“Thou Shall Not Get Drunk, But Thou Shall Drink In Moderation”

By Rowland Femi Gbamis | Ontario, Canada

Text:  “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”;  “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” (Hebrews 5:14; Phil.1:9-10-NKJV)


The caption: “Thou Shall Not Get Drunk, But Thou Shall Drink In Moderation” was echoed by a friend-professor while deliberating on the moral laxity of Paul Pelosi’s behaviour while pleading guilty to drunken driving in California on August 23, 2022, following his arrest on May 28 crash in Napa County, north of San Francisco, after a Driving Under Influence (DUI) test showed he had a blood alcohol content of .082%, just over the legal limit. (Steve Gorman, 2022). My friend believes Mr. Pelosi should have respected himself enough by drinking moderately, which would have saved him all the embarrassment. On the contrary, during our discussion, I hold that he ought to have abstained from alcohol as that alone would have saved him all the disgrace he brought upon himself and the revered position his wife is holding in the American political space. In his judgment, the professor believes that I am a reasonable person; hence I should understand it is nowhere written in the Bible categorically: “thou shall not drink”. As I tried to get him to reason his argument, he retorted, “oh, Rowland, common! The logical conclusion should tell you that what God want is drinking in moderation.” Interesting discussion, right? It is not surprising at all! I have heard gospel preachers and elders in the Lord’s church advance the same arguments. Distinctly, in the remaining part of this write-up, I will argue that for children of God to be filled with the Spirit of God, they must make every effort to abstain from every form of alcoholic beverage.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a narcotic drug, even though some do not consider it so because of its legality, but it is. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, alcohol is a liquor drink such as wine, beer, or distilled spirits, encompassing ethyl alcohol or ethanol (CH3CH2OH) as an inebriation agent. Alcohol produces a state of stupor. Note, however, that the word stupor and stupid originated from the same root word. In other words, alcohol is stupidity in a bottle, and the effects of alcohol on the brain begin with the first drink because it directly affects the brain and impairs the brain’s ability to coordinate appropriately with the body’s motor functions. Alcohol is a Central Nervous System Depressant (CNSD) that slows down the brain’s function and speed. It blurs the critical faculty of discernment in the brain and causes memory lapses.

Practical Application

While there are several ways to quench the Spirit in the Scripture, one sure way to do that quickly is drinking alcohol. Unsurprisingly, the Holy Spirit says we should abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). To “abstain” is to refrain, withdraw, and cease doing something; in this sense, cease/renounce drinking alcoholic beverages. From ancient times, people have been drinking alcoholic beverages ranging from wine to beer and brewed drinks like burukutu, an alcoholic beverage brewed from the grains of Guinea corn and millet. In Genesis, we read an account of a man of God who got drunk and became naked in his shelter due to inebriation (9:20). While Noah lay naked in his shamefulness, his son, Ham, derided him, and upon discovery by Noah, he caused his son (vs 21). Evil begets evil. Noah’s sense of right and wrong became dull through the evil allurement of fermented wine. We all know the end of the story, the lineage of Ham-Canaanites eventually became a sworn enemy to the children of the Israelites—all credit to Noah, the man of God’s undiscerning attitude toward wine (vs 25). Dear readers, let us pause and reflect on the impact of our influence on many generations to come. As preachers and elders, may God forbid we stand shamefully on the pulpit to encourage alcoholic drinkers, preaching that what God teaches is moderation. 

In another breath, we read of another righteous man, Lot, who got trapped by his two daughters and was subjected to the evil influence of alcohol. While many have condemned that he laid with his daughters, I am more concerned that if Lot had refused the first drink, he would have circumvented the evil scheme by his daughters (Gen.19:30-35). Unfortunately, Lot had carnal knowledge of his daughters while sleeping without knowing because he found himself at the lowest point of his senses due to the evil influence of the alcohol. Consequently, the two products that resulted from the reprehensible behaviour were Moab and Ben-Ammi, two strong enemies to the children of Israelites (vs 36-38). How sad, right? Unsurprisingly, one of the many problems in the Lord’s church today results from alcoholic drinks. Problem upon problem! Children are born out of wedlock because someone went to a drinking party and engaged in fornication resulting in a “marriage of convenience” to avoid shame. At home, the economic impact of alcohol on family finance is disastrous; in society, the rate of car accidents and crashes leading to bodily harm and deaths saddened the heart. Also, consider how alcohol negatively impacts our health, including diabetes, kidney problems, cardiovascular diseases, and liver cirrhosis. Alcoholic beverages occasioned many crimes in society.

The question is, why would a child of God be found romancing such intoxicant and defending such? Sometimes, the alcoholic drinkers know too much about Solomon’s sermon on drunkenness but forget his admonition that says: Wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging: whosoever is deceived by it is not wise (Prov. 20:1). Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the winewhen it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like aviper. Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. (23:29-33).

Let us pause and reflect; why would it be difficult for any sincere person to understand the simple instructions and godly guidance in the above passage? Wine is a mocker. Was Noah not mocked and felt ashamed after he woke up from his drink? How about Lot? His daughters made a caricature of him by weakening his sense of right and wrong through alcoholic drinks. How is that difficult to understand for my dear wine drinkers? The wise man says, “whoever is led astray by wine is not wise.” In other words, you are a fool if you submit to the evil allurement of alcoholic wine to dull your sense of reasoning. However, there is hope. The Preacher proffers a solution which should suffice: Do not look at the winewhen it is red and when it sparkles in the cup. To fail to heed the warning is to stray in the destruction path. Those who dissipate their energy to justify their drinking habits by running from Genesis to Revelation to seek defense should ponder the following Bible passages and their usages.    

S/NPositive (Unfermented Wine)Negative (Fermented Wine)
1.Genesis 14:18Genesis 9:20, 21
2.Gen. 40:11     Genesis 19:30-35
3.Amos 9:14Leviticus 10:8-10
4.Zechariah 10:7 Proverbs 20:1; 4:17
5.Isaiah 65:8Proverbs 23:29-35
6.Num.18:12-13Proverbs 31:4,5
7.Gen. 27:28Daniel 1:8
8.Deut. 7:13;Isaiah 5:22; 56:12
9Prov. 3:10Isaiah 28:7, 8
10.Matt. 26:26-28Habakkuk 2:5,15
11.John 2:1-101Corinthians 5:11
12.Deut. 11:14Eph. 5:18

From the above tabulation, there are two senses in the usage of the passages. The first column depicts Bible passages describing wine from the grapes’ juice that contains no alcohol. In this sense, wine is being spoken of as a blessing and commended. It is associated with altar offerings, sustaining power, emblem of spiritual blessings, emblem of Christ’s blood, and things which strengthen the body and rejoice the heart. Contrastingly, the second column deals with Bible passages that condemned the sinful practices of drinking wine. They are associated with intoxication, drunkenness, violence, woe, a false sense of security, profane religion, and poison. Hence, it should not be difficult to understand that the context determines whether a wine is fermented, which could lead to intoxication or unfermented wine with no alcoholic content.

Robert Youngmade an excellent observation on Ephesians 5:18 concerning alcoholic drinkers who argued that drinking is all right, provided one is not drunk. Ephesians 5:18 reads, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Young observes that the verb “Do not be drunk” (methusko-3182) implies, “Do not start (begin) to be softened” with wine. W. E. Vine describes this verb as: “to make drunk, an inceptive verb that begins the process of the state expressed in methuo (3184), “to drink to intoxication.” Literally, Paul says, “Do not even begin the process of becoming drunk or softened by alcohol.” Conclusively, it makes scriptural sense to abstain from initiating the process of drinking alcoholic beverages. For example, consider the account of Luke 12:45 “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk” – observe the progression? That is the only way Christians can remain alert and awake as children of God “filled with the Spirit.”

Reflection On 1 Peter 4:3

We read in 1 Peter 4:2-3: “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.” Peter uses three phrases concerning drinking liquor: excess of wine, revellings and banquetings. Thus, after careful study of our text, I do not think the Holy Spirit deliberately uses words carelessly in delineating the phrases concerning liquor drinking. Excess of wine (Gk. οἰνοφλυγίαις, oinophlygiais: wine-drinking, drunkenness)describes those who have drunk so much that they are throwing up. The truth is, everyone knows the description above is wrong and is quick to condemn such behaviour. However, there is a fellow that is guilty of revelling (Gk. κώμοις, kōmois, revels, orgies). He is the fellow that is half-looped, usually loud and boisterous. Lastly, there is a fellow described as banquetings (Gk. πότοις, potois, drinking, carousing). The English Standard Version (ESV) translates it as “drinking parties.” For example, some believe there is nothing wrong with “social drinking” or “drinking a few”. Hence, they see nothing wrong with serving assorted beers in ceremonies such as naming, marriage parties, or housewarming, nor do they see anything inappropriate with entertaining guests with alcoholic drinks in their homes and offices. Remarkably, in all three categories of alcoholic drinking, Apostle Peter says it is part of doing the will of the Gentiles. As children of God, we should want no part of the sinful lifestyles enumerated in our text. Our desire should be to spend our time doing God’s will.

Conclusion Given the above scriptural facts, I believe many here, including my revered professor and friend, would agree that the Bible recognizes the difference between different drinking levels. Moreover, God condemns all three categorizations of drinking as part of the old life of sin! Christians should seek to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom.13:14). It certainly takes great caution to avoid the greater or lesser state of effect from intoxicating drink. Those who genuinely love Christ realize he died in the flesh to destroy sin’s rule over us. Christ’s love should cause us to cease sin (1Peter 4:1). Let me also appeal to as many who are reading this today to open your hearts by accepting the word of the Lord that says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” (Rom. 13:12-13). Suppose you are one of those who have wasted enough of your life serving the flesh. In that case, you must devote the remainder of your life to doing the Lord’s will in faithful obedience to his word. The Bible says faith comes by hearing ( Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31); belief that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24; John 3:18; Acts 8:36-38); repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30; Romans 3:23; 6:23); be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21); and, faithfully continue to trust and walk with God (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). As a child of God struggling with the evil influence of alcohol in your life, let us learn a lesson from King Lemuel’s mother to his son, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes, strong drink: Lest they drink, forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” (Prov.31: 4-5). As God’s children, we should realize that one of the things that destroy kings is alcoholic drinks. See the progression? Is it not true that we are priests in the kingdom of Christ (cf. Rev.1:6)? Let our lives reflect the glory of God in all ramifications, illuminating this world of darkness. May God help us.


Analytical concordance to the Holy Bible: Young, Robert, 1822-1888: Free download, borrow, and streaming: Internet archive. (n.d.). Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/analyticalconcor00younuoft/page/274/mode/1up?view=theater

Bible Hub (2022). 1 Peter 4:3 Greek text analysis. Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages. https://biblehub.com/text/1_peter/4-3.htm

BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 150 versions and 50 languages. https://www.biblegateway.com/

Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/alcoholic-beverage

Jeffery Kingry & Ron Halbrook (1974). Alcohol and the child of God: Social drinking demythologized. The Preceptor Company.

Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/nancy-pelosis-husband-pleads-guilty-drunken-driving-california-2022-08-23/   

Steve Gorman. (2022, August 24). Nancy Pelosi’s husband pleads guilty to drunken driving in California.https://www.reuters.com/world/us/nancy-pelosis-husband-pleads-guilty-drunken-driving-california-2022-08-23/

Vine, W. E. (1873-1949). Vine’s complete expository dictionary of old and New Testament words: With topical index: 3182, Internet archive (n.d.) https://archive.org/details/vinescompleteexp0000vine/page/186/mode/2up?q=drunk

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