Alcohol, Sex, and Happiness
Alcohol and sex bring happiness, right? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

daniel asks: Why do i get sexual thoughts and reactions when i sleep Never fill happy causing me to drink alcahol
Question about Right and Wrong in the Bible: Alcohol
Motivation - Curiosity: Idle curiosity
Bible view - Ancient literature - [question 136, Saturday, 09-Mar-2013]

Daniel was not shy about asking his question, so we won't be shy about answering it. The Bible has many passages about alcohol and sex, and how they relate to feelings of happiness.

The Bible is full of intimate details of life. It is not a book of baseless, arbitrary do's and don'ts. Instead it gives practical, everyday advice for living to the fullest. It has proven trustworthy over centuries, so it is wise to listen to what it has to say.

In this article you will find discussions of alcohol and sex, and how they relate to happiness in one's life. Here is an outline of what follows:

  • Happiness
    • How can I be happy?
  • Alcohol
    • Drugs are not alcohol
    • The 226 alcohol verses
    • Alcohol is neutral
    • Alcohol is good
    • Alcohol is bad
  • Sex
    • How do two people get married in God's eyes?
    • Is sex special, or is it just an animal response?
    • What about homosexuality, living together, and casual sex?
    • Are masturbation and contraception wrong?
    • Is it the wife's job to control sex in marriage?


If you want to be happy, the Bible has a sure-fire method. It is stated explicilty in the first Psalm:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
- Psalms 1:1ff [KJV]

How can I be happy? These verses say that being happy comes from doing what is right. Have you figured that out yet? Have you applied it to your own life? Many people think that happiness comes from doing what feels good. If you are an old person, you probably already know that doing what feels good brings sadness, not happiness. But if you are a young person, you probably do not know this and now is the time to get understanding.

The verse above starts with the word blessed. What does blessed mean, exactly? To find out, look at the word in the original Bible language. According to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, the word in the original Hebrew is 'esher, which means happy. It comes from the root word 'âshar or 'âshêr which is defined as

A primitive root; to be straight (used in the widest sense, especially to be level, right, happy); figuratively to go forward, be honest, prosper: - (call, be) bless (-ed, happy), go, guide, lead, relieve

It is interesting that the last word in the definition is relieve. Many people look to alcohol and sex for relief. But this psalm says that relief comes by avoiding certain types of people, specifically, steer clear of people who are:

  • Ungodly
  • Sinners
  • Scornful

The psalm gives the law of the LORD as its prescribed alternative. The Hebrew word for law is tôrâh, defined as

a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: - law.

The Decalogue is the 10 Commandments of Exodus 20, and the Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, all of which expound on the 10 Commandments.

Good friends and Bible reading bring happiness
Psalms 1 says that godly friends and Torah reading bring happiness. It is a very simple formula. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible.

In a nutshell, happiness comes from staying away from nasty people and reading the first five books of the Bible. That is a very straightforward formula. Is that what you are doing? If not, how about giving it a try? Lose those low-life friends and start reading the book of Genesis. It is very simple, and the Bible says it works. You don't know until you try.

Note that the Bible does not say that you must quit drinking alcohol and that you must suppress sexual feelings to be happy. In fact, the Bible has positive things to say about alcohol and sex. Both are given by God and both are for enjoyment when used within biblical limits. There is nothing inherently wrong with alcohol and sex, but they can be easily abused and that's when the bible posts warnings.

In the next section we discuss alcohol and sex and we apply biblical guidelines to determine when they move from the realm of enjoyment to the realm of sin. Like having ungodly friends, we ourselves become saddened when we ourselves sin. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), and we already know that the law is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. That's why God wants us to read it: so we can know what boundaries to set to keep happiness available. If you live withing biblical boundaries, you will be living as God wants you to live, and He wants you to live that way for His glory and for your own good. God loves you.


There are 226 verses in the Bible that talk about alcohol. The first miracle performed by Jesus was turning water into wine at a wedding party (John chapter 2). Wine is used in the Christian sacrament of the Lord's Supper (communion), and the Jewish Passover meal (the seder) features 4 cups of wine. Alcohol appears throughout the holy Scriptures.

Look at the Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) words involving alcohol:

  • Hebrew yayin, wine, from an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: - banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber]. alcoholic
  • Hebrew ‛âsı̂ys, sweet wine, must or fresh grape juice (as just trodden out): - juice, new (sweet) wine. non-alcoholic
  • Hebrew shêkâr, strong drink, an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: - strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.
  • Greek oinos, wine, a primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin); “wine” (literally or figuratively): - wine.
  • Greek sikera, strong drink, of Hebrew origin; an intoxicant, that is, intensely fermented liquor: - strong drink.

So the idea that alcohol is strictly prohibited by the Bible is not true. It is mentioned over and over again in several forms.

This is important: Drugs are not alcohol - Drugs are separate from alcohol in the Scriptures. The Bible words for alcohol correspond to wine and hard liquor today. The Bible word for drugs is different. It appears in the New Testament as follows:

  • Greek pharmakeia, witchcraft or sorcery, medication (“pharmacy”), that is, (by extension) magic (literal or figurative): - sorcery, witchcraft.

The Greek word pharmakeia is where we get the modern terms pharmacy and pharmaceutical. It is connected in the Bible to witchcraft, sorcery, the occult, and black magic. While alcohol certainly affects your body and your emotions, the Bible implies that drugs affect spiritual well-being. Alcohol and drugs are two different things, and drugs are always prohibited by the Bible. It is very important to remember this distinction. Don't be fooled, getting high on drugs is much worse than drinking alcohol. The Bible has separate words for them. Don't mess with illicit drugs. They are tickets to Hell itself. There is help for you if you are suffering from the bad effects of drugs [Press Here].

The 226 alcohol verses Back to alcohol, what, precisely, does the Bible say about it? Looking at one or two passages does not really tell us. There are verses in the Bible that indicate that alcohol is bad, but there are also verses that indicate that alcohol is good. So which is it? To find out, consider the pie chart below which summarizes the Bible's treatment of alcoholic beverages throughout the Old and New Testaments.

wine and strong drink in the Bible
Wine and Strong Drink in the Bible. The numbers is brackets [xx] give the number of verses that apply to each topic.

Alcohol is neutral - It turns out that a large majority of Bible verses treat alcohol as neutral, neither good nor bad. Wine was a staple food in the ancient world (pure water was hard to find and maintain), so many verses address wine as a normal foodstuff for the people. The phrase corn and wine appears over and over again, especially in the Old Testament, to indicate sustenance for earthly life. In these passages, the Bible acknowledges wine as a necessity in the ancient world.

This is the case, also, for wine used in religious ceremonies, such as the drink offering of ancient Israel (Leviticus 23:13) and the Last Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:29). Wine is neutral in these situations.

Alcohol is good - Today wine is not a necessity for living. Instead, wine and liquor are used for pleasure, especially at parties and social gatherings. These are the good uses of alcohol, and there are Bible verses which acknowledge the pleasures of alcohol. All in all, there are 9 verses that say alcohol produces good feelings, and there are 17 verses which address alcohol at celebrations. These verses, then, permit alcohol use for these purposes. Whether they encourage alcohol use is another matter, and you should check this out for yourself.

Perhaps some of the best passages about the pleasure that wine brings come from the Song of Songs, a book about romantic love between a man and a woman. And, yes, romantic love is even better than alcohol!

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
- Song of Solomon 1:2 [KJV]

Alcohol is bad - There are many more verses about the bad effects of alcohol than the good effects. Over and over again, the Bible talks about how getting drunk clouds the mind and causes trouble. As early as Genesis, Noah gets drunk and his family pays the price (Genesis 9:21), Lot gets drunk and it leads to incest (Genesis 19:32), and wine clouds Isaac's thinking when he sends his sons out to carry on his name (Genesis 27:25). In the New Testament we are warned to stay away from drunkards (1 Corinthians 5:11) and not to get drunk ourselves (Ephesians 5:18). The subtle ways of alcoholic addiction are summarized by these pointed verses in the book of Proverbs:

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
- Proverbs 23:31ff [KJV]

And the definitive verse about the bad effects of alcohol is also in Proverbs:

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
- Proverbs 20:1 [KJV]

Wise people, says the Bible, should not drink (verse above). This applies to Christians, Jews, atheists, agnostics, and everyone else. But as one becomes closer to God, there are Bible restrictions on alcohol that kick in. Aaron, for instance, was forbidden to drink alcohol (Leviticus 10:9), and the Nazarite vow involved abstention (Numbers 6:3). All believers are called to be alert, vigilant, and sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6), and Church officials even more so:

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
- 1 Timothy 3:8ff [NASB]

Summary - In summary, alcoholic beverages in the Bible are neutral in an of themselves, but applied to our lives they can bring pleasure and, much more often, they can bring trouble. If you are in trouble with alcohol, help is available. Many organizations, religious and secular, can help rescue you from the bad effects of alcohol [Press Here]. Generally, according to the Bible, the more spiritually mature you are, the less you use alcohol.


References to alcohol are scattered throughout the Bible, but references to sexuality are concentrated in a few specific passages. The Bible expounds on the pleasures of sex and how it brings happiness, but only when confined within prescribed limits. The biblical topics that relate sex to happiness are:

  • How do two people get married in God's eyes? (Genesis 2)
  • Is sex special, or is it just an animal response? (Exodus 20)
  • What about homosexuality, living together, and casual sex? (Leviticus 18)
  • Are masturbation and contraception wrong? (Genesis 38)
  • Is it the wife's job to control sex in marriage? (1 Corinthians 7)

and we discuss each topic in order in this section.

God sees you as married when you have sex together.
God sees you as married as soon as you have sex together.

How do two people get married in God's eyes? God ordained the institution of marriage before He did anything else, and He cherishes it more than anything else. The family unit is more important to God than preachers, missionaries, evangelists, prophets, kings, priests, governments, cities, villages, and every other human institution. In fact, the physical marriage relationship between husband and wife runs parallel to the spiritual relationship between God and Israel (Exodus 19:5) and between God and His Church (Ephesians 5:32). But what, precisely, defines human marriage before God? Consider the passage where God ordained marriage:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
- Genesis 2:24 [KJV]

This verse is full of sexual implications. The words cleave and flesh carry sexual implications when read in English, and these implications crystallize when read in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament. From Strong's Hebrew Dictionary:

Cleave: Hebrew dâbaq, A primitive root; properly to impinge, that is, cling or adhere; figuratively to catch by pursuit: - abide, fast, cleave (fast together), follow close (hard, after), be joined (together), keep (fast), overtake, pursue hard, stick, take.

Flesh: bâśâr From bâśar; flesh (from its freshness); by extension body, person; also (by euphemism) the pudenda of a man: - body, [fat, lean] flesh [-ed], kin, [man-] kind, + nakedness, self, skin.

For those unfamiliar with pudenda, from

Pudendum: the external genital organs of a human being and especially of a woman - usually used in plural

When Adam married Eve there were no temples, no churches, no synagogues, no marriage licenses, no governments, no court houses, and no wedding planners. It was just Adam and Eve, and God ordained their marriage in the Garden of Eden. So the verse above in Genesis says that a man and woman are married in God's eyes when they have sex. You do not hear this spoken very often, but the Bible ratifies it in several places (e.g., Genesis 24:67, Genesis 29:27, Ruth 4:13).

The Bible says that if you are having sex with someone, you are married to that person. Once two people are married, God holds them accountable to each other and to Himself.

Is sex special, or is it just an animal response? Just about everyone these days subscribes to the current theory of evolution that says Earth started with a Big Bang and men evolved from apes over time. There is much scientific evidence that points toward evolution and, if you are interested, you should study scientific evolution carefully. When you do, be sure to note the various assumptions made by evolutionists that provide a foundation for their theories. For instance, evolution requires that the sum of energy and matter in the universe is constant over all time. This is a reasonable assumption. But it only an assumption. It has not been proven to be true. Perhaps it is not the case.

Bible-based thought runs completely contrary to evolutionary thought. The Bible includes supernatural forces, evolution considers only natural forces. These are two diametrically opposed theories, especially in the area of the origin of mankind. You cannot be a Bible believer and align yourself with the notion that man evolved over time from other creatures. If he did, men and women are just souped-up animals. The Bible, and simple observation, tells us that man is not like other animals. Rather, mankind is special.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
- Genesis 1:26 [KJV]

The verse above says that God made mankind special, separate and distinct from other animals. Man is made in God's image.

There is an interesting discussion thread at PhilosophyForums that considers the question 'Is man different than animals?' Most, if not all, of the participants do not consider the Bible to be a viable source of information, but they still develop an impressive list of differnces:

  • Man has moral consciousness of good and evil, right and wrong
  • Man stores information, e.g., written communication
  • Man engages in trade for wealth and profit
  • Man buries his own dead
  • Human culture is different, e.g., compassion for others, art, music, humor
  • Man uses tools and machines
  • Animals do not ask themselves what makes them different
  • Man is conscious of his own death
  • Man has free will
  • Man acts on reason, often counter to instinct
  • Man is very creative
  • Man applies logic to solve problems
  • Man searches for happiness, truth and beauty
  • Man questions his own existence

So what do you think? Are human beings different from other beings? Or are they simply more advanced? In Genesis 1:26 (verse above) the Bible attributes supernatural, 'in the image of God' components to men and women. For this Bible reason, and for the non-Bible reasons in the list above, sex between humans is special compared to sex between other animals. The results of sex, human intimacy, pleasure, and, of course, children, are different as well.

Having placed particular value on the human family in Genesis, the Bible guards that value with commands in Exodus:

Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Exodus 20:13ff [KJV]

From these two Commandments spring the doctrines of The Sanctity of Human Life and The Sanctity of Marriage. These are fundamental precepts found throughout holy Scripture.

What about homosexuality, living together, and casual sex? The 10 Commandments, then, bar infidelity. The adultery clause stands firm. But additional prohibitions further guard the Sanctity of Marriage. The prohibitions in Leviticus are:

  • Incest - sex with kin relations (prohibited after Sinai) [Leviticus 18:6ff]
  • Fornication - sex with friends and neighbors, e.g., co-habitation [Leviticus 18:20]
  • Homosexual acts - sex with members of the same sex [Leviticus 18:22]
  • Bestiality - sex with animals [Leviticus 18:23]

The five sexual prohibitions: adultery, incest, fornication, homosexual acts, bestiality, draw a circle around sex that brings happiness. Only sex within marriage does that. The prohibited types of sex may bring temporary gratification, but, according to the Bible, end in trouble and sadness.

For a comprehensive overview of what the Bible says about homosexuality, see our separate article on the subject.

Are masturbation and contraception wrong? Our treatment of the abortion question appears in this separate article on the subject. Prohibitions against abortion rest on the doctrine of the Sanctity of Life, just as prohibitions against adultery and other sexual sins rest on the doctrine of the Sanctity of Marriage. However, the topics of masturbation and contraception do not have concrete doctrines as foundations. These subjects are addressed based on general biblical principles, not specific doctrines.

Sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage.
Prohibitions against abortion, adultery, and related sins are based on Bible doctrines of The Sanctity of Life and the Sanctity of Marriage. Masturbation and contraception have no similar foundational doctrines.

Despite much attention paid to them by religious people, there are no specific injunctions against masturbation and contraception in the Bible. A general biblical principle of keep your mind pure applies to both topics, and so they become private and personal matters between you and God.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
- Philippians 4:8 [KJV]

The closest the Bible comes to prohibiting masturbation and contraception appears in Genesis 38, a chapter full of sexual sin and intrigue that involves Judah, one of the sons of Israel.

... and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him ...
- Genesis 38:9ff [KJV]

In this verse, a man named Onan let his semen spill on the ground. Mighty systems of religious dogma have been built on this one verse of Scripture. Religious people who have not studied the Bible very thoroughly often feel guilty and ashamed based on imposed regulations against masturbation and contraception. In fact, the Bible has very little to say about either topic, which makes them a personal matter of faith, not a cut-and-dried matter of breaking the 10 Commandments.

Is it the wife's job to control sex in marriage?

There's an old saying that goes something like this: 'men control the money in marriage, and women control the sex, so everything equals out.' Does that sound right to you? Do you think that is what the Bible says? No, a balance of power is not the biblical prescription for a happy marriage. The definitive verse for this question attributes complete power to both husband and wife. It is found in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians:

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
- 1 Corinthians 7:3ff [KJV]

Struggles to gain the upper hand in a marriage are out. Husbands and wives are to submit themselves to their partner at all times. That's what brings happiness.

Summary - In summary, sex brings happiness to a person's life when it is kept withing the boundary of marriage and, inside that boundary, when both husband and wife have anytime access to it. That is God's plan, and anything else brings trouble.

by Paul Richards

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:44:37 GMT, unknown: 642322 ABJyMiL/zkd/s