Jesus’ first recorded miracle was when he changed water into wine at the Wedding at Cana. Not only was it wine, but it was good wine (John 2:10). So, as a matter of sinful behavior, how are we to look at alcohol consumption? There are many strict Fundamental Christians that would tell you that it is a sin to drink alcohol. In fact, it is an immoral act under any circumstance. So, what should a Christian think and understand about the moral implication of consuming alcohol? What does the Catholic Church teach about it?
Well, I get a chuckle when I think of this story about this subject of temperance:
There was a minister who was completing a temperance sermon one Sunday morning and as he concluded, he said with great emphasis; “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river.” With an even greater emphasis he said, “And if I had all the wine in the world, Id take it and pour it all in the river.” And then finally, shaking his fist in the air, he said, “And …if I had all the whiskey in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river.” Well, with that his sermon was complete, so he sat down. Then, the song leader stood up and announced with a smile on his face, “For our closing song, let us sing Hymn #365, ‘Shall We Gather at the River.’”
Alcohol consumption in moderation is not immoral. There is no sin in the moderate use of alcohol, just like there is no sin in the moderate consumption of cheesecake or any other food and drink. But, we should avoid the abuse of alcohol, just as we should avoid the abuse of any food, drug, or other substance. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way, “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air (CCC #2290).” St. Paul warns of consuming to much alcohol when he says, “let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy (Romans 13:13).”
The question some might ask is where do we draw the line when it comes to consuming alcohol? Where does it cross the line from moderate consumption to excess consumption? Well, it becomes sinful when you have consumed enough alcohol to the point that it impairs your mental processes or effects your intellect. We are creatures of intellect and will, so we are not to abuse those faculties or shut them down. So, if you get to the point where you don’t know where you are, you don’t know what you are doing, or you don’t know what you just said, then you have crossed the line. At that point your intellect has been adversely effected and you are drunk, which is a sin. If you consume enough alcohol to where you have a “buss” or feel at ease or comfortable, then that would not cross the line because your mental faculties would still be intact. Every person is different, so how much is to much would be different for each individual person.
Until next time, God bless.