Moderation is Key: A Catholic View of Alcohol

Red WineLate last week a non-Catholic Facebook friend posed this question: “Is it right or wrong to drink, scriptorially? Is it ok to drink sometime or not at all?”

Apparently, she was getting conflicting opinions from her church and wanted to know what the Bible said about drinking. From this question, an interesting discussion ensued. One comment particularly stood out for me (copied exactly as stated in FB):

The Holy Spirit don’t stand alcohol. Let’s be not only believer’s, but let’s repent to get the promise for US and our children (act.2:38-40) to get the H.S in hearts. A simple believer without the H.S is not yet a confirmed child (son) of God. Rememeber what is said in Roman 8. The only way wine is allowed is to take communion. This truth is available only for the new Covenant. In the Old Covenant, only Nazareane couldn’t drink wine. They are the Equivalent of man (woman) filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant. Without the H.S in heart, we are not sons or daughters of God. Do you see?

What gets me about this comment is, that this person is basically saying that if a person drinks alcohol, he or she doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in his or her heart. That’s rubbish. This person doesn’t have some special view into a person’s heart. Only God can read our hearts. Only God knows our intentions. Only God knows where our hearts lie and whether or not the Holy Spirit is living in us. Alcohol has nothing to do with that.

On top of that,  how does this person know that the Holy Spirit “don’t stand alcohol”? No where in the Bible does it expressly say that alcohol is intrinsically evil. We are often warned not to live in excess, but that concerned eating, drinking, etc. but no where does it say that alcohol is evil. (If I’m wrong, do please point out the verse to me, and I will take this back!)

Concerning Romans 8, which is cited by this person, doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit is against alcohol. What it does say in verse 5 is this:

For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit.

Throughout the chapter, it talks about living in Christ and being a new creation and that we are adopted sons and daughters of the Father, through Christ. In verse 10 it says:

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think any of these verse are intended to categorically say that alcohol is evil. I encourage you to read Romans 8 and decide for yourself.

I also spent a little time in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There isn’t anything explicit about alcohol, but under the section of the section dealing with the 5th Commandment – when it talks about the dignity of the human person – there is a part dealing with “respect for health”  it says this (Article 2290):

The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

See, it is the virtue of temperance that must guide our choices. Any abuse or excess of ANYTHING is wrong; however, that doesn’t necessarily make the thing itself intrinsically evil or wrong. (Although, one could make a case for tobacco!)

In conclusion, let me sum up my view using the comment (in response to the person mentioned above) I left for my friend:

“Jesus ate and drank with his apostles and turned water into wine. Wine is made from grapes, which was made from God and all that God has made is good. The key is moderation. The bible says to stay sober and not get drunk and carousing, but no where in the bible does it say that alcohol in itself is evil. It’s us humans that make it evil by giving into drunkenness and excess. Or anything else that is good for that matter; alcohol, food, sex are all good. We are the ones that distort that goodness by not using them as God intended. Everyone of us are responsible before the Lord for our actions, so if we know that we “can’t hold our drink” then we have a responsibility not to drink, but having a glass of wine with dinner or on a special occasion is not against the Holy Spirit or wrong.

I’d love your opinion. Do you agree with me? Or take a different position? What are your thoughts on this?

Further Reading:

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism

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