Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 12, 1960
NUMBER 39, PAGE 2-3b

Drinking Alcoholic Beverages

Hoyt H. Houchen, Lufkin, Texas

It is saddening that moral standards are gradually being lowered. Things that were once regarded as being sacred are being abandoned. There was a time when people who were divorced and remarried without scriptural cause were frowned upon in society, but now such people are not only tolerated but they are accepted without so much as the raising of an eye brow. Mixed dancing, the drinking of alcoholic beverages, gambling, and many other sins are no longer regarded as evils but they are being woven into our society with general approval. Even within the church so-called "social" or "moderate" drinking is being approved by some, including preachers.

How may we account for the lowering standards of moral conduct? Several causes may be cited, one being a lack of preaching and teaching upon what the Bible says on all forms of immorality. Another cause is the erroneous idea that whatever is "legally" right is morally right. This has been and is one of the devil's most successful guises. But it should be understood that the "legalizing" of divorce and re-marriage for any number of causes does not change what the Lord has taught upon the matter. (Matt. 19:9). The state of Nevada has "legalized" gambling but the legislature of that state that permits a lucrative divorce business and devices to be employed by gamblers has not changed the teaching of God's word. It remains the same. Many of our states have "legalized" the sale of alcoholic beverages but no amount of laws passed by a house of legislature will alter God's law. All Christians need to heed the admonition of Isaiah 58:1: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and declare unto my people their transgressions." Yes, sin needs to be spoken against whether it is "legalized" or not.

The Scriptures On Drinking

Nowhere does the Bible uphold the drinking of alcoholic beverages, with the exception of medicinal use. (I Tim. 5:23). "Social" drinking and drinking for the gratification of the lust of the flesh is condemned in both the Old Testament and the New. Solomon declared in Prov. 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth thereby is not wise." Then in Prov. 23: 29-35 we have these words of wisdom: "Who hath woe, who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions, who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?" The answer: "They that tarry long at wine, they that go to seek mixed." "At the last it biteth like a serpent and strength like an adder." (Prov. 23:29, 30, 32). Jesus declared: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overchanged with surfeiting, and drunkenness." (Lk. 21:34).

Paul was not a drinker. He lived a clean, pure, upright, holy life, and he admonished all to follow the same pattern. A few of the many scriptures along this line are worthy of consideration. (I Cor. 11:1; Tit. 2:11, 12; Rom. 12:1, 2; I Thess. 5:22; Phil. 2:14-16; I Tim. 5:22 I Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-23; Eph. 5:3-5; I Tim. 4:12). A genuine follower of Christ will not indulge in the drinking of beer, wine, whiskey, or any other form of alcoholic beverage; he will protest the practice on the part of others, and he will vote against the sale of it whenever he has the opportunity.

Arguments Considered

It is not uncommon for some person to attempt to justify "social" or "moderate" drinking by the scriptures. It is contended that Jesus drank (Matt. 11:19; Lk. 7:34), and that he turned water into wine (John 2:1-11); therefore, it is not wrong to "socially" drink alcoholic beverages. But scholars are not agreed that wine was always an intoxicant. Commenting on the word "wine," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: "Properly this is the fresh grape juice (called mishreh, Num. 6:3), even when still in the grape. (Isa. 65:8)." (I.S.B.E., Vol. 5, p. 3086). Robert Young translates the Greek word gleukos that is used in Acts 2:13, "Sweet or new wine." (Young's Analytical Concordance, p. 1058). Edward Robinson makes a distinction between the two words ohms and gleukos. He translates the New Testament word gleukos: "sweet wine" and comments that it was "fermented and intoxicating." (Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 148). He translates the word oinos: "wine" and comments that it was "not yet fully fermented and ripe." (Ibid, p.502). Albert Barnes, a Bible commentator on the miracle of Jesus (John 2:1-11, says: "Nor can an argument be drawn from this case in favor of drinking wine such as we have. The common wine of Judea was the pure juice of the grape, without any mixtures of alcohol, and was harmless. It was the common drink of the people, and did not tend to produce intoxication. Our wines are a mixture of the juice of the grape and of brandy, and often of infusions of various substances to give it color and taste, and the appearance of wine. These wine are little less injurious than brandy, and the habit of drinking them should be classed with the drinking of all other liquid fires."

Paul's admonition to Timothy, "Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine (oines) for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." Even if fermented, intoxicating wine is meant here, Paul's advice cannot be successfully used to uphold the drinking of alcoholic beverages other than for medical use. Timothy had learned the sacred writings from a babe (I Tim. 3:14, 15) and he knew, therefore, that drinking was incompatible with the teaching of the word of God. If Timothy had not been abstaining from the use of intoxicating wine, Paul would not have advised him as he did.

There are those who contend for the "legal" sale of alcoholic beverages on the ground that it will bring in revenue and that it will eliminate the bootlegger. This was one of the main points emphasized by the "wets" in the recent election in Oklahoma. But the same reasoning (?) can be applied to dope: marihuana, morphine, heroine, etc. Shall we advocate the "legal" sale of dope so that we can have the benefits of additional revenue and so that we can eliminate the dope peddler?


Shame, poverty, disgrace, misery, broken health, and death, result from drinking. The wife of a drinking man and the children of a drinking father can attest to this. Every alcoholic (drunkard) is an example of "harmless" drinking. Anything that leads to these consequences should be stood against by all God-fearing, truth-loving people. Statistics will bear out that drinking is a cause attributed to murder, theft, rape, brawls, and death on the highway.

The bar is rightly named. It bars the door to heaven and opens the door to hell. It bars the door to happiness and opens the door to sorrow. It bars the door to wealth and opens the door to poverty. It bars the door to respectability and opens the door to shame. It bars the door to life and opens the door to death.

Thomas A. Edison said: "Putting alcohol in the brain is like putting sand in the bearings of an engine." "Alcohol can rightly be referred to as "The choicest product of the ditch-digger's art." There is no argument that will justify the sale and indulgence of alcoholic beverages for drinking to please friends or to gratify one's own lustful desire.