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Question

Is it a sin for me to run a bar? Jesus drank wine but the Hebrew word for wine can mean grape juice.

Answer

Thank you for your question about being a Christian and alcohol. 

The word “wine” in the bible can mean “grape juice”, but if we always translated the Hebrew word “yayin” or the Greek word “oinos” that way, it would certainly make many verses connecting wine with intoxication very confusing (e.g. Ephesians 5:18, Titus 2:3, 1 Timothy 3:8, Acts 2:13, Proverbs 20:1, Proverbs 23:29-35, 31:4-7, Psalm 60:3, 78:65, Genesis 9:21-25)!

Do you remember Jesus’ parable about putting new wine into old wineskins (Luke 5:37-39)? The problem is that when new wine (grape juice) is stored, it ferments into old (alcoholic) wine, which most people prefer (Luke 5:39). As it ferments, it gives of gas, stretching the wineskin. Old ones have already been stretched to their limit and would burst. This also means that the wine Jesus produced in John 2:1-11 must have been an excellent vintage of alcoholic wine (John 2:10).

So Jesus certainly drank alcohol, but if you look at the list of verses above, the bible is clear that getting drunk is wrong for a believer for a variety of reasons – the waste of money, you become foolish, you are vulnerable to being abused and hurt, will treat people unfairly and act immorally. So wine is good (Isaiah 25:6, Psalm 104:14-15, Proverbs 9:1-6), but as with so many things in God’s creation, when good things are abused, they have very bad effects (think about how people abuse God’s good gifts of money, sex, rest, food, the power of speech and strength, all good gifts that can be used well to bless people, or abused to ruin people).

So, to answer your question, running a bar is not a sin, but if you follow Jesus, this will transform the way you run your bar (Colossians 3:23-25). It would be wrong and potentially illegal, for example, if you kept selling to a person who may be drunk who should have been cut-off for his or her own good. It would be wrong to use marketing that encouraged people to drink in self-destructive ways (like some notorious 'happy-hour' promotions). But there are also some wonderfully positive ways that Christians have used bars to bless people and serve Jesus.

When the gin craze was destroying many lives, many Christians opened pubs to sell ale and beer as much less-destructive alternatives. During the Reformation, in many places, bars and inns were places that people could gather to discuss God’s word. Why not talk to the minister of your church about holding bible studies like Christianity Explored or Alpha at your bar? A lot of this depends on what sort of bar you run. I know you will have much less freedom if it is a bar in a hotel, or a franchise, so if you want your bar to be your career, I would recommend praying about this, and planning your finances so you can save up and one day run an independent bar, that you can run wholeheartedly for Christ. 

In summary, alcohol is mentioned many times in the Bible, both positively and negatively. It is clear that getting drunk is against God's word. However, running a bar is not in and of itself sinful, but being a Christian will change the way you run a bar. It may be possible for you to conduct a bible study in your bar, to the glory of God. 

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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