To Drink or Not to Drink

People who drink intoxicants and those who don’t deserve to know what the Bible teaches on the subject. Is there a Bible based case for abstinence?  

Three Bible events used by some to support use of intoxicants are the Lord’s Supper, the wedding in Cana, and the use as a medicine for stomach problems.

The wedding was a religious service and fermentation was not allowed at weddings. If it is thought the guests had already drunk and become drunk would Jesus have violated Scripture and cause them to get even more drunk?

If Jesus turned the water into an intoxicating drug, He violated Scripture which forbids giving strong drink to a person as recorded in Habakkuk 2:15.

He would have violated the biblical mandates against intoxicating wine in Proverbs 20:1  and 23: 29-35. Persons who insist Jesus turned the water into an intoxicating drug in order to justify their  drinking of fermented wine and other alcoholic beverages are in their insistence saying Jesus violated the Bible teaching as noted in these verses and thus forfeited His sinless nature and relinquished His role as the divine Son of God.

At the Last Supper leaven bread was prohibited because of being fermented. Leavening is a process of fermentation. If fermentation was forbidden in the bread the same would be true of wine. 

Some use the Scripture regarding taking a little wine for the stomach’s sake as license to use intoxicants.

There are secular writings by rabbis from the period regarding the use of strong drink. It was to be diluted with water at a ratio of 20 to 1 to purify the water. This was the formula used at the time of the writing of the passage regarding taking a little wine “for the stomach’s sake.” (I Timothy 5:23). It was medicinal. 

The ratio of water to wine varied. Different ancient writers note different formulas ranging from one part wine to twenty parts of water. Others indicate a ratio of 1-5, 1-4, 2-5. At the wedding of Cana Jesus had the water pots filled with water and when the guests drank they referred to it as “wine” the normal word for the mixture of water and wine.

Unfermented wine was available all season. Ancients had several ways of preserving unfermented wine. One way was to reduce the grape juice to the constituency of a thick syrup or even jelly known in Hebrew as debhash and in Arabic dbs. This preserved form could be used over a long period of time. By adding water the concentrate turned the water to unfermented wine.

Sometimes a cake was made of dried grapes which later was added to water to produce unfermented wine.

In the modern era a conscientious layman responsible for preparing the table at his church for the Lord’s Supper became concerned about using fermented wine. Being a pharmacist he utilized only techniques from the time of the Bible to produce unfermented grape juice for use at the Lords Supper. His name was Mr. Welch of Welch’s Grape Juice fame. Welch’s concern grew out of the fact bread with leavening was forbidden to be used at the Passover. Leavening involved using yeast. As the yeast cells die, the decay produces gasses. This fermentation results in the rising of bread. Purity was desired so unleavened bread was required.  Welch reasoned why would fermentation not be allowed in bread while being allowed in wine?

Test by Schick Laboratory gives reason to abstain. It showed when the human body gets dehydrated the healthy cells of the body send a message to the brain registering thirst. With the use of alcohol the cells start sending a message to the brain to keep sending more alcohol and at that point the person is an alcoholic. Some people drink for years before this happens. For others it is with the first drink. Every drink is a gamble.