DISCLAIMER: Search the Bible for all answers to all questions!!! God has given us all things that we need pertaining to Life and Godliness!!!
So… should Christians drink alcohol in college? The fact that you are even asking the question may indicate that you’re on the right track already. But let’s zoom out.
When I think college, three words come to mind: freedom, discovery, and experience.
- Freedom!!! Let’s face it: Everything about college is free (except tuition). No curfews, no parents, no rules!
- And it’s all about self-discovery, right? Who are we? Where are we going? Who do we want to become?
- Experience is self-explanatory; Come on, the “college experience”—this is classic stuff!
But these three little words can work in a negative sense. Is it possible that college offers too much freedom? Could it promote a false notion of self-discovery? Perhaps it could provide an unwanted experience of sin, stress, and social pressure.
But what do these concepts look like from a Christian perspective?
I want to sell you on the idea that college is a perfect place to celebrate the freedom we have in Christ, the joy of discovering who we are in Him, and the abundant life we can experience in light of that discovery!
Today we will navigate what that can look like in regard to our alcohol use (or lack thereof).
If you’re a Christian in the college setting, maybe you can identify with one of the following mindsets:
- Of course, I’ll drink alcohol in college, it’s fun! It’s just a short season in my life, and I think God will forgive me for it.
- I might try alcohol a few times, but I don’t plan on getting drunk. I want to be responsible; I will wait until I’m the legal age, and I want to only use it in safe settings with friends I trust.
- I will not touch a drop of alcohol in college. Why would I? Christians don’t need alcohol to have a good time!
I’m sure there are other approaches, but these are three of the mindsets I found myself believing at various times throughout my college experience and Christian journey. I hope this article offers a little insight wherever your stance may be!
Point 1: DON’T MAKE EXCUSES TO SIN.
I went into my freshman year a new believer, not yet rooted in God’s word. At that point in time, I was completely convinced that college was all about fun—”fun” meaning: beer is involved. I was so afraid of missing out on all those ‘good times’ people talked about ‘back when they were in college’.
It does sound like the fun (and perhaps, “normal”) approach, but in reality, I was drinking too much and ending up in situations that were bad for me. (kissing the guy you would never kiss sober, making poor decisions on where to sleep , showing up to exams hung over…you get the picture.)
I was doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could party it up when I felt like it, and just repent of it later whenever I felt like doing the church thing again. What’s the big deal anyway?
Listen: Don’t make excuses to sin. Just don’t. You will be able to talk yourself in circles all the reasons why you aren’t really doing anything wrong, and how the fact that you’re in college audits you some sort of free pass to forfeit a few morals. However, the Bible is clear. Drunkenness is a sin.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
God is Holy, and He is inviting His children to grow in holiness towards Him! When we intentionally maintain routines of sin in our life, we are weakening our spirits, and even actively working against God’s work to build up His church. If you’re not yet convinced that drinking to excess is against God’s will for your life, it’s time in your Christian walk to go figure that out! Whether or not to get drunk in college as a Christian is not the debate here. It’s not a debate at all.
Point 2: BE PREPARED.
So why did I keep sinning even though I knew better? I wasn’t ready for battle.
The Christian navigating the college scene will inevitably find themselves in situations where they have to make choices. For many of you, this will be a time of many “firsts”. It’s probably the first time you’ll be living on your own and not answering to your parents, for example. Maybe you’ll have your first date. Your first time being invited to a college party? Some of you will even be offered a beer for the first time in college (I had plenty of friends for whom this was the case!)
There’s a lot of new experiences coming your way in the college world, and you need to be prepared. Are you entering new situations with a “whatever happens, happens” mindset, or are you prepared for the many temptations that might be thrown at you? Do you have a firm game plan set in place, or are you just “hoping for the best”?
Some of you will decide to go out and have fun, with every intention to stay true to your godly convictions. You may even see the drinking scene as a platform to share your faith (“Hey man, I don’t need to get drunk to have a good time; there is nothing more fulfilling than walking with Jesus”)! Others of you will decide to avoid the setting at all costs, to flee altogether from any hint of impurity.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
I’m not here to tell you if you should or shouldn’t drink alcohol while you’re away at school. I can’t tell you if God ‘grants you permission’ to go to a few college parties, or to kiss a couple random people while you’re at it. I can tell you I regret these decisions now, but here’s the deal:
If you want anything you do during that time to count for eternity: Your behaviour needs to be rooted in your love for God, and your desire to make Him known to all people.
I wish I went into college more prepared. I knew I wanted to glorify God, but I didn’t know how. How could I overcome temptation? How could I find examples of others when it seemed like all the Christians I knew were walking different paths? How could I break certain sin patterns in my life for the sake of my sanctification, but also for the sake of reaching others with the gospel?
Point 3: HE WILL TEACH YOU.
You need to search the Scriptures and invite the Holy Spirit to direct you in the ways that you ought to walk: Will it honor you if I go into this bar tonight? Will I fall into temptation if I spend too much time talking to this person? Will I be able to control my drinking in this atmosphere?
The answer really might be that drinking isn’t wise, and you may be personally convicted that if you want to die to yourself in pursuit of Christ, you will need to lay down any stumbling blocks in your way.
But there is a reason many Christians are divided in the alcohol debate. Seek God’s wisdom. You need to know YOUR conviction before God about alcohol use. At the end of your life, you will stand before a Holy God and have to give an account of your life.
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Know what you believe and why you believe it, because the opinions of others (pastors included!) is not going to get you through. Your relationship with God is the real gold. He knows you completely and wants you to delight in getting to know Him back. What good is conducting yourself in a certain manner if you don’t know Christ? The Holy Spirit can reset your personal conscious and erase any doubts in your decision making. You won’t have to guess about limitations with drinking because He will teach you.
In a world where every pastor has a YouTube channel and every evangelist has a blog, it’s easy to make decisions based on what Christians you respect recommend. But God wants you and Him to have your own intimate walk together. He wants to be the one to speak into your life and mold your identity.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Through Bible reading and prayer, you will grow in hearing the voice of God. For more on How to Make Time for Bible Reading and Prayer during College, click here.
God knows the boundaries you ought to set for yourself. He knows what brings Him glory, and what dishonors Him. He knows exactly how YOU should handle alcohol use in your college years, as well as the rest of your years! He will teach you the ways in which you ought to go.
Point 4: DON’T STOP REPENTING.
What about when you KNOW the ways you ought to go, and choose to go a different way? What if you willingly choose to be disobedient after God has already shown you what obedience looks like? Like I said, I’ve been there. We have a bent towards sin in our hearts (For my poem about this, see “Little Place”). If we try to fight temptation in our own strength, we will fail. We need God, and we need His grace.
So many times, I have come to the place where I have “finally figured it out!”. Not too long after that moment, God will take me a layer deeper, and show me even more errors in my ways. As you go deeper with the HOLY God, you will see more and more how far you fall short from His perfect standard. This process will never be finished on this side of Heaven.
Let’s say you come to the conviction that drinking alcohol never glorifies God, or perhaps you believe you can serve Him best without such an obstacle in your way. So you go to parties and hang with your friends, but you abstain from alcohol use. This is not the end of where God wants to take you. You can be sure He will take you deeper and deeper in making you Holy like He is Holy. You will start to wonder if the way you are dressing at these parties is a problem. How are you interreacting with the people around you? What are the words coming out of your mouth? Are you presenting yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him?
The Holy Spirit might even convict you of pride. Do you have convictions about alcohol that manifest into judging other people’s convictions? Are you believing your alcohol use is the purest? The wisest? The most evangelical? The most relatable?
I want you to leave this article confident that you can enjoy your college years to the max not WHILE you live for God, but BECAUSE you live for God! Jesus came that we might have life, and life to the full! God has good things in store for His children, but these things need to be received. Sin and foolishness can (and will) get in the way of receiving the abundant joy and blessing that God has for us. So don’t make a decision about if Christians should drink alcohol or not just to know the “right thing”. Get to know God and His plans for your life because THAT IS WHERE THE JOY IS. When we are in that place where we are actively pursuing God and enjoying His pursuit for us, we won’t be asking the question, “am I missing out?”
Remember, You were made for this.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Thanks for reading! Here’s a quick overview:
- DON’T MAKE EXCUSES TO SIN. The scripture teaches that getting drunk is a sin.
- BE PREPARED. Know your convictions, boundaries, life goals.
- HE WILL TEACH YOU. (meaning, God. God will teach you!)
- DON’T STOP REPENTING. On this side of Heaven, we will never ‘arrive’.