An Argument From Deuteronomy For Social Drinking?

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It is written:

Deuteronomy 14:26-And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

In this passage, Moses discusses how the people may use their funds to purchase and indulge in “wine or similar drink.”

Does this mean that the people were allowed by God to indulge in drunken festivals?

No, it doesn’t.

First, the recreational abuse of drugs (including alcohol) are condemned by God numerous times in the Bible (both Old and New Testaments). There are at least 76 passages of Scripture documenting this (cf. Genesis 9:20-26; 19:30-38; Leviticus 10:9-11; Numbers 6:3; Deuteronomy 21:20; 29:5-6; 32:33; Judges 13:4, 7, 14; 1 Samuel 1:14-15; 25:32-38; 2 Samuel 11:13; 13:28-29; 1 Kings 16:8-10; 20:12-21; Esther 1:5-12; Psalm 75:8; Proverbs 4:17; 20:1; 23:19-20; 23:21; 23:29-30; 23:31; 23:32; 23:33; 23:34; 23;35; 31:4-5; 31:6-7; Ecclesiastes 2:3; 10:7; Isaiah 5:11-12, 22; 19:14; 22:12-13; 24:9; 28:1, 3, 7, 8; 56:9-12; Jeremiah 35:2-14; Ezekiel 44:21; Daniel 1:5-17; 5:1, 2, 3, 4, 23; Hosea 4:11; 7:5; Joel 1:5; 3:3; Amos 2:8; Micah 2:11; Nahum 1:10; Habakkuk 2:5, 15, 16; Matthew 24:48-51; Luke 1:15; 12:45; 21:34; Romans 13:13; 14:21; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7; 1 Timothy 3:2-3, 8, 11; Titus 1:7-8; 2:2-3, 11; 1 Peter 4:3-4).

Second, what then is the meaning of this text in Deuteronomy?

“Some have supposed that Deut. 14 : 26 furnishes authority for the use of intoxicating drinks, but a careful examination will show that it does not. It is, however, a passage which has sometimes perplexed, and perhaps misled, the mere English scholar. “And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth.” The Hebrew word, here rendered strong drink, is shechar, and literally means, saccharine, or sweet drink. There is a long and very able article on this word, in Dr. Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, which, it seems to us, must satisfy any man. The author has gone into a thorough examination of the primary and original meaning of shechar, and tells us that it denotes: 1. Luscious saccharine drink. 2. Date wine or honey, as it was frequently called, in its fresh and unfermented state. 3. And lastly, it is used for date wine, or honey, after fermentation, and sometimes as mixed with drugs. But from a careful examination of the history of the term, it appears that it was never used in this last sense, till some time after the overthrow of the Jewish polity. There is, therefore, nothing in the original and proper meaning of “shechar” 1 analogous to the idea we get from the term strong drink. It is the sweet, or saccharine sap, or honey of the date tree.Our word, sugar, may be traced back, through the Arabic, to this Hebrew word, shechar. Num. 24 : 7. Among the offerings mentioned in this passage, we find “strong wine” to be poured out before the Lord. These offerings were all to be “without blemish,” the very best, the richest, most costly. Strong wine as here used means simply rich wine.” (Ralph S. Crampton, The Wine Of The Bible, 293-316 (Kindle Edition); books)

We would be wise to stay away from the recreational abuse of drugs (including alcohol) as the Word of God teaches.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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