The Christian Perspective

I'm going to answer with more information than you probably want, in anticipation of possible objections to my answer.

When reading the Bible in English, it can often be difficult to discern what the writers were referring to when we see the word "wine". In Hebrew (the Old Testament), there are at least two different words that are both translated "wine" in our modern English versions, and there is a third word we will look at as well.

Tiyrowsh basically means the juice of grapes. Wine aficionados would call it "wine must". It is the stuff that comes out of a grape when you squeeze it. The NASB is fairly careful to translate this word "new wine", although whenever in doubt about a particular place where you see the English phrase "new wine", consult a good Lexicon to make sure you know which words are being used, and don't just assume that it is tiyrowsh. Personally, from what I understand, it seems to me that "grape juice" would have been more clear to the modern reader, but I'm no expert in Hebrew. (Genesis 27:28; Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 11:14, 33:28; Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 65:8; Joel 1:10; Zechariah 9:17; etc)

Yayin, on the other hand, refers to what we normally would call "wine" -- it is the stuff that can intoxicate you if you drink a lot of it, and it seems to always refer to a product that comes from grapes. (Genesis 9:21, 19:32; Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 29:6; Judges 13:4; 1 Samuel 1:14, 25:37; 2 Samuel 13:28; Esther 1:10; etc)

Shekar is almost always translated "strong drink" in the NASB, although some translations render it "beer". It doesn't actually seem to be a specific drink, however, it is always some kind of intoxicating beverage. Our modern English word "liquor" seems to be a good approximation for what shekar means. (Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Judges 13:7; 1 Samuel 1:15; Proverbs 31:4; Isaiah 5:11, 28:7; etc)

While I'm not aware of any place in scripture where all people are universally encouraged to drink alcoholic beverages, there are certainly scriptures that make it clear that there is nothing morally wrong with doing so. A passage I bring up a lot on this subject is below:

Deuteronomy 14:26 (NASB)
You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine (yayin), or strong drink (shekar), or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

I like to bring up this verse for two reasons. The first is that many Christians are adamantly opposed to any consumption of alcoholic beverages. In fact, I myself was until the Lord showed me this very passage. I'm still a teetotaler, but no longer a judgmental one.

The second reason I like to bring up this passage is because of the money in question. The money that God is telling the Israelites that they can spend on alcohol is some of their tithe money. When was the last time your pastor told you to take your tithe money and use it to buy yourself some tequila? Don't take my word for it -- read the chapter yourself. In fact, read all of Deuteronomy. It's a great book.


Having said that, the Bible roundly and consistently condemns a lifestyle in which getting drunk is commonplace.

Proverbs 23:20-21
Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

Proverbs 23:29-35
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. "They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink."

Isaiah 5:11-13
Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD, Nor do they consider the work of His hands. Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; And their honorable men are famished, And their multitude is parched with thirst.

Isaiah 5:22
Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink.

Habakkuk 2:5
Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, So that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, And he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations And collects to himself all peoples.

1 Timothy 3:8
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain...

Titus 1:7
For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain...

Titus 2:3
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good...


It seems from the following passages that Christians are never to get drunk at all.

Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.

Ephesians 5:18
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.


Perhaps most pertinent to your situation, in the book of Romans, Paul makes it clear that Christians are not to encourage their Christian brothers and sisters to violate their consciences. Here, he specifically speaks to the issue of wine and how it should be handled in situations like this.

Romans 14:14-23
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. 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. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 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. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

If a Christian's wine consumption causes another Christian to stumble in their faith, perhaps either causing him to think that it is now okay to commit sins, or else perhaps causing him to reject Christ since Christians drink, we should ask ourselves how important that glass of wine really is.

Further, on a related point, since this is not a church gathering or a Christian get-together, the Christian should be very careful regarding another issue, namely, fellowship with unbelievers. While witnessing to unbelievers is expected of Christians, intimate fellowship with unbelievers is to be avoided, particularly if they claim to be believers but are not actually interested in following Christ. (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 5:11, 15:33; Psalm 1)

How Christians should deal with Christians who are offended by alcohol