about drunkenness. Read further:
Pro 23:33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
Pro 23:34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.
Pro 23:35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
These don’t seem to describe the state of a person who has had a glass or two of wine or a can or two of beer.
Although I can imagine the Christian literalist taking it to its full extent and averting his eyes as a couple at an adjoining table in a restaurant enjoy a glass of wine together, you should consider that not everything in Proverbs is meant to be taken literally. Not too many chapters later:
Pro 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Pro 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Proverbs are meant to be a small dose of wisdom to be applied to different situations as they warrant. If you are likely to become an alcoholic, you would do well to consider never drinking alcohol. Similarly, if you have a history of overstaying your welcome at your friend’s house, you should pay attention to this:
Pro 25:17 Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
Proverbs is a book of common sense. Not all of us were born with a healthy dose, but taking the wisdom in Proverbs and applying it as necessary will set you well on the path to wisdom. Taking everything in Proverbs literally without trying to use some common sense will send you in the "other direction".
Other verses of interest in the Alcohol debate
Isa 25:6 And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
Maybe I’m just stupid, but if we’re never supposed to drink alcohol, can someone explain this to me? "A feast of wines on the lees"? According to Chick publications, this means "fermented wine". Modern Bibles translate this as "aged wine".
Was the Drink of the First Communion Wine or Grape Juice?
Mat 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
The drink Jesus refers to in the cup is "fruit of the vine". Many will say this is without a doubt grape juice. To say that "fruit of the vine" must refer to grape juice is an anachronism; a fairly convincing one at first glance, but a bit of research on the term reveals that this was a common way of referring to alcoholic wine. "Fruit of the vine" was how Jews commonly referred to the Paschal wine1. Since this was taking place at the time of Passover, it is no surprise that Jesus uses this terminology to refer to the drink now in question in the cup before Him. Herodotus also uses the same phrase in a narrative of dialog between Tomyris and Cyrus to refer to intoxicating drink2.