“Ask a Priest: Is It Sinful to Want to Get Tipsy?”

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Q: Is it a sin to willfully get tipsy? I know getting drunk is a sin, but am wondering about being tipsy. Is it venial? – Dawn

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer in this case. Two key factors are the context in which you are drinking and how you define tipsy.

Deliberately drinking to the point were you lose the use of reason is objectively a grave sin.

If we define tipsy as the stage where a person still has use of reason but not firm control over her reflexes, then being tipsy could be a grave sin if she plans to drive a car or use dangerous equipment like a lawnmower.

Then again, if you are a single woman and have that extra drink when you are surrounded by heavily drinking men in a nightclub, that is another issue, too. Context counts.

Perhaps having an extra drink when one is securely at home might not be sinful. But again, this shouldn’t be seen as a one-size-fits-all answer. If you are taking care of young children, you need to think of their welfare first.

A person who has had a drinking problem in the past or who comes from family with a history of alcoholism would need to proceed with special caution.

Problematic, too, is if the tipsiness starts to become a pattern. The very fact that you ask whether getting tipsy is a sin might be a subtle warning. Be wary of using alcohol as a crutch.

A few positive questions are worth asking: “How can I drink responsibly, as befits my dignity as a daughter of God? And how can I give a good example to others in this area?”

Whatever you do, do for the glory of God.


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