Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #6: Thou shalt not drink!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 12, 2016 and has been revised.


My wife and I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church from 1983 to 1991. The pastor of our church, like all independent fundamental Baptist pastors, passionately disapproved of Christians drinking alcoholic beverages. I’m not 100% positive, but he may have preached against the “sin” of consuming alcohol more than any other “sin.”

I’ve read through the Bible many times and I’m very aware of the many verses that warn against abusing alcohol and drunkenness. But I’m also aware of the many passages that seem to permit moderate consumption of alcohol. The Jews grew grapes and made wine. Wine was a big part of ancient Jewish culture. Well water was often unsafe to drink and Jews used wine as their standard beverage. Our pastor claimed good Jews only drank unfermented grape juice, but there are many Bible passages that contradict that claim. Even Jesus referred to the danger of fermenting new wine in old wineskins (Matthew 9:16-17). It’s very doubtful Jesus changed water into unfermented grape juice at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:1-12). Would the master of ceremonies have marveled at the excellence of the beverage if it were grape juice? I can’t tell the difference between Welch’s grape juice or the generic brand.

Complete abstention from alcohol was the absolute standard at our church and it was a litmus test of spirituality. If you drank ANY beer, wine, or liquor, you were deemed to be an immature believer. I enjoyed the taste of a cold beer on a hot summer day, so I asked an older brother in the Lord if it was okay to drink non-alcoholic beer (0.5% alcohol). He said drinking NA beer gave the appearance of sin and advised to abstain from that as well. Hmm.

I knew Christians who would walk fifty-miles barefoot before they would allow a drop of beer or wine to touch their lips, but I saw some hypocrisy in that. What about coffee? That’s right, no one ever got drunk on coffee, but caffeine is addictive and it alters behavior. Is drinking coffee a sin? Also, a Christian might forsake a bottle of beer but enthusiastically chow down a half-dozen cream-filled donuts. Wouldn’t addiction to sugar also be a sin? Many of the congregants at our IFB church who shouted out hearty “Amens” when the pastor preached against alcohol were seriously overweight. They proudly never touched a glass of wine, but they were addicted to food. The pastor himself was obese. Which is worse, “defiling” your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, with a single glass of wine or with a greasy Big Mac and fries?

I totally agree; Christians should never be drunk or allow themselves to become addicted to alcohol. The Bible is clear on that. But moderation in all things. Too often churches get siderailed on the standard “pet” sins and behaviors and avoid addressing others. Yes, I’m very aware of the damage alcohol abuse has done in the lives of many people and their families. Some individuals can’t stop at one drink. They should obviously avoid alcohol altogether.

I realize many Christians will disagree with me on this issue. It’s up to each believer to do what is right according to their beliefs as the Lord leads. But for me, enjoying a single cold beer after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day is not a sin.

What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol / wine? Is it a sin for a Christian to drink alcohol / wine?

Is it okay for Christians to drink alcohol?

15 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: IFB Memories #6: Thou shalt not drink!

  1. I agree… it is the abuse of alcohol that’s the problem – and it is a big problem in many people I know. Although I don’t personally drink, I know that a small amount of alcohol can be used medicinally for flues and colds too. As you say, some people would be against this but don’t see the sin in abusing their bodies by over-eating all the wrong foods.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Alcohol abuse is no doubt a big problem and now consumption of cannabis is being legalized across the U.S. I personally know some Christians who are addicted to alcohol. They’re “functioning” alcoholics rather than “gutter drunks.” I certainly understand why many believers choose to abstain from alcohol, but I object to pastors and churches that browbeat people and use alcohol consumption as a spiritual litmus test. The pastor I mentioned who preached so vehemently against consuming alcohol was convicted this past year for sexually abusing two children.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Tom, and I agree with all you said. I love the way you said this: ” Many of the congregants at our IFB church who shouted out hearty “Amens” when the pastor preached against alcohol were seriously overweight.”


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Good one! 😄 We were taught ALL rock music with its hypnotic “jungle beat” was of the devil. All of my LPs went into the dumpster, but after I left the church I repurchased many of them as CDs. Two decades later, I took two-thirds of them to the used record/CD shop for pennies on the dollar because I no longer listened to them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t see anything wrong in having a cold beer or a glass of wine once in a while, but if I was in the company of someone who had a problem with alcohol I would abstain so as to not add to their problem. I bought a six pack three years ago and it took me two years to get rid of it (Bud Light no less) and I gave two away! One would hope that common sense would prevail but such is not always the case. Blessings Tom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bruce. I’m glad you brought up that point. Yes, I would definitely take it into account if a guest had a problem with alcohol or was a Christian who believed drinking alcohol was sinful.

      This reminds me of another liberty issue. I related previously how my wife and I went to a Chinese restaurant with another Christian couple and they spent five minutes pulling the pork strands out of their complimentary egg rolls because they believed the Old Testament dietary laws banning the consumption of pork were still in effect. In that case I ate my egg rolls after I told them their beliefs blatantly contradicted New Testament teaching and I did not want to be a party to it. The question of alcohol consumption is admittedly less “black and white” than that of pork consumption.


      1. Thanks, Bruce. Yup, Matt 23:23-24 is pertinent. In independent fundamental Baptist circles back then there was an inordinate amount of focus on those kinds of Christian liberty questions, like whether women could wear pants or have short hair or whether men could have beards or long hair that reached below their collar.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post! Yeah I can see how IFB and some who are from that background can get hung up about drinking. I know that while MacArthur isn’t fully a Cultural fundamentalist, that was his root and there’s guys in the Seminary that saw drinking as a big thing or they tell me how their IFB days there’s a lot about “don’t drink, don’t chew, don’t go out with girls that do…”
    There’s a fine line with legalism and license, between Gospel obedience and liberty…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! Within fundamentalist culture it seemed like Christianity was primarily about toeing the IFB party line in regards to the “marquee” sins. Little joy, mostly guilt and shame.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. God has been gracious with me sparing me from IFB in my church experience knowing how my fighting nature and love for polemics and love of the US can easily go overboard in an IFB setting…


  5. I was thinking I must have really done something to ya since you didn’t respond. Hard to respond when I didn’t hit the post button 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ It is sad how divisive this issue is. We don’t drink, but when folks come for dinner they bring their own. Drunkenness is a serious offense in the Bible as you note. Gluttony is also an offense and Christians ignore this one big time.

    How’s work?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mandy! I’m glad I can now write about the IFB from a very long distance. The culture took the joy out of being a Christian. All about guilt and shame.
      I totally respect the view of believers who refrain from alcohol. I knew a few believers who are weekend alcoholics and embarrass themselves at gatherings. Not a good testimony.
      RE: Work
      Thanks! Yesterday was brutal as it will be today, but tomorrow is looking good. Hope you have a good weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

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