God is Great. Beer is Good. And People are…
Christians and beer have a complicated relationship.
There are those who swear against alcohol, refraining from going anywhere near it. Then there are those who have no issue with it, grabbing a drink among friends and not thinking twice about it. The age-old debate, however rages on. Which way is the right way? Should Christians avoid alcohol altogether? Or is it “okay” to drink? It’s seems like a complicated issue.
Now, I could start by bringing up the story of Jesus when he turned water into wine. (John 2:1-11) Yes, there is hot debate as to whether or not it was actually grape juice or wine like we see it today. Personally, I believe if you were to take off any religious glasses and look at the context of that story, it makes the grape juice argument harder to hold up. For instance, Jesus was at a wedding feast. It was a HUGE party to celebrate a great occasion. Not something you bring grape juice to as the main drink. They were having such a great time that they drank all of the wine. This meant that the celebration was soon to come to an end. Jesus’s mother instructed him to turn the water into wine. Not just a few glasses, mind you. He turned 6 pitchers of water that held roughly 30 gallons each into wine – about 180 gallons of wine. In case you were wondering, that’s about 680 bottles. That’s a lot of wine. Then the wine was said to have been “the best” wine. Now, the people saying it was the best had already had a lot to drink, all of the wine originally supplied, in fact. So this might mess up some people’s thinking: Jesus supplied more wine to keep the party going. I’m sorry – grape juice doesn’t keep a party going. Let’s be honest though. This story is less about whether it was alcoholic wine or not, and more about Jesus’ personality and extravagant generosity. (See Beautiful Outlaw for a great perspective on this.)
For historical and theological perspective, there’s this explanation:
Throughout the passage, the Greek word translated “wine” is oinos, which was the common Greek word for normal wine, wine that was fermented/alcoholic. The Greek word for the wine Jesus created is the same word for the wine the wedding feast ran out of. The Greek word for the wine Jesus created is also the same word that is used in Ephesians 5:18, “…do not get drunk on wine…” Obviously, getting drunk from drinking wine requires the presence of alcohol. Everything, from the context of a wedding feast, to the usage of oinos in 1st century Greek literature (in the New Testament and outside the New Testament), argues for the wine that Jesus created to be normal, ordinary wine, containing alcohol. There is simply no solid historical, cultural, exegetical, contextual, or lexical reason to understand it to have been grape juice. (source: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-water-wine.html)
But what about the negative effects of alcohol? What about the people who suffer from alcoholism? Isn’t it pretty much a drug? Again, it’s all about perspective. There are countless people suffering from obesity, too. Religion has a way of demonizing things and categorizing everything into “right” vs. “wrong”. Perhaps the answer is much deeper than right or wrong. Needless to say, the debate will continue.
Recently, we talked to Quynh and Dave Rathkamp, founders of Save the World Brewing Company. They are a Jesus-loving couple who are expanding the Kingdom of God with beer. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. They give everything they make from their beer sales to charity, to advance the Kingdom of God. Why? Because God is leading them. Again, it may sound crazy, but it’s true. You’ll have to hear their story on the podcast to learn more.
You know what? They aren’t the first Jesus-following, Kingdom building people to love beer. Here’s a list of some notables in history who make the list:
Would God really use beer to grow His Kingdom? Well, apparently so.
I’m not here to tell you that you should start drinking beer. I’m also not here to tell you it’s right or wrong. I’m simply introducing a new way of seeing the issue. Just put down your religious glasses for a while and think for yourself. You may be surprised.