Is Jesus' Wedding Miracle Consistent With Abstinence from Alcohol?

    It is commonly assumed that Jesus' miraculous changing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana is an embarrassment to Christians who totally abstain from alcoholic beverages. To reinforce this assumption men point to the variance between Jesus' own eating and drinking habits and those of his forerunner, John the Baptizer. To be sure, Jesus himself highlighted the difference:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon." The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard . . ." (Matt. 11:18-19).

There are several problems with the thesis that those who abstain from alcohol spurn the freedom that Christ instituted by the social pattern of his own ministry:

     For a Christian to point to Jesus' social pattern as a pretext for drinking habits could be a subtle self-deception.  To equate the Christian gentleman with the connoisseur of wines, is no mark of Christian maturity.  On the contrary, it may well be a mark of spiritual decadence.  Isaiah, whose prophetic writings Jesus quoted more than any other, said as much:
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink (Isa. 5:22).
    The mark of the early Christians was not tarrying late into the evening till wines inflamed them (Isa. 5:11), but tarrying until  nine o'clock in the morning until the Holy Spirit filled them and the tongues of fire rested upon them (Acts 1:4-5; 2:3-4).  It was the Spirit's fervency (Rom. 12:11) rather than the wine's fermentation that was the essence of the New Covenant blessing, and in that the Kingdom consisted rather than the other (Rom. 14:17)--indeed the blessing of the Spirit was Christ's throne-gift to the church (Acts 2:33).  We can be sure that it was the Holy Spirit who provided the impetus for Christian living and whose fruit defined Christian character (Gal. 5:22-23).  

    The New Testament sets the ministry of the Spirit, by way of contrast, over against the inordinate consumption of alcoholic drinks:  "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5:18-21).  And while we are not equating the moderate drinking of fermented wine with drunkenness, nor condemning it in every instance, we cannot help but recognize that, under the New Covenant, excessive "drinking" of the Spirit is highly encouraged and always beneficial (John 7:37-39).