From time to time I will have someone comment on the use of grape juice instead of wine as part of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Often times, the comments are said in a mocking way to try and paint those of us who use grape juice as some sort of prude. Still, there are others who are genuinely curious. So, for those, here goes.
To begin, there is nothing wrong with using wine for the sacrament. In fact, where I commonly worship nowadays, wine and grape juice are both available. Now back to the point.
Wine is a stumbling block for recovering alcoholics. A brother or sister in Christ who has left a life of alcoholism faces a horrid dilemma when coming to receive the sacrament if the only thing available is wine. In a nutshell, they can choose to risk falling back into the grips of alcoholism after drinking wine, or suffer from a self-imposed excommunication.
Now, the vast majority of us are not alcoholics and will never be faced with such a dilemma. However, it is a terrible thing to bar someone from sharing at the Lord’s Table because they refuse to return to a life of sin that Paul describes using some rather harsh language – something about drunkards not inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9).
So, before making snide comments about those who choose to use grape juice for the Lord’s Supper, remember that there is a quite charitable reason for the choice.