What do you think of when you think of Wisconsin? To many people the mere mention of our great state summons images of blizzards, blocks of cheese, or football players. We’re famous around the country for our weather, the dairy industry, and the Green Bay Packers. But in addition to this we are also famous for our beer: both for brewing it and for drinking it. Lots of Americans drink beer, but the people of our state, accurately or not, have a reputation for consuming greater quantities of it than normal. We are also a state with a lot of churches. Many Wisconsinites drink heavily on Saturday night and go to church the next morning, sometimes hung over. Should Christians be getting drunk? Is it wrong for them to do this, or are they simply acting annoying and funny? How should we treat Christians who like to drink a lot?
Let me begin addressing these questions by making a bold, but undeniable statement: drunkenness is sin. The Bible is extremely clear about this. It does not matter what denomination or ethnic group you come from. Every time you drink so much that you lose self-control you are engaging in an open act of rebellion against God. The Bible describes drunkenness as a “fruit of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:21). It is listed alongside other notable sins such as “murders,” “hatred,” and “outbursts of wrath,” all things that can easily result from drinking too much. Getting drunk, like any sin, is so repugnant to God, that it by itself is enough to land you directly in hell for eternity. The Bible says that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.”
Of course, that is not to say that everyone who gets drunk will necessarily go to hell. God will forgive you of your sins if you repent, and no true Christian is immune from sinning even after he is saved. However, you should rarely assume that a person who is regularly drunk is saved. In fact, it is often likely that such a person is going to hell. The Bible says that “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). That means that true Christians have self-control. They display the “fruit of the Spirit,” which is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). These are not traits that are often used to describe someone under the influence of alcohol. That is why the Bible says that all Christians, young and old, male and female, need to remain sober (Titus 2:2, 3, 6).
In light of this fact, Bible-believing churches all around our state need to take a stronger stance against drunkenness. For starters, habitual drunkards need to be removed from all leadership positions in the church. Once again, this is something that the Bible is very clear about. The Scriptures state quite openly several times that elders and deacons should not be “given to wine.” (Titus 1:7, I Timothy 3:3, I Timothy 3:8). If they get drunk regularly, they should never have been appointed to their positions in the first place. Once the church leadership has been purged, it is time to focus on the rest of the members. People who call themselves Christians should be expected to live as such. Therefore habitual drunkenness by any Christian should not be considered acceptable. Members of a church who regularly get themselves drunk in public to the point where they dishonor themselves and their families by the things they say and do, need to repent of their sin so that they can serve God in holiness the way God intended. Those who are genuinely trying to change should be helped to overcome their addiction. Those who are in denial of the fact that they are sinning need to be subjected to whatever level of discipline may be appropriate for their individual case. Different situations call for different responses. But one thing is clear: this problem should never be ignored. Alcoholism destroys families; drunkenness destroys holiness. Both problems need to be addressed in the church wherever they exist.