Brief: The Bible doesn’t prohibit alcohol, but it does say not to abuse it.
Scripture: Genesis 9:18-29, assorted passages concerning alcohol
Discussion Starter: Agree or Disagree? Have students stand up and move to sides of the room depending on what their answer is.
1. God made alcohol.
2. Humans invented alcohol.
3. God commands us never to drink alcohol.
4. Christians should never drink alcohol.
5. God commands us never to be drunk.
Genesis 9:18-29: The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.
What did Noah do in this story? (He drank enough to get drunk. It might have been accidentally if he was the first one to discover wine.)
And when he got drunk, what happened? (He took off all his clothes and was lying around naked.)
And what happened when his sons saw him naked? Was Noah embarrassed about that? (Yes, it was embarrassing for him. It also led to one of his son’s making fun of him, for which he needed to be punished.)
So, getting drunk led Noah to embarrass himself. And that’s often what happens. When someone gets drunk, they make bad decisions and often end up embarrassing themselves. They lose self-control and do things that they wouldn’t normally do.
But that’s what happens when people get drunk. That doesn’t answer the question of whether people are allowed to or should drink at all.
So, let’s look at some other Scripture passages that might help us figure it out. Tell me if alcohol is portrayed positively or negatively in these passages.
Genesis 14:17-19: After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.”
+ The priest of God Most High, Melchizedek, brought out wine.
Genesis 19:30-36: Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.
- Lot got drunk and was tricked into having sex with his daughters.
Genesis 27:28: May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness — an abundance of grain and new wine.
+Isaac blesses Jacob with a supply of wine.
Leviticus 10:8-11: Then the Lord said to Aaron, 9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, 10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses.”
- God told the priests not to drink at all when they are ministering.
Deuteronomy 11:13-14: So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.
+ God promises to bless the Israelites with wine.
Proverbs 20:1: Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
- Getting drunk can make you lose your temper.
Proverbs 23:29-35: Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
- Getting drunk can make you hallucinate and feel sick.
Proverbs 31:4-7: It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 6 Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! 7 Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
- Drinking can lead one to forget what is right. + Drinking can alleviate people’s pain.
John 2:6-9: Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then He told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.
+ Jesus made a lot of wine, between 120 and 180 gallons.
Ephesians 5:18: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit
- Getting drunk can lead to losing self-control.
1 Timothy 3:2-3: Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
- Leaders in the church should not get drunk.
1 Timothy 5:23: Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
+ Drinking in some cases can help regulate someone’s digestive system.
Does the Bible command us not to drink? (No.)
The Bible commands priests who are on duty not to drink when they’re on duty, but it never commands us not to drink at all.
Does the Bible command us not to get drunk? (Yes.)
The Bible says we can drink, but we shouldn’t get drunk.
So, we should all drink, right? The Bible says we can.
The Bible says we can drink, but we don’t have to. It’s up to every Christian to decide for themselves if they want to or not, as long as we’re not getting drunk and as long as we’re obeying the laws if we do drink.