So What About Wine?

I made a comment a couple of posts ago about how wine should be something within our Christian experience, so we can understand a verse like “Your love is better than wine” in Song of Songs. And I got a question about this, so here is a little explanation. The Bible says not to be drunk, and that is as clear as can be (Eph. 5:18). In fact, that’s a simple one. But the Bible does not prohibit wine. If it did, there would not be much need for the admonishment against drunkenness.

Psalm 104:15 describes wine as gladdening the heart of man. At His mother’s urging, Jesus made quite a bit of the very best at the wedding at Cana (John 2:3). So it is safe to assume that wine is a given. At the same time, Scripture warns about misusing wine, and so we should be wise about wine. Older women are singled out in Titus 2:3 with a warning against too much wine. I have wondered what it is about the older women that creates a particular vulnerability for wine. I have a friend who suggested a good possibility: perhaps in the days before pain killers for the many aches and pains of old age, older women were tempted to rely a bit too heavily on the benefits of a glass of wine (or two). Wine is a mocker (Prov. 20:1) and “whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Wine requires wisdom because it is potent.

Proverbs 5:19 addresses the husband and says to always be enraptured or intoxicated with his bride’s love. Married love should be intoxicating. Comparing the marriage bed to grape juice would be weak. You may as well compare it to lemonade. But wine is rich, potent, and intoxicating. Thus, for the Christian to be unacquainted with wine is not a sin, because the Bible does not require wine drinking. But non-drinkers simply have fewer biblical metaphors in their experience.

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16 thoughts on “So What About Wine?

  1. I once attended a university that required all students, even those of drinking age, to sign a covenant saying they would not drink alcohol.

    One of the deans was fired because wine was served at his daughter’s wedding. He had paid for the wedding, and he had participated in a toast.

    In trying to be pious, the university had created a place where Jesus Christ himself wouldn’t have been permitted to attend. Jesus made the _best_ wine at the wedding.

    John 2:9-10 And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, β€œEvery man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.”

  2. I’m just envious of those who can really enjoy wine — who really appreciate the taste and whose hearts are really gladdened by it. I force myself to drink a glass every once in a while, but the taste just isn’t pleasant to me and alcohol never does anything for me but knocking me out. (Insert tears of pity for me here: [ ] πŸ˜‰ )

  3. I was going to post a similar post this weekend….I agree with your post. I do however believe that the wine in Biblical times wasn’t as “strong” as it is today but that doesn’t really matter about my comment. I don’t think drinking is a sin (getting drunk is) but I do think we’re called to be above reproach and that we should seek His will in our lives and what kind of examples we are to others. I always think that drinkng is just one area where we can set ourselves apart from the world. It seems that almost everyone drinks so in this day in age, it’s interesting to try to find social avenues where we can be different.

  4. What about those who don’t enjoy wine and so cannotfully appreciate the metaphor? Or those of us who have seroulsly abused alcohol and have not a positive association? Are there other places we can go in scripture to steep in the greatness of our marriage and marriage bed that would not directly allude to wine?

    t.

  5. t.
    Of course wine is not for everyone, particularly not for those who have unhappy associations or who have a history of over-indulging. However, many Christians forbid wine, which is an extra-biblical law.They are the ones who are missing out.
    When we were first learning to enjoy wine at our Sabbath feast, a friend recommended a sweet sparkling wine to get us started. We all have happy memories of toasting with it, and I still serve it from time to time, though it is technically a dessert wine.

  6. Coming from a family with wine-making experience – I disagree with the issue of wine potency in Jesus’ time and the present day. By virtue of how wine is made, the yeast (a living bacteria) will always ferment the grape juice to a specific level before it goes dormant. Although methods vary, yeast will generally produce a wine with 13 – 16 % alcohol by volume for a red wine. From this, we can safely assume that wine made thousands of years ago was equal in strength to the wine we consume today.

  7. I have learned to enjoy a glass of wine in recent years, too, even though I grew up in a tee-totaling tradition.

    I would say that those who use abstinence from alcohol as a way to “look different” from the world need to be careful. That can communicate a very legalistic gospel to unbelievers, and I’m not sure it is necessarily a better witness than, say, those who show self-control while drinking.

    Thank you for the ever-encouraging blog posts, Mrs. Wilson!

  8. I suppose I should have elaborated on my earlier post a bit more. You extol the virtues of enjoying a glass of wine, and I am every bit in agreement. However, there are so many biblical metaphors, parables, instruction, etc. that have to do with animal husbandry and the growing of crops–many more than wine. From my own experience, I can say that so much more of Scripture has opened up to me since starting a very small farm. Even the sacrifices–for God to ask for a male goat or sheep–it’s not just symbolism of Jesus, but truely is a practical blessing to the herdsman that causes me to delight in God and his goodness all the more because I have that in my experience. So, it confuses me to see such an emphasis on experiencing wine, and such a disdain for the the agrarian experience.

  9. Dear Billie,
    I must have missed it if someone showed disdain for the agrarian experience here on femina. Of course a farmer has a closer connection to the farming metaphors in Scripture, but here on the Palouse, with farm fields all around us, I take it for granted that most people know what happens when you put a seed in the ground. I was just visiting with a farmer in our congregation on Sunday, and the grandkids go by the sheep farm to check on the lambs in the springtime. In fact, I pass the university’s large herd of sheep on my way to the mall! So by bringing up wine in the context of a post on marriage, I wasn’t intending to step on your agrarian toes a bit. Hooray for farmers!

  10. As to witnessing with wine – I actually find in my experience that being a wine drinking Christian opens up various avenues for conversation with Allen’s (mostly) non-Christian programming buddies. We went to a wedding where I can say with pretty good certainty that we were the only Christians there, and yep we drank wine, ate good food, and played Rock Band with the rest of them. Actually surprised some folks. They didn’t expect it.

    On a tangential note, I’ve always wanted to be able to go get a beer with my friends, but I could never stand the taste of beer until I tried some of the really dark good stuff. So if you’ve only had the light stuff and don’t like beer, try the chewy stuff. It’s really good πŸ˜€

  11. Dear Nancy,

    My apologies. I don’t see a pronounced disdain for the agrarian experience over here on Femina. I see that more over on your husband’s blog. I don’t much care for it when someone takes something my husband said and comes to me with it in the fashion I did you. Please forgive me.

    It’s quite clear with all the feasting that goes on here that the Wilson bunch is fond of farmers and the fruits of their labor. :)

    I did find it to be a fascinating comparison, though. We should all try to enjoy wine so that we have more biblical metaphors in our experience–Great idea. We should all try to produce a bit of food from the bit of land we’ve been given so that we can have more biblical metaphors in our experience–Not so great idea. While I think the same could be said for wine (We all know what happens when someone drinks a glass) this isn’t the place that came near to my agrarian toes in the least, and it was in poor taste to address it here. I hope you will accept my apologies.

    Billie

  12. I love this post, Nancy. Thank you! I agree with the comments that abstaining from wine to separate ourselves from the world does not help our witness. My husband and I have gotten farther with our non-believing friends by showing them that we enjoy wine with self-control, gladness in our hearts, and thanksgiving to God for it. It actually opens more doors and seems to make us “safer” to them.

    I have always been perplexed by those who say we should not drink alcohol at all because it might cause someone to stumble into drunkenness. While I agree we need to be wise about who we drink with, to prohibit it altogether seems to go too far. The Bible also prohibits gluttony, among other things. If we follow the logic, shouldn’t we then stop eating so that those around us will not be tempted to gluttony (a much bigger problem in our culture)?

  13. Sarah, you wrote: “I once attended a university that required all students, even those of drinking age, to sign a covenant saying they would not drink alcohol.” I am attending a (Baptist) university that requires the signing of a covenant as well (very well may be the same one you mention). When asked by the 18-year-old young lady doing my phone interview if I drank, I replied, “I am 38 years old, and yes I do drink red wine.” She proceeded to tell me that I would have to write a letter to someone (Dean?) and explain myself. Well, that never happened, but what really stuck with me was, how many sign the covenant but don’t adhere? I refused to sign, as I do not agree, but somehow I have managed to “fall through the cracks” so to speak, as I am still attending 3 years later and have never seen a covenant document.

    That being said, this was a wonderful post Nancy. I used a few past articles from Credenda Agenda years ago to explain my position when I was confronted with my “sin” of drinking (another Baptist church). When I requested Biblical proof of my error, I was told by a deacon at that church that I was causing controversy. Strange. The argument that the wine in the Bible wasn’t really wine but grape juice was mentioned, as was the wine was diluted with water to such a degree that it was basically non-alcoholic (do not those two statements contradict?). If either is correct, how did Noah and Lot get drunk?

    Anyway, I love a glass of Carbenet in the evening with (or without) my dinner, and have experienced many a night of happy feasting and drinking with my beloved family. Indeed these things are marvelous gifts from God, and they should be enjoyed as such.

    Kim

  14. I totally agree with you, and enjoy a glass of Scuppernong wine here and there (best stuff for your heart health too) but I would like to point out that much depends on where you live. Here in the South many-Christian and nonChristian alike-associate Christianity with abstaining from alcohol in any form. In general if I have a glass of wine I do it in my own home, or only around those who I know will not stumble. (Last time I had it in public was my 25th wedding anniversary, but my husband ordered it for me and I wasn’t going to let it just sit there!) Anyway, love for others makes me abstain at times when I think it is best to do so.

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