Celebrity endorsements can be tricky. Kid Rock endorsed his biggest fan, Mitt Romney. Gary Busey endorsed Donald Trump, before he endorsed Newt Gingrich, before he took back his endorsement of Newt Gingrich. And now Jesus, a man who wants us to drink wine in his memory, is being used to endorse a pro-Prohibition ballot measure in Kentucky.
If you thought alcohol prohibition ended in 1933, you’d be right…and wrong. There are still 200 dry counties in the USA, and every year there are ballot measures to change counties from dry to wet. Not surprisingly, many of these dry areas are in the nation’s Bible Belt, and many pro-Prohibition proponents employ religious appeals: “Serve Jesus, not alcohol” reads an ad in a small Kentucky town’s newspaper.
And we find sentiments like this from Matthew Ratliffe of Williamsburg, Kentucky: “I do have a moral obligation as a follower of Jesus Christ to be against alcohol.”
But wait, isn’t this the same Jesus who had a reputation for excessively enjoying the fruit of the vine?
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard!” —Matthew 11:19
This is also the guy who at the Last Supper urged his followers to drink wine as if it were his blood, and he was looking forward to drinking in heaven too:
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. —Matthew 26:29
Okay, Jesus seems to be cool with alcohol, but God never drank, right?
And the vine said to them, “Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man?” —Judges 9:13
It sounds like God not only drinks wine, but gets a little tipsy, if my interpretation is correct. And he helps his people do the same:
The Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine. —Isaiah 25:6
So Yahweh and Jesus seem to enjoy the occasional drink, but what does the rest of the Bible say on the matter. As usual, it is of two minds:
- Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart. —Ecclesiastes 9:7
- Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter of soul. —Proverbs 31:6
- Take a little wine for the good of your stomach and because you are frequently ill. —1 Timothy 5:23
- Cursed are those who are strong to take wine and great in making mixed drinks! —Isaiah 5:22
- Woe to him that giveth drink to his friend, and presenteth his gall, and maketh him drunk, that he may behold his nakedness…Drink thou also…and shameful vomiting shall be on thy glory.” —Habakkuk 2:15-16
- Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. —Ephesians 5:18
The Bible’s coming down on both sides of the issue doesn’t help settle the case for or against Prohibition. But its ambivalence did give us one of the best oxymorons in the scriptures when it tells us that the one thing that “is health to soul and body” is
Sober drinking. —Sirach 31:37
I’m sure teetotaling advocates have their reasons for keeping Prohibition alive in their counties, but it may be time to find a new spokessavior. After all, if Jesus were really against alcohol, he would have chosen his first miracle ever performed to be turning wine into water instead of the other way around. That may have pleased some of his current day followers, but he would certainly have gone down in history, not just as a miracle worker, but also as one of the world’s worst wedding guests ever.
Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.