Monday! Time once again for – yep, you guessed it – Monday School. It’s STILL “The Rational Corrective To All That Nonsense They Tried To Teach You Yesterday!” but by all means feel free to think of it as “The Sensible Alternative To Christian Superstitions” if you prefer.
Today’s Lesson: What Would Jesus Drink: Does the Bible approve or disapprove of the consumption of alcohol?
(Seriously, what would Jesus drink?)
This is an interesting subject, one that was discussed by many atheists a few times, and since I found it very fascinating it seemed worthy of bringing back for another lesson. Does the bible approve of alcohol? For me this debate started several years ago when I was visiting family in Tennessee:
I remember attending a barbeque on the 4th of July one year when I went to visit my parents in Nashville. While enjoying the festivities of the holiday, I noticed that one of the people attending refused to drink. He wasn’t a designated driver nor was he an alcoholic, so why was he refusing to accept any laced drinks from the host? It was against his faith.
This was not the first time I heard someone say this. I know quite a few friends who are Islamic and they refuse to drink alcohol for the same reason… but this person wasn’t Islamic. He was Christian. This confused me a great deal because from what I read, Jesus was a big wine drinker in the day. I might be paraphrasing but wasn’t he the dude that allegedly changed water into wine to get the party started? (John 2:1-11)
I was greatly confused about this, so I approached the man and asked him why he believes his faith forbids the consumption of alcohol?
He hit me with a few bible passages, such as Proverbs 20:1 as well as Luke 1:15 to back up his stance on alcohol. If this man’s interpretation of the bible was correct, that meant all those God fearing Christians who have a beer while watching the game are violating the word of God.
But not so fast, when I spoke with another Christian about this, that person had a different interpretation of the same book. This Christian reminded me about Genesis 27:28 which specifically states that alcohol is a gift from God that was for man to cherish and enjoy.
So here we have two opposing views of the same issue inside the same alleged holy book. Are any of us really be surprised at this point?
The contradiction doesn’t end there, if you flash over to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible site, there are several quotes from the book that support BOTH sides of this issue. When you look at this page, you’ll notice there are eighteen (18) passages that forbid the consumption of alcohol by Christians while there are only ten (10) that give Christians permission to consume wine. Based on the number of passages, you’d think that the bible seems to condemn alcohol more than it approves of it.
(I have a feeling that this billboard is somewhere in Alabama…)
In case some of you are wondering, alcohol isn’t used at communion. Grape Juice is used to fill in for the blood of Christ rather than wine. It’s said the Mormons use water for their communion, so I’m guessing some of these churches are hedging their bets jut in case the passages that outlaw alcohol is the right side to be on. I remember watching an episode of Family Guy when Peter was sipping the wine at communion, “Is that stuff the blood of Christ? That guy must have been wasted 24 hours a day!!!”
What many who haven’t read history don’t understand is that during the time Jesus allegedly was around, wine was the drink of the Romanized elite in the Middle East. Beer was actually the preferred drink of the common people. This would give you a better understanding to why changing water in wine would be more amazing to common people, who rarely drank what was considering an elite drink. But it would be considered odd if Jesus, a man considered to be for the people, would prefer to drink the nectar of the elites rather than share a humble brew with the common man. This talk of wine would support the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth was actually an elite as some historians suggest. Splitting hairs, I know but it’s interesting to think about.
(Proof that people will use anything and anyone to market a product…)
It’s amazing how there are differing views towards alcohol when it comes to the bible. Some believe it forbids it while others think that it allows people to enjoy it as one of the many gifts from god. There are other religions that outlaw alcohol that doesn’t meet with their criteria (such as kosher with the Jewish faith) while others outlaw it completely, which is the case with Islam. It’s interesting how a simple leisure can cause such a stir with organized religions as some of them bring them closer together or drive them further apart.
Personally, I could care less. I enjoy a good drink when the occasion calls for it or break open a bottle of wine when trying to settle from a hard day at work. Like all things in life, moderation is the key but if you don’t prefer to drink that’s all right too. I personally cannot stand pineapple on a pizza but that doesn’t mean I should condemn people who want to use the fruit as a topping on their breaded slabs. Could you imagine if someone tried to tell you what you could or couldn’t eat because of their faith? Oh wait.. they do, but we’ll save that for another lesson.
Everyone have a great Monday and if you have any views you’d like to share about alcohol and religion… I look forward to reading them.