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South Austin church of Christ

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Teetotalers - Total Abstinence from Drinking

The word "teetotaler" means someone who abstains completely from alcoholic beverages.


The Bible Tells Us What Drinking Can Do

Don't believe beer commercials when they lie about drinking's supposed virtues: cleverness, popularity, and attractive members of the opposite sex.  Instead, believe what God says drinking can do for you in His word, which is the truth (JOHN 17:17).


Noah's habit was righteousness, but he sinned when he became drunk on the wine he made from his vineyard (GENESIS 9:20-21).  It was while he was drunk and uncovered in his tent that his son committed a shameful act with him, leading to the curse of Canaan.

Lot also made a practice of righteousness (2 PETER 2:8), but he sinned when his daughters got him drunk (GENESIS 19:32-38).  It was while he was drunk that Lot impregnated his own daughters, giving rise to Ammon and Moab.


Drinking is a surefire way to get in a fight or an abusive relationship.  Don't be fooled into thinking you control it:

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.


Under the law of Moses, the owner of a volatile ox who fails to restrain it is responsible for the damage the ox does--up to and including life for life (EXODUS 21:28-29).  Drinking is an ox with an established tendency to gore.

Fights, abuse, and loss of life are all too often the products of drinking.  God holds the drinker responsible for what happens.


Intoxication mars judgment.  If judgment is poor enough to start drinking, and drinking blurs judgment, what will make the drinking stop once it has started?

Levitical priests were forbidden from drink so that they could distinguish good from bad and teach the people to do the same (LEVITICUS 10:8-11).  Their restriction is only a shadow of the modern priesthood of Christians, who must now offer acceptable sacrifices of pure lives to God (ROMANS 12:1-2).

What's more, God calls for elders and deacons to have sound mind and judgment, including a distaste for drinking (1 TIMOTHY 3:3, 8; TITUS 1:7, 2:3).  He sets their faith as our example to follow (HEBREWS 13:7).

The Bible Calls for Abstinence

Some Christians argue for drinking short of drunkenness.  Wisdom from the Holy Spirit would turn you away from drinking altogether.

Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.

(PROVERBS 23:31)

Christians must refuse any intoxicant in any amount.

Peter in 1 PETER 4:3 condemns several activities that involve drink: "drunkenness, orgies, and drinking parties."  Please note the differences between the terms:

  1. Drunkenness is the state of being intoxicated.
  2. Orgies ("revellings" in King James) in the context of an ancient culture referred to the kind of wild party we would today see in a fraternity house, complete with beer bongs and togas.
  3. Drinking parties ("banquetings" in King James) are nothing more than social drinking.  The Greek term underlying this English word is literally rendered "cups."

Peter's teaching is a categorical condemnation of drinking in all forms--outright drunkenness, wild partying, and even social drinking.

Timothy agrees with Peter, as can be discerned from 1 TIMOTHY 5:23, where Paul has to advise Timothy it is clean to use wine as a medicine.  Clearly, Timothy had no plans otherwise to imbibe the stuff.

The Greek term for "free of wine" (in other words, our term "teetotaler") is used in three New Testament verses: 1 TIMOTHY 3:2 and 11 and TITUS 2:2. The term is sometimes translated "temperate" in these passages, but be sure it has the stronger meaning of "abstinent."

Thus, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament agrees with the wisdom of the Old Testament PROVERBS 23:31 above.

Let Christians Call for Abstinence!

Christian friend, won't you consent to wholesome words of sound doctrine?

-Luis Zamora