Before Jumping into a Relationship: How Much does He Drink?
Beer in Glasses
Over the years, I have met some Christians in relationships that are detrimental to their faith, so I want to write a few messages to help other Christians make better choices.
I remember that the Campus Pastor at Pensacola Christian College used to say, “If you want to be the right one, be the right one.” In this message, I want to remind you of some principles that will help you be the right one and find the right one.
What You Need to Know
Before jumping into a relationship with anyone, you should carefully consider how that person relates to alcohol, since drinking can have a serious impact in a person’s life. It can easily affect a person’s mood, health, career, and relationships. If a habit is formed, things can spin out of control quickly and destroy the person’s life, and you’ll end up as collateral damage.
So if you’re serious about building a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a family with someone, you will need to have a clear understanding on how alcohol affects their life.
What the Bible Really Says
The Bible says much about drinking wine. So in order to form a biblical perspective on this matter, we first need to look at what the Bible clearly teaches about alcohol consumption.
First, the Bible does not teach that an alcoholic beverage is a sinful or forbidden substance. The Lord seems to have indicated that He drank wine (Matthew 11:19), and the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to drink wine for health reasons (1 Timothy 5:23). Also, the Lord Himself turned water into wine for others to drink (John 2:8-10), and the book of Psalms declares that wine can be a blessing from God for one to enjoy (Psalm 104:15). Finally, neither the Lord nor Paul seem to have entertained the idea that a substance is evil in itself (Matthew 15:11, 17-18; Romans 14:14).
The Bible, however, does warn us about how we use alcoholic (fermented) beverages. Noah, for example, was exposed naked because he was drunk (Genesis 9:21); and Lot was lured into incest because he was drunk (Genesis 19:33). Moreover, God forbade his priests drinking wine before entering into the tabernacle because drunkenness was associated with loss of good judgment (Levitics 10:1-2, 8-9). Along the same lines, the book of Proverbs condemns those who drink to such an extent that they lose self-control and misbehave (Proverbs 20:1). Thus, the Bible clearly forbids and condemns drunkenness (1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:10; Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:21).
The issue in the Bible, then, is drunkenness (the misuse of the substance). The issue is not the substance itself. There are some believers who will argue that the early church did not consume fermented wine, but only grape juice; or that the wine they drank was so diluted they could not have become drunk. But read 1 Corinthians 11:21! It is obvious that these Christians were consuming alcohol (since they were drunk); nevertheless, Paul does not prohibit them to drink wine, instead he tells them to examine themselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). The issue was not the substance!
Now, if you cannot drink with a free conscience and faith, then don’t (Romans 14:22-23). And if you are in the presence of people who think drinking alcohol is sin, don't drink around them (Romans 14:15-16). And if you believe you should not drink alcohol, please understand you should not judge those that do drink with faith (Romans 14:3-4).
Ask Pastor John: Is Drinking Alcohol a Sin??
What Should You Do?
You need to be honest with the person you intend to date or marry about how much alcohol you drink and tolerate in your life, and you also need to demand that they be honest with you about it. The issue is too important to be ignored because it can become a major issue in your lives.
Moreover, you need to observe the other person and pay attention to his/her drinking habits. How often do they consume alcohol? Under what circumstances do they drink? How do they act when they consume alcohol? Do they actually get drunk? Do they drink and drive? How do they treat you and others when they drink?
You need to have an open conversation about alcohol with your potential partner, but keep in mind that alcoholics are the last to admit they have a problem with alcohol, so watch your friend carefully over time.
If you discover that the person you want to date or marry has a problem with alcohol, then slow down on the relationship. Take time to pray and to meditate on whether you will be happy with this person using as much alcohol throughout your relationship as they are using now.
Please, realize that you cannot change that person, and that the person cannot easily change. In an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, they will tell you that once you’re an alcoholic, you will always be an alcoholic. It really sticks with you for the rest of your life.
It is important that you understand what you are getting yourself into if you decide to fall for someone who drinks alcohol socially, at home, or habitually. It does not mean that you have to end the relationship, but it does mean that you need to understand the potential challenges and pain their habit can bring into your lives.
By all means, be open and honest with that person. If you have a problem with their alcohol consumption, tell them.
Moreover, do not make the decision to move forward on the relationship on your own. Seek the advice of your parents, your closest friends, spiritually mature people in your life, a counselor, your pastor, and most importantly God (pray for Him to lead you).
Finally, there is another issue that you will also need to think about carefully: how do you feel about your partner smoking and using drugs?
Questions for Reflection
- What do I believe the Bible teaches about the consumption of alcohol (or smoking, or using)?
- What are the risks of misusing alcohol?
- Have I talked with my partner about alcohol? How did they respond?
- How much alcohol do I drink? How much alcohol does my partner drink?
- Have I talked to people who care about me about his/her alcohol consumption?
- Am I trying to change this person? Am I happy with this person’s drinking habits?
- Have I prayed about this person’s alcohol consumption?