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The Bible's Alcohol Exception
by Gregory John Monroe
3/29/2015 / Education
*Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more. Proverbs 31: 6, 7.*
It's best that a Christian not indulge in alcoholic beverages. The potential consequences of doing so are well-known: addiction, liver damage, domestic violence, traffic accidents and fatalities.
Furthermore, alcohol dulls the mind; thereby interfering with our ability to sense God's promptings and impressions.
There's one other thing to consider too; that being God's reputation. I remember early on, as a baby Christian, I continued to drink beer. I thought it was alright because I never drank it to get drunk. I just loved the taste.
Anyway, having downed one beer at home, I went to the convenience store for another one. There, I ran into an acquaintance who was an unbeliever, and who knew that I claimed to be converted. As we hugged, I realized that I smelled of beer.
My acquaintance didn't say anything, but later it bothered me that I probably wrecked the idealized notion that a lot of unbelievers have about the behavior of Christians. Some of them secretly hope that what they've idealized is true so that possibly it could become a truth for them too. Other unbelievers, upon finding that we're not perfect, gleefully call us hypocrites.
My accquaintance didn't know I wasn't drunk. She only knew that I smelled like a drunk. I felt like I had let both God and her down. I saw myself as a stumbling block; for the perception of wrongdoing is reality for a lot of people. So after that, it was no more alcohol for me.
So, because of the negatives associated with alcohol, why does the above scripture allow for the drink? The reason, according to what I've been told, plus the context, is two-fold:
Firstly, it's reserved only for use as a medicine for those who are terminally ill (perishing) and don't have any modern medical help, nor pain-relieving drugs available. This was especially the circumstances during biblical times.
Secondly, the drink, again given in the context of medicine, could be of help to the depressed (bitter lives) who don't have medication, psychiatric help, nor Christian counseling.
These exceptions to using strong drink are, as noted, in verses 6 and 7. They are medical exceptions to the overall theme of Chapter 31. Overall, the chapter urges attention to the poor and needy. It renounces the use of alcohol by those who are in positions of responsibility, health, strength, and prosperity.
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