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Underage drinking – Does the Bible say anything about it?

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The Bible does not specifically discuss underage drinking. However, there are biblical principles that apply to this modern issue.

First, does the Bible condemn drinking? The answer is no. The Bible condemns drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18), and warns against abusing it (Proverbs 23:29-35), but does not completely prohibit the drinking of alcohol. In a time before refrigeration, drinking wine was a much more common drink than even today. It was commonly associated with feasting and joy (Ecclesiastes 9:7; Psalm 104:14-15; Amos 9:14).

Second, Scripture is clear that there are considerations for when drinking alcohol may be inappropriate. Romans 14:13 teaches, "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." Paul was more concerned about keeping others from sinning than having his own way. As mature believers, we are to consider others rather than just ourselves regarding our consumption of alcohol.

Third, underage drinking also relates to matters of law. While drinking alcohol is not forbidden in Scripture, breaking the governing laws of one's community is called sinful. Romans 13:1 teaches, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." In the United States, the legal age to drink alcohol is 21. Therefore, Christians should not drink alcohol at all before this age.

This also has implications for those who break the law by supplying alcohol to those under 21 years old in the United States. This is also against the law and is against the teachings of God's Word. Those who do may experience God's judgment as well as the judgment of local authorities: "Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment" (Romans 13:2).

In other countries, the same principles apply, though local laws may vary. For example, in many nations the legal drinking age is 18, while some nations have no specific law. On the other end of the spectrum, five nations have laws making it illegal to drink alcohol at any age. The goal is to both honor God and serve as a good citizen in one's community on this issue.

Rather than breaking the law and dishonoring the Lord, Christians are called to love God and love others. As 1 Peter 3:17 observes, "For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."

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