July 28, 2008

Why do you drink wine?

I was raised in a church that held an amazingly strong stance against alcohol. Among the crazier outworkings of of their extreme focus on the evils of alcohol were the following:

  • The church covenant, which was read aloud by the congregation regularly, included the promise to not use any alcohol as a beverage
  • Many of the families in the church would not use Nyquil when they had a cold because it had alcohol in it
  • One of the men in the church became a manager at a local corporation-run pharmacy. He was asked to leave this job immediately (without any other job prospects) because these large retail stores included wine among their products
  • One of our teenagers took a summer job at Pizza Hut and was asked to quit his job because Pizza Hut serves beer (even though he was not a server and had no contact with the alcohol at all)

Jesus Christ
[No one] puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” —Matt 9:17

It all seemed way overboard to my sister and me. We never were able to find anything in the bible that seemed to encourage total abstinence from alcohol consumption. And we were vocal about our observations, but were never shown anything that changed our minds on this. We were given many explanations about why the bible "seems" to encourage wine consumption in many cases. One of these arguments was brought into our church by a missionary to France that our church supported and it was his explanation that caused me to look into the whole matter when I found out how grapes become wine.

This missionary to France told our congregation that living in France with so much wine all around gave him the opportunity to find out some things that most people don't know. And he found out that the wine mentioned in the bible was not fermented, but was actually just like our grape juice today. They just called it wine back then and we no longer call it wine because sinful man has figured out a way to cause grape juice to turn into alcohol.

Proverbs 3:9-10
Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

This was the trump card that was always pulled out any time anyone said that they didn't understand how wine consumption could be bad if Jesus' first miracle had been changing water into wine for the wedding feast. And I always thought something sounded fishy, but how do you answer such a claim? These folks said they had done research and had found this to be true.

A few years ago I read a simple scientific description of the fermentation process in an elementary school science book. It said:

Fermentation is the process by which the grape juice turns into wine. The simple formula for fermentation is:

Sugar + Yeast   =   Alcohol + Carbon Dioxide

This caused me to consider: What was God thinking when he made grapes?

The grape has an interesting composition considering the above equation. The grape has a high content of two things in the way God designed it. The fruit has a very high sugar content. And the skin has a high yeast content. So when you crush a grape you get ... wine. Not grape juice. Wine. In fact, grape juice was not even possible to make until the recent discovery of pasteurization. Prior to a couple hundred years ago, fermentation-free grape juice was simply not possible.

Psalm 104:14-15
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man.

And God created the grape that way on purpose. It seems to me that God's intention was for man to figure out quickly that if you crush grapes to access the juice without eating the fruit, you get wine. So it seems to me that wine is actually one of the beverages that God himself created—water and fruit juices being the others. But the fact that God made wine so obvious indicates to me that the many passages in the Bible describing wine as a gift from God are not to be intentionally misinterpreted in order to get around the simple fact that wine is good.


  1. I grew up with similar teachings about alcohol.

    I loved this post and I am going to really enjoy my next glass of wine.

  2. Here's to your enjoyment of your next glass of wine. [clink]

    I was actually introduced to wine by a wine afficianado who was an elder at the church we attended about five years ago. He and his wife were solid, God-fearing Christians who were deeply committed to seeking and following God's will. When they took a vacation through California's Sonoma Valley on a wine tour, I decided to force my views about alcohol into line with scripture.

    As a result, I have grown to really appreciate good wine and see it as a way to praise God for his lovingkindness to us. I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Watch the future posts if you have the opportunity for a few wine recommendations. I'll try to keep them inexpensive. I have found quite a few good inexpensive wines and would like to "cyber"-share them with my online friends.


No personal attacks. No profanity.

Please keep your comments in good taste. Leave a name so we know who you are. Your comments are welcome, but anonymous flames and sacrilege will be deleted.