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1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV):

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Why will drunkards not inherit the kingdom of God? Is there anything inherently wrong with alcohol or getting drunk? Is there a commandment that explicitly prohibits drunkenness? Is it possible to get drunk in a "righteous way"?

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    Put answers in the answers box please! And don't forget to justify your answer. – curiousdannii Apr 7 at 1:44
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    I don't feel like typing out a long answer, but I think the idea the Bible presents is that it's fine to drink a little (even Jesus drank wine), but that too much drinking is bad because it can ruin your judgment and even your life. – DJ Spicy Deluxe Apr 8 at 19:29
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    When I drink enough, I get very righteous :-) – Neil Apr 9 at 12:52
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    Who said this?! Paul means only bad drunkards who drink joylessly, without toasting and praising God; such will definitely not inherit the Kingdom; but in the Kingdom good drunkards shall drink new wine and praise God in drunkenness of love! Only such drunkards will inherit the Kingdom, it is not for sober people, all sober people, not drunk by love go direct to hell – Levan Gigineishvili May 5 at 14:43

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This is an excellent question that has plagued the Christian church for millennia with copious arguments on both sides. What are the Biblical facts:

  1. There is no explicit Biblical command against alcohol, except for Nazarenes like john the Baptist. Grape juice (in various forms) was an important part of the eastern diet both socially and physiologically. It could only be consumed year-round by resorting to various methods of preservation such as light fermenting (giving quite low alcohol content), or concentrating into a cordial-like material. This is not to suggest that high alcohol drinks were not available (they were) but the common lightly fermented wine had low alcohol, and consumed in moderation did not produce drunkenness. [Most modern wines are fortified - have alcohol added to raise the content above 5% to typically 15%.]
  2. However, there are plenty of instructions to avoid getting drunk such as Prov 20:1, 1 Cor 5:11, 6:10, Eph 5:18, 1 Tim 3:8, etc.

The ancients clearly understood the mind-altering effects of alcohol, even if they did not yet have a name nor understand the chemical alcohol itself, Acts 2:13, Titus 2:3, Prov 23:29-35. A person "out of their mind" (John 10:20, Acts 12:15, 26:24, 25, 1 Cor 14:26) is incapable of understanding spiritual matters and making rational decisions.

I believe this is the real reason drunkenness is discouraged

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    Port and Sherry are fortified. Most "wine" is not fortified. Wine yeasts are quite capable of fermenting up to 15% Wines are commonly chaptalised (have sugar added prior to fermentation) but even without this, European grapes have plenty of sugar to reach the mid teens in alcohol. – James K Apr 7 at 7:07
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    "There is no explicit Biblical command against alcohol" I'd hope not, Jesus turned water into wine. – Mast Apr 8 at 11:02
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    While 5% might be low for wine, it is standard for beer, and it is possible to get drunk by drinking beer. Perhaps you're thinking of de-alcoholized wine or beer, which typically has less than point-5% (½%) alcohol. – Ray Butterworth Apr 8 at 14:38
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    Small point of clarification: "Nazarenes" above should be "nazarites" as a Nazarene is someone from the town of Nazareth. A nazarite is someone who has taken the nazarite vow, which includes abstention from grapes, wine, and all derived foods. Yeshua of Nazareth was a Nazarene. However, we see no indication that He was also a nazarite. – SecondSun24 Apr 9 at 21:34
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    @SecondSun24 - thanks for the very useful comment and correction. – Dottard Apr 9 at 21:45
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I will base this answer on the premise that an activity cannot be a reason to be excluded from the kingdom of God unless there is something sinful about it. This is a premise that it is reasonable to hold in light of verses such as:

Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. [Isaiah 59:1-2, ESV]

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. [James 1:13-15, ESV]

This leads us to the question: Why is habitual drunkenness a sin?

If we remember the definition of sin from passages such as Rom 3:20, Rom 7:7, Rom 7:13 and 1 John 3:4, sin essentially means to break God's law. So we should ask ourselves: what commandment is being broken when someone gets habitually drunk? I would say that such a person is breaking the commandment against idolatry:

Exodus 20:3-6 (ESV):

3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

A habitual drunkard is someone who has made an idol out of alcohol. Such a person devotes most of their time to alcohol, using it as an emotional crutch, as a means to cope with stress, to escape from daily life's problems, to distract themselves and have some fun, and many other similar reasons. And that's not even considering all the other well-known potential harmful side-effects to the person's own health and to their close ones (assuming that the drunkard lives under the same roof with other people).

Instead of finding comfort and joy and relief and everything that they need in God, a habitual drunkard has replaced God with their crutch: alcohol, and relegated God to a secondary plane. In other words, alcohol has become the drunkard's God, and the conclusion that this is idolatry becomes inescapable. Also, notice that, by virtue of this line of reasoning, the above conclusion can be generalized to any other addiction or obsession that may usurp God's throne in a person's life: money, drugs, food, fame, gambling, sex, etc. We find strong confirmation of this in Colossians 3:5 (ESV):

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Instead of living lives enslaved by earthly passions, Christians are called to freedom and to find everything they need in God, through His Holy Spirit, as Ephesians 5:18-21 eloquently says:

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. [Ephesians 5:18-21, ESV]

Romans 14:17 expresses a similar idea:

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. [Romans 14:17, ESV]

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    I think this is a very good answer as well. +1. – Dottard Apr 7 at 6:58
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Most of these questions ask for subjective answers, but in the spirit of this site I will try to answer from a hermeneutical perspective. :)

Is there anything inherently wrong with alcohol or getting drunk?

There is no prohibition in scripture to the drinking of alcohol, but drunkenness. This does suggest that the drinking of alcohol itself is not inherently sin, rather the abuse of alcohol is. Practically, alcohol does have positive benefits and was used remedially in the Hebrew and Hellenistic ages. In fact, in our modern age alcohol is still used remedially for various stomach and intestinal syndromes.

Despite alcohol having no prohibition in scripture, most scholars agree that expensive wine in both Hellenistic and Hebrew ages was non-alcoholic. For this reason, many theologians agree it was non-alcoholic wine that Jesus provided in miracle of turning water into wine. Notice Johns choice of words as he makes a distinction between the two wines, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the guests are drunk, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10, NASB). This is perhaps the only distinction in scripture that alludes to the inherent state of alcohol as "poor" or ἐλάσσων wine. The Greek word ἐλάσσων only occurs 4 times in scripture so it is very difficult to gain a comprehensive understanding of the word. However, the LXX mostly used ἐλάσσων as a translation of "lesser." Clearly, there is an allusion here to Jesus' wine being superior in value to the "lesser" wine that is often provided at the end of parties. This can be interpreted as a clear distinction between "poor" alcoholic wine and "valuable" non-alcoholic wine. Ultimately, these are only allusions and do not provide sufficient evidence of the supposed inherent sinfulness of alcohol.

It is difficult to answer your question hermeneutically as right and wrong is largely subjective. However, I believe there is a good compromise found when comparing the change in soteriological focus between the old and new testament. The over arching soteriological theme in the old testament is over the question, what is sin? However, the major principle in the new testament is less about what sin is and more so, what is wise? This difference can be used in how we interpret what's right and wrong from a hermeneutical perspective. As a child, jumping over a fire can be thrilling and make for a fun time and the bible doesn't say that jumping over a fire is sin, but is it wise? In this case, what is sin is not the same as what is wrong. This is why the new testament focuses less on specific sin and more on sinful nature. After all, it is sinful nature that compels people to make wrong choices. In the case of the child, risking both future consequences and potential bodily harm for the sake of a thrilling experience is not a specific sin, but does reveal a destructive sinful nature. If this hermeneutical principle is applied to the case of alcohol, the drinking of alcohol in some cases, despite not being sin, can be hermeneutically interpreted as wrong in light of the potential risks.

Why will drunkards not inherit the kingdom of God?

Lets shift our focus to a hermeneutical approach: Why did Paul say what he said?

Our historical context involves Paul speaking to a church body who is struggling to find their identity in Christ as they wrestle with their past hellenistic ways. For drunkenness was merely one of the many struggles the people had as they journeyed into relationship with Christ: sexual immorality, idolatry, apostasy, stealing and greed were among others.

Our literary context involves Paul himself writing a letter to these struggling people. In our world, Paul would be considered an academic expert, he trained under the best Rabbis and acquired great skill in apology and philosophy. For this reason, we should be expecting an apologetic structure to his writings. Paul isn't going to just randomly throw out statements and hope for the best, no, Paul is going to think and intentionally structure his writings in a way to get his point across clearly and persuasively. Why is this important? Because we should be expecting a conclusion to Paul's assertion of drunkards and this conclusion can show us why drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. What we find in the following verses are two conclusions, one direct conclusion to the verse of the drunkards inheritance, another conclusion to the broader passage about the Corinthians sin.

(Direct) Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11, NASB).

Paul's direct conclusion reveals his purpose to the mentioning of drunkards was to draw them to the hope of salvation. Thus, drunkenness inherently opposes this salvation. Notice how Paul divides the process of being washed into both sanctification and justification. Paul indicated that there were some people who were drunkards and had been washed...but you were transformed [sanctified], but you were declared righteousness [justified]. Clearly, labeled drunkards can receive salvation but only by way of being washed. Therefore, according to the direct conclusion drunkards do not inherit the kingdom of God not because they drink alcohol, but because they do not accept Christs provision of justification or his help in sanctification.

(Broad) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NASB). Notice the three themes to this verse, each theme reveals new insight to this topic.

  1. The Holy Spirit is our Gift: "do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God..."

    Do not quench the Spirit...hold firmly to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19, 21-22). This verse indicates that sin (drunkenness) in our lives means we will miss out on a thriving Holy Spirit.

  2. Life is a Gift: "and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price..."

  3. Recognise these Gifts: "...therefore glorify God in your body."

Is there a commandment that explicitly prohibits drunkenness? Is it possible to get drunk in a "righteous way"?

  • Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8, NASB).

  • And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18, NASB).

  • But be on your guard, so that your hearts will not be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that this day will not come on you suddenly, like a trap (Luke 21:24, NASB).

According to scripture, drunkenness is a "sinful way," opposite of a "righteous way."

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    "most scholars agree that expensive wine in both Hellenistic and Hebrew ages was non-alcoholic" Please provide sources and evidence for this claim. It's oft repeated but rarely demonstrated. – curiousdannii Apr 7 at 1:46
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    @curiousdannii Yes it is widely known. However, most theologians I know personally who support this position haven't written on the topic. I did read one promising article a few months ago on one of our databases and I will see if I can find it again when I'm free. – Flyswat Apr 7 at 1:57
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    "This can be interpreted as a clear distinction between "poor" alcoholic wine and "valuable" non-alcoholic wine." How do you get drunk drinking non-alcholic wine? They might have considered lower-proof wine as higher-quality, but it's clear from the passage that the wine was at somewhat alcoholic. As for why you'd do that, it's simple: you drink the high-quality, tasty stuff first, then once you get drunk, your senses are muffled so there's not as much point continuing to drink the high-quality stuff and you can drink the lower-quality stuff to get absolutely hammered. – nick012000 Apr 7 at 4:29
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    @Flyswat nick012000's comment is about this part: "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the guests are drunk, then he serves the poorer wine". Here, "good wine" (referring to the usual good wine that comes from man, not one from Christ), can't mean non-alcoholic wine. So I don't see any way how the second part would suddenly talk about non-alcoholic wine. – JiK Apr 7 at 9:42
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    In other words, the person uses the words good wine first to refer to wine that makes people drunk, then to refer to the wine from Christ. I don't see how you take this as evidence that the wine from Christ was non-alcoholic. – JiK Apr 7 at 9:48
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Paul is not talking about occasional drinkers or even about people who get drunk occasionally. He speaks of habitual drunkards. They are unproductive people like the one in Proverbs 23:35

"They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?"

Without God, these are irresponsible useless people.

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The list that includes ‘drunkenness’ are all indulgences of the flesh. They are all fulfilments of desires that originate from the physical ‘senses’, and pampering or submitting to them. And, their ‘source’ is the world. It’s the world meeting your (physical bodies and souls) needs.

Where as the kingdom of God has another ‘source’, - God. Via the Holy Spirit. You source your souls need from the kingdom of God - which is within you. Even if you dispute the interpretation of Luke 17:21, you can’t bypass this verse ..

ROMANS 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This verse clearly differentiates between being ‘feed’, having your desires met by the [external] world, or by God.

You can not ‘feed’ your spirit from what the world provides. If you look to the world for fulfilment, you won’t receive [ inherit] anything from the Kingdom of God.

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    @snoopy I couldn’t care less about the downvote, but If it makes you feel better. And, for record, nowhere did I say eating was an indulgence of the flesh. I said the list as in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 were. And in my use of ‘feed’ in the 2nd to last paragraph was not in a literal sense - hence the ‘marks’. One of this forums strengths is it allows differing interpretations - which perhaps tests your own. I enjoy being ‘tested’ - it doesn’t offend me one bit! – Dave Apr 7 at 3:50
  • I see, I misinterpreted your answer indeed. But what do you mean having your needs met by either the world or God, what needs are you talking about. (I tried removing the downvote but it said you had to edit your answer, maybe if you could add one more white space in it I'd be able to do it, thanks.). – snoopy Apr 9 at 1:11
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    @snoopy The needs that God supplies are Love,Joy, Peace, Wisdom ... and Righteousness. (etc). That is, Life! Man’s ‘soul’ has these needs, and man will (try, by ‘default’) to source these from the world, but in the end, only one source will satisfy. – Dave Apr 9 at 4:01
  • Oooh, I get it now, I thought it was something else. That is an excellent teaching. +1 – snoopy Apr 9 at 13:19
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The OT distinguishes between three different kinds of grape drinks. Shekhar is strong dry wine, Yayin is low alcoholic semi-sweet slightly effervesce wine (new wine), and Tirosh is sweet non-alcoholic grape juice. The NT deals with these things in a simpler way. It only distinguishes between “oinos” (wine), and “neos oinos” (new wine). The latter which probably also could stand for grape juice.

Due to “Shekhar’s” greater alcohol content it would be easier to get drunk on it than on “Yayin”. So people who drank “Shekhar” would normally not stop at one glass, because the purpose of choosing the stronger wine over the weaker would be because of it's intoxicating nature. “Yayin” on the other hand, with its sweetness and effervescence would normally be enjoyed in small quantities and not lead to drunkenness.

When Daniel fasted abstaining from meat and wine, it was from “Yayin” he abstained from. Thus, he must have had a glass of this weaker wine with his meals when not fasting.

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine (yayin) touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. (Dan 10:3,4; NIV)

Consequently, Daniel normally consumed a glass of low alcoholic wine with his food and can hardly be considered being a drunkard.

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Drinking alcohol is not a sin, however, those who consume it may commit sin. Hence it is best to avoid it where possible.

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    But that's not what 1 Cor 6:9-10 is about - it's not about Godly wisdom, but a seemingly quite black-and-white statement about who will not be saved. – curiousdannii Apr 7 at 1:48
  • I have not been a drunkard, so I cannot comment on what happens to a person who gets floored with drinks. And what happens when he does it repeated. We have an example in Noah. The first thing he did was to plant a vineyard, why he drank do much and became disrobed. What would have been his cognitive state at that time. Was he seeking his spiritual enlightenment fro God or his own way? Yet God called him righteous man. – Anchris Apr 23 at 0:11
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I'm no expert here, but: This text seems to refer to "They shall hunger no more; neither thirst any more..." They may enter, but they will not be drunkards when they do, because the thirst is gone. Similarly there can be no meaning for marriage or sexual orientation in a world of omniscience and limitless love. Might this be taken as a notice of carry-on restrictions rather than a Do Not Fly list?

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Taken out of context, Paul's words seem to provide a straightforward list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. But when the context of the passage is taken into consideration, a very different interpretation emerges.

The target of Paul’s ire in this passage is actually the lawsuits that were being filed by members of the early church against one another. According to Paul these lawsuits were wrong and exposed a lack of forbearance and brotherly love:

v. 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather suffer the wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves do wrong and defraud. And this to your brothers and sisters!

Paul’s list was his way of enjoining his audience to act more mercifully by reminding them of their own past failings and of how they themselves were redeemed by God’s mercy:

v. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Thus Paul’s list was not given as a checklist for judgment but as way to inspire mercy:

  • Just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. (Col 3:13)

  • For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:22-23)

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All I know is Jesus didnt drink nor did he eat pork. So that being said I dont know why it's a debate. If the "son" of god did not drink and you follow his teachings, then you shouldn't drink.

Peace

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  • "When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: “It has been accomplished!” and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit." (John 19:30) – agarza May 5 at 14:55
  • There is no scriptural evidence for either of the suppositions made in this answer. Which is presumably the reason that no reference is made to scripture by the answer. – Nigel J May 7 at 0:43

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