Filipino Christians and Drinking

Christians are not restricted in drinking liquor as we are not under the law. However, everything that we do must always be based on faith and how we interpret the Scripture so as to please the Lord in our lives. There must be a good explanation why we do the things that we do, not based on our opinions but as we are convinced by the Scriptures.

What would a Filipino say if he saw his pastor teaching a Bible study while consuming beer or another alcoholic beverage? There may be a few adult believers who can explain this kind of behavior, but it is by no means the norm in the Philippines. How about teaching your children about the Bible while holding a beer or wine glass? How about holding a church family potluck with wine and beer? If you cannot even add these items, something is obviously wrong. A Filipino Christian must evaluate whether he should consume wine or beer. Is this the result of medical recommendations or socialization? Due to the Philippines’ location in a humid tropical region with frequent high temperatures, we are all aware that consuming wine or beer is not regarded as appropriate in our country.

Additionally, since its discovery, drinking water has been miraculously provided for in our land. The main places where water comes from in the Philippines are rivers, lakes, river basins, and groundwater reservoirs. In contrast to the ancient Near East at the time of Jesus Christ, where water was rare, there is an abundance of water. They had to battle for water in order to survive. In fact, their water is not treated during the time that pathogens can thrive. Paul’s advice to Timothy to drink a small amount of wine shows that this is sometimes used as a cure. Also, because the wine they drink hasn’t been fermented, they have to be careful not to get too drunk. Because our country is not as cold as other European nations, there is no motivation to consume wine or other alcoholic beverages here. Nevertheless, a number of studies suggest that this is not always the case. Their tendency to drink too much alcohol, which can lead to addiction and is bad for their health, is a problem. It should come as no surprise that they can fall into the same intoxicating trap as the ancient Near Easterners.

The Philippines are not even located in a water-scarce zone in the Middle East. I cannot conceive of any other justification for a Christian’s intake of these beverages. Either they are more concerned with pleasing themselves or those around them than God. I do not wish to sound like a legalist, but I hope that a Filipino Christian can go to the Bible to justify his actions.

Several years ago, a close Christian colleague shared the gospel with me. He is unaware that I am observing his lifestyle to determine whether he will compromise by consuming these alcoholic beverages. And because of his testimony, I joined a Bible study that led me to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Since then, I have used this occasion to engage my beer- and wine-drinking friends with the gospel. If people inquire as to why I don’t consume any alcoholic beverages, I answer that I’ve stopped doing these things after accepting Jesus Christ. This is my approach to planting the gospel seed in their hearts.

I know of one time when local Christians gave wine to a Filipino missionary who was sent to Europe to work in a place where it was very cold. However, he was unable to consume it due to his theological convictions on alcoholic beverages. As you might expect, he didn’t blame the local Christians for their actions. Instead, he decided to honor the Lord because he felt a strong conviction about it.

Please note that it is not the consumption of alcohol or beer that leads to sin, but rather the act of acting without being convinced by the Bible via faith. In fact, the Bible states, “For whatever does not come through faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Clearly, we derive our faith from reading the Bible.

(No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) – 1 Timothy 5:23

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