I grew up in the Bible Belt South, and as such I came to understand a mixed acceptance of alcohol consumption. It was heavily condemned by many, but yet accepted by many others. Overall, though, it seemed to me that there was an air of taboo regarding the subject.
I didn't grow up in the church or Christian faith, and so I never directly received the messaged for full abstinence from alcohol. In fact, my immediate family members drank. The only lesson I remember regarding alcohol was to essentially not get caught (ie don't drink and drive, don't compromise your health/safety or anyone else's etc.). It was well accepted.
I, however, never felt fully comfortable with it. I didn't like what I saw it did to people. I didn't understand how a person could willingly put themselves in a state of complete lack of self-control. I never desired to try it myself.
Then, in college I foolishly thought I could impress a date by ordering wine with dinners and what not. Going out and having a drink seemed like the natural thing to do as an "adult," and he seemed very well versed with this practice. I didn't want to seem like a child or a prude. I wanted him to think of me as a mature and sophisticated woman (hah!). I think I blew every bit of that perception when I completely stumbled over pronouncing the names of wines and revealed myself to have no clue how to pair them with meals.
We later discussed the subject of drinking. He revealed to me that he had a history of alcohol abuse. He promised that it was all history and he'd turned away from such behavior. He still had an occasional drink, but knew his limit. I believed him. I liked him, and wanted our relationship to continue. We both agreed upon the stance that alcohol like an occasional beer or glass of wine was acceptable. We also agreed that drunkenness was the point in which the line was crossed.
I've wised up since my college dating years. I've learned that the drawl to alcohol is never entirely history. When the opportunity presents itself, compromises will occur. Moreover, how much a person drinks is dependent upon several factors, one of which being past use. The body's tolerance increases with use. So, a person may be able to consume more and more before reaching a point of drunkenness. When you have to hide if or how much alcohol is consumed, then a red flag should be going up. As in most things, if you have to hide something then it's probably not something you should be doing. In respect to a relationship, multiple threats are posed. On the emotional side, the bonds of respect for the other (non-drinking) individual and the honesty shared are broken.
I still contend that one drink just for tasting is permissible. Just ONE. I see no need to have more than that. I firmly believe a drink should be enjoyed for what it is, not for it's effects. You don't need more than one for enjoyment. Yet, I've come to a place in my life in which drinking has little appeal. I don't think it's wrong or sinful, per say. I do think of all the people, relationships, and families that have been hurt by alcohol consumption. I know they didn't intend to be in that position, but the damage has been done. It's just not worth it to me.