Noah Webster published the first edition of his dictionary in 1828. It was the very first American dictionary. Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants (the Word of Wisdom) was revealed in 1838, so Webster’s 1828 dictionary was the one in use when the Word of Wisdom was given. It may be useful to look at his 1828 definitions when deciding on the meaning of “strong drinks,” “mild drinks,” “hot drinks” and “wine.” (Yes, yes, I know that hot drinks have already been defined as tea and coffee by the First Presidency, but look this over anyway. You might find it interesting.)
1. Having sensible heat; opposed to cold; as a hot stove or fire; a hot cloth; hot liquors. Hot expresses more than warm.
2. Ardent in temper; easily excited or exasperated; vehement. Achilles is impatient, hot and revengeful.
3. Violent; furious; as a hot engagement or assault.
4. Eager; animated; brisk; keen; as a hot pursuit, or a person hot in a pursuit.
5. Lustful; lewd.
6. Acrid; biting; stimulating; pungent; as hot as mustard or pepper.
MILD, a. [The primary sense is soft or smooth, L. mollis, Eng. mellow.]
1. Soft; gently and pleasantly affecting the senses; not violent; as a mild air; a mild sun; a mild temperature; a mild light. The rosy morn resigns her light And milder glory to the noon. And with a milder gleam refreshed the sight.
2. Not acrid, pungent, corrosive or drastic; operating gently; not acrimonious; demulcent; mollifying; lenitive; assuasive; as a mild liquor; a mild cataplasm; a mild cathartic or emetic.
3. Tender and gentle in temper or disposition; kind; compassionate; merciful; clement; indulgent; not severe or cruel. It teaches us to adore him as a mild and merciful Being.
4. Not fierce, rough or angry; as mild words.
5. Placid; not fierce; not stern; not frowning; as a mild look or aspect.
6. Not sharp, tart, sour or bitter; moderately sweet or pleasant to the taste; as mild fruit.
7. Calm; tranquil. When passion subsides the temper becomes mild.
8. Moderate; not violent or intense; as a mild heat.
STRONG, a. [G., L. The sense of the radical word is to stretch, strain, draw, and probably from the root of stretch and reach.]
1. Having physical active power, or great physical power; having the power of exerting great bodily force; vigorous. A patient is recovering from sickness, but is not yet strong enough to walk. A strong man will lift twice his own weight. That our oxen may be strong to labor. Psalm 144. Orses the strong to greater strength must yield.
2. Having physical passive power; having ability to bear or endure; firm; solid; as a constitution strong enough to bear the fatigues of a campaign.
3. Well fortified; able to sustain attacks; not easily subdued or taken; as a strong fortress or town.
4. Having great military or naval force; powerful; as a strong army or fleet; a strong nation; a nation strong at sea.
5. Having great wealth, means or resources; as a strong house or company of merchants.
6. Moving with rapidity; violent; forcible; impetuous; as a strong current of water or wind. The wind was strong from the northeast. We had a strong tide against us.
7. Hale; sound; robust; as a strong constitution.
8. Powerful; forcible; cogent; adapted to make a deep or effectual impression on the mind or imagination; as a strong argument; strong reasons; strong evidence; a strong example or instance. He used strong language.
9. Arden; eager; zealous; earnestly engaged; as a strong partisan; a strong whig or tory. Her mother, ever strong against that match–
10. Having virtues of great efficacy; or having a particular quality in a great degree; as a strong powder or tincture; a strong decoction; strong tea; strong coffee.
11. Full of spirit; intoxicating; as strong liquors.
12. Affecting the sight forcibly; as strong colors.
13. Affecting the taste forcibly; as the strong flavor of onions.
14. Affecting the smell powerfully; as a strong scent.
15. Not of easy digestion; solid; as strong meat. Hebrews 5.
16. Well established; firm; not easily overthrown or altered; as a custom grown strong by time.
17. Violent; vehement; earnest. Who in the day of his flesh, when he offered up prayers with strong crying and tears–Hebrews 5.
18. Able; furnished with abilities. I was stronger in prophecy than in criticism.
19. Having great force of mind, of intellect or of any faculty; as a man of strong powers of mind; a man of a strong mind or intellect; a man of strong memory, judgment or imagination.
20. Having great force; comprising much in few words. Like her sweet voice is thy harmonious song, as high, as sweet, as easy and as strong.
21. Bright; glaring; vivid; as a strong light.
22. Powerful to the extent of force named; as an army ten thousand strong.
Liquor to be swallowed; any fluid to be taken into the stomach, for quenching thirst, or for medicinal purposes; as water, wine, beer, cider, decoctions, &c.
LIQ’UOR, n. lik’or [L. liquor.]
A liquid or fluid substance. [See Liquid.] Liquor is a word of general signification, extending to water, milk, blood, say, juice, &c.; but its most common application is to spirituous fluids, whether distilled or fermented, to decoctions, solutions, tinctures.
WINE, n. [Gr.]
1. The fermented juice of grapes; as the wine of the Madeira grape; the wine of Burgundy or Oporto.
2. The juice of certain fruits, prepared with sugar, spirits, &c.; as currant wine; gooseberry wine.
3. Intoxication. Noah awoke from his wine. Genesis 9.
4. Drinking. They that tarry long at the wine. Proverbs 23. Corn and wine, in Scripture, are put for all kinds of necessaries for subsistence. Psalm Bread and wine, in the Lords supper, are symbols of the body and blood of Christ.
FERMENTA’TION, n. [L. fermentatio.] The sensible internal motion of the constituent particles of animal and vegetable substances, occasioned by a certain degree of heat and moisture, and accompanied by an extrication of gas and heat. Fermentation is followed by a change of properties in the substances fermented, arising from new combinations of their principles. It may be defined, in its most general sense, any spontaneous change which takes place in animal or vegetable substances, after life has ceased. It is of three kinds, vinous, acetous, and putrefactive. The term is also applied to other processes, as the panary fermentation, or the raising of bread; but it is limited, by some authors, to the vinous and acetous fermentations, which terminate in the production of alcohol or vinegar. Fermentation differs from effervescence. The former is confined to animal and vegetable substances; the latter is applicable to mineral substances. The former is spontaneous; the latter produced by the mixture of bodies.
(taken from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/fermentation)
Here are the verses in the Word of Wisdom that mention these words:
Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make. And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies…. And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly. (D&C 89: 4-7, 9)
The verse summary for verses 1-9 states, “Use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks proscribed.” This is not entirely true. The word proscribe means “to forbid or condemn as harmful or unlawful: to prohibit.” Only hot drinks are prohibited, whereas wine, strong drinks and tobacco are given lawful uses.
When I was a young teacher, I remember my teacher’s quorum adviser explaining to us one Sunday how “pure wine of the grape” meant grape juice. As nice a guy as he was, he was incorrect in that assumption. When the Lord uses the term wine in this section, he is referring to the fermented juice of grapes, and of grapes only, not other types of wines, which is why he clarifies his statement with “yea, pure wine of the grape.” So, we are permitted to use wine, meaning actual alcoholic wine, when partaking of the sacrament, but only if we make the wine ourselves. All other uses of it are prohibited.
The Lord states that strong drinks are for the washing of our bodies. Most people interpret that to mean that alcohol cleans and disinfects, thus is used in hospitals prior to injecting someone with a hypodermic needle, etc. The word alcohol existed at the time of this revelation, but the Lord didn’t use it, instead he used the words “strong drinks,” such as vodka, rum, etc.
Not all alcohols are the same. There is ethyl alcohol (drinking alcohol), methyl alcohol (wood alcohol) and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Strong drinks contain ethanol (ethyl alcohol), whereas the alcohol used to clean skin in preparation for an injection is isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol).
The use of vodka or rum to wash the body gets the skin squeaky clean, removes dead skin and dirt and eliminates many odors. It leaves the skin feeling clean and looking shiny. It requires very little liquid to clean the entire body and saves a ton of water that would otherwise be needed to take a shower or bath. It is can be stored indefinitely and is not messy, requiring only a rag to rub onto the skin. I know from experience the wisdom of using strong drinks to wash our bodies.
If you still haven’t tried using strong drinks to wash your body, I encourage you to go out and buy a bottle of vodka and test the wisdom of the Lord. You may be pleasantly surprised. Plus, it’ll make for some interesting Word of Wisdom conversations when visitors open your cupboard and see the bottle there.
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