Why does the Bible call Noah perfect when he got drunk? (Genesis 6:9 and 9:21)
Although Noah did not live a life without one slip (see Gen. 9:21), this does not change the fact that his character was outstanding. God does not require absolute, literal perfection from day one. We will inevitably sin, and are required only to confess and forsake our sins, accepting God’s forgiveness and allowing Him to direct our hearts away from sin. The only way to follow our calling to perfection is through growth and there is no sin from which one cannot be forgiven, drunkenness included. Give thanks that this is all that is required, for Christ is the only human of whom it could be truly said “He was sinless.”
It was no different for Noah than it is for any of us. It could be said of all God’s faithful servants, from Noah to Paul, that they did not reach the “perfect”” standard until the very end of their life. This does not change the fact that by the end of their life, they could, as accurately as a human can be, be considered “perfect in their ways.”
This narrative was written many years after Noah lived and Genesis 6:9 seems intended as an introductory statement. “This is the story of Noah: Noah was a just man, perfect in his ways” (Genesis 6:9); might be paraphrased “By the end of his life, Noah shined as a blameless man, delivered by God, in a sinful and doomed generation. Throughout his life His life he was devoted to following, growing in and pleasing God. This is his story.” It is suitable that stories of his growth, his sins and his successes would then follow; not affecting the truth value of the opening, summary sentence.