What Would Jesus Brew?
Welcome to an essential brewvana series. Discussing The Role of Beer in a Christian Life OR The Role of Christianity in a Beery Life, “The Gospel According to St. Arnold” will be a Wednesday feature here at brewvana for the next few weeks.
If you missed the Preface, you can find it here.
If you missed Part 1–I smell a Pharisee, you can find it here.
If you missed Part 2–St. Arnold, Beer and Church Connections, you can find it here.
What would He brew? Well, we know he made wine. But to quote a popular bumper sticker to sort out our Christian beer dilemma: “What Would Jesus Do?” Borrowing guidance again (as we did in Part 1) from Daniel Whitfield’s, “Alcohol and the Bible,” let’s take a look.
Several of the Bible’s scriptures regarding wine involve Jesus himself. If Jesus is never to have sinned, we must drop the notion that drinking wine is a sin. Dispute over. He drank wine.
But prohibitionists are a determined lot.
“No, no, no,” some charge. It wasn’t really wine. If it was, then, grape juice, it seems a little odd that the Bible would contain warnings against drunkenness and the abuse of wine.
Those that admit the Bible’s wine to be alcoholic, but not to the level of today’s wine overlook the 20 references to people in the Bible getting drunk. Whatever the ABV, inebriation was an inherent possibility given the level of sugars with which God blessed the grape. Let’s call a spade a spade. Jesus drank alcoholic wine. Christians, then, shouldn’t consider imbibing a sin.
Not only do we have record that Jesus drank wine (sinlessly), scripture also states that He made the stuff–miraculously–at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). (This is the part about Jesus that non-believers and beer drinkers particularly enjoy. Why Christians wouldn’t use this to witness, I’ll never know.) As the story goes, the celebration flowed so freely that the wine supply was nearly gone, something that would have meant intense embarrassment to the host. Further, it seemed unlikely that the guests would notice the difference between good wine and something boxed.
Mary asked Jesus to address the problem, and He obliged–with somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons. Call me a broken record, but it seems odd for a Christian prohibitionist’s (CP) argument to be taken seriously when this example of behavior of the faith’s cornerstone is recorded in scripture.
In further Biblical references to Jesus and wine, we learn that the Pharisees accused him of being a drunkard in an effort to discredit him–because he ate and drank openly (Luke 7:33). Three of the four Gospels record that Jesus “took the cup” to establish communion during the Lord’s Supper. As this was the Passover, Whitfield asserts that the cup would have contained wine.
Our friends the Pharisees saw fault in Jesus’ tendency to hang around sinners. What did Jesus say? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 12-13)
While CPs frequently use the Bible to advance their arguments and preferences on others, it is clear that a comprehensive look at the Bible’s references to wine and strong drink (including those associated with Christ Himself) render these arguments cavalier and foolhardy.
These same opponents to the inclusion of alcohol in a responsible livelihood occasionally argue that modern-day drinking is far more prevalent and far more deadly. While I’d hasten to agree that driving a car while intoxicated runs a greater risk of death and extensive property damage than riding a mule or piloting a chariot, this concern is a cultural one, not a spiritual or moral one. Sin is a moral issue.
Conservative Christians have avoided striking moral issues from the Bible (adultery, for example), but against the Bible’s wishes, these same groups seek to add alcohol to the list of sins–despite the fact that it didn’t even make the Top Ten (the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament) or the Top Seven (Seven Deadly Sins from the New Testament).
Total abstinence won’t work, won’t help and won’t happen. Total education, starting in the home, stands to contribute an unfathomable benefit to this societal issue.
What would Jesus brew? Something deep and complex. And something that ages well. What would Jesus do? I think He would drink a beer. And I think he would speak kindly to those that drink beer. But in order to find a good answer to this question, we may need to delve into sex and money.
Coming Wednesday, December 26: Part 4 –Solving Christians’ Drinking Problems with Sex and Money