Recently I published an article called, “A Biblical Defense to Drinking to the Glory of God.” People texted me, privately messaged me, and gave over 100 comments on social media. Many were in support, others wondered if I had left the faith. Some asked well-pointed questions. Others, well, others tried, ha.
The #1 question: “Wasn’t the alcohol that was talked about in the Bible just grape juice?” Many were taught this. If this was true, this would change the discussion. Let’s explore the answer.
The idea that alcohol in the Bible was grape juice is something that has been propagated by many conservative Christians over the last hundred years or so. It also was propagated by feminists, but that discussion is for another time. Here are four reasons showing wine listed in the Bible was not just grape juice.
BENEFITS OF ALCOHOL
First, there are many times that the Bible speaks of alcohol in a positive light and as beneficial (as I wrote about in my first article). Those benefits could not be if the wine was really grape juice. Wine, not Welches, “gladdens the heart,” and helps it physically for that matter. If Scripture lists benefits, we cannot deny them.
Second, let’s look at the word for wine. The Hebrew word “yayin” means “a beverage made from fermented grape juice.” In other words it is alcoholic. While this wine in Proverbs 20:1 is used in a negative light, the same word is used in a positive light in Psalm 104:15 and Ecclesiastes 9:7. You cannot have the same word be grape juice in one verse and wine in another. The issue is not what the drink is, but how it is used.
JUICE AND WINE WORDS
Third, in Hebrew there are different words for juice and wine. Another folklore that has gone around in conservative Christian circles for some reason is there was only one word for wine and juice and they were both the same. This allowed some Christians to do magic tricks with the word, and used it how they wanted, when they wanted.
In Numbers 6:3, the word juice which is not “yayin” but “misrah” which is juice. So there is a word in the Bible for juice. Not only that but this verse contains both words, “yayin” and “misrah.” So there are definitely different words for wine and juice. If they were the same thing, there would be no need for two different words.
THE CALL TO LEADERSHIP WOULD BE CONFUSING
Fourth, if wine was just grape juice in Bible times, why would deacons be told in I Timothy 3:8 to “not be given to much wine?” If it were juice, it would make no sense. Why would they be told to slow down on the non-alcoholic glass of grape juice they were drinking? Also to note, this word as well means a beverage made from fermented grape juice.
We must be careful that we don’t twist the Scripture to our own preference. This not only is the case with those who look to justify their sin, but also those who think they can act more holy than God. This also is a good reminder to continue to go to the Scripture for clarification, and not just continue traditions we are taught, but make sure those ideas are grounded in the Word of God. Let’s make sure we let the Holy Spirit do His job. Are we convicted of something because it is truly sin, or because we have convinced ourselves that something is?
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