When I was a child in Sunday School I was taught that as a responsible christian you should always study out the Bible for yourself and not just take everything you hear without checking it out first. Verses like “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15, and others were taught at an early age. However the problem started when I really began to do what I was taught to do and not just unquestioningly believe what I was taught to believe.
One of these areas of question is in the use of grape juice vs. wine at communion. My first exposure to anything other than grape juice at communion was visiting the catholic church with a friend in high school. At Mass only the priest got to drink the wine; but of course my friend and her older brothers had all kinds of stories (exaggerated or made up I’m sure) of the priests drinking the wine and getting drunk after mass. How could they get drunk on grape juice I asked, oh its not grape juice its real wine. How shocking, but they were “Catholics” after all. Then as a young adult I had the privilege of attending an International Women’s Aglow conference in Vancouver BC. There when they served communion you had your choice of juice or wine. I was pretty blown away, how could these spirit filled ladies believe that it was ok to drink real fermented wine at communion. Drinking is a sin and therefore having fermented wine at communion of all places had to be a huge sin. So the search and study of this accepted subject began for me.
I started with the question; Is drinking wine a sin. I read every single verse in the Bible that contains the word, wine, strong drink, drunk or drunkenness. And although I’m not going to go through that study here, my conclusions are this. Throughout scripture from Genesis to Revelation there is NO prohibition against drinking wine, aged wine or strong drink. Where wine or strong drink is handled in a joyful, responsible manner it is given a positive connotation and taken as a blessing. Where wine or strong drink are abused and drunkenness follows it is given a negative connotation and in some cases considered sin.
Wine is a blessing:
Wine was part of the required Levitical Sacrifices:
Getting Intoxicated is not wise:
My conclusion therefore is that drinking any alcoholic beverage is not a sin, Jesus didn’t sin when He drank and the only thing that makes drinking a sin is not in the alcohol itself but in the use or abuse of the substance.
Grace and Peace
Watch for Part 2 – So what about Juice and Communion
Interesting articles on the subject