If you recently traveled the back roads in Southern Prince George’s County, you probably noticed grape vineyards popping up all over the place. In some locations there are some very attractive buildings on the same property as the vineyards. These buildings are used to host social activities that would include wine tasting and other events for visitors. It appears that wineries are becoming a profitable business venture. If you pass one of these wineries on the weekend, you may see large crowds visiting the facility.
The reason for writing this article is not to advertise the locations of the vineyards, nor is it to condone or condemn the drinking of wine. There are times the question is raised by persons, especially Christians, “Is it wrong or a sin to drink wine?” Hopefully some of the information in this article will help you decide. What I do know is that we were prohibited by our parents and the Church from drinking wine and alcohol. The Bible does not give a statement of prohibition based on my findings.
Just maybe our parents and the Church were concerned that we would develop a thirst and desire for wine and it might lead to destruction. Maybe they felt that it would lead to drunkenness which is different from drinking in moderation.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about Jesus and others drinking wine. I don’t think we will find any evidence of Jesus condemning the drinking of wine.
Scripture tells us that Jesus was around wine on numerous occasions during his ministry. There were instances at weddings, meals, the Passover, etc. where wine is used by Jesus.
In Matthew 26: 27-29, Jesus shares a cup of wine with his twelve disciples. He blessed the wine and declared it the blood of the New Covenant. He blessed the wine and told the men to drink.
There were critics who labeled Jesus a glutton and a winebibber. Don’t forget that the Pharisees and others were always attempting to condemn his actions. It is reasonable to believe they referred to him as a drunk simply because he drank with sinners. There is no mention in scripture that Jesus ever drank to the point he became drunk.
One of those very familiar passages in the Bible is when Jesus attended a wedding party with his mother and because they ran out of wine, Jesus performed the miracle of changing water to wine (John 2: 1-11).
History and the teaching of Jesus are revealing. History tells us that fermented drinks were common in ancient cultures for one simple reason: they couldn’t trust the water. The water was so bad that people often died from drinking it because of the bacteria and diseases. Fermenting grapes kills the bacteria and causes wine to be a safe and refreshing drink.
What we do know is there are two instances in the Bible where drunkenness from wine was destructive. After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard, makes wine and gets drunk. As a result of his drunkenness, Ham’s family is cursed when he looks at his father’s nakedness (Genesis 9: 20-21). Another story is that of Lot and his daughters who had an incestuous relationship because of his drunkenness (Genesis 19).
There are some denominations who now use grape juice for communion, rather than wine. Many Protestants use grape juice instead of wine because of the potential dangers associated with alcohol. There are those who believe strongly that drinking wine is always wrong. There are those who feel the need to restrict children from the consumption of wine. If it is used for communion, there is the possibility they will consider it permissible to drink the wine.
It is true that the Catholic Church uses wine during the celebration of the Eucharist, but it must meet certain specifications. Catholics believe in transubstantiation, which means the bread and wine turns to the body and blood of Jesus.
I close with the words of St. Benedict, “Let all things be done with moderation, for everything must be given its due, but only its due. There should be something of everything and not too much of anything.”
You be the judge for yourself!
Just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor