On wine

Farmer Tom engages in mild pharasaics:

I content that alcoholic drink is not necessary for the Christian walk, may be harmful to the Christian walk and should be avoided.

True, true, false. Anything can be harmful to the Christian walk, from alcohol to zebras. Sure, you or I may be able to look at a zebra without lust in our hearts, but pity the poor brother equiphile.

The good farmer’s points are quite familiar to me, as a Southern Baptist, and they are wildly, even ludicrously unconvincing. First, dealing with the etymology, new wine is not grape juice. It is an alcholic beverage that should never be kept in the back of a car when driving over a mountain pass; had I kept in mind the saying about not putting new wine in old skins, the back of our car might not have smelled of yeast for a year.

Second, only a teetotaller could buy into anything as silly as the idea that Jesus turned the water into grape juice. There is no such thing as quality when it comes to grape juice, but anyone who has ever been to a wedding has drunk the cheap merlots and cabernets that are served to the masses. The wedding guests were likely surprised because Jesus gave them something velvety and smooth, with a mellow, full-body flavor that contrasted greatly with the bitter and tannin-heavy inferior stuff that preceded it.

I’ve drunk everything from Night Train to Italian wines so good they don’t even think of exporting them and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Jesus Christ was not only a wine drinker, but was a bit of an oenophile to boot. When even the teetotaller’s Scriptural references are nonsensical, it should be quite obvious that this is one of the many examples of Man using the Bible as a mirror instead of as a guide.

As for the weaker brother argument, I would neither serve wine to an alcoholic nor drink it in front of someone I knew was struggling to control it. But you can make a better Scriptural case that to spurn wine is to spurn Jesus Christ than to argue that Christianity is incompatible with drinking alchohol in moderation.