Should Pastors Drink Alcohol in Public?

pastors-drinkingThis week I will pose a series of questions that might be difficult to answer, seem controversial, make you go hmm…  Although today’s question is a simple one, the answers may not be quite so simple.  Remember, the one thing about opinions is that everyone has one.   Go ahead share thoughts, opinions, scripture… just sound off.  RSS readers join the discussion as well:

Should pastors drink alcohol in public?  Why or Why not?

  • It depends if they want their ministry to be successful or not. There is nothing wrong with pastors drinking alcohol. And, if requested, I could give you a plethora of scriptures to support this. However, it’s not the wisest decision to drink in public, because many who view him or her do not have an understanding of the scriptures as it relates to drinking alcohol. So, for their own protection, I would advise drinking privately or around friends they consider to be safe places.

  • No way. I think a pastor needs to do everything he can to avoid causing a ‘weaker brother’ to stumble. I even avoid walking down the beer/liquor aisle at the grocery store…I’ll go the long way to the dairy section if I have to.

  • Pastors should not drink alcohol in public. We are not to cause our brothers to stumble. Pastors should abstain from the very appearance of evil. We are also not to allow our good to be spoken of as evil. Culturally, in the US, alcohol, is associated with sinful and ungodly living. Alcohol is not evil and a sin in and of itself. However, to whom much is given, much is required. As Andy Stanley states, “there is no doctrine of fairness in the Bible”. But, there is a doctrine of righteousness. Pastors are held to higher standards than laity. One leadership principle I have learned is What leaders do in moderation, followers will do in excess. My father works as a CISD/PTSD Debriefing Chaplain with the FBI, ATF and DEA. He also serves as a training chaplain to local law enforcement agencies. His work with domestic disputes, vehicular accidents/homicides etc. has proved that a high percentage of incidents are accompanied with alcohol. Look forward to this dialogue.

  • I am not opposed to to drinking alcohol in general. I enjoy a good glass of wine or a Scotch from time to time. However, I believe there is great danger in drinking in public. Just like the guys I consult with in building new ministry, perception is everything! So, if someone sees me drinking in public they have no reference for whether I’ve had one drink or 10! It may also give the guy who has the potential for being an alcoholic the justification for drinking….i.e. “If the pastor can, so can I” Above all, some people, especially in the south where I live, have an aversion to drinking in general. In keeping with a scriptural truth & command, I am not to be a stumbling block for my fellow man. All of these things combined incline me to answer no.

  • I think that pastors should be free to do anything as long as it is not sinful. And the question of drinking is not sinful – but of course it’s about gluttony. If excessive drinking, then it’s a totally different question (“should pastors be permitted to get sloshed in public?”). Why can a pastor not enjoy a glass of wine or even a beer? Moderation and self-control. I think we’re beyond “causing a brother to stumble” – that’s too much pressure on pastors. “Hey pastor I saw you eating at IHOP the other day with your family, but you know what, I struggle with overeating and food gluttony so I think you are causing me to stumble by eating all those pancakes.” I respect pastors who choose NOT to because they want to demonstrate something or just avoid the appearance of something, but when I hear churches (and church leadership) put that as a law on pastoral staff, I cringe! Should a pastor have a tatoo? Should a pastor be seen shopping, spending the root of all evil? These are things that we do but do not mean they are sinful in and of themselves.

  • I think it’s just fine for pastors to drink alcohol in public–as long as it’s in moderation. The last thing you want is a pastor drunk in public.

    However, I think in response to Dusty’s comment about how others might not have the same understanding of scripture, if they’re in the pastor’s congregation, that could lead into a teaching moment–the pastor is the one that’s supposed to make sure people are understanding scripture! And if they’re not, does it matter?

    Of course, this all depends upon the particular church’s teachings. Some denominations/churches do discourage/prohibit alcohol drinking by all, some only for clergy and other church leaders, so that’s a factor.

    What I’ve seen, though, is that when people–particularly young people–see a pastor enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer with friends–it’s another reminder that pastors are human.

  • if they do at home.

  • I think that this is similar to what I used to tell one of my friends when they asked why I didn’t think it was good for her as a well known Christian to drink publicly. It’s not so much about the right or wrong of the actual drinking as much as it is about perceptions. If someone were to see her drinking and that act invalidated her witness in their minds, she might lose the opportunity to minister to that person. I think that’s a bigger problem than to drink or not to drink.

  • Did Jesus?

  • Did Jesus?

  • there are so many other things i do in public that can be taken out of context… drinking alcohol would only be one of them. is this a question pertinent to more than just the ‘bible belt’? curious if pastors in other areas of the nation deal with similar stigmas.

  • man, i plan on taking some of your questions from this weeks posts for our question of the night at poetry night ( i will surely use today’s post.

  • nice question, I understand the other comments that say nay, however I would have to say that people that see someone that can drink, yet have the self control not to go to far can reach people that would otherwise just be turned away by the ‘I don’t drink’ line… But I do agree there are areas that the answer is just no…

  • Scott Williams

    Great thoughts and discussion… keep em coming!

  • Mike

    It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. –Romans 14:21-23, NIV, emphasis added

    I see no compelling reason for a pastor to drink alcohol in public. At the least, not in American society, due to the social stigma around drinking.

    Pastor Scott — how do you answer your own question?

  • Alcohol destroys lives, families and culture. Argue all you want about ‘that only pertains to abuse or excess’ – but, face it, that’s the culture we live in.

    We spend countless hours ministering to people who have had their lives deeply wounded or turned upside-down (personally or through another family member) by alcohol. I can’t imagine them seeing me throwing one back at the corner restaurant. Nor, can I imagine my kids seeing it happen in my home. Please…

    Just because I ‘can’ doesn’t mean I should. Holiness sometimes requires us to be set-apart – that’s not a bad thing. And it won’t rob you of your ‘cool’… We can live without it and in the process save money and save face.

  • Scott Williams

    @Mike- I don’t drink alcohol personally and feel that it is obviously a matter of personal choice v. personal responsibility and a matter of wisdom and discernment. Can it cause someone else to stumble, doubt, question… Yep! Therefore, I would say that it’s not wise and I would discourage it!

  • RyanBurk

    I’m not a pastor, but I would prefer that if one of my pastors enjoyed a drink from time to time, that he wouldn’t mind doing it in public. Why would I want a pastor who didn’t want something about him to be seen in public? That doesn’t seem very transparent to me. Anyways, you are not causing your brother to stumble unless the pastor is buying rounds for the alcoholic.

    I personally don’t drink, but have no problem with those that do regardless if they are a pastor or not.

    Just me two cents.

  • Mike

    Amen Pastor Scott. Much like that old illustration of walking along the edge of a high cliff. Better to say as far away from the drop-off as possible.

  • A good point is ” I think a pastor needs to do everything he can to avoid causing a ‘weaker brother’ to stumble”.

    I agree with illiniPhil.

  • Of course this is a loaded question. which is what makes it such fun. I honestly don’t see a pastor drinking in public to be an issue at all. Drinking to drunkenness is a problem but not drinking. I think we should be bold about our faith and how we live. I think to say I would drink in private but not public isn’t a healthy position at all. If we can justify it in private we should be willing to educate people about it in public. This goes with rated (R) movies and the rest of the things that we choose to do in a hidden manner. I don’t do anything that I wouldn’t openly discuss with my children or congregation.
    Creating controversy isn’t causing a brother to stumble…

  • If there is something that we wouldn’t do “in public”, why would we do it “in private”?
    I agree with Chilly, maybe we need to re-think what it means to live a Holy life.

  • Scott great question and my answer is NO! My son-in-law is my pastor and he do drink a little Grey Goose here at the house but, I would not want to see that in public. And I do have an understanding of scriptures but I don’t want to see my pastor out in the public drinking.

  • Mike


    You wrote, “I honestly don’t see a pastor drinking in public to be an issue at all.”

    Have you considered what Romans 14 says about this? What about the fact that pastors are of a stricter judgment (James 3:1)?

    You also wrote, “I don’t do anything that I wouldn’t openly discuss with my children or congregation.”

    I understand the spirit of your statement here. In light of your first argument, though, shouldn’t this then cause us to think that ANY drinking would be a problem?

  • I think it’s really hard to come up with a solid arguement as to why you wouldn’t. I think it is easier to find a biblical standard for SO many other things that we do today.

    What if the question was about greed? or having TOO nice of a car? or of wearing name brand stuff? or whatever…

    there are a million things that the bible explicitly adresses that we still allow pastors to do/not do in public.

    in fact, there is no precident for preaching a weekly sermon, but we still allow pastors….

    but some people can choose not to drink. and that is fine. or maybe they choose to drink. that is fine. they’ll discuss it with their congregation and they’ll explain that their decisions aren’t necissarily “biblical” but they are personal convictions.

    the church has attached such a horrible stigma to alcohol and tons of people see it as a hurdle that they must get over before joining into the community of the Body (which is simply not true).

    i think we need to start taking the time to truly help people navigate the realities (both good and bad) of alcohol, instead of merely avoiding it.

    for example: as a youth pastor, students always ask me about drinking and whatnot. It’d be much EASIER to simply tell them i don’t drink or to not drink so as to avoid navigating difficult conversations, but in all honesty, i truly love using those opportunities to talk to them about the realities of alcohol.

  • This is a good one Scott! I think that if Tim (my husband aka youth pastor) had a drink out our youth would think. “Well my youth pastor drinks why cant I?” They dont really get the whole 21 thing.

  • The Other Scott

    We realize this is only an issue in America, right? Pastors in other countries don’t even have to give it a second thought, they just have to make sure they partake in moderation.

    I’m going to take a situational approach to this. I enjoy wine regularly, a cold beer or two less regularly and on occasion, a Comfort and Coke. I ordinarily do this in the privacy of my home, or the homes of friends who understand and support the Biblical view on the use of alcohol. I would not drink in a pub or restaurant in, say, a 25 mile radius of my hometown. But in a larger city like Chicago or Cincinnati I would have no problem imbibing in public.

    We do have to protect the weaker brother – as long as we understand that we also have an obligation to help that “baby faith” immature believer grow up and stop being weak. And there’s no sense ruining something enjoyable because you’re worried about what some local might think and tell his/her friends about.

  • 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.(Proverbs 23:31-32 KJV)

    31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it Job 20:16 bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. (Proverbs 23:31-32 ESV)

    Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
    (Proverbs 20:1, KJV)

    These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink;the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,they are swallowed by wine,they stagger with strong drink,they reel in vision,they stumble in giving judgment.
    (Isaiah 28:7, ESV) Note: this is not a commendation for the priests!

    What husband and wife do in their private moments ought not be displayed in public, either. I just can’t wrap my head around the sight of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sitting down at a bar and ordering a cold beer or any other alcoholic beverage. Frankly, that makes me cringe.

    Let me pose a question, please. In light of the scriptures quoted above, is the person who drinks publicly or privately being holy? Why even play with the fire? As someone else already stated, the scriptures admonish us to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I Thessalonians 5:22 ESV

    Someone once told me “I’m free to drink a beer, but why would I want to?”

  • This the “The” slippery slope question. It will divide us forever. This argument pits us against one another for the sake of who is right, who is causing who to stumble, who God loves more, who God uses more… You can build your own brand of legalism and many have died on this hill. Paul said for those whose conscience makes something a sin. Its a sin. Some of you have made this sin. Others have liberty but are very careful where they exercise that liberty or choose not to at all – and are probably back to the yoke of voluntary legalism.

    I love what Martin Luther said

    “Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?”

    The answer is, this is absurd. The pancake example was a good one along the same lines. Appearance of evil? Maybe you shouldnt drink pepsi because some of the cans look like beer cans. That might make someone stumble. God forbid they think you are drinking a beer! Probably shouldnt watch the superbowl either – those godaddy commercials are bad. And Disney – Oh my. They support homosexuality and I wouldnt want to identify with that. I should boycott them. Of course they own ABC and I love LOST so thats really different, right? (By the way i’ve actually been to Disney during Gay week. It was nice because fewer Christians were there and it wasnt as crowded)

    As I was sitting in the pub tonight drinking a Yeunling reflecting on the sin of drinking light beer and this blog post, I asked my lost friends if it was OK for me to drink in public. At first they misunderstood and thought I was asking “Is it OK for a preacher to pull out the flask during his sermon because he had a tough week and needs to take the edge off?” When they understood what I meant about public drinking they said – so wouldn’t it be hypocrisy to do it privately and NOT publicly because of some arbitrary taboo?

    Seriously – If drinking is a sin then communion has to be Welches grape juice. Thank God I was baptist when I grew up so I never sinned.

    Whatever you eat or drink – do that to the Glory of God! Isnt that the bottom line? Love God – Love others. And if it took Jesus death on a cross to save you – are you really niave enough to think you can add something to your life (or take away something) that’s going to help you in the next life. Is there another heaven? A better one?

    Here is the modern Christian commandment. Love God, Love Others, Go to an Evangelical church that preaches the TRUE gospel and don’t drink beer (in public) and don’t watch R rated movies, and don’t smoke and don’t cuss and don’t chew tobacco and don’t watch Nascar (cause Godaddy has one) and only listen to Christian Music and only watch shows that focus on the family and avoid all appearance of evil and dress modestly and wear long dresses and put doilies on your head and never shave your beard and don’t be worldly so cut off your electricity and get a horse and buggy.

    Good grief. Lets ask this question. While people around you are dying and going to hell what do you think is the most urgent discussion we should have? Im thinking its what style of worship pleases God the most. Thats whats wrong with the church today. Personally I think God likes Free Bird because old music is more Godly.

  • davecotham

    I consumed alcohol in mass quantities for a number of years before God finally healed me with His grace. Regardless of whether people tell you they drink for taste or whatever the reason is, I always fired for effect. There are a lot of things out there that taste better than alcohol. The whole point in drinking anything with alcoholic content is to change the way you feel, whether it be just a tiny buzz, or a major one. I’m definitely not passing judgement, but I do think if we are going to say Jesus is all we need, then we don’t need to be the hypocrite that says one thing and then does something that contradicts it. That’s just what all the naysayers are wanting to see, another reason to hold onto their criticism of the “religious” system.

  • I think it depends on which country you ask that. Let’s face it, I think all pastors drink alcohol at home, so what’s the problem in drinking it in public ? As long as it’s moderated and he won’t get drunk I agree. The world these days and the people who leave in it are so evolved that things like pastors drinking beers in public is not impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days sex will be allowed in public. (sorry for being a bit off-topic).


  • In personal experiences as a church staff member, and with my pastor as well, I’ve always found the people who have a problem with it are other Christians. When it came to unchurched people, they either didn’t care or it opened the door to conversations, since all they’ve ever heard from the church is that alcohol is evil.

  • Not an issue for our household because we don’t personally drink. But I believe it would be a poor example for us to do in public (if we did) because of the whole causing someone else to stumble issue. I think it would be a big deal in this area if pastors were seen around town drinking (as a matter of fact it could end up on the local news channel, knowing some of our local reporters). Most churches don’t even use real wine at communion because of this very reason.

    As as matter of fact my son’s first encounter with wine was at church during communion at the age of 15 . He hated it, and accused us of poisoning him (We didn’t know at the time that they served real wine). It was a long time before he would even take communion after that. He’s 25 now and still doesn’t understand why people feel a need to drink alchohol when there is grape juice, orange juice, punch, etc available(lol). By the way that church no longer serves “real” wine.

    Growing up I heard of the deacons and deaconess drinking the left over “wine” in the back after service. May explain why most switched to grape juice. Some people only showed up on 1st Sunday for communion. Go figure!

    Got to say I don’t know how I feel about the pastor who would do it in “hiding” at home, but not in public. Interesting question Scott. Really makes me have to think about stuff.

  • I am a pastor. I think it’s ok for for people, even pastors, to drink in moderation. In the same book where Paul talks about making your brother stumble, he also chides the Corinthian church for getting drunk at their Lord’s Supper feasts. He didn’t chide the fact that they served alcohol. He didn’t even chide them for drinking it at public in church. So it must not be that big of a deal. We’ve got to rethink what ‘making our brother stumble’ really means in light of the fact they were drinking in public at church. That said, I rarely drink. I rarely do it in public. If I do, I’m usually out of town with my wife. I’d love to hear what people thought about what I just said. Sorry in advance if there are spelling errors. I typed this on my phone.

  • I say it’s okay…not a big deal. A drink is cool – espeically for dinner or a meal. But getting scummy drunk? That’s a different story.

  • I say NO, Pastors should not drink alcohol in public. We are held to a higher standard. I have ingested my share of alcohol in the past to the point of destruction. It is mind/body altering. How little is a little? I make that point to say this. How can I be effective if my witness is of the world? Can I allow carnality to rule me?

    Instead of me posting the scripture here, we should all open our Bibles and read Ephesians 4. Also, John 21:16-18 is a good source of instruction. Romans 2:16 tells us who the final judge will be and by what standard we will be judged.

    The truest test is whether we depend on Jesus to alleviate whatever causes us to turn to alcohol. Are we drinking alcohol to be social? To fit in? Into what?

  • Scott Williams

    Thanks for all of the great insight, comments and feedback.

  • mykatyboo

    [quote]@preacherpen – What husband and wife do in their private moments ought not be displayed in public, either. I just can’t wrap my head around the sight of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sitting down at a bar and ordering a cold beer or any other alcoholic beverage. Frankly, that makes me cringe.[/quote]

    While reading the thread I was reminded of the first miracle Jesus performed (in public)…turning water into wine. While I agree with most that drinking in public could be a stumbling block to the lesser brother, I also believe that God created everything on earth for our enjoyment. I personally don’t drink but that shouldn’t stop anyone else from doing so…pastor or not. We are all God’s representatives if we are Christ followers. Pastors shouldn’t be put on a different level just because of the title in front of their name. As Christ followers, we might be the only “pastor” people see.

  • The Lord did create the world for our enjoyment, but also put guidelines in place. It’s wonderful to look down from the mountain while traveling in a car, and I’m thankful guard rails are in place. God gave us enough sense to rightly divide the Word, under the direction of the Spirit, in order to walk out our faith.

    If you justify drinking alcohol, even light of the scriptures quoted above, what’s next? Marijuana was created to be enjoyed, tobacco was created to be enjoyed, some would say. Is there no restraint? Are we free to do anything we want in the name of the New Covenant? I think not, but that’s just me.

  • Scott Williams

    Thanks for the valuable inishght and perspectives!

  • Avon

    How do those who claim that drinking wine is a sin handle the fact that Jesus made wine? Jesus, as the revealed God, made wine for men to drink. Wouldn’t that be akin to “going the extra mile” in helping His brother to stumble? That’s practically pushing the poor guy over the edge, isn’t it? Is it possible that there were people at Cana who might have been overindulgent when it came to wine and wouldn’t Jesus be a terrible man (as opposed to a good God) to create “good” wine for people who would almost certainly overindulge? Where in here do we hold men accountable for their actions like God does? I mean if just watching a pastor (who is nothing more than a man) drink wine could cause you to stumble, isn’t it almost a certainty that you will stumble upon seeing (or reading about) God making and drinking it Himself? Again, Jesus made and drank wine. It’s an inescapable, biblical fact. So, quite obviously, drinking it is not a sin or Jesus is a great sinner (because he did it in public). The fact is every prohibition of wine in the Bible refers to overindulgence as opposed to just drinking it. In fact, many of the same scriptures that speak of overindulgence in wine also speak of overindulgence in food. To those who claim that it’s best to stay completely away to avoid stumbling, I have to wonder – does the same apply to food? Is it best to avoid food entirely to avoid the perception of gluttony? Would that make you holy?

  • dancho

    In short, I think pastors drinking alcohol moderately is fine. To explain – I don’t think it invalidates the pastor’s “witness” (as some as referred to it). Believe it or not, the people who have the biggest problems with Christians drinking alcohol is Christians (from my experience). Most unbelieving people don’t care about the alcohol factor more than the character one. We need to stop using that as an excuse to allow Christians the luxury of judging without understanding. There were some people in Jesus’ time that thought he was a drunkard and that he was socializing with the “wrong kind of people” as well. Oddly, he didn’t think it was all that necessary to justify himself or even refrain.

    Echoing some of the comments made before mine, I think it’s about moderation and what type of context the pastor is in particular circumstances. Of course, if a pastor is having dinner with someone who is a recovering alcoholic, he/she shouldn’t drink alcohol in front of them. The weaker brother is the one who we’re looking out for. However, that doesn’t mean that we should place a responsibility on pastors to be perfectly accommodating to all people, in all seasons, at all times. Not even Jesus did that.

    Pretty commonsense … no?

  • Bob

    I guess this may depend on where you live and who you want to reach. Nothing in scripture says we can’t have a drink every now and then. I know when living in the legalistic Bible belt drinking is still seen as a sin, but then again what isn’t? The verse used regarding wine and meat…I notice no one says to give up meat. I say if you want to drink then head to the west coast where people don’t see alcohol as sin. My question is, who will stumble? Legalistic Christians won’t stumble, they will just judge you. Unchurched will see you having a drink and think nothing of it. In fact, they may actually think you are not one of those pastor who are focused on rules over relationships. Now if you are getting drunk then you have crossed the line. If you are overweight and up there preaching, then you should be more concerned about that!

  • I like the answer “Jesus did.” Of course one has to be aware of his culture. But it seemed Jesus had no bones about cutting against the grain of culture in order to express a greater truth (Mat 15.3). I’m a pastor and I’m not trying to help people become religious. I’m trying to help them become like Jesus (1 Jn 2.6) and worship in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4.23). Great Question and Great idea to create community on your Blog 🙂


  • i don’t think anybody should drink alcohol, wine,beer etc. my maternal grandad was a alcoholic. also his two sons. i will drink wine when it is made by JESUS because his wine tastes richer and gooder and don’t make you drunk or tipsy. i be learning this from john 2. don’t drink it in secret either.
    i like free choice and despise addictive, compulsive, slavery.

  • JulsLovesJesus

    As a pastor myself – I do not drink – at all, full stop. So, No, I personally don’t think Pastors should drink in public – but I also don’t think they should drink in private either? Any time behaviour has to be hidden, it becomes a dangerous weapen for the devil. Again you can find Scriptures for and against drinking – but I guess what God always brings back to me are the Nazarite vows (they were so set apart for God by following their traditions). I want to be able to be as sanctified as is possible in this corrupt world, and I believe that alcohol opens a doorway that is not always easy to close. Do I think drinking is a sin? Of course not – but just because it’s not a sin doesn’t mean it’s wise. I want people who are ministering to me to be sanctified. As a pastor or minister, we owe the people we minister to, to be set apart from the world.

  • What a awesome question to pose for opinions.I was raised that drinking was wrong..pastor or saint but through the years i find myself just falling before the Lord in humility and praying God keep me from ALL things that will cause a reproach on your ministry and may cause someone to stumble.My opinion (and its only mine not gospel)is if I am trying to keep justifying something more than not I need to leave it alone.I think we need to all just stay humble before God and I promise He will direct our paths.All you Pastors out there in my book “YOUR AWESOME” Lets build the Kingdom of God together.

  • kp_watson

    This is a great and interesting question. There is nothing wrong with having maybe a class or two of wine. When speaking of alcohol, I do not think it is appropriate for a pastor or any person in leadership having a strong drink in public or private. When a person represents God it is very important that the public life match up with the private life. If you are in the comfort of your own home and would like to take a drink that is between you and God, but remember that you must live what you preach. How can a pastor/leader preach and teach to their congregation about one thing a do the other.

  • Ssmith

    We have to ask ourselves, Is drinking the will (or desire) of God? It either is or it is not. After studying it immensely, I have discovered that it is NOT God’s will–therefore, it would be wrong to drink. The closer you get to God in your rel. the further He will draw you away from those things you “want” to do.

  • This makes me ask the same question about gluttony and about churches having potluck dinners where people pile their plates high and go back for second or third helpings. If we’re going to take the line of not causeing a weaker brother to stumble, lets get some consistency happening! Stop facilitating gluttony!

  • moseisrodriguez

    Here is what Paul says and I don’t think that he was being legalistic. “In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside. 1 Cor 9:24-27 (TLB) Even world-class atheletes are subjected to performance enhancement drug testing, and that is just for a medal or recognition by men. We agree with this type of scrutiny, after all, the kids are watching and learning from these athletes and what are we teaching them. In like manner, why would we lower the standard for pastors or for that matter Christians, who are called into this race by the Master Himself. Better to have nothing, this side of heaven, hindering our race, or disqualifying our testimony by indulging in freedoms. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable…” 1 Cor 6:12.

  • This is a problem all over, not just the Bible belt. There is nothing wrong with alcohol and to submit to these ludicrous expectations hands down is an abdication of personal space, Christian freedom, and just plain common sense. I seldom drink and when I do only with close friends and even then in moderation. The Church is so focused on the wrong things; pastors are not congregational trophies, “look how holy my pastor is… look at what a great speaker my pastor is… what a good man of God…” They are shepherds and teachers of Christ love and the radical grace of God; be more concerned with inward character than outward appearance and that character will be exhibited.

  • SPQR

    “There is nothing wrong with alcohol and to submit to these ludicrous expectations hands down is an abdication of personal space…”

    1 Corinthians 6:20
    For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    Your problem “Pastor” is that apparently you have not been bought, since you still wallow in your “personal space”

  • evanlineberry

    If someone has an issue with drinking its not the pastors problem to not drink in public and i can’t believe that christians are so narrow minded when it comes to issues like this. The issue now isn’t the drinking the issue is our judging. Kids have problems rebeling because of the religious pressures and boundaries that are set around them. When they find out that God is for them loves them no matter what they do then they make a personal choice to move towards him. If you have a problem drinking or any other personal problem you will never get free if you don’t stop blaming others for your problem and get help. When you take ownership of your “shit” then you gain control over your problems and have the ability to make a choice to move in a different direction. Blaming others and judging people does worse damage to others than drinking alcohol. If people get offended for someone drinking alcohol, that is their offense and their problem not the pastors. The church needs to step up and be the change God is calling us to be. Stop focusing on issues that offend you and start focusing on what offends nonchristians which is us! We are called to change the world and redeem Gods children from eternal death not seperate ourselves from them. If we don’t change as the world changes we will not save anyone living by 2000 year old traditions. Jesus’s life is a testimony for us to follow and he was crucified for bing different. #thinkaboutit

  • In controversial social issues, I always like to see what is congruent with our Lord.

    Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. (14) I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (15) Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. (16) Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; (17) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (18) For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. (19) Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. (20) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. (21) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. (22) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (23) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. Romans 14:13-23

  • lauraclaireD

    What’s done in the dark should be just as justified to do in the light. All leaders are held responsible for the example they set. Especially parents.

  • Drscottyjr

    This question is posed in a “clergy” fashion. There is such a thing as the “priesthood of all believers” so the question should go to any Christian. In fact, whether or where church members drink likely has more impact on community opinion than if a pastor has a glass of wine with his dinner in a restaurant.

    Finally: that wedding in Cana was a fairly public affair. Do you think Jesus had any of the wine He made/supplied for everyone?

  • Robertwseymore

    You can certainly make a case for and against alcohol in moderation, but
    I have always held to a premise of an example for the next generation. I
    try not to do anything public or private that I wouldn’t be comfortable letting
    my 13 year old do. There’s two many good things I can do as a positive example
    to waste time on the disputable matters. But I am also comfortable in a setting
    with unchurched friends developing redeeming relationships regardless of their
    values on the topic.

  • Pingback: Voiko pastori juoda alkoholia julkisesti? « sähkö

  • I’ve not met an unbeliever yet for whom a pastor drinking alcohol is a problem. In my experience it has been other believers. That said, having spend most of my life in the Bible Belt, and then moving to Milwaukee, I believe that it has a great deal to do with the culture (tradition) of the community.

  • I don’t think that a pastor who may indulge at home is a hypocrite by not drinking in public. I know pastors who abstain completely, and some who drink wine or may put Kahlua on their ice cream or have a beer watching the game.
    The fire & brimstone attitude against ‘demon alcohol’ is outdated. The bible does not condemn imbibing, rather getting drunk.
    However, one’s behavior in public matters. I agree with the “stumbling block” idea – if you do something that may require explanation or is open to misinterpretation, just how important is it that you do it? Better to err on the side of caution, I would say.
    I grew up Southern Baptist and remember my pastor was disgusted at a picture of Ronald Reagan hoisting a beer. I don’t believe he had any alcohol in the house! LOL
    BTW, my brother is a Baptist Preacher.

  • Larry Shallenberger

    It depends on the church you are pastoring. If you are confronting legalism, then yes, it would be strategic to lift a glass in public on occasion.

  • Brint Keyes

    Great question – good insights. When I was a mission worker in Thailand, I never drank in front of Thai people, because I learned very early on that “social drinking” is not a phenomenon in Thailand (at least, not in the northern areas where I lived). Rather, drinking was an activity that was almost exclusively male, and pursued for the sole purpose of getting roaring drunk. Accordingly, I KNEW what conclusions other Thais would draw if they saw me drinking. However, every Friday night, I would have a beer with the four other anglos in my town, most of whom were Peace Corps volunteers who had been out in villages for the week. To them, my having a beer was about as unremarkable as an afternoon rain.

    At Cana, Jesus supplied MORE wine for the wedding guests WHO HAD ALREADY FINISHED OFF ALL THE WINE THAT THE HOSTS HAD PROVIDED. No matter how I try, I can’t square that action of our Lord’s with a doctrine that says wine – or drinking wine – is sinful. I can’t honestly imagine ANY purpose for that wine — in that situation — other than to help the guests “enjoy” the party a little more (or longer). Having said that, I also think that Bishop J above has a wise observation: if you find yourself using any of the “pro-drinking” arguments above with any frequency in order to justify your behavior before God, then the Spirit is trying to get your attention. Sin is less a matter of WHAT a person does than WHY s/he does it. In this world, there’s nothing so good that Satan can’t corrupt it, and nothing so bad that the Lord can’t redeem it.

    I’m also grateful for Jason Gramke’s posting of the passage that most of us are touching upon. Without opening a discussion of the Greek, I would humbly suggest that Paul here may be talking about an actual situation rather than a hypothetical one. V. 15 states, “if your brother IS grieved,” not, “if there’s a possibility that someone, somewhere, MIGHT be grieved…” The truth is (as others have already stated), there is NOTHING that any of us does that can’t be used by someone else as material for taking offense. We cannot control other people’s thoughts or behavior (cf. Jesus’ “sinful” association with prostitutes and tax collectors – weren’t there a lot of people who were offended by that?) However, I submit that when Paul here says, “IS grieved” (instead of “MIGHT BE grieved”), he is saying that you are NOT being faithful or loving if you use the Law as a shield to justify yourself or your actions even when you KNOW that what you are doing is having an adverse effect upon a brother or sister’s walk. If you know that what you are doing is causing a brother to stumble, yet you persist in doing it because, “according to scripture, it’s not a sin,” then you are not acting in love; you are using scripture to justify and excuse yourself at the expense of a brother’s well-being. The pastor who insists on drinking when a congregation is upset by it – and insists on continuing to do so because it’s not a sin (cf. Jesus at Cana) – is guilty of pride. The pastor who is approached by congregants with concerns and questions about his drinking, and who uses that situation as an occasion for teaching and dialogue – on BOTH sides — opens everyone’s hearts to the working of the Spirit and the possibility of deepening people’s faith. Yet, having said that, if the pastor is to be faithful to the gospel and to Paul’s exhortation, then I would say he must enter into this teaching and discussion fully willing to stop his drinking if the outcome of the teaching and discussion is that the congregation feels it’s hurtful.

    I say “congregation” because, again, you will always be able to find someone who will take offense at some random thing I do, be it the brand of dental floss I use, or the way I shake hands, or the color tie that I wear. We are not called to practice defensive ministry, but to go forth in humble service, confident not in our own justification but in the justification of the blood shed on the Cross.

    My $.02 – thanks for the forum, brother.

  • It’s not a matter of drinking in public, it’s a matter of excessive drinking in public. I was in Atlanta at a venue to see one of my friends bands play with John Mark McMillan(very well know Christian artist) and the pastors from my church were all there(my friend is a pastor’s kid) and all of them had a drink in their hand, and other well-know worship leaders, etc. from the area were there with a drink in their hand. BUT not a single one of them was drunk. If having a glass of wine or a beer when you’re out to dinner with friends/family or having a drink at a show is okay for non-pastoral people then it’s okay for pastors too, just as long as their staying as far away from excess just like everyone else should too.

  • “Should a pastor drink in public?” Honestly, I don’t really understand the question.

    First, I believe that whatever a pastor does or does not do in his own home should be the same as what he does in public. I’m very opposed to the idea of living two lives (i.e. the church/home life, and the hanging with friends life. The two should be the same for no other reason than integrity).

    Second, I see little difference between a pastor or other church leader and any given spirit filled Christian. We are all ambassadors of Christ no matter who signs our paychecks. We should all be held to the same standards.

    However, in an attempt to answer the original question, I’d simply look to the example given in Jesus. Prepare to be shocked, but he did drink alcohol. Not just in private but also in public settings. He even supplied the wine for others to drink.

    Some of the attitudes here are quite contrary to Jesus’s example. Jesus would never avoid situations with real people just so he could avoid someone misinterpreting his actions for evil or sin. If you read the NT, this actually happens ALL THE TIME. Pharisees constantly attack him for holding an appearance of evil when, in fact, he was totally w/o sin. If you are attempting to appear holy by avoiding all association with anything that could ever possibly be interpreted as evil, then you are aligning yourself more with the legalistic Pharisees than with Christ.

  • Canuck

    I would like to add three things to the mix.

    1.) Freedom – “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. 1 Cor 10:23

    2.) Purpose & Love – Creation’s purpose is to glorify God. Everything we do should be part of this and done in love. Specific actions and situations may open one up to different responses but remember your purpose. Does each action serve it? Is it done in love to God and others?

    3.) Reality – 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year
    ***At least once a year, the guidelines for low risk drinking are exceeded by an estimated 74% of male drinkers and 72% of female drinkers aged 21 and older.
    ***Nearly 14 million Americans meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders.
    ***Youth who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than those who never drink alcohol.

    Are Pastors part of the problem or the solution?

    BTW there is no Pastor category in the Bible, so maybe you should include church leaders and teachers in this question.

  • Titus 1:7-8 (New King James Version)

    7 For a bishop (or leader in the church) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,

  • Shepard~..~

    Public is that big giant place were any and everything can be heard or seen . Whatever we perceive might happen at any given time or day has already happened at some point in time . If you saw your pastor in the local watering hole tossing back drinks.. would you think he was drinking grape juice .Of course not…we are not taught to think that way.. we would think he was getting plastered.If you saw a man running out of a bank with a bag in his hand we would think he robbed it..not trying to return it to someone who just forgot it. In other words we think to much. If someone keeps calling you a donkey turn around and see if you have a tail.
    Don’t drink …if you do don’t get drunk.

  • Jesus made wine as his first public miracle…. Nough said!!! (LOL)John 2:1-11

  • I did a message on Christian Radio about this subject. It’s funny how Pastors and congregation’s, teach such things are sinful. Is it a sin to feel good? If Jesus never sinned, or stayed away from the appearance of evil, would he have turned the water to wine, been partying with the publicans, drank himself? The same people who think alcohol is wrong are the same ones that go out and eat like pigs, horde their money, gossip, lie, cheat, etc. Drunkenness, abuse,or to overdue something is the sin, not the thing you are doing.

    Makes me laugh when I see pastors and Christians so boxed up in themselves and busy boxing God in, thinking they are righteous in what they do. They must really have some mental block or something. Even something like Marijuana, God created it and no man should make a law prohibiting something He made to make you feel good. I can see laws against things that are chemically treated and altered to something unnatural and a killer, but that is it.

    People make decisions like this based on fear, experience with something bad that they see happened, misinformation, etc. If these people do not believe in Alcohol and feeling good then take away all their Tylenol, aspirin, high blood pressure medicine, Percocet’s, anti-depressants, etc. that make them feel good! They are all prejudice and do not know the truth and that is a bigger stumbling block then anything else!

    Come visit my Church when I open, I’ll have a wine cellar with anointed wines, and beer. And I will also go ahead and put my own Cracker Barrel out front to catch the money on the way out to!

    Love, Amedeo

    • Michael Jer936

      In my opinion, God doesn’t want us to harm ourselves in anyway. And regarding the first miracle of Jesus, find out what the original Hebrew and Greek meanings are of wine. I wouldn’t think Jesus was Messiah who indulged on intoxicating wine.

      • That’s not true. Notice what the master of the banquet says to the bridegroom in John 2, that most people bring out the best wine first and then, after people are too drunk to notice, they bring out the cheap stuff. He goes on to say that the wine that had been transformed by Christ was better than the wine at the beginning of the evening. That doesn’t sound like grape juice to me. 

  • gompers

    Since when is the noun a sin? When did money become the root of all evil and consuming alcohol become a sin? It’s the LOVE of money that is the root of evil. It’s the lack of self control and being under the influence of something other than the Person of the Holy Spirit that crosses the line to sin. Are we suggesting that the perfect, righteous Son of God committed sin when Jesus had wine? Certainly we wouldn’t dare suggest that Jesus committed sin?Let’s not be so narrow minded as to suggest that the consumption of alcohol-regaurdless of location-is a sin. And when I travel to South Africa to minister there and it’s culturally acceptable to say words deemed as curse words in our culture do I then start to drop f-bombs? No, so let’s not let culture determine what is sin, but let the flawless Words of God make that determination. I too would prefer my pastor to be the same man in public as he is in private.

    • Stormy0358

      Jesus did not have wine. Show me the scripture.

      • Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man came both eating and drinking and you say, “He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend to tax collectors and sinners.” 

        Matthew 26:27 “Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and offered to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you.”

        • James Wharton

          Bro I never saw that until now…that was awesome & I totally agree with you in essence…Matthew 15:11
          11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

    • myself

      I know a pastor who drinks beer and smokes weed on the regular. Frankly when I hear him talk it makes me angry.

  • Justin

    I love the lord he is my savior and my God. All i have is one question… Somebody give me a time when alcohol helped them or a time when wine did more good then bad….weigh the odds here people has alocohol in our society done more to help or to destroy??? Is alcohol potentially more dangerous than it is helpful??? Let the holy spirit and the word guide our decisions as the set apart holy people of God. We should at all times consider our behavior as to wether or not our choices help others to God or not…

  • Dave


  • Bruce Slater

    In the Old Testament the Priests were told to abstain from wine when they were doing priestly duties. This is somthing Paul picks up on when he tells Bishops and church leaders to BE SOBER. It is difficult to be sober with alcohol in your mouth. However Paul also tells the old women that they should not drink too much wine (Titus). Lucky old women can have their Hot Toddies’s while the church leaders should stick to an OJ – to not cause anyone to stumble.

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