21 Thoughts on Turning 21

By Nikki Dabney

This is the year. This is the year many of my friends and I turn 21. Which means…you can adopt a child! Just kidding, you know what it means. You can drink. (But the adoption thing is also for real.)

Turning 21 brings new opportunities to either harm your witness for the Lord or glorify Him. Here are 21 ways the Bible can speak into how to drink (and not drink) in a way that honors your King.

  1. First of all, alcohol is a sweet gift from above.

“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth and wine that gladdens human hearts.”          – Psalm 104:14-15

  1. Alcohol is not inherently sinful. Using alcohol in a way that does not honor God is sinful. This is the same for all of God’s gifts (sex, drugs, food, etc.).
  2. It is important to have a healthy, balanced mindset about alcohol.
  3. Do you think too much of alcohol? Are you overly excited to turn 21? A healthy excitement is great. Birthdays are for celebrating! But do you associate having the best time/best party/best dinner/most fun with alcohol? Do you like yourself best after a couple of drinks? You may have made alcohol an idol. And God commands us to put idols to death (Colossians 3:5).
  4. Do you think too little of alcohol? Is alcohol “just another drink” to you? This is like saying sex is just body parts touching. Don’t deny alcohol’s power. We are called to fear God and treat His gifts with high respect (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
  5. Drunkenness is a sin.

“Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” – Proverbs 20:1

  1. Don’t push the line of your definition of drunk. The Bible repeatedly commands us to be sober-minded, alert, watchful, and wise (1 Peter 5:8). Altering your state of mind gives you an altered spirit, and we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18

  1. “Drink responsibly” has become a pithy saying. But as a Christian, drinking is a HUGE responsibility. Why? Because everywhere you go, you carry the Lord’s name with you. Everything you do says something about who your God is.
  2. Just because you have the legal and biblical right to drink, doesn’t always mean you should.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. – 1 Corinthians 10:23

  1. Being legal doesn’t mean you should drink in every environment. For example, I have chosen to still abstain from frat parties because I do not think they are God-honoring environments. We are called to live above reproach, which means avoiding situations that would cause others to even question our devotion to the Lord. 

“So that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” – Philippians 2:15

  1. You shouldn’t drink if it will cause others to stumble.

“We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.” – 2 Corinthians 6:3

  1. If drinking will show others alcohol does not separate Christians from holiness, so be it. If drinking will confuse others who know you are a Christian, refrain. Our freedom is determined by others’ consciences, not our own (1 Corinthians 10:29).
  2. “Whether you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). It’s all about Him. Always ask the Lord if drinking or not drinking would glorify Him more.
  3. Don’t drink just because everyone else is or because it’s what you’re “supposed to do” in a situation. I promise it’s possible to eat Italian food and not drink a glass of wine. Not living according to the whims of your feelings and flesh demonstrates a fruit of the Spirit, self-control, and lets others know you find your contentment in the Lord. Sometimes you’ll say yes, sometimes you’ll say no. The point is it depends on the Lord’s will, not your own.
  4. We are called to be holy, which means set apart (1 Peter 1:15). In college, one of the best ways to set yourself apart is by how you drink or don’t drink. When you’re 35, married with kids, and choose not to have a beer at the neighborhood barbecue, people aren’t going to think, “Wow she must be a Christian.” But as Christian college students, we will lay down our right to drink more often for the sake of His glory.
  5. Alcohol will not add anything to your life that Jesus does not already supply in full.
  6. Alcohol is an escape. God is your refuge (Psalm 46:1).
  7. Alcohol makes you brave. God gives us a spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7).
  8. You like the taste? Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
  9. Alcohol relaxes you. God gives you peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
  10. Alcohol is fun. Life with God is the greatest adventure (Jeremiah 33:3).
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