Commercials, movies, and TV shows, over and over again, show alcohol consumption as the way to enjoy “the good life”, have fun, be accepted, have and enjoy friendships, and be successful.
And more and more I’m hearing and seeing God’s people buy into that belief.
But does the Word of God actually approve alcohol consumption?
In our reading this week we find this verse, Proverbs 20:1 —
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
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Yet, this verse is not enough for many to be convinced to stay away from alcohol. Many Christians think that God is O.K. with their drinking alcohol as long as they aren’t “deceived thereby.” In other words, as long as they don’t get drunk or become alcoholics.
These Christians will then quote the miracle in John 2…Jesus turning the water to wine…as “proof“ that God is O.K. with His people drinking wine/alcohol. After all, Who better to quote for approval than Jesus Himself?
But using this miracle as a proof text in favor of drinking alcohol is disturbing to me for several reasons.
So let’s take a closer look at this miracle.
First of all, this is disturbing because —
The passage holds no proof of Jesus approving alcohol consumption.
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. John 2:9-10
In looking at this miracle for proofs of Jesus’ approval of alcohol, I can only see two phrases that some might believe indicate such approval. But on closer inspection, they do not.
1. “have well drunk”
If we assume that “have well drunk” has only one meaning…become drunken…then if the governor was speaking of that particular feast, then Jesus would be attending a feast with drunken people. And in approval…as evidenced by His willingness to provide more “alcohol.”
However, drunkenness is clearly forbidden in scripture. As most Christians agree. (See Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 5:11) Jesus would not have supplied more alcohol to further their sin of drunkenness.
The governor is simply stating here that the people had drunk enough to have their thirst satisfied.
The governor of the feast was only making a general statement to the bridegroom about feasts in general. And uses the phrase “have well drunk” to say that the people had drunk enough to satisfy their thirst.
Therefore, the governor’s statement and the phrase “have well drunk” cannot be used to “prove” that the people at this feast were drunk and that Jesus made more alcoholic wine for them.
2. “good wine”
Nor can we say that the governor calling the wine Jesus made “good wine” proves that it was alcoholic.
It is very important to note that—
Not all “wine” mentioned in scripture is alcoholic.
Many passages in scripture use the word “wine” to indicate nonalcoholic grape juice.
And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting. Jeremiah 48:33
“Wine” here obviously refers to grape juice pressed from the grapes. (See also Isaiah 65:8, Matthew 9:17.)
The governor of the feast simply comments on the taste and quality of the drink. He makes no statement as to any alcohol content. He simply calls it “good.”
Neither one of the phrases we’ve looked at indicate alcoholic wine. Therefore, since there is no proof in this passage that the wine Jesus made was alcoholic, we cannot assume that it was.
In fact, consider this—Jesus could not and would not have made and offered to the guests the kind of wine that He had previously commanded man (in the Old Testament) not to even look at!
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. Proverbs 23:31
Clearly the wine spoken of in Proverbs 23 is alcoholic. (See Proverbs 23:29-35) Therefore, here in verse 31, God commands that we not even look at alcoholic wine. Or, in other words, that we stay away from it! And of course, God is NOT saying that we can drink it…just as long as we keep our eyes closed!
Verse 31 sounds familiar. Haven’t you seen others on TV hold a glass of wine and swirl it, watching how it moves in the glass? This verse reminds me of what I’ve seen others on TV do when they were doing a wine tasting! But God does not approve of this. Rather, the opposite! (v. 31)
Using this miracle in John 2 as proof that Jesus approves alcohol consumption is also very disturbing for another reason.
If Jesus did make and give alcohol to his neighbors, then He would be sinning,
According to Proverbs 23:31 above, Habakkuk 2:15, etc.,
And that cannot be!
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! Habakkuk 2:15
Woe, or judgement, is not pronounced against someone who does right, but against someone who does wrong.
Of course, we know Jesus did no sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Therefore, Jesus did not turn the water into alcoholic wine and then give it to His neighbors at this wedding!
And, therefore, neither can this miracle be used to condone the use of alcohol.
Finally, the use of this passage as proof that Jesus is O.K. with anyone drinking alcohol is disturbing and wrong for another reason.
It makes Jesus look as though He doesn’t know His own mind on the subject!
If Jesus made alcoholic wine at this wedding, then it would appear that Jesus “condones” it here in John 2 when He clearly warns against it in Proverbs 20:1 (etc.)! —
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Proverbs 20:1
But God is not the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33) And His Word does not, and cannot, contradict itself. (Titus 1:2)
We do know, however, who the Deceiver is. And his agenda—to steal, kill, and destroy. Satan loves for us to believe that we can toy with addictive substances and stay in control. “Just a little bit won’t hurt,” he whispers.
However, that IS the deception of such substances! Isn’t it? One believes that they are in control…until they clearly are not. And it is too late! (Proverbs 23:29-35)
We all know of people whose lives have been either destroyed or forever scarred by either their own alcohol use and/or addiction or by someone else’s. Statistics of alcohol-related abusive behaviors, deaths, and crimes are horrendous!
God loves us His daughters and wants the best for us. Therefore, let us stay as far away as we can from those things that have the potential to destroy our testimony and our family.
And draw as close to God as we can!
Drawing nigh to Him,
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
Do you believe this passage gives approval to consume alcohol? What part leads you to believe that? How do you answer those who want to know if drinking alcohol is O.K.? What is another meaning for “have well drunk”?