Does Romans 14 give the liberty to drinking alcoholic beverages?




If a person wants to have a glass of wine privately in their home, then don't they have liberty to do so by Romans 14?

"Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:1-4).

The flaw in this argument is the assumption that drinking alcoholic beverages recreationally or casually is permitted by God. Romans 14 is not a license to sin. In fact, earlier in Romans Paul said, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).

To see this, let us substitute a sin that we both agree is wrong. "If a person wants to commit adultery in the privacy of their home, they don't they have the liberty to do so by Romans 14?" The answer is clearly "no!" We are not given the liberty to decide what is or is not sin for ourselves.

If you go through the examples Paul gives in Romans 14, you find that in all cases, both positions held are right. It is perfectly fine for a person to decide to be a vegetarian. It is also perfectly fine for a person to eat meat because God has given permission to both eat vegetables and to eat meat. Where things become messy is when people decide that everyone must eat the type of food they have chosen. Romans 14 is about allowing brethren the liberty to do things differently so long as they are not wrong. Remember, Paul said "God is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:4).

We both agree that if a person chooses to forego casual drinking of alcoholic beverages that this is an acceptable stance in the sight of God. What is then required is proof that the use of alcohol recreationally is also approved by God. Only then can Romans 14 be applied to the situation.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Alcohol