The Written Records


Jesus didn’t write any scriptures.  The apostles didn’t write the gospels down as things were happening.  They didn’t sit in that upper room during Pentecost, making sure they got everything written down so they could go out and organize the church of Christ based on the authority of their scriptures.

The point with written scriptures is that they must be understood as the product of believers in Christ organized as his church – not what believers in Christ need to use to become organized as his church.  The written records are the trail that’s left behind – not the hand guiding us through.

The scriptures are just printed ink on processed wooden pulp.  Destroy every copy of the written word of God – and it wouldn’t do a thing.  Because a group of believers in Christ would just produce more scriptures.  Only dead congregations, who have no real connection with God through the spirit of prophecy and revelation, would be scrambling – because they lack the ability to produce anything new.  They can only re-tell the stories they’ve inherited from a by-gone generation.

It’s essentially idolatry [see, Making an Image out of God] – to look at the image that’s pointing and cling to and serve it, rather than to Look, Follow, and Live [see, …and the labor which they had to perform was to look…].

The church of Jesus Christ is not established on scriptures:

A book cannot authenticate itself.  It takes an outside authority to do that.  Written records become “scripture” when the church of Christ covenants to be bound to that written record by common consent.  That means that the 66 books that make up the King James canon have authority as “the Bible” by virtue of the Catholic Church’s word alone – not by virtue of them simply being “the Bible”.

Further, you accept the English word-choice of the King James translation by virtue of the word of the Church of England alone – God did not dictate the creation story to Moses, or the epistles to Paul using 1611 English words.

The reason the King James text is also known as “The Authorized Version” is because, prior to its commission – there were many attempts by English commoners [i.e., not clergy or royalty] to translate the Bible into English [the language of the unlearned common-folk].  This threatened the power of the elites – who believed that the translations of the commoners did not, “conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy.”

So, a new state-sanctioned English translation was commissioned that would render phrases in such a way as to justify and legitimize the hierarchical authority of the crown and of the church.  And it would be the only one “Authorized” by the state and the church for use.

Joseph Smith’s view of the bible:

  • It can be ambiguous,

“The teachers of religious understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.”

This ambiguity in the meaning of revelations happens when interpreters make false assumptions about the Bible and then just start guessing away at the correct interpretation.

They’ll assume the scriptures are cryptic [that they’ll say “A”, when they really mean “X”], are relevant [that all the narratives can be applied as personal lessons], and are perfect [that there are no contradictions, missing pieces, or extraneous material].  Their guessing either takes place horizontally [applying the past to the present] or vertically [applying the physical to the spiritual].

The meaning of the word of God should not be guessed at in this way.  Guessing is what Laman and Lemuel did.  Guessing is what Judeans did with Jesus’ parables.  Guessing is what the brethren at Jerusalem did [see, And they understood me not, for they supposed].  The meaning of scripture [in a gospel context] has only one signified attached to it.  And there is only one way to “figure out” what it means –to ask God what it signifies.

  • irrelevant,

The Bible contains revelations given at different times to different people under different circumstances.”

The blessings promised in the scriptures pertain to the people to whom they were spoken.  The laws outlined in the scriptures were tailored to the conditions under which they were given.

For example, at Wheat & Tares I commented on the definition that “hot drinks” in D&C 89 means “tea and coffee”.  The standard interpretation used by the church in regards to verse 9:

and again
hot drinks are not for the body
or belly

[D&C 89:9]

says that Joseph and Hyrum Smith all told members that “hot drinks” meant “tea and coffee”.  Sounds pretty straight-forward.

But – so what if Joseph or Hyrum in fact did say that “hot drinks” meant “tea and coffee” to this-or-that member back in the 1830’s?  That’s all well-and-good because that’s what the saints were in the habit of drinking hot at the time the revelation was given.  Brigham Young reasoned:

I have heard it argued that tea and coffee are not mentioned [in D&C 89]; that is very true; but what were the people in the habit of taking as hot drinks when that revelation was given? Tea and coffee. We were not in the habit of drinking water very hot, but tea and coffee — the beverages in common use.

Now – to follow his reasoning – if the saints ended-up falling out of the habit of drinking tea and coffee hot and started drinking other things hot or started drinking tea and coffee cold — then the revelation still calls us to be guided by the general concept of avoiding the habitual drinking of hot liquids [rather than be bound to the specific conceptions of tea and coffee per se].

The revelation meant “tea and coffee” for them [because that’s what they were in the habit of drinking hot] — but it does not necessarily mean that for us today [if we get in the habit of drinking other liquids hot or drinking tea and coffee cold].

When the Lord said “Don’t drink hot drinks,” Joseph/Hyrum rightly took a look at what the saints were in the habit of drinking hot at that time — and they concluded that it was tea and coffee — so the leaders rightly taught the people to not drink tea and coffee.  But the interpretation of “tea and coffee” pertains to them – given under conditions where the people were in the habit of drinking tea and coffee hot.

  • transmitted erroneously,

I believe the Bible as it came from the pens of the original writers.  Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, and designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”

If our understanding of some particular point of doctrine is based on a scripture that is the translation of a translation of a translation – that was taken from a copy of a copy of a copy – and somewhere along the line [there are centuries between the original and what we have extant, in many cases] a rendering was screwed-up [whether accidentally or maliciously] – then it may well reveal how weak some of our beliefs could be.

Our centuries long history and traditions of scriptural interpretation, some of Joseph’s wording choices in the Book of Mormon, and much our the temple endowment ceremony are all based on the scriptural renderings common at the time [taken from the King James English text].

I’ve heard people say that:

You’ve got to believe that God created the universe in six 24-hour periods because it says it right there in Genesis, ‘And the evening and the morning were the ____ day.’  The Bible clearly says ‘day’.

When, in reality, the Bible clearly says “yohm”, as it was recorded in Hebrew.  That’s a word that could mean a variety of things in English.

And even getting back to the original Hebrew can be more complex than it might seem at first.  The Meru Foundation found that the origin of the Hebrew characters lie in a series of ritual hand-gestures — or sign language.

Also, the Chronicle Project has found an alternate system for how the written Hebrew characters work, and publishes alternate, “original meaning” renderings of the Hebrew scriptures.

  • and incomplete.

Much instruction has been given to man since the beginning that we do not now possess […] to say that God never said anything more to man would be claiming a new revelation – because such a thing is nowhere said in that volume by the mouth of God.”

In The Concept of Race, in the Gospel, I wrote:

The best thing to do is to take it as granted that the current scriptural record we have in the Bible is a pretty incomplete picture concerning the affairs of God throughout the whole human race.  The Bible is the book that’s come by way of the Jew and is their record — and so we find that it deals primarily with Arabians [go figure].

Until the scriptural record is more complete — until we receive the prophets of the other nations, tribes, and people, with their prophetic records that will come forth from Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Islands, etc. — we cannot speak with certainty of how God has dealt with the other races and if there are promises made to them that we know that of.

Now, I’m not trying to say that we can draw no good lessons from our historical translations and traditions.  I’m not saying all current Biblical teachings should be repudiated.  Rather – it’s that any explicit meaning we’re going to gather from them ought to be accepted with the understanding that it comes skewed.  That the scriptures come to us as time-and-space artifacts of a particular culture – given in their language and suited to their circumstances.

What we have is just what we have.  It’s better to be honest about what we’ve got with our scriptural record — rather than try to pedestalize it into something it’s not meant to be.

Religions become concerned with ethical behavior and doctrine, and using the scriptures as an all-encompassing moral rule-book – instead of being concerned with changing people’s minds/hearts and how they view/experience their world, using the scriptures as a collection of stories that motivate believers to go live-out their own stories.

The problem with approaching religion as though it were a method of relaying ethics and doctrines from “the Good Book” is that ethics only teach us how to live as though you were one with your neighbor.  You learn the modes of action that imply a compassionate relationship with another person.  It offers you incentive to act in a certain way – but it cannot generate the genuine feeling of it.

While there may be certain ethical implications of having made a covenant with the fundamental Reality of existence – such things neither add to or subtract from current pool of human ethical wisdom.  It is not the domain of religion to lay down specific “hither thou shalt come and no further” guidelines for human behavior that transcendent time, space, culture, and circumstance.

Rather, religion is about providing the environment for people to experience the miraculous works of God and manifestations of the spiritual gifts.  Because once the experience is had – the very way in which a person approaches and experiences human problems/decisions will be altered.

The gospel is about that transcendent experience of a direct connection with God — one that smashes a hardened, left-brain sensation of being separate and opens a person up the fluid, right-brain awareness that all creation is a continuous and connected event that we are all a part of .

Next Article by Justin: The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ

Previous Article by Justin:  The Concept of Race, in the Gospel

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Methods of Scriptural Interpretation


Constitutional Interpretation:

Judicial interpretation explains how a judge/court should interpret specific statutes of law, particularly in constitutional documents and legislation.

There are two main camps with regard to how this legal interpretation should work:

  • Originalism/strict constructionism – which would be characterized as “conservative” or “judicial restraint”.
  • Functionalism – which would be characterized as “liberal” or “judicial activism”.

Simply speaking, the former emphasizes fidelity to the original meaning [or originally intended meaning] of the words in the constitution.  It seeks to be loyal to the authors’ original intent by looking at things like what the words used generally meant at the time they were written and looking at what reasons the authors had for using particular phrases, etc.

While the latter would argue that the constitution was deliberately written to be broad/vague and flexible to accommodate social or technological change over time.  It seeks to be loyal to the author’s original intent by looking at what the words have generally come to mean in applicable ways to people today, etc.

The Constitutional Example of “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”:

In the 8th amendment of the US constitution, there is a clause that states:

nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

This seems cut-and-dry – however, there is controversy as to how to apply this clause/standard in specific judicial cases.  To look at it from the point-of-view of the two above schools of interpretation, we could interpret the clause in terms of:

  • What were generally accepted as “cruel and unusual” punishments during the late 1700’s?  What were the specific conceptions the founders had in mind when barring “cruel and unusual punishments”?  Etc.
  • Or what do we, as 21st century Americans, understand to be “cruel and unusual” ways to punish criminals?  How did the founders want us to be guided by the general concept of “cruelty” or “unusualness” in assigning punishments?  Etc.

In this way, one group has ground to argue, based on the idea of original intent, that hanging is not a cruel and unusual form of capital punishment because it would have generally been accepted at the time the constitution was written.

While the other group, still based on the idea of original intent, can argue that hanging is cruel and unusual at a time when we have developed more humane technologies for capital punishments – or that we have come to view the taking of human life as a form punishment itself as being cruel and unusual.

Scriptural Interpretation:

Scriptural interpretation can be seen as very similar to this constitutional/judicial interpretation.  There are different ways to approach the “original intent” question of passages that may seem quite vague when one attempts to apply them to particular circumstances.  These mirror to two schools of thought on judicial interpretation:

  • Strict textual/contextual interpretation – which would be characterized as “fundamentalist” or “conservative”.  Wherein this group focuses on the specific context of the scripture, what the author was addressing in that scripture, what did the words used mean at the time they were written, etc.
  • Liken the scriptures to yourself interpretation – which would be characterized as being more “liberal” with interpreting passages.  Wherein this group focuses on personal circumstances and concerns, what general concepts did the author outline in that scripture, what do the words used in the translation mean to me or what can I conclude from them personally, etc.

The former approaching scriptural intent by focusing on original context – the latter approaching the same goal by focusing on application to modern issues.

The Scriptural Example of Adultery:

Many directives in the scriptures seem cut-and-dry at first glance.  Take:

thou shalt not commit adultery

as an example.  What seems straight-forward can be really quite vague as we start to look into applying this “statute” to specific cases.  For example:

Alice is in an “open relationship” with Barry.  Both she and Barry have agreed to allow the other to seek extra-marital sexual partners for one-time flings – given that consent is granted prior to any intercourse.  Alice has had sexual relations with men other than Barry [her only husband], but she has always sought and obtained his permission for each of the encounters.

Barry [from the above example; married to Alice] has had some sexual relations with women other than Alice [his only wife], but maintains that – based on the original meaning of the Hebrew word “na’aph” – a man is not able to commit adultery.

Connor is married to two women.  Both know about the polygynous arrangement and both consented to it and find joy in it.  Connor engages in sexual relations with both women separately.

Darren is Christian.  Though he is married to only one woman and has only had sexual relations with his wife, he has imagined lust in his right-brain-heart towards other women.  Jesus Christ said:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Earl is Catholic.  Though he is married to only one woman and has not imagined lust in his right-brain-heart towards other women, he has imagined lust in his right-brain-heart towards his wife.  According to Pope John Paul II:

Adultery “in the heart” is committed not only because man “looks” in this way at a woman who is not his wife, but precisely because he looks at a woman in this way.  Even if he looked in this way at the woman who is his wife, he could likewise commit adultery “in his heart”.

Who in this group committed adultery – which did not?  For what reasons did that person commit or not commit adultery?  Answering these specific cases suddenly reveals how vague a simple command of “thou shalt not commit adultery” can really be.  Am I bound by what adultery would have meant to Moses when he wrote it – or by what the church currently interprets “adultery” to entail – or by what my wife and I have agreed would violate the terms of our marriage covenant?

The Scriptural Interpretation of Hot Drinks:

Another example is:

And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

The current church method seems to be the “strict textual/contextual interpretation” method, wherein essentially all official exposition on the subject default to this quote from Brigham Young:

I have heard it argued that tea and coffee are not mentioned [in D&C 89]; that is very true; but what were the people in the habit of taking as hot drinks when that revelation was given?  Tea and coffee.  We were not in the habit of drinking water very hot, but tea and coffee — the beverages in common use.

However, Brigham Young is going thru some contextual reasoning.  He is answering the question in terms of what the saints were generally in the habit of drinking very hot.  He is not laying down a clear-cut definition of “hot drinks” so that “tea and coffee” simply can just be substituted in for the words “hot drinks” to make the revelation read:

And again, tea and coffee are not for the body or belly.

However, given Brigham’s line of reasoning, it could be argued that the Lord is counseling against habitually drinking things very hot — which for the early saints happened to be tea and coffee.  However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those are the only two specific conceptions the Lord wanted the saints to be guided by.

Putting this into the perspective of the two schools of interpretive thought:

  • Are we bound by the specific conceptions of “hot drinks” – meaning we, today, should just not drink the things that people in the 1830’s were in the habit of drinking very hot [As Brigham was arguing] — such that even though tea and coffee are now often consumed cold, we still must avoid them?
  • Or are we bound to the general concept of “drinks that are hot” – meaning we, today, should not be in the habit of drinking anything very hot [regardless of what the early saints were habitually doing] — such that if the saints became in the habit of drinking apple cider or chocolate as “hot drinks”, then we must avoid those too?

Questions:

  • How do you interpret scripture?
  • Are you an “original meaning” kind of reader – or a “liken it to myself” kind of reader?
  • Might one be appropriate at some times, while the other more appropriate for others?
  • What are the implications of favoring one school of thought over the other?
  • How might an “original meaning” person give extra insight to a “liken it to myself” person.  What about the other way around?

Next Article by Justin:  The Healing Gifts
Previous Article by Justin:  The Will of God and Faith

What the Word of Wisdom says and what it doesn’t say


D&C 89, the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom, gives both very specific and very general instructions. Sometimes we have a tendency to read more into it than is there, or to take away what is actually written there. In the economy of heaven, supererogation is a sin. We are expected by the Lord to do what is required by him. No more, no less.

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. (3 Ne. 11: 40)

But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them. (3 Ne. 18: 13)

Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. (D&C 10: 68 )

And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&C 93: 25)

And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. (D&C 98: 7)

For that which is more or less than this cometh of evil, and shall be attended with cursings and not blessings, saith the Lord your God. Even so. Amen. (D&C 124: 120)

So, in the spirit of doing no more and no less than what the Word of Wisdom says, let’s review just what it does say, and what it doesn’t say.

  • Wine Drinking wine is prohibited by the revelation with but one exception: we can use wine for the sacrament if we ourselves make it, but it must be pure grape wine, not other types of wine.
  • Strong Drink Drinking strong drink is strictly prohibited, however, it is given the use of washing our bodies.
  • Tobacco Smoking, chewing and eating tobacco is strictly prohibited, however, it is given the use of a healing herb for bruises and sick cattle, with cautions on its use (as tobacco poisoning is a real danger.)
  • Hot Drinks Hot drinks, defined by modern prophets as tea and coffee, are strictly prohibited to be used on the outside or inside of the body.
  • Wholesome Herbs The Lord gives the thumbs up, but says to use them in the season thereof, with prudence and thanksgiving.
  • Fruit Again the Lord gives his approval of their use, but says to use them in the season thereof, with prudence and thanksgiving.
  • Flesh of Beasts and Fowls of the Air The Lord gives his approval for their use but emphasizes two times in the revelation that they are only to be used in times of winter, cold or famine, which is his definition of the word “sparingly” and also says that it is pleasing to him that they not be used, at all, except under the conditions he states. Also, these things are to be used with thanksgiving.
  • Grain The Lord gives a thumbs up for all grain, both for man, beasts of the field, fowls of heaven and all wild animals on dry earth.
  • Mild Grain Drinks The Lord gives a thumbs up for all mild grain drinks. Mild grain drinks at the time the Word of Wisdom was revealed was interpreted by the saints, including, apparently, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself, as being beer drinks, with alcoholic content between 1% and 5%, as opposed to strong drink, which was hard liquor with alcoholic content of 40% or more.
  • Fruit-Bearing Plants The Lord gives a thumbs up to all fruit-bearing plants, whether that “fruit” is found above or below ground.

That, in a nutshell, is what the Lord says about what we can or cannot eat. Now, here is what the Lord doesn’t say:

  • Cola drinks The Lord is silent on cola drinks.
  • Chocolate The Lord is silent on chocolate, including hot chocolate drinks.
  • Caffeine The Lord is silent on the consumption of caffeine.
  • Seafood The Lord is silent on eating seafood, both sea creatures and sea plants. After all, the saints were in the middle of the country and had no access to seafood, so why talk about it?
  • Insects, Arachnids, etc. The Lord is silent on the eating of insects, arachnids (scorpions, etc.)
  • Drugs The Lord is silent on drugs, whether legal or illegal.
  • Cooking The Lord is silent about cooking food. He doesn’t approve or disapprove of raw-foodism.
  • Vegan Diets The Lord is silent about vegan diets.
  • Vegetarian Diets The Lord is silent about vegetarianism, though the revelation seem to stress a mainly plant-based diet.
  • Every other type of food consumed, not mentioned in the revelation. The Lord is silent.

Some modern LDS interpretations on the revelation that contradict how the saints who lived at the time of the revelation interpreted it:

  • Wine Means Grape Juice The early saints did not understand the revelation to mean grape juice. It was wine, as in it had alcoholic content. It is lumped together with strong drink for this reason. After all, what’s wrong with drinking grape juice?
  • Mild Barley Drink Is Barley Water The early saints did not use barley water. The mild barley drinks they made were beers, not barley water. The Lord in the revelation is referring to the practices of the time. Therefore, he is referring to, and approving of, beer.

Open interpretations:

  • Wholesome Who decides what a wholesome herb is? You do.
  • Tea Although the prophets have interpreted “hot drinks” to mean tea and coffee, just what constitutes the tea that is prohibited is interpreted by LDS in different ways. For example, there are four types of tea: black tea, oolong tea, white tea and green tea. Some choose to interpret tea as being only the type of tea that was in use by the saints at the time of the revelation, leaving the other three types open for use. Especially green tea, which many people feel has great healing properties. Others reject all teas, including herbal teas.
  • Coffee Many saints think that it is the caffeine in coffee that makes it prohibitive and so drink decaffeinated coffee.

Sometimes as LDS we tend to be a little too judgmental of our fellow saints, based upon our preconceived notions of what the Word of Wisdom is and isn’t. Just because a saint has a bottle of vodka in his cupboard doesn’t mean he’s drinking it, it may mean he’s using it for washing purposes. Just because a saint has a winery and is bottling wine doesn’t mean he’s drinking it, it may mean he’s preparing for the day when we will again partake of the sacrament with wine. Just because a sister refuses to eat meat, it doesn’t mean she is breaking any commandment. Just because a saint is a raw-foodist or vegan or vegetarian, doesn’t mean they are weird or strange. Just because a saint drinks coca-cola or green tea or makes a meal of cake and ice cream doesn’t mean that they are sinners. And even if we ever see a saint drinking Guinness, at 5% alcohol, are they really breaking the Word of Wisdom? The earlier saints wouldn’t have thought so.

Remember, the Word of Wisdom was given for “the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.” It may be less of a test to see if we can follow it and more of a test to see if we can stop judging our fellow saint.

Previous Word of Wisdom article: Strong drinks, mild drinks, hot drinks, wine, etc.

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

Strong drinks, mild drinks, hot drinks, wine, etc.


 

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.)

HOT, a.

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.

(from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/hot)

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.

(from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/mild)

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.

(from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/strong)

DRINK, n.

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.

(from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/drink)

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.

(from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/liquor)

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.

(from http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/wine)

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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