Beverage Alcohol

There is nothing right about beverage alcohol.  As reported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 12,998 people were killed as a result of “alcohol impaired” drivers.    By comparison, the number of U.S. Casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is 4,955 and this is for the entire time that our forces have been there.  We hear the outcry in regard to our fallen soldiers.  Where is the outcry in regard to the fallen related to drunk driving?  Our soldiers died fighting for an ideal; victims of drunk drivers die as a result of one selfish person’s “pleasure.”  This nation has absolutely no excuse for the loss of these lives.  Shame on us for allowing the beverage alcohol industry to perpetrate its lie!

Drinking beverage alcohol is irresponsible.  By its very nature, when alcohol is consumed, it reduces the responsibility of the individual.  Responsibility is affected by brain activity.  Brain activity hinges upon a small gap found between nerve cells (neurons).  This gap is called the synapse, and alterations here affect all brain activity.  Any alteration to brain activity affects responsibility.  Alcohol certainly affects brain activity because it affects the gap between nerve cells.  One researcher writes, “The behavioral effects of alcohol are produced through its actions on the central nervous system (CNS) and, in particular, the brain. Synaptic transmission—the process by which neurons in the CNS communicate with one another—is a particular target for alcohol actions that alter behavior. Intoxication is thought to result from changes in neuronal communication taking place while alcohol is present in the brain” (Emphasis added, KRC).  The same researcher concluded, “Extensive research has shown that many aspects of synaptic transmission are altered by alcohol at doses and brain concentrations encountered during drug ingestion.”    This research upholds the old saying, “When you take one drink, you’re one drink drunk!”

Christians ought to have nothing to do with beverage alcohol because we are called to sobriety and responsibility.  1 Thessalonians 5:7-8a states, “For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober.”  According to the research above, it would curtail our efforts to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Consuming beverage alcohol, in and of itself, is the epitome of a fleshly lust that wars against the soul and something from which we are commanded to abstain (1 Peter 2:11).

The problem of social drinking simply exacerbates the problem of beverage alcohol because it compounds the error by one’s example.  Jesus was speaking of example when he said, “But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!” (Matthew 18:6-7).  The same judgment awaits the social drinker for his bad example and influence as awaits the drunk driver for his criminal negligence.  Does society not hold those who encourage murderers equally responsible for murder?  My mother-in-law once sat on a jury in which a person was on trial for murder.  The person had not done the act himself, but knew of it and failed to prevent it and was found guilty of murder.  So also God will hold those who participate in social drinking guilty.  Romans 1:32 seems appropriate here: “who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them” (ASV).

Typically, some will object with the thought, “But Jesus drank socially” or “social drinking is done with God’s approval in the Bible.”  Various passages will be cited to support the argument.  No one is questioning whether Jesus drank wine.  The question is whether Jesus drank beverage alcohol.  He did not.  Such would have implicated him in some of the worst sins in Biblical history.

The problem is clarified when we appropriately recognize that the word “wine” in the Bible is used for both intoxicating and non-intoxicating beverages.  Ancient literature attests to this fact.  An ancient Roman agrarian, Columella, stated that some wine did not intoxicate.  He describes one of these “wines” in book three of his twelve-volume work “On Agriculture.” He says regarding a particular good wine, that he calls “Inerticulan,” that it was inert, non-intoxicating, not harmful, and ineffectual on the sinews or nerves.  He categorized both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as “wine.” Moreover, even “good wine” can, according to the ancients, refer to something that is non-alcoholic.

But doesn’t grape juice naturally turn into wine when left alone to ferment?  When left alone, grape juice will most likely become vinegar due to the naturally occurring wild yeasts on the skin of the grape.  In order to produce the kinds of alcoholic beverages that are socially consumed today, one must introduce cultivated yeasts that break down the sugars into alcohol.  The product must then be preserved in that state through additional artificial processes.  Yeast cultivation is a product of modern science.  Ancients made alcohol through the manipulation of naturally occurring yeasts but did not know the types used today.

Preservation of non-alcoholic wine, however, was done through various processes.  Grape juice would be boiled and reduced to a syrup which could be preserved; it would be reconstituted in water as a beverage at a later time.  Sometimes the juice was preserved in cold water or buried in the ground.  Wineskins could also prevent fermentation by cutting off oxygen to the naturally occurring wild yeasts.

In Matthew 27:34, we read that soldiers gave Jesus wine to drink that was mingled with gall.  Wines were often mixed with spices like gall.  This was likely alcoholic wine (Proverbs 23:30).  Even though he was suffering on the cross, Jesus refused it.  There is no excuse for a Christian to be a social drinker.  Beverage alcohol is a dangerous drug which results in the deaths of thousands of people each year on our highways.  This does not even take into consideration other social effects of alcohol: child abuse, spousal abuse, wastefulness of financial resources, crimes committed by those under the influence, etc.  Were alcohol to cease in our society today, many evils would disappear overnight and we would be a better nation for it.

[1] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment” DOT 810 791. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, July 2008.

[2] Lovinger, David M.  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  “Communication Networks in the Brain: Neurons, Receptors, Neurotransmitters, and Alcohol.” Bethesda: National Institutes of Health.

[3] Columella. De Rustica.  Book III.  P.247.*.html See also Pliny, N. H. XIV.31 and Isidore, Orig. XVII.5.24 which are referenced in footnote 30 of the Columella text.

[4] Bacchiocchi, Samuele. Wine in the Bible: A Biblical Study on the Use of Alcoholic Beverages.  Berrien Springs: Biblical Perspectives. 1989.  Online at:

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