Alcoholism is defined as a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. Alcoholics aren't able to drink casually or in moderation. Rather, they have a compulsive desire to pick up the bottle and depend on it to get through each day.
This is a constant, daily battle for alcoholics. While many of them do not want to continue drinking, they are unable to stop themselves. It can stem from places of depression, anxiety and other heartbreak.
What does God say to these types of people? While many of us understand that some alcohol in moderation is alright in God's eyes, what does God have to say to the alcoholic that can't put down the bottle?
Bible Verses on Alcoholism
Being drunk is considered a sin in the Bible, as noted in Isaiah 5:11 and Proverbs 23:20–21 just to name a few. Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” As you have probably seen before, those who get too drunk lose their ability to control themselves effectively. Ephesians 5:18 further says, “Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” As Christians, we should be letting the Holy Spirit and God control our each and every move. When we get drunk, we are letting the alcohol and addition control us rather than the Father. Being blacked out is never alright for the Christian, because we would no longer being "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16).
As with any addiction, alcoholism is also a form of idolatry. Anything that gets in the way of your relationship with God is considered idolatry, which can even include things such as your phone and relationships. God has some strong words for those that worship false idols (Exodus 20:3, 34:14, 1 John 5:21, 1 Corinthians 12). Alcoholics rely on their drink to give them value, worth, and significance where we should be asking God to provide us with that confidence. Alcoholism is not a choice for many, but rather a disease. However the choice to not get help and not work towards getting clean and sober is going against what God wants for us. God holds us accountable for our choices, including trying to overcome the things that separate us from Him (Romans 14:12, Ecclesiastes 11:9, Hebrews 4:13).
The Bible further tells us that our bodies are holy temples given us to God. 1 Corinthians 6:1 says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received of God?...Therefore honor God with your body”.
When we consume alcohol, we are putting our bodies through extra stress. Proverbs 23:31 even compares win to being like snake venom and poison. Our bodies should be a vessel for God to use to spread His Word out to others. When we abuse our bodies, we are not allowing Him to use it for good.
Christian Response to Alcoholics
The effects of drunkenness are very obvious, so sometimes it can seem like a worse sin than others. However it's important to remember that the Bible does not make any distinctions between sins. Drunkenness is more compared to sins like envy and selfish ambition (Galatians 5:19, 1 Corinthians 6:10) than to ones we might think as "more" serious. As Christians, it's important that we do not pass judgment on those who struggle with the disease. God does not find these people repulsive, even if they are falling-down drunk. God still sees them as His children, and wants to help them and give them salvation.
Followers of Christ, however, should not be complicit in the sins of others especially when it is destroying someone (James 5:20). If you have a friend of family member that is an alcoholic and you enable their disease in any way, you are actively still participating in their sin. We should love the alcoholics in our lives as Christ loves us, however we should be encouraging them to get the desperate help they need.
Hope For Alcoholics
For those that struggle with the disease, it can be comforting to know that there is help available and that God will support you. Rather than condemning alcoholics, God focuses on helping them to find salvation. The belief that "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic" is true in the sense that an alcoholic can never go back to drinking again, or else they will be consumed by its power. However God can give them the strength to overcome the grip alcohol can hold on someone.
Matthew 6:34 tells us to "live one day at a time. Each day has enough trouble of its own". This is an empowering reminder to alcoholics that it's okay to take things day by day. There will be days when you will fail and pick up that shot glass. However there will also be days where you feel alive again, and that you are taking control of your life back. Romans 12:2 tells us that God can transform us by renewing our minds. When we put faith in Him and trust in the recovery process, we can become completely new, reborn Christians.
While some drinking in moderation can be okay for the average Christian, there are millions of people each year that find themselves unable to control their desire for alcohol. Alcoholism is a terrible disease that can ruin the lives of even the most devout Christians. It does not discriminate. God, though, can show alcoholics the way out and give them hope for a new future.