Why do you drink?

I can’t figure out why Christians drink. I’m not a teetotaler, but I never understood a reason to develop a taste for expensive, potentially intoxicating beverages.

I know that a significant number of you drink semi-regularly, and I’m puzzled why. Am I missing something?

As it happens, I don’t drink coffee either, but I understand why people do that.

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Psalm 104:14-15 says:

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth

and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

For me, I drink because I enjoy it. Personally I haven’t found it takes much to acquire the taste and it’s not overly expensive because I don’t drink very often. Sometimes I’ll have 3 or 4 drinks a week, but then I’ll go months without any. I completely respect anyone’s decision not to drink, but it gladdens my heart to drink a cold Oberon on a hot summer’s day. :beers:

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Coffee seems like a very good comparison. Both cloud your judgment. But one speeds you up and the other slows you down.

I drink because it helps me relax when I’ve had too much coffee earlier in the day. :joy:

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One of the arguments I’ve heard in thinking about any substance use is to ask whether its use will make you see the world more clearly or less clearly. I think a case can be made that both coffee and alcohol can make us see the world more clearly when used (but not abused). Coffee is easier to see. When I drink it, I become more alert and more awake. Alcohol, on the other hand–even just one or two drinks–slows reaction time and impairs decision making, as every study ever has verified (I think). But I think there is something to be said about drinking (not to excess) with fellow believers that is a little foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I don’t want to over-spiritualize it, but I think there is a reason that eating and drinking in God’s presence is a recurring theme throughout scripture (Exodus 24:11; Deut. 14:22-26; Mark 14:25). So whether we drink or abstain on earth, we will feast and drink in heaven. And because we believe in the physical resurrection of the body, I don’t think the feasting and drinking is entirely a metaphor.

So what I’m saying is: In some sense, in the right context, drinking with fellow believers, but not to excess, (is that enough qualifiers?) lets us see the world more clearly–namely the reality of the world to come.

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I grew up traditional Nazarene, proud of my teetotaling ways, but nowadays I think it’s useful for a man to have the capacity to have a conversation over a beer with a believer or unbeliever. There’s a kind of man-to-man conversation that can sometimes open up.

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The Law in Deuteronomy 14:22-26 is especially compelling to me concerning the intrinsic righteousness of drinking insofar as it is done righteously and to a purpose deemed righteous by the Law.

No, I don’t think Christians are under this statute of the Law, or any other part of the Law. On the other hand, He is righteous who gave the Law, and that Law is holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7:12). This particular statute not only grants a license to drink wine and strong drink in a specified context, it guarantees that one fulfills this statute by so doing.

Now, I also admit that the preponderance of mentions of wine and strong drink in the OT occur in warnings attending its abuse. But, abuse - actual or potential - does not invalidate the riteousness of its righteous use.

Moreover, as the Law grants license to use wine and strong drink righteously, such use is not, therefore, a duty. One may righteously abstain. And, for specific persons or situations it is a duty to abstain.

I am not one of those persons or in one of those situations. The consumption of wine and strong drink are pleasures of our Lord’s creation (cf. Psalm 104 quoted above) which actually confer pleasure to me, and by enjoying those pleasures I show my gratitude to the One who created and conveyed those gifts to mankind generally.

Is any wine, any strong drink pleasurable to me? No. Gin reminds me weed killer and insecticide. Coors makes me think of chilled carbonated pigeon piss. If forced to choose, I’d go for the Coors instead of Thunderbird.

But a crisp, appley Pino Grigio? Supremo! For drinking and for cooking too. Or a 17-year old Balvenie? Unmatched by anything else in front of a blazing fireplace on a bitter winter night! Or a frozen stein filled with Hefeweizen, a slice of orange floating on its surface? Makes you wish summer lasted forever.

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Only came here to say that not all alcohol is expensive. Most beer isn’t any more expensive than soda — at least in my part of the world. However, I do sometimes splurge and pay $3.49 for a nice imported German dunkel. But I see this as no different than me enjoying a cheeseburger at McDonald’s, and then occasionally going to a sit down place and spending more for something nicer.

If you’re going to make cost a decisive element of the discussion, then I think you also have to start questioning the money we spend on other things of enjoyment and utility. “Why buy a $2 hamburger when a $1 hamburger will do? Why buy hamburgers at all, when oatmeal will do? Why buy a $50 backpack when a $10 one will do?” And so forth.

Taken to its conclusion, I think the discussion inevitably finds its way to asceticism, if cost is made to be a decisive element.

I’m not ignoring the other parts of your statement. Just specifically wanted to comment on the “expensive” piece of it. :slight_smile:

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Sir I very much appreciate your thoughtful exegesis…but not so much your palate. Nothing beats a Gin and Tonic with a lime in 120 degree Phoenix, or maybe a good German Gose.

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wine to gladden the heart of man

Are we to suppose that wine ought to gladden my heart in a way that a root beer float doesn’t? Because it seems a bit of effort to get there, so I’d like to know that the psalmist wasn’t just speaking of “nice-tasting things”.

Even if wine doesn’t gladden your heart specifically, it does gladden the heart of man generally, just like bread strengthens men’s hearts generally, but maybe not the heart of a person with Crohn’s disease. I don’t think you’re under any obligation to develop a taste for alcohol, but I do think the psalmist has in mind the physiological effects of the alcohol, not just the taste of grapes.

Edit: I meant Celiac Disease, not Crohn’s, though it still kinda works.

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OK, but there is still a piece that I am missing.

Why did you first drink? Did you meditate on Psalm 104, and then go buy a few bottles of wine? Did you hear a sermon exhorting you to enjoy the alcoholic parts of God’s creation?

I’ve never had an interest in alcohol, and I find myself surprised when my brothers that are not interested in drunkenness are fond of it. Why did they bother with it in the first place?

I’m honestly puzzled at this.

For many, I suppose it’s for the same basic reason that they would be compelled to try any new food or drink — someone voiced their enjoyment of it, and commended their friend to give it a try.

Contrary to the experience of some, my first exposure to alcohol was not in the form of witnessing drunkenness. It was seeing my father sit out on the deck, enjoying a single beer while grilling after a long day of work. He enjoyed the taste. It was a refreshing thing to him. Never unto drunkenness (at least not that I ever witnessed — supposedly he drank a lot before I was born and before he was a believer).

I didn’t get exposed to “drinking culture” except through movies and when my older brother hit his late teens.

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In my case, the genesis of drinking anything alcoholic is rooted way back in my pre-Christian childhood. Imbibing alcoholic beverages was an ordinary feature of the life of my extended family.

I grew up in the company of a half-dozen aunts and uncles, their spouses, and their (by today’s standards) largish families. During the summers we spent most every evening along the banks of the Colorado River - kids in the water, adults lounging on lawn chairs beside coolers filled with ice and canned beer. During the Christmas-New Year’s span, Jim Beam and coke was a regular drink (adults only).

We kids sometimes asked for a taste, and sometimes these requests were granted. My memories of the experience are gustatorily nasty. Wine was a rarity in our family, but when tasting it, the sensation was of rotten fruit. All that stuff was for adults. It had no appeal at all.

The point: consumption of alcohol in my extended family had no “mystique” relating to forbiddiness. Instead, being offered something alcoholic (I remember being surprised at the pleasant flavor of brandy in egg nog one Christmas late in high school) was something of an acknowledgement that I was transitioning into youthful adulthood.

Another blessing from childhood relates to the abuse of alcohol - it was never condoned. Drunkenness, even tipsiness, was frowned upon. Merry hearts? Yes indeedy. Loss of social decorum? No way, Josè! Later, as this or that person was known to have developed into alcoholism, this was always spoken of in quiet deploring tones, with expressions of regret for the poor wife.

So, I was (thanks be to God’s mercy) reared in such a way that I escaped many of the usual pitfalls a child-teenager-young adult encounters.

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Why play football?
Why write a play?
Why have a child?
Why sing a song?
Why eat a steak?
Why read a book?

The best answer I can think of is that these things are gifts to be enjoyed. These are all unnecessary, but as Robert Capon might say, they are gloriously unnecessary.

We all know men who despise or discourage sports, the theatre, children, music, red meat, and literature all for various reasons ranging from personal preference to religious prohibition. A pragmatist that insists on holding onto his pragmatism is going to kill himself before he understands the enjoyment of unnecessary gifts. I’ve read people who can’t fathom why in our modern, technologically advanced, environmentally concerned society, we can’t just consume our ‘food’ in pill form.

And reducing wine or beer into the general ‘alcohol’ is a deconstruction in thought. I don’t drink caffeine and I don’t drink alcohol. I drink coffee, or I drink wine, etc.

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You’ve listed things that are obviously enjoyable to some. The only obvious enjoyment in alcoholic beverages is in the intoxication. I’m honestly curious why Christians wander into the wine isle.

Fr. Bill has been helpful, but your answer (no offense) is not.

Au contraire! In the case of wine, it is taste, not the consciousness-altering effects of the alcohol component, that offers enjoyment. In fact, the alcohol component in wine limits the duration of the taste-enjoyment, as the alcohol literally anesthetizes the taste buds, rendering them less discerning as to nuances of flavor. This is the source of the wine-steward’s chiding the bridegroom for putting the “good” wine last, rather than at the first of the wedding feast. (cf. John 2)

These days it is mostly matters of tasting that prompt a visit to the wine aisle in our local grocery store. A favorite side dish I cook with both chicken and beef dishes is a concoction of mushrooms simmered in chardonnay and varioius spices, until the wine is reduced in volume to about one-half its original volume. Way before this stage is reached, every last molecule of alcohol has evaporated, leaving the flavor components concentrated.

Similarly, one of the easiest and most flavorful beef dishes I prepare is to cook the toughest beef roast (an arm roast is usually the cheapest, because it is so tough) in a croock pot. The roast goes into the pot, followed by a 750 ml bottle of burgandy or some other dark red wine, along with a few cloves of garlic and a few small onions. Cover and simmer for eight hours.

By the time the roast is finished, it is falling apart it is so tender. The house is redolent with the most luscious beefy, garlicy, oniony odors. And, again, there’s not a single molecule of alcohol anywhere in the dish.

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But your reasoning here, that “The only obvious enjoyment in alcoholic beverages is in the intoxication” is thus:

The only obvious enjoyment in playing football is in the head injuries.
The only obvious enjoyment in writing a play is in the sex scenes.
The only obvious enjoyment in having a child is in the free slave labor.
The only obvious enjoyment in singing a song is to seduce or enchant.
The only obvious enjoyment in eating a steak is in the gluttony.
The only obvious enjoyment in reading a book is in the pornography.

Not everyone enjoys playing football, but it’s only a fool who thinks the only reason anyone enjoys football is for the concussions.

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I think you’re painting with too broad a brush in this statement. While I enjoy beer, never from my youth have I found the notion of intoxication enjoyable, nor have I ever been intoxicated.

I would describe my enjoyment of the taste beer as similar to my enjoyment of soda. There’s something about the mix of sweetness and carbonation in soda that makes it enjoyable. Similarly, there’s something in the strength, earthiness, and complexity in the taste of a dark lager that I simply enjoy. It tastes good, and it’s refreshing to the body.

There are many things in the world which, taken in excess, may lead to sin. But the abuse of a thing doesn’t give testimony to the moral nature of the thing abused — it speaks to the moral condition of the abuser. Abstinence alone from the things of the world — whether food, drink, or sex (yes, sex) — is no mark of godliness. It’s whether or not we are receiving these things in holiness (1 Timothy 4:3-5).

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Wow, sounds like @Fr_Bill needs his own cooking show. :smiley:

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When I was a child, my dad allow me a taste of his beer. It was nasty to me.

When I was in college, I encounterered many that found the motivation to drive through this initial response. I don’t think it was about strength and earthiness.

So when I say the only “obvious” enjoyment, I’m speaking to the reaction that alcoholic beverages have on the unconditioned taste buds, which are looking for good taste, and finding bitterness.