Proverbs 23:19-21 — 19 Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction. 20 Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. 21 Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags (MSG).
Alcohol and gluttony are two things that can derail our lives very quickly, and there is probably not enough sound teaching on either subject coming from the pulpit. There are other substances, besides alcohol and food, that are plaguing the church, but I want to focus on this particular passage today. I have already addressed overeating, so I want to look specifically at alcohol.
I recently read a conversation between multiple young ministers on the message board of a particular social network. There were probably twenty to thirty men and women participating in the dialogue. I read as each of them voiced their opinions on whether pastors and other church leaders should consume alcohol or not.
Many of them shared about their personal experiences and struggles. They also gave biblical principles and scientific facts to support their positions. They all shared one of two views. Ministers should either abstain from alcohol altogether, or they should drink in moderation under certain conditions. All of them agreed that drunkenness was sinful. Thank God!
I will honestly tell you my heart was grieved as I read the conflicted conversation between the church leadership of this generation. If the leaders cannot agree, how confused those underneath them must be! How do you teach people to drink in moderation? It is not possible. The definition of moderation will differ from person to person and pastor to pastor.
The Bible does teach not to be drunk, but it does not say to avoid alcohol altogether either. However, we are to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), and alcohol has a pretty evil track record. Personally, I can’t see how consuming alcohol on any level adds value to a person’s quality of life. Scripture links it to ruin, so my advice is to use sober judgment.
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