Should Pastors Abstain from Drinking Alcohol? (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Dr. Charles Stone (used with permission)

I grew up in the South and in a denomination where drinking alcohol was frowned upon for the average church attender and definitely considered taboo for pastors.

I served in the central valley of California where I could drive to several wineries within five minutes and where the church didn’t frown upon social drinking.

I served in another part of the country when at my first elders meeting, it was literally an open bar. I was offered a choice of about a half dozen alcoholic beverages.

I’ve noticed in the past two years that several leaders in the emerging church movement seem to portray through their teaching, blogs, and twitter profiles a “I drink and that makes me really cool,” attitude. I heard one well-known teacher whom I respect play off the popularity of the WWJD craze by changing What Would Jesus Do to What Would Jesus Drink. He then spent several minutes talking about how much he enjoyed alcohol.

On the other hand, I know a guy who won’t even go to a restaurant if they serve alcohol.

I’ve never preached a message against alcohol and I don’t believe the Bible prohibits drinking in moderation. After all Jesus turned water into wine and Paul encouraged Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach.

I even occasionally go to a bar with my improv class friends to hang out. I order a beer of the root beer variety.

I’ve chosen to refrain from even social drinking for these reasons.

1. I need all my brain cells. As I understand it, alcohol even in moderation can kill those cells. I want to make the wisest health choices for my body. I can get the limited health benefits from red wine in other non-alcoholic ways. I hope to keep my ‘senior moments’ down to a minimum as I get older.

2. I don’t want to play Russian roulette. A quarter of people who drink are considered problem drinkers and almost 10% are considered alcoholics. I guess I don’t want to risk becoming one of those statistics.

3. I believe in the principle of deference. Base on Paul’s admonition in Rom. 14.21, I would not, by my drinking, want to cause a weaker brother to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. (NLT)

4. As a leader, I’ve chosen a higher standard for my leadership life. Prov. 31.4 has influenced my thinking. Kings and leaders should not get drunk or even want to drink. (CEV)

Dr. Stone pastors West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada.

He is also an author of three books, his last being People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership.

You can read his blogs at