Wine in the Pulpit

Christians, as well as other religious groups, tend to struggle with the topic of alcoholic beverages and often remain divided in their level of tolerance and degree of passion for passing judgment on those who choose to imbibe. One beverage in particular has many in a quandary and finds itself an impassioned topic for the pulpit. Wine has been available throughout the millennia and has had both supporters and detractors seemingly from the beginning of mankind. Should wine be deserving of continuing controversy?

Legalistic tendencies promote the demonizing of wine along with all other alcohol and provoke a variety of man-made standards against which one man’s evil and another’s piety is judged. Some religious circles will preach abstinence and others moderation while giving in to passing their own judgment on the rule breakers. Others seem to accept alcohol consumption without prejudice.

The Bible has been used as a tool to both extol the benefit of wine as a God-given gift and to demonize it as dangerous elixir of evil. Men in the pulpit seem to find a verse or two to fit their own personal bias and project to their constituents a supported case for their lopsided view. A variety of notions such as the wine of the Bible not being alcoholic or of certain passages specifically forbidding all consumption have been preached. What does the Bible really tell us about this controversial liquid? A cursory search of the website shows 233 references to the word WINE. A selection of these verses should provide the needed perspective.

The first book of the Old Testament paints a picture of the origins of Mankind and establishes the relationship with a loving creator. Clearly, wine is specified as a benefit bestowed upon man.

May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness- an abundance of grain and new wine.

Genesis 27:27-29

The book of Proverbs spells out practical advice on many topics and gives warning to those who use wine. Certainly this verse shows cause for avoiding the pitfalls of its side effects.

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Proverbs 20:1-3

Celebratory use of wine to be prepared by God Himself is promised in this passage. The descriptors “aged” and “finest” should not be overlooked here as they both dispel the notion promoted by some that the approved drink is a non-alcoholic beverage. Alcoholic fermentation is the transformer of grape juice that would allow the preservation necessary to reach a notable age and favorable quality.

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines.

Isaiah 25:5-7

In Daniel we see that wine is a luxurious self-reward to the greedy idolaters who have failed to honor the one true Creator and instead honor the material spoils of life.

As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Daniel 5:3-5

One does not even have to consume wine himself to render it abusive. It can be used against others to pave the way for other forms of debauchery.

Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.

Habakkuk 2:14-16

The effect of wine is shown to bring the feeling of happiness to the drinker, a positive correlation to the faithful belief in God.

The Ephraimites will become like mighty men, and their hearts will be glad as with wine. Their children will see it and be joyful; their hearts will rejoice in the LORD.

Zechariah 10:6-8

This warning can be interpreted as either advisement not to drink wine at all or at the very least to be cautious in drinking to excess. Finding happiness in the presence of God the Spirit should displace the urge to seek even the beneficial use of wine.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:17-19

Jesus himself, as displayed in the following account from John, proved to be the ultimate winemaker at the bequest of his mother. Not only is the importance of wine to the occasion shown but the nature of Jesus as God is revealed in the miracle of creating wine from water a task normally only accomplished with the juice of grapes in the hands mere mortals.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

John 2:2-4

and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside

John 2:8-10

and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

John 2:9-11

Further scripture highlights medicinal use, preservation properties and an even longer list of negatives and cautions regarding the weaknesses and sins of the abuser of wine.

The topic garners much attention from the authors of these passages who recorded them over a lengthy period of our history. Alcohol abuse was recognized then and continues to be now as a detriment to individuals and society. Wine is the particular form of alcohol that seems to remain in a grey area of opinion to this day due to its benefit when used in moderation weighed against its potential to foster negative consequence when misused. Willamette Valley tours

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