The Bible says drunkenness is a sin (Galatians 5:21). But is occasional social drinking okay for Christians?

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One's attitudes toward alcohol are seldom objective, even if one tries to be tolerant. One can be sure that a refined, cultured, gentleman from Burgundy is not likely to be an abstainer. And a wife of an alcoholic is not likely to be convinced that any policy of moderation is wise.

Christians who do not commit to a principle of total abstinence should follow a guideline that would represent both discernment and Christian freedom by allowing limited use, now and then, within the context of family, friendship, religious celebration, and diplomatic protocol.

These limits need not imply the strictness of an absolute principle. Still, they should be taken seriously. Such a policy offers the practical advantages of sobriety, the personal advantages of responsible maturity, and the theological advantages of biblical wisdom.

J. Lawrence Burkholder is president emeritus of Goshen College in Indiana.

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