July 20, 2018

The Effects Of Alcohol: A Biblical Perspective

by David Dann

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!" (Isa. 5:11).

Much has been said and written on the subject of the effect that the consumption of alcohol has had on human lives. As for the effects of alcohol on the human body, medical doctors can explain in scientific terms the damage that alcohol inflicts on the health of those who consume it. On the other hand, there are those in the medical profession who claim that the moderate consumption of alcohol is actually good for the body. Both sides make sophisticated sounding arguments to bolster their case. But which is correct?

Likewise, those who say that alcohol should be avoided can quote statistics on the high number of alcohol-related deaths (including drunk-driving deaths) that occur each year. However, there are those who would say that the problem is not the alcoholic beverage itself so much as it is the people who carelessly consume too much of it. Which point of view is correct?

Those who are not Christians will often have a very difficult time sorting through the validity of both points of view on alcohol. For many it will come down to personal preference when it comes to the decision of whether or not to drink alcoholic beverages. But for the Christian, these discussions concerning the effects of alcohol should have very little bearing on the decision of whether or not one should drink intoxicants, since the faithful child of God is more concerned with what the word of God says about the subject than what the so-called "experts" have to say. The "experts" will offer differing and ever-changing opinions. But God ‘s opinion does not change, for as the psalmist says, "Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven" (Psa. 119:89).

What does the Bible say about the effects of alcohol? This is the only information the Bible-believer needs in order to come to a conclusion on the matter. Once this question is settled the view that a child of God ought to have toward alcohol will have been settled as well. Fortunately, the Scriptures provide plenty of information on the effects of alcohol.

  1. Alcohol brings on irrational behavior. After the flood the Bible says, "And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside" (Gen. 9:20-22). Would Noah have become "drunk" and "uncovered in his tent" if he had not "drank the wine"? Would Ham have had opportunity to display disrespect for his father on this occasion had his father not consumed alcohol?
  2. Alcohol impairs consciousness and suppresses righteousness. Following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot's daughters reasoned with one another saying, "Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father" (Gen. 9:32). The text goes on to say, "So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose" (Gen. 9:33). Would a "righteous" man like Lot (see 2 Pet. 3:7) have engaged in such an abominable act had alcohol not been involved?
  3. Alcohol leads to twisted speech and vision. Of those who consume alcoholic beverages the Proverb writer says, "Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things" (Prov. 23:33). Things that should never have been said will be said when one is under the influence of alcohol.
  4. Alcohol impairs judgment and reason. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted" (Prov. 31:4-5). The consumption of alcohol will lead one to mistreat others by breaking down all barriers of restraint and reason.
  5. Alcohol leads one astray. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise" (Prov. 20:1). To be led astray is the same as being deceived or led into error. The consumption of alcohol will lead a man down an entirely different path than the one he intended to travel.
  6. Alcohol leads to eternal condemnation. The apostle Paul writes that among the "works of the flesh" are, "envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:21). The most devastating effect of alcohol is not the damage it may do to one's liver or the physical harm a drunk-driver may do to an innocent victim. The most devastating effect of the consumption of alcohol is that it will separate a soul from God for all eternity.


It is amazing, in light of all that the Bible says on the subject, that some brethren will still try to justify the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The Bible is very clear on the effects that alcohol has on human lives. For the faithful Christian, the Biblical perspective should settle the matter once and for all. Is it settled for you?

Truth Magazine Vol. LIII: 6 June 2009