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Is the Bible against alcohol? - part 1

11 years ago | 18675 Views
Resolving Personal & Spiritual Conflicts

Mark 7:18 Nothing that goes into a person from the outside can really make him unclean…bibleIt comes to many as a surprise that the Bible's stance on alcohol should be questioned. It seems so obvious to every Bible reader that alcohol is prohibited in the scriptures. However, a recent debate that we had in a Bible class on the subject of clean and unclean food with one Australian pastor, Jason Ramsay, necessitated a further and deeper study on the Bible's stance on drinking alcohol.

His bold statement that the Bible is not against drinking alcohol but against drunkenness raised many eyebrows in the class. But he is not a lone proponent of this notion. There are many pastors who are strong in the word the world over who think and believe the same. The following conversation with Reverend Ramsay is not conclusive but is meant to prompt the reader to personally study the Bible more intensely so as to come to grips with the real truth on the subject.

Pastor Mairos: What did Jesus mean by the statement, "Nothing that goes into a person from the outside can really make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but into his stomach and then goes on out of the body" (Mark 7:18,19)?

Reverend Ramsay: The passage shows Jesus' response to the Pharisees' question about washing hands before eating. The Pharisees followed a tradition of ceremonial cleanliness. They did not eat anything from the market unless they washed it first. So when they noticed that some of Jesus' disciples were eating their food with hands that were ritually unclean, they asked Jesus why his disciples were eating with unwashed hands. Jesus' answer meant that you are not made unclean by what you eat but by what comes out of your heart. In other words, Jesus was saying that what is important is not ceremonial cleanness but what sort of person you are and the kind of person you are is revealed by what comes out of your heart. Out of our hearts come out slander, malice and so on. According to Jesus all of us are unclean because of what comes out of our hearts and this forms the basis of our need for His forgiveness.

Pastor Mairos: Can we safely conclude that according to this passage Jesus declared all foods clean and fit to be eaten?

Reverend Ramsay: Yes, that exactly what the scripture says in Mark 7:19.

Pastor Mairos: If that is the case, did Jesus then nullify the Old Testament laws and categorisation of food into clean and unclean food?

Reverend Ramsay: Rather than use the word nullify I would say that he fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures which emphasised the condition of our hearts before God. Jesus' death and resurrection brought in a new covenant which is superior to the old covenant. For example, we no longer offer animal sacrifices for the atonement of our sins.

Pastor Mairos: In view of the conclusion that Jesus declared all foods clean and fit to be eaten, what can we say about drinking alcohol?

Reverend Ramsay: Drinking alcohol does not by definition make you unclean. However, some passages in the Bible condemn and warn against drunkenness or excessive drinking (see Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-31; Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1Corithians 6:10).

Pastor Mairos: What is your comment on Ephesians 5:18 which says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit"? Is it not talking about abstinence from alcohol?

Reverend Ramsay: It means exactly what it says. It is forbidding drunkenness and not drinking alcohol. There are various occasions where wine or alcohol is used in the Bible, for example Jesus turned water into wine for people to drink at a wedding (John Chapter 2) and Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for the sake of his stomach ailment and that meant Timothy had to drink alcohol.  Given how many times wine is talked about in the Bible, I would say that the Bible knows the effect of wine. The scriptures are not really against drinking alcohol but against drunkenness.

Pastor Mairos: What piece of advice can you give to Christians concerning taking alcohol?

Reverend Ramsay: If you are the kind of person who easily gets drunk or can't stop after one drink then it's wise to remove the temptation of sinning by getting drunk.

According to Reverend Jason Ramsay and many others the Bible is not really against alcohol but it is against the abuse of any food substance including alcohol for the purpose of pleasure, to escape reality, or to cope with difficult situations. I am sure you have been provoked to say something in connection with this issue of taking alcohol. It will please Reverend Ramsay and me to hear your views and comments about Reverend Ramsay's assertion that the Bible is not against drinking alcohol but drunkenness.

Send your views and comments to 0772889766 or email to or
6 Malema
Tags: Alcohol


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Anonymous user 11 years
True it is that nothing you eat can make you unclean or clean but ,Well but about drinking on my view I say the bible never tell us that we must drink which means it dosent recomend us to do so 2 drinking is bad why remember that's father in the bible who drink and sleep naked it was of alcohol so to me its not good to drink . If u want to get drunk why can't you b drunk by the holly spirit and let me tell u this if u a drunk coz of da holly spirit you will know what ryt to eat and what is not good 4 u thank you
Anonymous user 11 years
Read Jeremiah 24v 8
Anonymous user 11 years
-your body is the temple of God, why giving it substances without nutritional content. -you must be sober minded so that the lord will use you for his work, how can the lord use you after you have had a glass of alcohol. -why drink something with health threatening effect
Anonymous user 11 years
The bible says drink bt do nt get ths means that drinking is allowed at a condition
Anonymous user 11 years
its what comes out of one's heart, mouth that is venomous. but if alcohol makes one venomous then the victim should refrain from drinking it
Anonymous user 9 years
He is spot on. Alcohol allows the poor to forget their problems. It makes people merry. What ever is taken in excess is not good, even water. Alcohol in right quantities aides digestion
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