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Alcohol and Religion

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

We here at DoorXDoor Delivery have respect for all faiths, cultures, and beliefs. We have lived and traveled to all corners of the globe. We’ve dined with priests of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy and we’ve drunk kosher wine blessed by a Jewish rabbi in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Wherever our passports took us, there were many similarities just as there were differences. However, no matter where we were, no matter whom we were with, alcohol and religion were very common.

In many of the world’s religions we’ve experienced in our journeys, we noticed the conventions regarding alcohol consumption that were complex and sometimes seemingly contradictory. On one hand, the use of alcohol is highly symbolic and an essential component of ceremonies and rituals. At the same time, drinking in order to achieve drunkenness is very often discouraged.

Throughout history, fermentation was considered art with an element of mystery. Its unpredictability was seen as the product of divine whims and so were the liberating effects it produced. Thus, in ancient societies, drinking alcohol became a method to transcend one’s natural state, celebrate rites of passage, and commune with ancestors and gods.

In Mesoamerica, ancient priests and sacrifice victims, among other select individuals, indulged in pulque, a traditional beverage made from fermented agave sap. Deep within the Andes, the Incas used corn to make chicha, using it liberally during their rituals and religious festivals. They believed drinking chicha provided a conduit directly to their ancestors.

In a similar manner, the psychoactive brew ayahuasca altered the consciousness of residents of the Amazonian rainforest, allowing them a gateway to the afterlife and the ability to communicate with spirits.

Judeo-Christian traditions have included wine in ceremonies and rituals for thousands of years. Wine originally symbolized the blood of animal sacrifice for the Israelites and later represented the blood of Jesus Christ to Christians. Today, the Catholic Church, as well as other Christian denominations, include the drinking of wine as a key part of the Communion ritual.

In Judaism, wine is sanctified for festivals and Shabbat meals. At the Passover Seder, the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt is retold and wine is sipped from four cups to celebrate their freedom and God’s goodwill. At the feast of Purim, joyous guests are encouraged to partake in wine to the point of tipsiness.

For ages, the Fali people of sub-Saharan Africa have enjoyed millet beer known as bolo in all of their religious ceremonies. They believe it to be a supernatural way to make contact with the spirit world. In Japan, rice-based sake has been used for thousands of years to make offerings to the gods, cleanse one’s soul and make tributes to the dead.

The majority of the religions mentioned above permit the occasional, casual enjoyment of alcohol outside of religious contexts. Using it as a means to drunkenness, however, is unacceptable and discouraged. Christianity, for example, accepts alcohol consumption in moderation as long as it does not prove to be gluttonous.

Other religions like Islam, Mormonism, and Buddhism demand total temperance. They view alcohol as a gateway to debauchery and consider it destructive not only to the individual’s personal religious journey but to society in general. It is interesting to note that although the Sunnis believe that alcohol is unquestionably the most shameful vice, wine is still promised after death for those who reach heaven.

These religions all hold fast to the notion that the body is a temple, created by God and not to be contaminated by the overindulgence of alcohol. Oddly enough, overindulgence of alcohol could be compared to that of other unhealthy choices such as drinking soda. While alcohol may be controlled, discouraged, judged, or expressly forbidden by many, drinking sodas with its chemicals, caffeine, and elevated sugar content is also harmful and even somewhat gluttonous in itself. Perhaps we should all take a step back for a moment to reflect before we pass judgment on any person or religion for moderately consuming alcohol.

Whether you’re a religious establishment looking to order online wine for Communion or other sacred rituals, or family, friends, or other groups looking to fellowship and celebrate with your favorite beer, DoorXDoor Delivery is a perfect choice. Drinking responsibly is too.

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