Wine and Strong Drink in the Bible, Part 6

Wine and Sex

“Wine, women, and song” – the theme of the hedonist. Wine has always been associated with immoral sexual activity. Shakespeare wrote that drinking “provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”[i]  A more modern writer acknowledges the same when he writes that alcohol can be used to encourage women to respond more favorably to their partner’s sexual advances in his comment, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”[ii] Alcohol has been the date rape drug of choice for many, many centuries.

It is common knowledge that alcohol “loosens up” one’s natural inhibitions. Speaking of teens, one expert wrote that even at low levels of alcohol, “their judgment may be impaired, and they may be willing to do things they would not ordinarily do.” [iii] Another expert recognized that the decision to have sex is “not just a physical response, but involves psychological aspects as well. People may need to overcome self-consciousness, inhibition, or guilt before they can participate in or enjoy sex.”[iv] Alcohol removes all those barriers. Everybody knows it. So WHY would a believer ever choose to drink that which makes it “easier” to commit the sin of fornication?

The very first mention of wine in the Bible is found in a context of drunkenness and sexual impurity. It is believed that the first mention of any theme or doctrine in the Bible lays the foundation for that theme throughout the rest of Scripture. If that is the case, we have an unmistakably clear foundational revelation concerning the subject of wine in the Bible: “And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent (Gen.9:21). In this chapter we have the very first account of wine AND the first revelation of what it does: Noah was DRUNKEN. And it is also stated that Noah was naked in his tent, with the implication that some sort of lewd behavior followed (vs.24). Concerning Noah’s nakedness, W.H. Griffith Thomas notes that “the Hebrew clearly indicates a deliberate act, and not a mere unconscious effect of drunkenness.”[v]  This is quite unexpected behavior from Noah. Henry Morris observed that “Noah, having stood strong against the attacks of evil men for hundreds of years, remaining steadfast in the face of such opposition and discouragement as few men have ever faced, now let down his guard…”[vi] The very first mention of wine in the Bible tells us the story of an otherwise flawless life (as far as the record goes) – a hero of the faith (Heb. 11:7), deceived into immorality. And we are told exactly what it was that caused this saintly man to behave in such a lewd manner: wine!

Then we have the account of Lot’s daughters, who said, “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him.” Their plan was to preserve their seed by lying with their father and bearing children. They knew that their father would never consent to such a twisted plan if he were thinking clearly. But they also knew that they could get him to do what he would NOT normally do by giving him his fill of wine. (Gen. 19:30-38). Wine loosened up Lot enough to cause him to commit incest with his two daughters. Lot, a man whose righteous soul was vexed daily by the filthy and sexually impure lifestyles of the Sodomites, now finds himself committing sexual sin (II Pet. 2:7-8). What was the culprit? Wine.

Then there is the infamous story of David. In his attempt to cover up his sin of adultery and Bathsheba’s pregnancy, David tried to get Uriah to sleep with his wife. David was hoping that if Uriah lay with his wife, Uriah would believe that the child born was his own, rather than David’s. However, David ran into a roadblock, because Uriah, a man of principle, had resolved NOT to lie with his wife while his fellow soldiers were still engaged in the war (II Sam.11:11). David then planned to get Uriah drunk, for he believed that Uriah’s resolve would be WEAKENED by alcohol (vs.13). David knew HOW to lead a man to get interested in sex – by giving him a few drinks! Though his plan failed, the story reveals that David understood well what alcohol would do – it breaks down a man’s inhibitions, principles, and resolve. It stirs men and women up and loosens them up to engage in immorality.

Consider the words of Habakkuk: “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness” (Hab.2:15)! The men to whom this woe was addressed knew how to use wine for sexual purposes. They got someone drunk so that they could look on their nakedness – and “indulge in some evil wantonness.” [vii]

For centuries alcohol has been used to break down natural inhibitions for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This is nothing new. David knew what alcohol could do. Lot’s daughters knew too. Habakkuk also knew how alcohol affected people. Shakespeare knew. However, it seems that many modern Christians choose NOT to know. Many wish to remain willingly ignorant of alcohol’s powerful influence toward immorality. The writer of Proverbs makes the following warning: “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red.” The REASON he warns the young man not even to look at the wine is because “thine eyes shall behold strange women” (Prov.23:31a, 33a). In other words, wine causes the eyes to wander, breaks down inhibitions, and excites lust. Knowing how easily the flesh is stirred up to sexual impurity all by itself, why would a believer ever choose to drink that which breaks down holy inhibitions and loosens our moral resolve? Why?

[i] Alan R. Lan, Ph.D., Alcohol, Teenage Drinking, Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1985, p.74.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] The Encyclopedia of Psychological Disorders, Drowning our Sorrows, p. 42, Chelsea House Publishers, Philadelphia, 2000

[iv] Alan R. Lang, Ph.D., Alcohol, Teenage Drinking, Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1985, p. 74.

[v] W.H. Griffith Thomas, Genesis, A Devotional Commentary, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, p.95

[vi] The Genesis Record, Henry Morris, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, p.233

[vii] Walvoord and Zuck, editors, Bible Knowledge Commentary on the Old Testament, Victor Books,  Wheaton, 1985,  p.1515.

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