The Bible encourages us to get drunk to combat with depression and poverty?
Lady Interviewer: Do you drink every day?
Lady Interviewer: How much a day?
Man: Around 3 six-packs starting at noon.
Lady Interviewer: How much does a 6-pack cost?
Man: Roughly $10.00 at a deli.
Lady Interviewer: And how long have you been drinking like that?
Man: 15 years.
Lady Interviewer: So with a six-pack costing $10.00, and you consuming 3 six-packs a day, you are spending roughly $900 each month. In one year, you would then be spending $10,800, correct?
Lady Interviewer: If in 1 year you spend $10,800 on beer, not accounting for inflation, 15 years puts your spending roughly $162,000; correct?
Lady Interviewer: Did it ever occur to you that if you did not drink for the last 15 years, you could have bought a Ferrari?
Man: Do you drink?
Lady Interviewer: No.
Man: So where’s your Ferrari?
This little story just shows us how men (I must say it includes women as well) can justify whatever behaviors in his or her favor.
I recently encountered a friend who opened the bible and showed me a verse which appears to encourage the down-hearted indulging in alcoholic drinks. The bible reference quoted was Proverbs 31:6-7 “Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”
I was surprised to find such a verse in the bible. It clearly contradicts to what I know about God’s requirement from other part of the scriptures. The first look at this bible verse, it appears to mean that beer and wine can help to relieve one’s pain and misery, and the scriptures seem to encourage us to do so. So, I quickly did a little study on this verse.
First of all, the bible has other passages which give a somewhat different picture.
In the same book of Proverbs, chapter 20 verse 1 which says, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
In the New Testament, Apostle Paul warns that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- 1 Cor. 6:10 “nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
- Gal 5:19-21 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
How can the bible contradict itself so seriously?
Well, I think it’s safe to look at the verses in its full context. Proverbs 31:1-9 has to be taken together as one whole instead of understanding verses separated from its whole.
Proverbs 31:1 says, “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him.” The passage was what the king’s mother taught him.
Proverbs 31: 4-5 has a clear instruction that the king’s mother advices the king not to indulge in alcohol because he needed sound judgments and a sober mind to administer justice in the land. “It is not for kings, Lemuel – it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”
On the other hand, did the king’s mother suggest that it was alright for others to get drunk as longs as her son kept away from alcohol? Was she offering “drinking” as a solution to those who were depressed and poor?
It is quite obvious that the mother was giving a contrast between “a sober mind which exercise good judgment” and “a drunkard mind which can make serious mistake in administering justice” – the key difference was indulgence in alcohol. I believe it was not an advice to the general citizens to drink excessively, but in effect she meant, “there are people who drink to forget. Just let them do it, but as for you, manage the stress of your position to rule with equitable justice.
If you want to drink, just simply say it honestly. You do not need to twist the bible verses to justify your action.
A small amount of wine could be good for your health as long as you are not drinking excessively. Paul advised his spiritual son Timothy “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23)
We know so well too that Jesus changed water into wine in the wedding at Cana in Galilee. (John 2:1-11) He did not forbid people to drink wine in happy occasions like wedding. May be the key question to ask is, “Do we drink excessively to the extent that we are controlled by the alcohol and incapable of making sound judgment?”