The Bible on Alcohol

Song of Solomon 5:

1 I have entered my garden, O my sister, my bride;

I have gathered my myrrh with my balsam spice.

I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;

I have drunk my wine and my milk!

Eat, friends, and drink!

Drink freely, O lovers!

(NET Bible®)

Is drug prohibition Christian? As I showed in the previous chapter, you can make a tenuous case against drug use for sorcery – in the Holy Land. The United States of America is not the Holy Land, however. We even have a constitutional amendment against such theocratic laws.

The case for prohibition is weaker yet when it comes to mundane recreational drugs. Taking bong hits and watching Gilligan’s Island reruns is not sorcery. Neither is snorting a line of coke at a party. Such activities may be a prelude to sin in many cases, but are they sin in and of themselves?

The Bible is silent regarding cocaine. (It’s a New World drug.) And the only possible mention of marijuana is in the formula for the priestly ointment. But the Bible does have something to say about one recreational drug: alcohol. Actually, the Bible has a lot to say on the subject, both for and against. Perhaps we should consider the Bible’s treatment of alcohol as an example for other chemical sources of pleasure.

The Old Testament celebrated wine. Wine was promised as a blessing to the Israelites, should they obey the Law. Lack of wine was one of the curses promised should the Israelites stray. Wine was even a human right under Old Testament Law.

However, the Old Testament also condemned excessive drinking. Solomon taught how unprofitable it can be. The prophets used images of staggering and vomiting drunks for negative imagery.

Old Testament Law included the Nazirite Vow, which required complete abstention from alcoholic beverages – among other restrictions. If you want to be a Nazirite, by all means go for it. But it is not a requirement for being a Christian, nor should it be a requirement for governing a Christian-dominated nation.

As for the New Testament, Jesus and his disciples drank. And the wine they drank was fermented – at least some of the time. The text makes this clear in more than one place. However, Jesus also included drunkenness as an example of bad behavior in some of his parables. Moderation is key.

St. Paul gave the strongest condemnations of alcohol use in the New Testament. He went as far as to write that a drunkard cannot enter the Kingdom. That said, his remark about treating the body as a temple as not about alcohol consumption. And Paul even recommended wine for health reasons in one passage.

Finally, note that all the condemnations of drunkenness were directed at drunkards. I can find no condemnation of those who produce wine. None. The Bible does not recognize the concept of an alcohol “pusher.” As I have written elsewhere, there are good secular reasons to apply the same standard to all drugs. Laws against drug abuse are much easier to enforce than laws against drug production and dealing.

That’s the summary. For the details and citations, keep reading. Or if you want to jump to a particular area of interest, just use the hyperlinks above. (And you might want to. This chapter is long.)

Wine was a Blessing

Deuteronomy 7:

12 If you obey these ordinances and are careful to do them, the LORD your God will faithfully keep covenant with you as he promised your ancestors.

13 He will love and bless you, and make you numerous. He will bless you with many children, with the produce of your soil, your grain, your new wine, your oil, the offspring of your oxen, and the young of your flocks in the land which he promised your ancestors to give you.

Deuteronomy 11:

13 Now, if you pay close attention to my commandments that I am giving you today and love the LORD your God and serve him with all your mind and being,

Deu 11:14 then he promises, "I will send rain for your land in its season, the autumn and the spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine, and olive oil.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Wine was one of the God’s promises to Israel – should they obey His laws. If drinking wine is a sin in and of itself, this would be a strange promise indeed!

Deuteronomy 33:

27 The everlasting God is a refuge,

and underneath you are his eternal arms;

he has driven out enemies before you,

and has said, "Destroy!"

28 Israel lives in safety,

the fountain of Jacob is quite secure,

in a land of grain and new wine;

indeed, its heavens rain down dew.

(NET Bible®)

Lack of Wine was a Curse

Deuteronomy 28:

15 "But if you ignore the LORD your God and are not careful to keep all his commandments and statutes I am giving you today, then all these curses will come upon you in full force:

16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the field.

17 Your basket and your mixing bowl will be cursed.

18 Your children will be cursed, as well as the produce of your soil, the calves of your herds, and the lambs of your flocks.

30 You will be engaged to a woman and another man will rape her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will plant a vineyard but not even begin to use it.

38 "You will take much seed to the field but gather little harvest, because locusts will consume it.

39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink wine or gather in grapes, because worms will eat them.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Moses did mention wine as part of a curse as well. But the curse was not for drinking wine. The curse was the inability to drink wine!

Wine was a Human Right!

Deuteronomy 15:

11 There will never cease to be some poor people in the land; therefore, I am commanding you to make sure you open your hand to your fellow Israelites who are needy and poor in your land.

12 If your fellow Hebrew — whether male or female — is sold to you and serves you for six years, then in the seventh year you must let that servant go free.

13 If you set them free, you must not send them away empty-handed.

14 You must supply them generously from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress — as the LORD your God has blessed you, you must give to them.

15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore, I am commanding you to do this thing today.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Imagine if instead of arresting people for smoking marijuana, we provided former convicts with an ample stash when we released them from prison (for other crimes).

The Bible doesn’t call for that, but it calls for something perhaps even weirder: released prisoners were to be provided with a supply of wine upon release – along with some other supplies. I say more weird because alcohol tends to inspire crime more than marijuana does.

Then again, marijuana is known to inspire sloth, and a freed prisoner needs to get to work. Also, Old Testament Law makes little distinction between bankruptcy and theft without adequate compensation. Both are debts. Both result in a term of slavery.

But unlike our evil modern system, ancient Hebrews got some take-out wealth upon release so they could get a fresh start upon release: enough capital to raise some crops or start a business.

And ex-cons could enjoy a refreshing beverage after a hard day’s work as well.

The Old Testament on Drunkenness and Gluttony

Proverbs 20:

1 Wine is a mocker and strong drink is a brawler;

whoever goes astray by them is not wise.

Proverbs 23:

20 Do not spend time among drunkards,

among those who eat too much meat,

21 because drunkards and gluttons become impoverished,

and drowsiness clothes them with rags.

Proverbs 26:

9 Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard,

so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

10 Like an archer who wounds at random,

so is the one who hires a fool or hires any passer-by.

11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit,

so a fool repeats his folly.

(NET Bible®)

The Old Testament celebrates wine. It also condemns drunkenness. The Old Testament also celebrates food – while condemning gluttony.

Deuteronomy 21:

18 If a person has a stubborn, rebellious son who pays no attention to his father or mother, and they discipline him to no avail,

19 his father and mother must seize him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his city.

20 They must declare to the elders of his city, "Our son is stubborn and rebellious and pays no attention to what we say — he is a glutton and drunkard."

21 Then all the men of his city must stone him to death. In this way you will purge out wickedness from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Drunkenness and gluttony are often voiced in the same breath. I enjoy pointing this out when confronted by fat drug warriors and prohibitionists. The Bible calls for balance.

Ecclesiastes 10:

16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish,

and your princes feast in the morning!

17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility,

and your princes feast at the proper time — with self-control and not in drunkenness.

18 Because of laziness the roof caves in,

and because of idle hands the house leaks.

19 Feasts are made for laughter,

and wine makes life merry,

but money is the answer for everything.

(NET Bible®)

As for imbalance, I love the following passage. The Bible has very little humor in it, but this is hilarious:

Proverbs 23:

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

Who has contentions? Who has complaints?

Who has wounds without cause? Who has dullness of the eyes?

30 Those who linger over wine,

those who go looking for mixed wine.

31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,

when it sparkles in the cup,

when it goes down smoothly.

32 Afterward it bites like a snake,

and stings like a viper.

33 Your eyes will see strange things,

and your mind will speak perverse things.

34 And you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,

and like one who lies down on the top of the rigging.

35 You will say, "They have struck me, but I am not harmed!

They beat me, but I did not know it!

When will I awake? I will look for another drink."

(NET Bible®)

Drunken Imagery from the Prophets

Isaiah 19:

14 The LORD has made them undiscerning;

they lead Egypt astray in all she does,

so that she is like a drunk sliding around in his own vomit.

Isaiah 24:

19 The earth is broken in pieces,

the earth is ripped to shreds,

the earth shakes violently.

20 The earth will stagger around like a drunk;

it will sway back and forth like a hut in a windstorm.

Its sin will weigh it down,

and it will fall and never get up again.

21 At that time the LORD will punish

the heavenly forces in the heavens

and the earthly kings on the earth

(NET Bible®)

I doubt that all the Israelites practiced the balanced approach to alcohol described in the previous section. The prophets used images of staggering and vomiting drunks to get some unpleasant points across. The images would not have much impact if the audience hadn’t seen some examples in real life.

Jeremiah 48:

25 Moab's might will be crushed. Its power will be broken. I, the LORD, affirm it!

26 "Moab has vaunted itself against me.

So make him drunk with the wine of my wrath

until he splashes around in his own vomit,

until others treat him as a laughingstock.

(NET Bible®)

See also Isaiah 28:1-4, Isaiah 29:8-10, Jeremiah 25:25-30, Jeremiah 51:6-9, Joel 1:4-6, and Habakkuk 2:12-16. (There are probably some other passages I missed. No intent to be comprehensive here.)

The Nazarite Vow

Numbers 6:

1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses:

2 "Speak to the Israelites, and tell them, 'When either a man or a woman takes a special vow, to take a vow as a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD,

3 he must separate himself from wine and strong drink, he must drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from strong drink, nor may he drink any juice of grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins.

4 All the days of his separation he must not eat anything that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin.

5 " 'All the days of the vow of his separation no razor may be used on his head until the time is fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD. He will be holy, and he must let the locks of hair on his head grow long.

6 " 'All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he must not contact a dead body.

7 He must not defile himself even for his father or his mother or his brother or his sister if they die, because the separation for his God is on his head.

8 All the days of his separation he must be holy to the LORD.

(NET Bible®)

If you want to be extra holy, it may behoove you to abstain from alcohol. This appears to be the implication of the Nazirite vow. Or maybe the abstention from alcohol was meant to improve self control for fulfilling some other vow. Note the language of verse 2 above.

Regardless, take note:

  1. The vow above was in general a temporary vow. Shaving the head at the beginning and then avoiding haircuts marked the time of the vow. (Exceptions: Samuel, John the Baptist, and probably Samson were Nazirites for life.)
  2. The Nazirite vow ruled out all grape products, not just alcoholic wine. If you are drinking Welch’s grape juice, you are not fulfilling the terms of the Nazirite vow.

The main examples of the Nazirite vow are the lifetime vows of Samuel, John the Baptist, and possibly Samson. (In the case of Samson, it does not specifically mention that he avoided wine during his lifetime. But his mother avoided it while he was in the womb.)

There is a very brief indirect reference in the book of Acts as well:

Act 18:

18 Paul, after staying many more days in Corinth, said farewell to the brothers and sailed away to Syria accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because he had made a vow.

(NET Bible®)

Paul had his hair cut off because he took a vow. Though the text does not specify it, it seems to imply that Paul had taken the Nazirite vow. This might explain why Paul was more negative about alcohol than most other Biblical writers. He was doing without.

Jesus, on the other hand, did drink wine.

Jesus and His Disciples Drank

Matthew 11:

16 "To what should I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to one another,

17 'We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance;

we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.'

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!'

19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

(NET Bible®)

Jesus drank. John the Baptist did not drink any alcohol [Luke 1:15] but Jesus did. According to St. John’s gospel, Jesus’ first miracle was to liven up a party, by contributing to the wine supply.

John 2:

1 Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there,

2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

3 When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no wine left."

4 Jesus replied, "Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come."

5 His mother told the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it."

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.

7 Jesus told the servants, "Fill the water jars with water." So they filled them up to the very top.

8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the head steward," and they did.

9 When the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom

10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper wine when the guests are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!"

11 Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee. In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Jesus created wine after the guests had already finished off the original supply. Either the party had a lot of wedding crashers, the host was stingy, or the guests were already buzzed before Jesus’ miracle. Verse 10 indicates the guests were already buzzed. Compare to the Ecclesiastes 10 quote earlier. Some drunken merriment may well be acceptable for special occasions. (And take note of the quantity of wine Jesus created: at least 130 gallons! That’s over 600 bottles. Quite a party, that.)

Jesus even likened his ministry to the fermentation process:

Matthew 9:

16 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, because the patch will pull away from the garment and the tear will be worse.

17 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved."

(NET Bible®)

“New wine” ferments. That’s how it bursts old wineskins. We’re not talking about pasteurized grape juice here. New wine may be alcohol free immediately after harvest, but by Passover and Pentecost, wine will have fermented. Speaking of Pentecost, here is a wine reference that happens after the Crucifixion:

Acts 2:

6 When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

7 Completely baffled, they said, "Aren't all these who are speaking Galileans?

8 And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language?

9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia,

10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,

11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!"

12 All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

13 But others jeered at the speakers, saying, "They are drunk on new wine!"

14 But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them: "You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say.

15 In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

Here, we have verification that “new wine” is indeed a substance that can get you drunk [verse 13]. And note Peter’s response to the accusation of drunkenness in verse 15. He did not deny that his followers drank. He does not deny that they ever get drunk. He said it was too early for them to be drunk. I hear an implied “yet” when I read this passage. (And compare to the Ecclesiastes 10 quote cited earlier, especially verse 16 regarding feasting in the morning.)

I am not implying that Peter and company were heavy drinkers. Pentecost was one of the three big annual feasts mandated in the Law. It was a time to party.

St. Paul on Alcohol

Ephesians 5:

15 Therefore be very careful how you live — not as unwise but as wise,

16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord's will is.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit,

19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord,

20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

(NET Bible®)

The strongest admonitions against alcohol are found in Paul’s letters. As I mentioned in the section on the Nazirite vow, it is quite likely that Paul was under this vow for at least part of his ministry.

Paul didn’t want heavy drinkers leading the church:

1 Timothy 3:

1 This saying is trustworthy: "If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work."

2 The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,

3 not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money.

4 He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity.

5 But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God?

6 He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact.

7 And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil's trap.

Titus 1:

6 An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion.

7 For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God's work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain.

8 Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

In fact, he didn’t want anyone who was a drunkard to be considered a Christian:

1 Corinthians 5:

9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.

10 In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.

11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside?

13 But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

He said don’t even have dinner with someone who calls himself a Christian and is a drunkard (or homosexual, or greedy, etc.). On the other hand in verse 10 he does not extend these prohibitions to non Christians! St. Paul clearly did not expect the wide world to conform to Christian standards. The State should enforce a lower minimum standard of behavior.

And, by the way, Paul expected this shunning to continue after the Resurrection:

1 Corinthians 6:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,

10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

(NET Bible®)

Despite all these admonitions against drunkenness, Paul actually recommended wine in one letter:

1 Timothy 5:

21 Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind.

22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily and so identify with the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

23 (Stop drinking just water, but use a little wine for your digestion and your frequent illnesses.)

24 The sins of some people are obvious, going before them into judgment, but for others, they show up later.

25 Similarly good works are also obvious, and the ones that are not cannot remain hidden.

(NET Bible®)

So, according to St. Paul, some wine is good for the digestion whereas too much wine will keep you out of the Kingdom. Exactly how much is too much is a rather important question. I cannot give a definitive answer. I would suggest considering typical wine/alcohol consumption of the Mediterranean area in Paul’s day as a reference. Note that the ancient Romans were legendary for their drunken orgies – which were often associated with the sexual sins mentioned above. Maybe Paul was simply saying don’t drink that much. I don’t know for certain.

What I can say is that St. Paul was not writing about alcohol when he referred to your body as a temple.

The Body as a Temple

1 Corinthians 6:

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

(NET Bible®)

St. Paul wrote several passages condemning drunkenness. The passage above is not one of them. If you are really going to treat your body as a temple, then you should give it some wine. Wine offerings were mandatory!

Exodus 29:

39 The first lamb you are to prepare in the morning, and the second lamb you are to prepare around sundown.

40 With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a fourth of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

Numbers 28:

6 It is a continual burnt offering that was instituted on Mount Sinai as a pleasing aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

:7 " 'And its drink offering must be one quarter of a hin for each lamb. You must pour out the strong drink as a drink offering to the LORD in the holy place.

11 " 'On the first day of each month you must offer as a burnt offering to the LORD two young bulls, one ram, and seven unblemished lambs a year old,

12 with three-tenths of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering for each bull, and two-tenths of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering for the ram,

13 and one-tenth of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering for each lamb, as a burnt offering for a pleasing aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

14 For their drink offerings, include half a hin of wine with each bull, one-third of a hin for the ram, and one-fourth of a hin for each lamb. This is the burnt offering for each month throughout the months of the year.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

St. Paul was quite aware of these drink offerings. He compared himself to one in a different letter:

Philippians 2:

17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.

(NET Bible®)

Not only did the Temple get drink offerings, so did the priests.

Numbers 18:

8 The LORD spoke to Aaron, "See, I have given you the responsibility for my raised offerings; I have given all the holy things of the Israelites to you as your priestly portion and to your sons as a perpetual ordinance.

9 Of all the most holy offerings reserved from the fire this will be yours: Every offering of theirs, whether from every grain offering or from every purification offering or from every reparation offering which they bring to me, will be most holy for you and for your sons.

10 You are to eat it as a most holy offering; every male may eat it. It will be holy to you.

11 "And this is yours: the raised offering of their gift, along with all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I have given them to you and to your sons and daughters with you as a perpetual ordinance. Everyone who is ceremonially clean in your household may eat of it.

12 "All the best of the olive oil and all the best of the wine and of the wheat, the first fruits of these things that they give to the LORD, I have given to you.

13 And whatever first ripe fruit in their land they bring to the LORD will be yours; everyone who is ceremonially clean in your household may eat of it.

14 "Everything devoted in Israel will be yours.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

And yes, the congregation could enjoy some drinks during holy festivals:

Deuteronomy 14:

22 You must be certain to tithe all the produce of your seed that comes from the field year after year.

23 In the presence of the LORD your God you must eat from the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the place he chooses to locate his name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.

24 When he blesses you, if the place where he chooses to locate his name is distant,

25 you may convert the tithe into money, secure the money, and travel to the place the LORD your God chooses for himself.

26 Then you may spend the money however you wish for cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or whatever you desire. You and your household may eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and enjoy it.

(NET Bible®, underlining mine)

However, there were some restrictions. Priests were not supposed to be buzzed while performing services in the sanctuary:

Leviticus 10:

8 Then the LORD spoke to Aaron,

9 "Do not drink wine or strong drink, you and your sons with you, when you enter into the Meeting Tent, so that you do not die, which is a perpetual statute throughout your generations,

10 as well as to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean,

(NET Bible®)

Still, it is safe to say that a bit of wine is not going to defile the metaphorical temple which is a Christian’s body. You could make a far better case against eating pork or shellfish than drinking alcohol, given the Paul quote above – without further context.

But the quote that begins this section does have a context, and it’s obvious! Here’s the quote in context:

1 Corinthians 6:

13 "Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both." The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

14 Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will raise us by his power.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!

16 Or do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute is one body with her? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."

17 But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him.

18 Flee sexual immorality! "Every sin a person commits is outside of the body" — but the immoral person sins against his own body.

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

(NET Bible®)

Paul was writing about sexual immorality, not alcohol consumption. Duh!

And to hammer in what should be an obvious point, I’ll point out a few supporting passages that Paul was probably thinking about when he used this metaphor. For starters, the Law clearly states that there should be no association of the Temple with prostitutes.

Deuteronomy 23:

17 There must never be a sacred prostitute among the young women of Israel nor a sacred male prostitute among the young men of Israel.

18 You must never bring the pay of a female prostitute or the wage of a male prostitute into the temple of the LORD your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both of these are abhorrent to the LORD your God.

(NET Bible®)

And the Old Testament priests were supposed to stay well away from harlotry, adultery, or anything remotely resembling such.

Leviticus 21:

10 " 'The high priest — who is greater than his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured, who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments — must neither dishevel the hair of his head nor tear his garments.

11 He must not go where there is any dead person; he must not defile himself even for his father and his mother.

12 He must not go out from the sanctuary and must not profane the sanctuary of his God, because the dedication of the anointing oil of his God is on him. I am the LORD.

13 He must take a wife who is a virgin.

14 He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or one profaned by prostitution; he may only take a virgin from his people as a wife.

15 He must not profane his children among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.' "

(NET Bible®)

Falling into Sin

Matthew 5:

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell.

30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.

(NET Bible®)

If your fifth beer causes you to do something stupid or sinful, don’t have that fifth beer. If your fourth beer causes you to have so little willpower that you will end up having that fifth beer, then don’t have that fourth beer. If having any alcoholic beverage leads to your going on a bender, don’t drink at all.

Methinks similar reasoning should apply to other recreational drugs, including those not mentioned in the Bible. If ye Christians in the audience think the chemical highs should be limited to those mentioned in the Bible, if that, then so be it – for ye. But the government needs to represent everyone, including non-Christians and Christians of differing opinions on this matter.

And here is where the War on Drugs is not only evil; it is racist. During my days as a Libertarian Party activist I got to know many marijuana users. Some used (or had used) other illegal drugs. Others avoided them, or tried them in the past and decided that they were a bad idea. Some were leery of alcohol, even in small quantities. They smoked marijuana because it was safer – for them – than alcohol. What’s safe for one person is unsafe for another.

There is a racial correlation. The peoples of the Mediterranean basin have been consuming alcoholic beverages for a very long time. Alcohol is a relatively safe recreational drug for such people. For many other ethnic groups this is not the case. The First Nations of North America have a terrible time with alcohol; peyote and tobacco are safer drugs. Marijuana is probably a safer drug than alcohol for quite a few ethic groups. Limiting legal highs to those traditional for certain ethnic groups is a racist and destructive policy.

Any drug prohibition by the State should be individualized. If getting drunk causes you to break important laws, then maybe you should lose the right to drink. Ditto for cannabis, cocaine, opiates, etc.

If you insist on laws to make drug abuse more difficult, focus on concentration vs. type. How about making injectable heroin illegal (or by prescription only), but allowing laudanum or smokable opium? How about legal coca leaf tea? Such laws would require people to make a serious effort to get so high as to sin against State/Society. But they would still allow people to choose relaxifiers that work best for them, and would take away the fortunes of criminal gangs.