Beer and Bible – My Thoughts!

Two men walk into a bar.  One says to the other…

It seems to be the way this story should start.  Two guys, in the heart of Mormon country, trying to bring the Bible to people right where they are.  Even if that means, going to a bar.  If you haven’t seen the video, please watch it here first.

It’s obvious that this will not be a cut and dry issue for some.  There are many Christian people who will have a big problem with it.  A verse of Scripture, or two, will be used to try to prove their point; either for or against.  Some will come right out and say that Christians have no business in a bar, let alone drinking alcohol.  Scripture and a Greek word or two will be used to make the case for abstinence from all alcohol.  Some will be very excited that the Gospel is being taught to people, even if it is in a bar with a beer in hand.

Chances are, I will not bring total clarity to this topic, nor will every single person who reads this post, agree with what I have to say.  Still, I wanted to weigh in on the topic.

It is possible that the biggest obstacle to this topic is that beer is involved.  Let’s be honest, the initial reaction for many Christians is to put up a defense when the words beer or bar are used.  Anyone caught in a bar or with an alcoholic beverage are automatically wrong and therefore can not be ordained or used by God in any way.  My opinion is that Scripture is not black and white on alcohol.  There is a lot of gray in that topic in and of itself.  The only Scriptural mandate that is a command for us to follow regarding alcohol is Ephesians 5:18 (NLT) which says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Without a doubt, getting drunk is called sin in Scripture.  However, having a drink of alcohol is not called sin.

I guess for me, the heart of the issue is the way we view people.  We spend time with the people we love.  We spend time with people we care for.  We give of ourselves for people that mean something to us.  When I hear a Christian say that they can’t be seen in a bar, my first thought is how they view “those” people.  Jesus spoke very strongly about that very attitude.  Matthew 21:31 (NLT) He warns the religious elite, “Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.”  Or what about this encounter in Luke 5:30-32 (NLT) – “Jesus answered them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.'”

The heart of Jesus ached so badly for people who needed Him, that He would be seen in unimaginable places.  One of his best friends had a sister that was a prostitute.  You see, the root of the issue is not beer, or even a bar.  The real issue is, “Do I see people the way Jesus does?”  And if I do, shouldn’t I be willing to go to the ends of the earth to share the message of Jesus with them?  Could it be that for some Christians, the bar is the “ends of the earth?”  Or in the terms of an Old Testament prophet named Jonah, could it be that some Christians Nineveh, is the bar?  When I don’t view people through the eyes of Jesus, there are just some places I won’t go.  When I don’t care for them the way Jesus does, there are just some places that I can’t go for fear of my own appearance and reputation, taking a shot.

I once heard a Christian talk about going door-to-door, inviting people to church.  They went door-to-door in the “nice” neighborhoods, but when they got close to the “not-so-nice” neighborhoods, they just skipped past.

We view people through a lens.  That lens is tainted a certain way based on our upbringing, our culture, or what we were always taught was right.  God doesn’t see people that way.  He sees us all the same.  He went through the pain of watching His Son die for “them” as much as He did for you and me.  And if that is the truth, and if we really believe it, then the first place Christians should want to go, is to a bar, or wherever else the people are that need the Jesus that died for them.

You don’t have to go to a bar to be a good Christian.  You don’t have to stay away from one to be a good Christian.  If the Holy Spirit is convicting you to stay away, then please follow His guidance.  If the Holy Spirit is guiding you to the bar, then please follow His guidance.


About Stan Rodda

Follower. Husband. Father. Shepherd. Apostle. Husker.

Posted on March 21, 2010, in Church, discipleship, evangelism, missional communities, social settings, the basics, the culture, the nation. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Hi Stan,

    I’ve had discussions with a friend who was a Baptist. He felt I was sinning by going to Happy Hour and have a couple drinks along with the music played at the restaurant or bar. We would go round and round on it. He was raised to belief NO drinking at all if you are a true Christian.

    I wrestled with that for awhile and brushed him off. I felt I need to go to a mentor that I trusted. I went to her and asked her thoughts and what the bible said.

    They way she explained it to me was this: If her and I went to a bar and she was an alcoholic and got drunk, that is considered a sin. If I went, not an alcoholic and didn’t get drunk, I’m not sinning.

    I watched the video you posted and saw comments that people left. It will be interesting to see other feedback.

    My thoughts are that the bible doesn’t forbid drinking, but as you stated, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    I loved the part about Christians staying away from those they don’t follow Jesus the way they think they should. Jesus wants us to love everyone! That’s why I love NLCC, the motto is to accept everyone from all walks of life.

    Just my input!


  2. You have a way of putting into words EXACTLY how I feel on this topic. Jesus died for all of us! “Those people” deserve his love just as the rest of us do. I have what I think is a great example of “real life” for this topic.

    My uncle. All his life his been a big guy. One that when you see him, can be very intimidating. He spent his teen years and young adulthood in bars and taverns. You messed with anyone he was with, he went off. Yes, some considered him a drunk at that time. He struggled with this for years. Fast forward through his life to about 4 years ago.

    His wife comes to him and says, he needs church. He balks at it what seems like forever. Whines and moans that he doesn’t need the church and “religion”. She starts to go, he continues to drink and do nothing. Then, his daughter ran away. Her face was plastered on the news even. He had tried everything. My aunt’s uncle, suggested that my uncle stop and pray. Once again, my uncle balked. Went back to his bottle and tried to make sense of it all. He was ready to give up. 2 weeks into my cousin missing, he was told again that a prayer may do a lot. He finally gave in. He prayed for her to be safe and come home. An hour after that prayer ended, the phone rang. It was my cousin and she was coming home. My uncle dropped to his knees and gave thanks to a God that he never believed in until that moment.

    One month later, my uncle gave his life to Christ and was baptized. I sat in my seat at the church crying in awe of what God can do. When I see him in church every week I am still in awe of it. My aunt, Josh, me, and many other people tried to show my uncle God’s love even by sitting with him at the bar as he drank. We tried in the settings and surroundings he was comfortable in. Did we get drunk? No. But, we were there sometimes, trying to show him a different life. One that he could live forever in.

    So yes, I think that “Beer and the Bible” can be a great thing. You NEVER know how God is going to use you. You never know when he is going to use you. But, I will tell you that when he does, it’s awesome!

    Great post Stan!

  3. Perry Ratzlaff

    I agree it is a very gray area, I also agree that the real point is not being drunk. I am the son of a preacher, an elder in the church and teach a sunday school class-adult, but I like my beer. I think your right in the sence that we should never use it for an excuse to drink or go to the bar but if that is how we can reach people then we should not avoid it because of how it looks, some times Christians tend to turn people away because the perception is we are above or better then them because we don’t do the things they do and we are judgeing them. Some times to reach them we need to be apart of their world that is our world also. Like you said about Jesus If we cared about their heart as much as we do about judgeing them for what they do we would go to the ends of the earth to give them the good news. I went through drugs and drinking hard in high school so understanding that side helps me to know that the hope of those in that life style is at zero and they can’t see any other way. The key thing here is how we handle it moderate or to much, over eating or drinking to much pepsie can be hard on your body and make you just as sick and is also a sin, and in Gods eyes sin is sin no matter what it is.

  4. Stan: Although this may not be my cup of tea, I must allow others the freedom to reach people whom I cannot. I have never had a drink in my life so I think it would be somewhat hypocritical for me to pretend as though this setting makes me comfortable. But I am not those two guys. If they are reaching people for Jesus then who am I to question their approach? Like I said, would I do it? probably not. Would I attend a bible study in a bar? I don’t know the answer to that. I do believe your last paragraph says what needs to be said. Just my .02 worth.

  5. Utility Player


    Thanks for your thoughtful approach. I too agree we need to be very careful not to place our “fences” around other people. Fences are designed to help people stay away from danger (sin). The problem is when we enforce our own fences, which in and of themselves aren’t mandated by scripture, onto other people.

    Just because some alcoholics can’t go to a bar without getting drunks doesn’t mean no alcoholic can. Agreed, it’s a bad idea (REALLY BAD IDEA) for an alcoholic to go to a bar regardless of how strong their willpower is. In fact, I’d recommend against it. But going into a bar isn’t a sin in and of itself, being drunk is. So no, we can’t judge people by where they are or what drink they have in their hand at the moment…

    So, now that I’ve affirmed your thoughts, here’s what many Christians on the “it’s okay to drink” side of the occasion tend to forget… we must not lead others to sin. My fear is that in our freedom we can unintentionally grant freedoms to weaker brothers (and sisters) who cannot handle the freedom… or don’t want to handle the freedom and are just looking for an excuse to do what they want to do anyway.

    I’d hate my freedom to drink one beer to give permission to someone else to go get hammered. Yes, that’s still their choice. Yes, that’s still their sin. But I don’t want to be the one setting them up for it. Thus a very cautious approach should always be taken.

    It comes down to knowing your audience.

    If your audience will be more distracted that you are drinking and won’t hear your message, you are putting up a roadblock for them. If your audience will be more distracted that you are NOT drinking, then you need to seek Christ to know whether this is a freedom you can pursue.

    okay… more than I meant to write…

    • culturalawakening

      Absolutely! That’s why Christians need to learn to be sensitive God in this. We can’t just say, “It’s my right” and go for it. I agree with you on the freedom issue. We have to be careful with our freedom. Just because we have the freedom, doesn’t always make it the best thing.

  6. I’ve gotten into numerous conversations about alcohol, whether to drink or not. I definately have plenty to say but I think you did a wonderful job of laying it all out for readers. The foundation IS God’s truth and then we must follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting in all matters.

    Although I believe one can consume alchohol, I choose not to. However, my choice is not to be legalistic it is my choice to be free from what alcohol has done to my life and how it MIGHT hinder relationships with those I love…and God loves.

    One, I have a tender spot in my heart for Muslims. I love their food and culture and believe God is growing a deeper love in my heart for His unreached. True Muslims do not drink and although I am not under the law, I choose to be as if under the law as Paul describes in 1 Cor 9. I want their trust and would like to be free to answer their question, “Why don’t you drink?” to explain God’s grace. And that is just the surface conversation!

    Next, it serves as a witness to my non-christian husband and his friends. He has often lovingly remarked how happy he is that I do not drink AND that I still enjoy our “drinking” company. Trust me, it is a learned behavior since I used to drink socially to become more relaxed in conversation.

    Ultimately it is just as you said…follow the Holy Spirits guidance. Gluttony IS a sin and for me, prior coming to Christ, I was a glutton with alcohol. So, in walking with Him my consumption dramatically decreased until I felt God telling me to let it go completely. I choose to listen and He has blessed it and given me the strength to endure when necessary.

    A brief snapshot: I was recently at a bar with a woman I desperately needed to connect with. I didn’t plan it that way, it just happened and I was not going to let a bar stop me from talking with her. I will admit, I was tempted to go elsewhere but we sat at that bar, and we ate wings. We talked, and talked, and I drank water while there. I needed to show her Jesus’ love and not judgement. Although I do not know what will come out of that night, I will certainly not forget it any time soon and I don’t think she will either!

    What a duo we must have made! Loud music, wings, chips and water with a brief moment for saying grace over our food! How funny it must have looked to the bartender. She was so kind and knowing she makes most of her money with the alchohol she sells, I ordered more wings to take home and made sure to leave her a big tip. Jesus would 🙂

    Don’t use what God has intended for good, apart from Him.

    “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.” (Ecc 9:7)

    Whew! Long posting but if you’re still reading…wow. Thanks for taking the time.

    • culturalawakening

      Lisa, I think you are dead on. Especially with your love for Muslims. Your decision and choice to abstain from alcohol matches the heart that God has given you for them. And God has given these two guys a heart to reach an entirely different group of people. This is why it’s crucial that Christians be open to the leading of God. Thanks for your great comment! And yes, I read it all. 🙂

  7. BRAVO, Stan!!!

  8. Great discussion! Luke 5:30 speaks so strongly to me, so I am looking at the Beer and Bible thing on a really macro level. How can you reach a non-believer if you are never around them? Take the whole Beer and Bible out of the equation…how do you reach non-believers when you don’t leave your comfortable circle of Christian friends (who believe the same way as you) and expose yourself to the unfortunate reality of the secular world? Church is not the first place to go looking for non-believers. Before I found New Life I perceived Christians as self-righteous, holier than thou Jesus Freaks and that there was nothing kewl about that. Was it a fair presumption? Nope, but it was based on what I had been exposed to up to that point. I focused on what I felt I had to give up. I felt I had to be perfect. I thought I had to become one of those boring Christian women who sat quietly and accept my role as a subservient wife. I. was. so. wrong. Father God brought some wonderful people into my life who showed me that my perceptions were not completely true. I found at New Life an extended family. A place where I could ask crazy questions that you would never dare ask elsewhere…and nobody was even phased by it! Preachers admitting that they had struggles and faults…that’s BIG! People from all walks of life coming together and praising His Name and truly caring about each other and their growing relationship with Jesus.

    Use your Spiritual Gifts! If you don’t know what they are, ask someone to help you find out. We all know our strong points…use them to show others the glory of having a relationship with Jesus. You don’t have to go around screaming, “YOU BETTER GET ON YOUR KNEES RIGHT NOW AND ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR OR YOU WILL BURN IN ETERNAL HELL!!!” That tends to scare off most people…live your life as Jesus would…love others, be generous, show them how we roll.

    BTW…being a Christian is VERY kewl.

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