Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 6, 1958
NUMBER 39, PAGE 8-9b


H. O. Hutto, Russellville, Alabama

In the beginning when God created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, he created man to have dominion over all he had made. Man was thus the crowning act of God's creation. Yet when man loses that wherein he was made better than the brute, i.e., his reasoning faculties, his intellect, his ability to think, he can sink as far below the brute as he was lifted above it. There are few, if any, ways better than that of being given to strong drink for a man to lose his faculties, his intelligence, his reasoning powers. It deranges his reason, it destroys his home, it ruins his health, and will send his soul to hell at the judgment. No wonder it is condemned so plainly in the word of God.

Just notice a few of the many passages of scripture which deal with this subject. "Wine is a mocker strong drink is raging,.and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." (Prov. 20:1) "Woe unto them that rise up early in .the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! (Isa. 5:11) And if you want a Bible picture of the man with the "DT's," notice Proverbs 23:29-35: "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babblings? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine: they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou on the wine when it is red. when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, shall be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea. or as he that lieth upon the top of the mast. They have stricken me shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again." What a picture! Seeing things, not there; awaking with bruises not knowing from whence they come; yet "when I awake, I will seek it yet again."

Notice the following scriptures in the New Testament: Gal. 5:21 lists it as a work of the flesh and says that those guilty of drunkenness "shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The word "banqueting" in I Peter 4:3 (KJ) means "drinking bouts," and in the same passage "excess of wine" is condemned. These are but a few of the many passages which could be adduced to show plainly that drunkenness is a sin, a work of the flesh, and those who are guilty have Hell as their destiny.

But in spite of the word of God, and reason as well. many who readily admit that drunkenness is wrong will attempt to justify "social drinking" since it is not "drunkenness" but merely "moderate drinking." After all, say they, there is a difference between "drinking" and "drunkenness." Even if we should be willing to admit the difference, "social drinking" cannot be successfully defended nor practiced by those who hope to have heaven as their home, and for the following reasons:

1. Social drinking will put one in the wrong company. Those who attend such gatherings are not the same as those who are interested primarily in promoting the cause of Christ. "Be not deceived," says the apostle." evil companions corrupt good morals." The company one is forced to mix with is not conducive to Christian living. Quite the contrary.

2. Any man in his right mind must admit that it has the "appearance of evil" concerning which we are told to "avoid." (I Thess. 5:22)

3. There never was an alcoholic or drunkard who did not take the first drink; nor did any man ever set out with the avowed purpose of becoming a sot. He became such by beginning with the "social drink." Drunkenness was not the goal in mind but it was the goal attained. Yes, one social drink led to another, and to another until it had as its fruition the drunkard — deranged in reason, bereft of friends or family, and a soul fitted for destruction. "Legion" is the number of those who began by social drinking in fashionable and "distinctive" cocktail lounges, but eventually culminated in the gutter.

It has been my misfortune to know some of these people who were so afflicted. I once worked for a man who lost a $20,000 a year job because of his liking for liquor. He could have qualified for a "Man of Distinction" in anybody's liquor business. But finally he lost his job. I once was acquainted with a member of the Lord's church who had sunk so low, and became so addicted to strong drink that he slipped into a meeting house of God's people and stole the wine from the Lord's table to satisfy the craving for alcohol!! I can think of no depth greater than this. What a pitiable wretch! And he realized it but was seemingly powerless to do anything about it. (It would he interesting to hear a discussion between him and another who would "justify" social drinking.)

"But," it is objected, "did not the Lord turn the water into wine?" Yes, he did. But what does the word "wine" mean in this passage in John 2. Does it necessarily mean wine that will make one drunk? Not necessarily. The Bible refers to "wine" when it is still in the cluster (Is. 6:58); this is before the grape has ever been picked from the vine, and certainly it wouldn't make one drunk, but it is called "wine." Hence every time the Bible uses the word "wine" it does not necessarily refer to that which will make one the drunk. The context will have to tell that.

The comments of Albert Barnes on the passage in John 2 are very appropriate at this point: "6th. Nor can an argument be drawn from this case in favour of drinking wine such as we have. The common wine of Judea was the pure juice of the grape, without any mixture 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 infusions of various substances to give it colour and taste, and the appearance of wine."

Still others object that Paul countenanced the use of wine when he told Timothy to "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." (I Tim. 5:13) This, however, is wine used for medical purposes and has nothing whatever to do with social drinking. As a matter of fact, the very fact that Paul had to tell Timothy to use the wine is rather strong evidence that its use was not looked at in a very favorable light under ordinary circumstances.

Hence, we can see that the Bible condemns drunkenness but also condemns so-called "social drinking" as well. The person who is interested in being a Christian while he lives so he may go to heaven when he dies will not engage in either. Those who are interested in the "social drink" do not so do because they think they can thereby serve God the better, but because they are interested in gratifying their craving for a "work of the flesh." May God help us to abstain totally from "such like."

While it is true that drunkenness will send one's soul to Hell, it is also true that God will forgive a person of this sin if he will repent of it. "Drunkards," says the apostle, shall not "inherit the kingdom of God: And such were some of you: but you are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (I Cor. 6:9-11) What a merciful God! Drunkenness is not unforgivable if the guilty will but repent of it and turn to God for salvation.