Questions of Faith
In Ireland, the word celebration is almost always associated with drinking alcohol, whether it be a birthday, wedding or even a funeral. Indeed, the Irish are known for their incredible ability to withstand imbibing vast amount of drinks on a night out, and still be able to tell the story lucidly the next morning. But does the Bible have anything to say about this behaviour?
It’s clear that Scripture doesn’t condemn the consumption of alcoholic beverages, as there are plenty of passages which promote its use.
“Jesus said to [the servants], “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him: “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:7-10)
The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess
This passage unequivocally shows that Jesus approved of drinking wine. St Paul also mentions the permissibility of consuming alcohol when he writes to Timothy advising him to drink wine as a remedy to sickness (1 Tim 5:23).
The Church, then does not consider consuming alcohol to be sinful, however, it does caution against drinking in excess.
A person commits sin when they drink so much that it significantly impairs their judgement. In this state, not only does the drinker pose a risk to themselves but also to others. This teaching is echoed in the New Testament when it reads: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)
A person commits sin when they drink so much that it significantly impairs their judgement”
An intoxicated mind creates the internal conditions to act incongruent with one’s conscience, and so is a lubricant for sin. In this state, people are more likely to give into one’s impulsive desires, with little ability to reflect or analyse their behaviour. This is why the Church teaches: “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine.
“Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.” (CCC 2290)
To sum up, it’s perfectly fine to drink alcohol as long it isn’t causing a serious impairment to health, well-being or judgement. While this may be tough to follow given how normalised excess-drinking has become in Ireland, it’s certainly worth considering and adopting. Besides, you’ll be much more thankful the morning after!
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