Some Christians and Alcohol Consumption

I’m neither a translator nor a prohibitionist, but I can’t help but notice that you quoted a translation (English) of the text. Demonstrating that there is no wiggle room in a translation by people who’ve already necessarily taken a particular position doesn’t advance your argument.

Or, as they say in my parents’ Episcopal church, wherever you find four Episcopalians, you’ll find a fifth.

John 2:1-11

King James Version

2 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

And what translation of John 2:10 would actually reflect the Greek text? It’s not that there’s no wiggle room in the translation, it’s that there’s no wiggle room in the meaning of the original text. In this passage of the Gospel of John, Jesus is portrayed as having turned water into οἶνος for a group of people who had already μεθύω (methyō). You can translate “μεθύω” as "have well drunk’ or “have had too much to drink” as you please, but I can’t see how any translation can say that word isn’t from μέθη, and that word has an inescapable meaning of “strong drink” or “drunkenness” (that is, intoxication from consuming alcohol). Μεθύω just doesn’t mean “drinking unfermented grape juice”.

And then there’s the rest of the sentence. Normally at the beginning of a party the host serves higher-quality unfermented grape juice; and then when everyone has drunk a lot of unfermented grape juice, the host begins serving them lower-quality unfermented grape juice [or perhaps younger or more-recent unfermented grape juice] but you have saved the best-quality unfermented grape juice until now. How does that make any sense whatsoever?

The idea that “the Bible” (a diverse collection of texts, written by different people over the course of many hundreds of years) invariably and in every passage teaches total abstinence from the consumption of alcoholic beverages is a silly and ahistorical idea that has been promoted by a segment of Protestant Christians beginning in a relatively recent historical era. However sympathetic we may be about the real social problems caused by the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages in 18th and 19th century society (and especially the social problems surrounding the consumption of distilled, high-proof liquors as opposed to fermented beverages like wine and beer, which of course no one who wrote any of the Biblical texts had any knowledge of), there is simply no basis to ascribing to “the Bible” the ideas of mandatory total abstinence from all alcoholic beverages, nor their legal prohibition.


Some previous threads that may interest you:

Baptists Delighted They Can Now Wear Masks At Liquor Store

Mormons believe in complete abstinence from alcohol, as well as coffee and tea, and believe that a revelation to Joseph Smith forms a scriptural basis for it, despite it not being given in the form of a commandment, that it was not universally applied until decades later and the well-documents continued imbibing by Joseph Smith himself.

One notes that Mormons believe that they must not drink while also believing that they must donate 10% of their income to the church. It doesn’t take a financial genius to realize that quitting the church can pay for a lot of partying.

I think Paul’s prohibition was against drunkards as in alcoholics, not the occasional state of drunkenness. Drunkard was the word used before the term alcoholic came into use in the late 19th century.

I used to attend a church where the pastor put it this way (paraphrased): “There is no explicit Biblical prohibition of alcohol, but Scripture by and large doesn’t have good things to say about it” - noting all the Biblical references to drunkenness and its associated ills.

So it’s not a hard, explicit prohibition, but more of a softer discouragement of it.

And what was the original Greek word used by Paul, and what did it mean?

I’ll grant that most of the Biblical references to alcohol are negative, but the miracle at Canae certainly seems positive: At the least, it seems to indicate that Jesus considered drinking alcohol to be an appropriate way to celebrate special occasions, and that it’s OK to at least sometimes get sufficiently drunk that you can’t tell the difference between good wine and bad. One might still fairly conclude that you shouldn’t get that drunk every day, or that you shouldn’t ever get so drunk that you’re passing out, but that’s well short of total prohibition.

I have no idea. I was responding to the English translation of Paul upthread. But going back to the Greek is only so helpful. To really understand, you’d have to be fluent in Hebrew and Aramaic. I was lucky enough to know a priest who was fluent in Greek and Hebrew and knew quite a bit of Aramaic. It was always enlightening to hear him speak about how the differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions.

That may be, but nonetheless, there’s a minority of U.S. Christians (particularly white Evangelicals) who think that drinking – not just drunkenness, but drinking any alcohol at all – is morally wrong.

As per a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center, 23% of white Evangelical Protestants believe that drinking alcohol is morally wrong. That’s the highest percentage for any religious subgroup mentioned in the article; by comparison, that view is held by 15% of Catholics, 13% of Black Protestants, 7% of white mainline Protestants, 5% of agnostics, and less than 1% of atheists.

I’ve had drinking buddies who were Muslim (liked wine) and Mormon (smoked and drank). I would ask them how they could justify drinking when their religions forbid it, they explained to me that some people have more religion than others and that it depended on the day of the week. :partying_face:

The KJV greek scholars translated it as that. What are you hoping for? That the verse- which has about a dozen different translations- is wrong, because every single one of them got it wrong?

That’s a pretty weird response. I was suggesting the opposite.

I’m not a Christian, and I’m only looking at this from a historical and philological point of view.

Someone suggested that Paul meant ‘alcoholism’ rather than ‘drunkenness’ because English didn’t have a term for alcoholism before the 19th century. I pointed out that you can’t say what Paul meant without looking at the original Greek. Earlier English translations are irrelevant.

In fact, modern English translations uniformly translate it as ‘drunkenness’, and in context Paul listed it next to wild parties, as behaviour to be avoided by Christians. Drinking wine in moderation is not drunkenness. In another place Paul actually recommends wine for good digestion.

Yes. The Jesuits at my high school used to turn a blind eye to (minimal) drinking on the part of seniors at, say, a cast party after a play or musical production. Or a party for soon-to-be graduates at their residence. They even supplied the beer for that one.

Some would argue that it’s the easiest way of driving the incidence of drinking into the shadows and preventing the drinker’s buddies from looking out for him.

Or her. It could be a her.

But, yeah, it sure makes it easier to say you’ve made sure everyone is behaving themselves.

Did the Mayflower have wells?

Kind of a luxury liner, wasn’t it?