What Does the Bible Say About Alcohol & Marijuana?
Will drinking alcohol or smoking weed hurt your testimony as a Christian?
In this week’s episode, Brody addresses these issues by looking at Scripture, statistics, and sharing his personal thoughts. We need to think seriously about these topics and guard ourselves against worldly perspectives that can creep in.
Is it profitable or useful? Are you dependent on it? We can not justify drunkenness because we need our minds to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Let’s make sure that we’re not using our freedom in Christ in a way that would cause someone else to stumble.
Listen to learn the principles Scripture gives to guide us on these issues.
- Psalm 104:15
- Ephesians 5:18
- Romans 14
- Hosea 4:11
- Ezekiel 44:21
- Proverbs 20
- Proverbs 21
- Proverbs 23
- Deuteronomy 29
- Galatians 5:1
Want to go deeper?
Hey everybody, so today we’re going to answer some questions from listeners.
“I love the podcast, you guys do a great job at applying Scripture to things today, and also comparing some biblical scenarios to everyday life. If you need any ideas on podcasts, I’d love to hear you talk about pre-marital sex, I think I know the answer, but it’d be interesting to hear you talk about it and also an episode on alcohol consumption, whether that be underaged or drunkenness.”
So I think he’s asking, what does it look like? What would the Scripture… How would it address underage drinking or getting drunk, so we’ll address that. We’ll tackle that. Those two things are stuff that I and other high schoolers and everyday teenagers would be interested to see your opinion. So thanks for that Will in Iowa.
We’re gonna be sending Will some sweet SWO swag, and then the second part of this episode is… We’re gonna lump these together, it has to do with weed.
“Hey Brody, my name is McKinsey, born and raised here in San Antonio, Texas. I have been born again, going on 19 years, praise the Lord! I love listening to your podcast while I run, while at work, thank you for providing an awesome resource to learn more about Jesus, his traits, other believers’ testimonies, and so much more. I recommend your podcast to a lot of people in my life. I was hoping to ask for either your opinion on the subject or if you would be open to doing a podcast on the subject, if the Lord leads to it. I recently had a conversation with someone… I would ask for your opinion on the subject, you be able to do on the podcast. Recently I had someone send me some videos, info on psychedelic mushrooms and weed and its medicinal properties, other than it being illegal, I sometimes find it difficult to respond to them biblically or in a way that leads to Jesus’s truths on that subject. It’s so hard to find resources on the subject that are biblically based. I hear arguments of it ‘opening your mind’ or ‘God made mushrooms and weed.’”
I’ve heard that argument a lot too, I’ll try to… If I can remember, I’ll try to address that. “I just find it very difficult to respond in a logical way, in a way that’s not judgmental,” so… Thanks for that McKinsey, we’re gonna tackle these two questions, kind of lump them into one episode.
Initial Thoughts From Scripture.
These are questions that we actually get fairly often, they’re fairly common at Snowbird, and especially within student ministry. It’s something that gets asked pretty regularly.
So I wanna break this down, we’re gonna go over general thoughts from Scripture. Then we’re gonna look at warnings from Scripture. Then we’re gonna look at statistics from our society, and then I’m gonna give you some personal thoughts just from my own interaction and experiences around people that use alcohol. And then some questions to ask and consider if you’re gonna consume alcohol.
So that’s the way I wanna lay this out. And then we’ll address weed at the end, but I’ll go ahead and tell you it’s gonna basically be the way we apply a lot of the principles.
Well, it comes down to:
You can consume alcohol in a way that it doesn’t alter your mind, and I don’t know of anybody who smokes weed to not get high. And maybe… I might be way off on that, and I’d love to hear from you if I’m off on that, if you use it in some other capacity. I understand that some people use it medicinally and I don’t wanna go down a path where someone has prescribed medicinal marijuana, I’m not trying to start an argument with that person, but the way we’ll approach this is more from someone who it feels like that they’re just trying to justify the freedom to smoke weed when they want to. So that’s how we’re gonna tackle this.
Let’s dive in.
To begin with, Can a Christian drink? Can a Christian consume alcohol?
Let me start with the short answer: Yes. Yes, a Christian can.
Now, “can”. Now, there are a lot of caveats to that and a lot that needs to be said because it’s not a simple yes/no, it needs to be elaborated on, and you could also pose the question by saying, Can a Christian… Is it wrong for a Christian to drink? Or does the Bible forbid a Christian from drinking alcohol? And the answer to that would be, no.
Okay, so let me just walk through some general thoughts on that from Scripture.
In Psalm 104:15, the Scripture says that wine is a gift that gladdens the heart. Paul says to Timothy that he is to take a little bit of wine for his stomach, so there’s medicinal value. So in those two, you’ve got wine or alcohol, a strong drink as something that gladdens the heart or lifts the spirit or makes someone merry. I also see this in the book of Ecclesiastes, that it’s something, it’s a gift to make us… To give us enjoyment.
Jesus drank wine.
We know he turned water to wine, and we know that he drank wine, because at one point, he’s accused of being a drunkard. And the only way somebody would ever accuse you of being a drunkard is if you were consuming alcohol. There is no biblical allowance, however, for drunkenness. So we see wine as something that makes the heart merry, we see it as something that’s used in celebrations and at weddings and things like that, but there is no biblical allowance for drunkenness.
In fact, the Bible actually gives a lot of stern warnings, a lot of stern warnings.
Ephesians 5:18 says that we’re not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Spirit. That’s the verse that I would apply to the weed, the subject of weed or shrooms. We are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not by anything that alters our mind. Be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not by something that alters the mind. So alcohol, a beer, a glass of wine, maybe even two could be enjoyed in the right context, and we’ll get into what maybe that context might be, but if you smoke a joint, you get high, there’s no maintaining control of your mind and your faculties and keeping them in submission to the Holy Spirit.
And I do wanna, at the very end of this, talk about a conversation I had with Rob Conti, one of the pastors at Snowbird Outfitters, who basically self-medicated with weed all through his adolescent years because of childhood pain that came from abuse.
Romans 14 is where we read about causing someone to stumble, like maybe God’s giving you the freedom to enjoy something, but don’t use that freedom in a way that it would cause someone else to stumble. So there’s a warning there about… Alcohol can be enjoyed, but don’t enjoy it at the expense of someone else who might fall into slavery to it. Hosea 4:11, it’s a warning, “beware” literally is the word that’s used. Ezekiel 44:21, the Bible forbade priests from drinking any wine before he entered into the inner court of the temple. So there’s a warning there to make sure you’re clear-minded. There’s no… That’s kind of an absolutely no consumption, teetotaler approach to the way the priest could enter into the court.
Proverbs 20, 21, 23
Proverbs 20 says that wine is a mocker.
Strong drink is a brawler. The effect of wine can be very negative. There’s a warning there.
Proverbs 21 says he who loves wine will not be rich. And then let me read… I wanna read this lengthy verse or passage from Proverbs 23. Proverbs 23, and this one is maybe a little more well-known, and it’s actually kinda funny:
“Those who tarry long over wine, those who go to try mixed wine, do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end, it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me,’ you will say, ‘But I was not hurt. They beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.’” – Proverbs 23:30-35
So that’s kind of a comical picture, but pretty accurate. I know that I’ve been there. You start off with good intentions, and next thing you know, you’re not in your right frame of mind.
So there are those warnings in the Proverbs.
Deuteronomy 29 tells us that in the wilderness the children of Israel did not consume wine.
God had them not drink for their time in the wilderness. So at this point, it’s a blessing, wine is a blessing, but it’s also loaded with danger. And I think… I was thinking something else you could say this about, and in a different context, but similar, would be money. Money is such a blessing and it’s such a gift and we need it and we use it, but money can also become a stumbling block.
Alcohol and wine can become a stumbling block.
And so people use verses… One verse that I hear used a lot to support the drinking of wine is, “This is my Christian freedom or my Christian liberty.
Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “don’t be burdened by a yoke of slavery. He says it’s for freedom that Christ set you free.”
There’s this idea that, as Christians, we’re free, we’re free in Christ. We’re free to enjoy God’s gifts and his goodness. And that’s true. We are free. We’re so blessed. He says, for freedom, Christ has set you free:
“Stand firm, therefore. Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
He’s talking about the yoke of legalism under the law. So he’s saying, as Christians, there’s so much more than just following a list of rules. There’s so much more to this.
1 Corinthians 6:12
This is a verse that early on in my life became very helpful for me:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12
Can Christians Drink Alcohol?
So wine or beer (strong drink) is lawful, but is it controlling me?
And we’ll get into that also in the practical application towards the end. So in that, we’ve got these blessings that come with it, enjoy it for celebrations, it gladdens the heart, but it has to be experienced and used in moderation. And then if we do that, it can be a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy that freedom. But there are strong warnings that we need to be guarded against.
So let’s think about these strong warnings.
What I would say to that is, to a teenager, first off, yes, it is illegal for a teenager to drink. And so in one sense, there’s not even a discussion to be had. If you’re a teenager, don’t drink. It’s illegal. You’re not allowed to drink. “Well, but my dad said I can drink.” Okay, well, if in the home, your dad’s gonna give you… You’re 18 and your dad’s gonna give you a glass of wine, I’m not gonna… I’m not trying to jump in the middle of the way your family operates. But I’m saying as a teenager, don’t go to a party where somebody’s mom who’s trying to be the cool mom bought a couple of kegs of beer and everybody’s getting drunk and you’re like, “I want… I just wanna experience my Christian freedom.”
No, that’s not the way that works.
So as a teenager, you don’t even have the legal freedom to do it. But then I would also say this, as a teenager, I believe it’s very dangerous, and maybe as you move into your early 20s, you hit that 21st birthday, so technically you’re allowed to drink, I would just say this, it is so dangerous that I believe it’s necessary that a person be very mature in their faith to experience or exercise this kind of freedom or freedom in this area.
I know very few young people who can… Man, I don’t know how often I’ve seen… Because we work at Snowbird with people in the 18 to 25-year-old range in our internship, and so many times I’ve been at weddings, and I’ve seen people who were former Snowbird staffers who were 20 years old when they left here, and now they’re 22 or maybe they’re… I’ve even seen it where someone was still working at camp, I’ve seen this happen a couple of times, and there’s an open bar, alcohol is being served at this wedding, and I can think of a couple of weddings that I did where I was doing the ceremony, officiating or whatever, and people drunk too much. They had a beer and then they had another beer and then they had another beer, next thing you know their speech is slurred, they’re being loud, they’re acting crazy, and man, their testimony is now very compromised.
That idea of moderation for a person to be able to sit down and have a beer is something that’s so important, but that I think a lot of people lack in their youth, and then it’s hard, if you go down a path where you’re not experiencing moderation, then it’s hard to rein it in later.
So I would say there’s a need for teens to mature. And usually with… Or, I’m sorry, young adults to mature, and with teenagers, it’s not a question of… There’s no question ’cause it’s illegal. And what I was gonna say is usually young people in that 21 to 25 bracket, if they start drinking, a lot of times it’s catastrophic because there are no breaks, there’s only a gas pedal. So I would just warn against that. If you’re a 22-year-old, 21, 22, 23-year-old and you’re like, “Well, I wanna start to experience some of my freedom, to indulge in this and experience strong drink,”
There are strong warnings from Scripture, heed those, read those over and over and over, be warned and talk to people that are recovered alcoholics or people that have experienced abuse in the home because of alcohol.
Teen drinking is always catastrophic. It’s always catastrophic.
Let me give you some stats:
One-third of traffic deaths in America are alcohol-related. The majority of abuse cases… I don’t know if it’s a majority and I actually didn’t write the percentage down, but a large percentage of abuse, domestic abuse situations are alcohol connected. Divorce is often the result of the abuse of alcohol, financial loss, abuse of alcohol, and we could, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera and you can go on with that conversation, the catastrophic ramifications of alcohol abuse.
My Family’s Story
I’ve seen the destruction that alcohol can bring in my own family, people that I’ve looked up to in so many ways, family members that abused alcohol, and the way it was typically abused there was as a coping mechanism.
My dad and my granddad on my mom’s side both were… They both self-medicated with alcohol. My granddad, I know that my mom and her three sisters growing up, there was a lot of tension in that home because of his alcohol abuse, and I saw it when I was growing up because I spent a lot of time with him, and he was self-medicating from severe PTSD from experiences he had in World War II, landing on Omaha beach and fighting in France over the next year, and so there’s a lot of… There was a lot of alcohol abuse as a way of self-medicating.
I’ve personally not. So I’ve not only seen the destruction that can happen first hand, ’cause we’ve put my granddad in rehab on more than one occasion, and it was just a constant struggle for him, I’ve also seen it as a pastor. I’ve seen so much destruction caused by alcohol. I know so many people who alcohol has taken a grip on their life and taken control over them and almost destroyed them, and some that it has destroyed. I know a guy that, man, I ministered to, and he was a friend, and he died in his late 30s from cirrhosis of the liver and basically destroyed his own esophagus. I mean, he just destroyed his body from smoking weed and consuming alcohol constantly, it was one continuous flow.
So I’ve seen the destruction.
I’ve also seen freedom abused, and I mentioned that at that wedding a while ago, but man, I don’t know how many young people, millenniums especially, and then this generation that’s coming up behind the millenniums, that abuse alcohol.
When I was growing up, Christians, it was pretty taboo for a Christian to drink, and then now I think it’s a little more accepted in a lot of Christian and evangelical circles, but with that has come this sort of “freedom”, I put that in air quotes, and people end up abusing it. So I think personally, I’ve just seen enough of that that it freaks me out a little bit. And then also, I would say for me and for most people, whether you recognize it or not, most of us have an addictive personality.
This is the way my addictive personality works.
Questions To Ask Yourself About Alcohol
1. Is This Profitable? Is it Useful?
Is there a good reason for me to be doing this?
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but I will not be dominated by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12
So is it profitable? Is it helpful? And the answer could be yes. It could be yes.
Man, you might have total control of this. A husband and wife love to sit down at night and have a… An alcoholic… An adult beverage, sitting out on the porch. And I… Nobody can tell you that that’s wrong ’cause it’s just not forbidden in Scripture. It’s just not. But is… So maybe, yeah, the answer would be, “Yes, this is helpful. We enjoy, at the end of the day, having a drink.”
But then the answer may be no. The answer may be, “No, it’s not really… There’s no need for this. I don’t need this right now.” So it’s… That’s something I think is just good to ask and consider. Next, “Will this hurt my testimony?” And let’s break this down, ’cause in that same 1 Corinthians 6:12, it says, “I will not be dominated by anything.”
That’s in the next… That’s in the next question that I ask. This question of “Will it hurt my testimony?” Go to Romans 14, and what we find is we gotta be careful that we don’t do things that are offensive or cause others to stumble. So four ways that we gotta look at this hurting the testimony. In private, possibly no.
If you’ve got alcohol at home and you’re godly people, and you love the Lord and you’re pursuing holiness and you enjoy a drink, then probably no problem there.
2. How Will it Affect Other Christians?
Will affect other Christians, in a public place. We gotta be careful because someone might see you.
Like for me as a pastor, if somebody sees me drinking at a restaurant in my hometown here, they could either be very offended or it could… It… Somebody that struggles with it could go, “Oh man, it’s okay for me to drink.” And that leads us to three and four. So, “What is the impact this is gonna have on a weaker Christian or a non-Christian?” So a weaker Christian could be somebody that struggles with it.
This is a story that Little and I have, from years ago. \We’d probably been married a year, and there was a young lady that was working with us at the camp we were working at at the time before we started Snowbird, and we had no idea that she was formerly an alcoholic. And she had been dry, she had been clean, she’d been sober for like a year. And we had an alcoholic drink. It was a cookout. We’re grilling out.
Then she starts drinking and falls back into alcoholism, falls—losing her sobriety. And we triggered that. As a weaker Christian, she couldn’t just have a drink. When I say weaker, it just means this is a weakness, a particular weakness.
We all have particular weaknesses, and so this is a particular area of weakness.
3. How Will it Affect Non-Christians?
Sometimes having a beer with a non-Christian could be… It could be a good thing.
And I know that’s controversial, some people are gonna be mad at me for saying that, but I can think of times where I sat down in a particular setting, and had I refused to have that alcoholic drink in that setting, it might have been offensive or it might have hindered my ability to interact with that person and continue to cultivate and develop a relationship.
On multiple occasions. I can think of at least four or five times when sitting down and having a beer. One or two of those were overseas. And so other cultures, it’s a different thing, and so it didn’t… It might have hurt me with those non-Christians if I would have appeared “holier than thou”, is maybe the perception they would have had, so I gotta be careful.
Will it hurt my testimony? Maybe not, maybe I just need to weigh that out.
4. Am I Becoming Dependent?
So, “Do I need it to sleep? Do I need it to cope? Do I need it to calm down after a crazy day? Do I need it because I’ve got… I’m dealing with depression or PTSD? Am I dependent on this?” Because I need to be dependent on the Lord and his provision for my life.” So I need to ask that question.
I need to be honest with myself and maybe ask my significant other or my closest friends, “Hey, do you feel like I’m using this too much?”
5. Amy I Trying To Be Cool?
A lot of people drink just to be cool.
I remember, I’ll tell you one quick funny story. I was at a NASCAR race, I’m not a huge NASCAR fan, could not tell you who’s winning the NASCAR series right now. I still think of it as the Winston Cup series, and I think it hasn’t been called that since the ’90s, but this goes back… It’s probably 20 years ago last time I went to a NASCAR race. And I was at a race, me, Little and two other couples, some friends, and we’re all at this race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and these kids in front of us, they’re probably 18, 17, 18-year-old boys, and they’re trying to get people to buy them beer and nobody will buy them beer. Finally, some guys buy them a couple of beers, it’s four boys, and somebody buys them two Bud Lights, and they instantly start acting like they’re drunk, they’re waving the bottle around and flipping off the driver they hate and acting crazy, and all they’re doing is trying to be cool.
Most of us who drank or consumed alcohol in our youth just did it to be cool. That was it. So, “Am I trying to be cool? Am I trying to look cool? Am I trying to be accepted?” Then that should throw up a flag.
And then last, let me give you some common sense suggestions:
Common Sense Suggestions About Alcohol
To keep the peace in my home or among friends, if I need to abstain from alcohol, I will 100% encourage you just don’t.
You don’t need it. This leads me to the second common-sense suggestion, it’s not a big deal, you don’t need it. If you can’t put it down and walk away from it, you got a problem. If you can’t go a week, a day, a day, a week, a month, a year, or the rest of your life, like if the thought of going the rest of your life without alcohol really, really is overwhelming for you, then you probably have a problem, and it probably needs to be addressed.
So alcohol is a gift from the Lord that can be enjoyed, but is not necessary to enjoy life, but is a gift, and it needs to be practiced in moderation, and I need to be careful that I’m not causing other people to stumble.
And so those are my observations, I hope they’re helpful.
What About Weed?
Now, let’s wrap this with, think about how do we attach weed to this. Here’s what I would say about weed: Whether it’s legalized or not, smoking marijuana has one effect and that’s to get you high.
And as fun as that is, don’t get me wrong, as awesome of a place that is to go to— For a Christian, I will tell you that if you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and you get high, you will feel an overwhelming sense of conviction. And at some point, you’ll have to deal with that, because the Scripture says that we’re not to be drunk with wine, wherein is excess.
When you smoke weed, you get high, which means you lose control of at least a portion of your ability to make good decisions and think clearly, and be in a sober-minded state.
So all these things we’ve talked about with alcohol, the reason we haven’t brought weed into that part of the conversation ’cause it doesn’t matter, you don’t drink weed, you don’t have a cup of weed, and then, “Oh, there, I had that with my meal, and this is nice, it tastes very nice and… “ No, like you smoke a joint to get high. Period. Somebody is like, “Ah, no, I just smoke it to relax.”
Okay, however, you wanna paint the picture, you’re giving control of your mental process and thought, you’re giving it to a substance.
Some people argue that weed is a gateway drug, and I would say no, not necessarily. Rob Conti talked about how when he would get high, he would smoke, and he would… And everybody that’s ever gotten high talks about this, it’s funny to listen to certain music or watch movies, and you just kind of trip out whether you’re using mushrooms or smoking weed. But Rob talked about how there were certain songs that were written by Pink Floyd, who is a band that I’ve always enjoyed and Little really has enjoyed. There are all these jokes about Pink Floyd being like, that’s weed-smoking music.
The reality is, you talk to somebody who’s a Christian now, but who smoked a lot of weed before they were Christian and listen to Pink Floyd, there are messages that are dark sometimes, and that there’s a connection to that music that the drug enhances, and you’ll see that with other music as well. So I would just say that weed is such a powerful thing.
And the argument of, “Well, then, why did God make it?” Well, you know what, there’s a lot of things in this fallen world that I don’t wanna partake of, you know what I’m saying. I don’t wanna cuddle up with a mountain lion tonight. I don’t wanna throw raw meat out on my deck and get a mountain lion bated in and then go out and try to make him a pet. “Well, God made him.” Right, and he’ll kill you. Right now, as soon as it looks at you. I don’t want to dip my feet in a hot lava flow. “Well, God made this lava, so it must be good.” Okay, go walk in that stuff barefooted.
There are a lot of things that God made that will kill you, destroy you. Go swimming with the great white sharks. I know there are videos of crazy people doing that, but wait till that dude gets hungry and see how it works out. You know, that’s always to me, that’s always been such a goofy shallow… I don’t even hardly take that argument seriously, but if somebody really was genuinely saying, “Hey, God, made it. How is it bad?”
There are a lot of things.
I remember I was hunting with a guy one time, we were on a backcountry hunt and he wiped his tail with poison ivy, and we had to end up cutting our trip short ’cause my guy could not move, it destroyed… “Well, God made it. Why don’t I just rub it on my arms,” you know like… That’s crazy to say God made something, and so that means it’s okay. That’s not a great argument. So we have to go back to the principle of it… The principle is I need my mind to be controlled by the Spirit. Paul tells the Corinthians, “We have the mind of Christ,” and so we just need to make sure that we’re walking in the Spirit, living with the mind of Christ, making good choices, and I think the Lord will bless it. And if God brings you to a place where you feel like, “Hey man, I’ve got the freedom to enjoy alcohol and I’m of age,” and I would just say follow those warnings and ask those questions.
Now, the last thing, no one can tell you that the Bible forbids the consumption of alcohol, and there are people that will try to do that, but it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work that way.
They can say, “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” They can say, “I think these verses about causing people to stumble are big enough that it’s not worth using it,” and I can get on board with that, I can appreciate that.
But to say, ”No, it’s a sin… The Bible… ” They try to twist it to say, “Well, the wine that Jesus made wasn’t alcoholic, it was weak,” is just… Doesn’t… That doesn’t… That’s laughable.
So it’s more—what are the principles of Scripture that helped guide these convictions for me?
That was a long 30 minutes talking about that, but I was like, man, I get that question all the time, so let’s just go ahead and break it down. I hope it was helpful, I hope it didn’t feel like I was rambling. And so there you go. We’ll be getting gift packs out to Will and McKinsey, thank you guys for your question.
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