I’ve been following a conversation for the last day or two on wine and the Bible. Was wine really consumed in the Bible (especially by Jesus), did Jesus really turn water into wine, or was it just grape juice, is it a sin to drink at all, etc. Some of my more conservative (if that’s possible) Christian sisters are under the impression that it is not OK to drink wine, that, of course, Jesus never would have consumed alcohol, that when wine is referred to in the Bible, it’s actually grape juice, and my personal favorite, and one that I’ve never heard before, wine is a result of sin in the world, because fermentation represents death, ergo, wine is inherently sinful.
With the exception of the last argument, I’ve heard all this stuff before. I don’t agree with it, because it’s my belief that if the Bible says wine, it means wine, and please don’t start spouting off Greek and Hebrew to me. Part of believing in the inerrancy of Scripture is believing that Scripture holds up even through translation. I don’t see any problem with someone having a drink once in a while, (alcoholics and people with medical conditions aside), and I would more than happily share a good bottle of wine with Jesus, so long as it complemented the meal I prepared for Him. Getting drunk is a different story, but to say alcohol is sinful in and of itself is just ridiculous.
Here’s my latest problem with this argument that the Fundies like to pull out, though. These same women will swear up and down that when the Bible says on the first day, on the second day, etc., that it means a 24 hour day. Not 1000 years, not an indeterminate long length of time, not a week or a month or a year. A day, as we know a day to be now. I’m on board with that; agree 100%. The Bible says that God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh, and as God is the author of the Bible, I believe it. No need to delve into translations, possible other meanings of the word day, blah, blah, blah. The Fundies and I are in agreement! Day=day.
Now lets look at the wine argument. All of the sudden, these women, champions of the inerrancy of Scripture (which again, I totally believe), women who hound more liberal Christians for trying to put too much meaning into one word found in the Bible, and not just taking God’s Word at face value, are all of the sudden chastising everyone for not studying the word wine further. We must, according to them, research other possible meanings of the word wine, the cultural context in which wine was used, the alcohol ratio in wine from Biblical times versus wine of today (how would that even be possible?!?) and on and on. Suddenly, women who have such faith to believe that when the Bible says day it means day, cannot fathom that when the Bible says wine, it means wine. Can anyone say “does not follow?”
I could respect their argument more if they weren’t literalists about everything else (although I still wouldn’t agree with them). If they believed that Scripture could not be taken at face value in general, I would understand where they are coming from. Their passion for the inerrancy of Scripture in every other context, however, makes their inability to accept that wine in the Bible is some kind of fermented beverage (I will grant that as time has passed, it may not be the exact same drink we have today, but still, something generally recognizable) a total and complete contradiction in terms. I can only assume that Fundies like to sap the joy out of every possible thing that they can!