Leaders and Alcohol

Proverbs 31:4-5.

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” (KJV).

Confusion Surrounding Alcohol:

There is a huge debate that is going on within the Christian community surrounding the use of alcohol. On one side are those who say that Christians should never drink alcohol, period. They like to quote Scriptures like Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise” and Ephesians 5:18: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” They preach that all alcohol use is evil and sinful.

On the other side are those who say that it’s okay for Christians to drink as long as they do so in moderation. They quote Scriptures like Psalm 104:14-15: “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man” and talk about how Jesus drank wine, and turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11).

(Then of course there are the liberals who say: “We’re under grace, not law, so Christians can eat, drink, be merry, and get drunk if they want to!” But they’re idiots, so we won’t consider their claims here).

What Does the Bible Say?

Although the Bible is abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin, and that it can ruin your life (see Proverbs 23:29-35 and Isaiah 5:11), there are no Scriptures that explicitly forbid the consumption of alcohol in moderation. However, it does have a lot to say to leaders and their use of alcohol.

  • The Apostle Paul said that those who are called to be leaders in the church must not be given to much wine, or not heavy drinkers (1 Timothy 3:8).
  • In Leviticus, the Bible says that those who are called to the priesthood must not drink wine or intoxicating drink (10:8-10).

In today’s Proverb, there is a warning against kings or princes drinking wine or strong (alcoholic) drinks. The reason given for this warning is that if they drink alcohol, then they will forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Or, as Eugene Peterson says, “they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt.” (Message). Simply put, a leader who drinks alcohol will not be able to lead well.

The Leadership Challenge:

The challenge then to leaders is this: Although under the new covenant of grace, all things may be lawful for us, but not all things are beneficial. And if you are called to be a leader, alcohol will impair your ability to lead well. So, to be a good steward of your leadership gifting and calling, make a decision to say no to alcohol, and be the best leader you can be!


7 responses to “Leaders and Alcohol

  • Anthony Baker

    (Then of course there are the liberals who say: “We’re under grace, not law, so Christians can eat, drink, be merry, and get drunk if they want to!” But they’re idiots, so we won’t consider their claims here).

    Love it! Thanks!

    • Chris Jordan

      Thanks Anthony… I thought I might get some nasty comments to that part of my post, but I put it in there anyway… 🙂

      • Anthony Baker

        Believe it or not, I wrote my own post for this section, plus the next two verses. I posted it a few minutes after you posted yours. Once I read yours I decided yours was much better, so I pulled mine down. You were scheduled, yes, but since it wasn’t up, yet, I figured I would give it a shot.

        Anyway, what I wrote in that post, and what I am writing in the one for verses 6 and 7, are likely to get me in trouble with some folk. But I have to be honest, I would rather people be mad at me than be guilty of mishandling Scripture.

        And, by the way, I appreciate the way you handled the subject.

      • Chris Jordan

        Thanks for the feedback, Anthony… sorry it was late! I would still like to read what you had written. As I mentioned in my post, it is definitely a tricky and controversial topic in the Christian community, but hopefully we can all come together around the Word and be challenged by His truth to go deeper with Him, amen?

  • Give Them Wine | Proverbial Thought

    […] Jordan did an excellent job of dealing with 31:4 and 5. With wisdom and tact he expressed both sides of the alcohol debate, ultimately showing that […]

  • David

    This is a difficult one! When I was growing up church folk in the UK didn’t seem to drink. But quite a few smoked. Including the treasurer in one church I went to after I left home who used to light up inside the church at the end of the service. The young people managed to get that stopped!

    Interestingly at the annual Spring Harvest events in the UK the on-site pub stays open – but I have never seen anyone drunk. Apparently some of the staff don’t like Spring Harvest because it is no fun (the Christians have one drink each and that is it). Other staff (Spring Harvest takes place at two large holiday complexes) love it because there is no trouble, no fights, no vomit to clear up, etc. The security team have a quiet time while Spring Harvest is on. So I guess you could say that by and large the Biblical message about drunkenness appears to have got through.

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