As you know, we are not a community of teetotalers. If you go to dinner at one another’s houses, it is not rare to be offered beer or wine with dinner. And of course at the center of our celebratory culture is the Lord’s Supper, a feast of bread and wine. This is a wonderful blessing, but like all blessings, it can become a curse. The Bible clearly teaches that wine is a blessing from God. He gave it to us to make our hearts glad. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, after everyone had already had some. And it was really good wine, the kind of wine that Jesus knew would encourage everyone to have another glass.
At the same time, the Bible is equally clear that drunkenness is not what God has in mind when He gives us this gift. The proverbs say that wine is a mocker and a brawler. It starts fights and quarrels. Wine is a serpent, a viper that stings and bites. Drunkenness is a temporary insanity that causes you to do and say perverse things. Where there is drunkenness, sexual sin is not far away, not to mention the physical danger you can become to yourself and others.
So how do we hold all of this together? Well, here are a few rules of thumb. First, if you drink, pay attention to how much you consume. One or two drinks in a sitting is usually plenty for anyone. But if you ever find yourself saying you don’t know how many you had, it was too much by definition. Second, drink for the blessing of others and the glory of God. Any time you drink, offer an explicitly Christian toast, a blessing to your wife or mother, talk about the gospel, read some scripture, or sing a psalm or hymn together. Make a point to distinguish what you are doing from what the world does. And finally, be bold enough to call people out who are being fools. Be willing to be thought the crank, the fundamentalist, the prune. Be willing to be misunderstood, be willing to speak the truth in love. We are here to proclaim a different way of being human in Jesus. We are not here to mimic frat boys or liberal winos and slap a Jesus fish on it.
Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.