My 21st birthday is coming up. I grew up in a home where alcohol was never present due to a family history of alcoholism. I go to a very conservation church where the whole topic is taboo. I have friends who get drunk almost every weekend, and that’s not what I want. I’ve never really had a desire to drink until recently. I guess because I know I can soon… So what’s okay?

I get this question a lot.  Several of you grew up in very conservative homes where drinking alcohol was a no-no.  I realize that my answer 90% of the time is “obey your parents” but I do think when you are 21, this is very much your own decision to make.

Biblically, it’s not wrong to drink.

If you grew up in a church that told you otherwise, I’m sorry, but they’re making things up.  Jesus turned water into wine as his first miracle and there are countless times in the Bible where we read about it being used to celebrate and commemorate.  Of course, it’s way easier to take a stand against drinking all together than to embrace the grey.

Now, the Bible is pretty clear that drunkness is a sin.  Here is a great article from the Village Chapel if you want to dive more deeply into this. Two of my favorite passages on this topic are found in Psalms and Proverbs.  Psalm 104:14-15 says “He (God) makes…wine that gladdens human hearts, and oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.”  Then, Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”  I think these verse clearly illustrate the gift wine (or alcohol) can be and then also the trouble it can be.

Bottom line, I believe it’s all about moderation. 

So, it’s your personal decision whether you decide to drink on your 21st birthday or any point in your adult life.  It’s certainly not wrong to have a drink or two to celebrate, but you may feel based on your upbringing, your church’s convictions, whatever, that the best decision for you is not to drink.

To get super practical, if you do decide to go out and drink on your birthday– my guess is you’ll need to set up expectations with your friends ahead of time.  Your friends that are big drinkers every weekend are going to want to pay for dozens of drinks and get you wasted.  So, you have to choose either not to celebrate with them or to make it really clear that you’re not going to get crazy.

For girls who’ve never drank before, I recommend 1-3 drinks MAX on your 21st.  A good rule of thumb is no more than 1 alcoholic beverage per hour.  Plus you should always drink at least 1 glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have.  (Also, I feel the need to note, that even following that “rule” does not mean you are safe to drive.  My personal rule is I never drink more than 1 beverage if I am driving.  It’s just not worth the risk.)

But, it sounds like your question is more “should I drink at all” rather than “how do I not get too crazy”.  If you just feel unsettled about drinking on your 21st, it’s probably not worth it.  But if you’re just wanting to celebrate your day with a drink or two, I think that is totally appropriate.  It’s also a great way to show your party-friends that you can celebrate in moderation.