ASK CMG: Strong Drink and Heavy Hearts

Dear CMG,

I am very concerned about gaining some insight into applying Proverbs 31:6-7: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

I am a single girl (still), waiting for the one God has for me. While I’m waiting, I live under my father’s rule. He doesn’t want me to teach in a Christian school, but does permit me to help out with the homeschooling of some local patriarchal families.

I am happy to see that these families take the commands and promises of the Proverbs seriously. They do not spare for their children’s crying, and they believe that the blueness of wounds they impart with their rods are cleansing. (I hate to admit it, but I am secretly glad I’m not a parent and have to do those sorts of things, but I know the AV1611 is quite clear in the commands of Biblical Chastisement.)

But I am still working on my obedience to the Proverbs. My father had me memorize Proverbs 31 when I was 3, but it was only recently that I was convicted that I should be working on applying it in my life. I’m hoping it will also help someone find me to be worth some rubies. (I don’t even care about the far above part anymore.) So I started to work verse by verse.

Well, I’m a little hung up on those verses. It seems like in this day and age, Christians have forgotten how to give a good old fashion strong drink. But it’s very clear that this is a command. How do I know who is going to perish? Isn’t God the only one who knows such sorts of things? Or should I go on visitation to the hospital wards and visit cancer patients and give them strong drink? Don’t some states have laws on that? Are there Christian websites where you can buy strong drink containers that look like soft drink containers?

Should I carve these verses onto the container? What if the person I think is perishing isn’t, and they end up getting’ cured. Or even worse, healed by a healer! Have I disobeyed the command? And that’s just the first command!

I’ve also noticed that some of the homeschool kids I help with seem heavy hearted. Usually when their parents are applyin’ other parts of Proverbs. Which of course means they get some more applyin.’ Should I suggest that the parents give them wine instead? It would probably save them time and plumbing line. Or do I just try to give it to them myself? Am I being divisive if I cause there to be tension between the parents and the children?

Also, how do I know what is considered poverty? (And besides, people in poverty usually can’t afford wine.) I mean, I qualify for government assistance, but then again I still wear Tommy Hilfiger denim jumpers. But there are missionaries that visited our church last week that said the people in Tunisia sometimes don’t even have access to water. And I didn’t see anyone in their slides wearing jumpers. So that makes me seem rich, doesn’t it?

Obeying to the letter of the law is harder than it looks on those letters. But I want to have a conscience that is void of offense before God and man.

Thanks for taking time to answer my questions.


Confused and Single (Still!)

Dear Confused and Single,
It’s always nice to meet another Maiden-In-Waiting-At-Home (MIWAH). You are definitely going to make a mark for the Kingdom by helping out with family things and your husband will appreciate that you haven’t ventured out into the world and become jaded by things like dating or employment.

I went back through my Sermon Notes Notebook and found a sermon on “Strong Drink = Weak Men” by Pastor Backlow. He actually used this passage (Proverbs 31) in the sermon! One of his points was that if you drink, even a glass of wine, that it will become so enslaving and demoralizing that you will find yourself in the poorhouse or in a depression (which is a sin, since we are commanded to be joyful at all times). He said that people who are poor or depressed because of their sin see nothing wrong with sinking further in that sin. He said, “I tell you, folks. When I see one of them beggars on the street asking for money, or one of them poor families stops by the church office for food, I always tell them that I know alcohol led to their downfall. Amen? In this passage, the advice to Lemuel is that NOT drinking is a clue to his status and high class. Amen? So it’s very clear that drinking leads to poverty and perversion. Amen?”

It always makes me sad to see folks in the alcohol aisle at the supermarket. I want to just tell them that they may have smile on their face while they talk about having fun, but even just a little drink makes you drunk and that’s a sin. We leave tracts in the coupon bins at the supermarket so just maybe they will come to know Jesus and be convicted of their sin of drinking alcohol.

It’s clear from Pastor’s sermon on that passage that drinking is wrong and should never happen. If you feel led, you may also steer clear of mouthwash, cooking wine, and cough syrup. If you have those in your home, make sure they are clearly labeled. So your testimony does not suffer.

As for being far above rubies, if you are modest in dress and attitude, no matter how ‘out of style’ you may be, you are a precious Kingdom Daughter!! Your inner beauty shines like your fresh, non-makeup wearing face! Any second that your thoughts go to what you are wearing or what you look ‘good’ in is a second that takes away from focusing on your countenance of grace and joy. Keep your meek and quiet spirit in the forefront so everyone can see it! πŸ™‚

In Modest Apparel,

104 thoughts on “ASK CMG: Strong Drink and Heavy Hearts”

      1. From Wikipedia: “Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating/percolating vanilla beans in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water.”

        See? It’s going to make us all drunkards!

        1. I’ve long been convinced that IFB preachers’ wives are the chief consumers of vanilla extract in the United States.

      2. Look on the label: The extract in my spice rack says “Alcohol 35%.”

        I’ve heard that during Prohibition, people would buy vanilla extract in 5-gallon jugs. It tasted better than Sterno, antifreeze, or wood alcohol (methanol), which desperate people also consumed. (My grandfather was a young pharmacist in those days, and he witnessed all the “substitutes” various people attempted to use. Some of them, like the methanol, would knock them down right on the sidewalk in front of the drug store.)

      3. My dad used to be a guard at a prison, and he was telling me once that they had to keep the vanilla away from the prisoners or they’d drink a bunch of it to get drunk. πŸ˜›

    1. LOL, reminds me of a story from a fundie friend. She had several young brothers and sisters she would frequently end up babysitting. She had advised another friend to put a tsp of vanilla in a bottle to settle a fussy baby since it had worked so well on her siblings. ❗ She was shocked to hear it contained alcohol.

  1. Thankfully after God abandoned Israel for America, our Godly leaders from years past put in place laws that superseded Proverbs 31 in the matter of strong drink. Now it’s illegal to give alcohol to minors, so you don’t have to worry about those homeschool kids because it’s understood you should only follow this verse as far as the laws of the land allow you to.

    CMG, I’m a little concerned about keeping even mouthwash and Nyquil at home – there are instructions on the internet how to get the alcohol out of those, and even if someone’s lazy he could just drink it straight up and become addicted. I’m even more concerned about the cooking wine thing – how could someone buy cooking wine at a store without damaging their testimony? Suppose I bought a bottle to cook with, and someone saw me walking out with what looks like a bottle of regular wine? That person would never get saved then because I’d look like a hypocrite! I think it’s best to avoid even the appearance of evil by not buying anything with alcohol, ever, period. That way I can’t hinder God.

      1. It’s really off-topic, but “cooking wine” and “cooking sherry” are awful for cooking purposes. They are made by adding a lot of salt to low-quality wine or sherry (I guess so they won’t taste good if you drink them). So they will throw off the salt amount in any recipe where you use them. If you use wine for cooking, use regular wine. At least 99% of the alcohol will evaporate during the first couple of minutes of cooking.

        1. At least 99% of the alcohol will evaporate during the first couple of minutes of cooking.

          Unfortunately, that’s not true. The table at the bottom of this page shows that more alcohol is “left behind” than often assumed. A PDF of the research from which this data was taken is here (see page 12).

        2. I doubt these figures.

          But the cooking temperatures are not stated in the tables.
          Alcohol will evaporate at room temperature in a fairly short time. Since alcohol boils at a much lower temperature than water, anything boiled, or baked to around 200 degrees or higher (internal temp.) is going to lose almost all its alcohol. This is, in fact, how distillation works: Heat a liquid containing alcohol to a temperature below the boiling point. The alcohol vaporizes, and is collected and re-condensed, and most of the water and other components are left behind.

          If you want to avoid alcohol entirely, though, the method would be to use dealcoholized wines (available at some grocery and health-food stores), not “cooking” wines (which still contain alcohol).

        3. The wording of my reply was kind of ambiguous and possibly misleading. I have no interest in avoiding alcohol in food. As a matter of fact, I’d love to try making that fruitcake recipe that was discussed here in the recent past… πŸ˜›

        4. That reminds me. . .I have been meaning to try making a rum cake. Hmmm, maybe tonight.

    1. “Now itÒ€ℒs illegal to give alcohol to minors, so you donÒ€ℒt have to worry about those homeschool kids because itÒ€ℒs understood you should only follow this verse as far as the laws of the land allow you to”

      I say it is better to obey God rather then man!

    2. Churches are exempt from laws prohibiting serving alcohol to minors. I’ve served plenty of little kids myself.

      Our church also has a special license from the state so we don’t pay taxes on wine. Boo-yah!

  2. Well, I have brandy in my cupboard, but I assure you that it’s only for flavoring baked goods and the alcohol evaporates – most of it.

    1. I always have chocolate liquor in the cabinet.

      A shot in coffee or my darling chocolate martinis make for a nice end to a day.

      It also goes great in snow cream, but don’t give it to the kiddies.

  3. I hate it when the grocery store has all those healthful things you really need (like soda and Kool-Aid) in the same aisle as beer and wine. If only somehow I could figure out how to avoid being seen in this terrible predicament.

  4. Why anyone would even bring that demon liquor into their house to begin with is a mystery to me? Playing with fire water is the first step, Amen?

    1. Ugh, I hate it when I punctuate poorly. Nothing like a misplaced question mark to make my testimony suffer.

        1. You know, some people believe the strong drink in the “wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging” verse referred to strong coffee!

  5. This is great. Not only were verses taken out of context, but the original issues/questions themselves were completely overlooked. A classic example of giving the impression of helping without saying a blessed thing. Superbly written (as always).

    1. Very true! I saw this many times when I was younger and wanting a Bible verse explained to me. I’d get a long explanation supporting our traditional IFB ways, but when it was done, I’d think, “That NEVER even addressed the question I originally asked.” The Bible verse would still be sitting there, saying what it said, while the IFB authority figure tried to draw my attention away from it.

      1. Oh, so sadly true. I remember asking a MOG who I thought I respected about a very serious matter. I *REALLY* needed advice at that time. His response: “Read a chapter of Proverbs every day, and God will show you how everything will work out.” Hmmmm. . .must be I missed the passage on drinking. That might have actually helped at the time. πŸ˜‰

  6. Confused and Single, I think you should start testing strong drink so that you don’t give someone the wrong thing. I’d recommend starting with tequila, it goes down pretty easy and works wonders with sick people (or maybe I have that reversed?). Vodka is great for people down on their luck. You gotta learn these things before you can be obedient.

  7. I don’t think still single has to worry too much about the wine, since we know that the wine in biblical times was really like grape juice. So go ahead and pass out the Welch’s.

    1. I think the wine in Biblical times was more like wine. There was no Pasteurization, so any fruit juice you kept around in warm weather for more than a day or two would turn to wine (i.e. it would ferment).
      The Greeks and the Romans diluted their wine with a good deal of water, and they still got drunk on it, so it must have been rather strong to begin with.

      Some anthropologists claim that the reason people first established settled communities (instead of being nomads) was so they could grow the grain necessary to make beer. There’s a good deal of archeological evidence of beer production in the ruins of the oldest known human settlements.

      Whoops, I’m getting pedantic again. Sorry. 😳

      1. Big Gary, one of the most interesting books I have on my shelves, is a recent publication called “Uncorking the past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages”, by Patrick McGovern. He is an archeologist, and has played an important role in researching the history and primitive origins of man’s relationship to alcohol. The oldest drinks we know of are grogs, with the (current) oldest example from China, which was fermented from fruits, honey and rice.

      2. “Some anthropologists claim that the reason people first established settled communities (instead of being nomads) was so they could grow the grain necessary to make beer. ThereÒ€ℒs a good deal of archeological evidence of beer production in the ruins of the oldest known human settlements.”

        I KNEW that there was something evil about cities! God meant us to live on small farms with large families, growing our own food, making our own clothes, and only leaving to go hear the man o’ gawd preach.

  8. Strong Drink does not equal Hard Liquor.

    The biblical reference to Strong Drink is for fermented grain beverages, i.e. beer.

    Hard liquor is derived through the distillation process, and the equipment and capability for distillation was not available until the late first century AD.

        1. @The Singular Observer, Big Gary, and Phil Lehman:

          Are you having an actually serious discussion and recommending resources to each other? At “a humor site? Bizarre.” Do all of “you start your inquiries into politics and economics with the Jon Stewart show and your ventures into history with Monty Python”?

        2. @lowercase dave

          Actually, I do get most of my news and political info from Jon Stewart, how did you guess? Preferably while imbibing something like a Saranac Caramel Porter.

        3. Jon Stewart is where I get a majority of my news. I am sick of all the stupidity of the pundits.

        4. Stephen R and Jessica – It is surprising how accuarte Jon Stewart is with current events. You get the story with humor and none of the bias from most other news organizations.
          Now, I will be really impressed if either of you get your history updates from Monty Python. πŸ˜†

        5. The above comments supporting Jon Stewart as a legitimate news source explains alot.

          My little light just clicked on. I understand the liberal take on issues here alot better now….as I take off my gloves.

        6. Actually, greg, I am a pretty conservative (in the traditional sense) politically. I just find the humor and satire more easy to process than screaming/name calling/fear/etc. Plus, in this world you have to possess the ability to laugh at yourself. Because there is a lot to laugh about in our current political climate. *I am looking at you, Sarah Palin*

        7. Jessica – While I’ll admit that Stewart is smart and funny, to think that anyone would tune in to his show for real news is hilarious and quite telling.

          I’ve heard more name-calling and screaming from Stewart than from any other pundit, conservative or liberal.

        8. See, this is why I don’t watch national news. If I want to know where someone stands politically, I go to their website. When I want to know something about a big newstory, I go to the website.

          I make it a point not to watch local news. It’s a po-po wife thing. I don’t need to know about shootings in HF’s district or thereabouts. It just makes me worry.

        9. My comment was actually an almost direct quote of SFL’s founder criticizing me a few days ago.

          If you agree with getting your news from Stewart, you bear the brunt of the scorn that Darrell (mis)directed at me.

    1. Phil the KJV clearly says strong drink and we all know that today strong drink equals distilled liquor. So clearly that is what was meant in proverbs. It is the same way I know that Jesus clearly wore pants and not a “dress.”

      I think if you really study this topic out (ie only read the KJV) things will become clear soon enough.

  9. The wonderful thing about proverbs is that they are not a set of rules. In fact in many cases you see the reductio ad absurdum to prove a point. The writer is clearly contrasting being a king with being one who is in distress – saying that those who are in distress may drink away their sorrows as a matter of fact, with no moral judgement one way or the other.

    The point is that it is wise for a king to not do that, lest he forget what he has decreed.

    I guess the Presbyterians see it as a rule though πŸ˜‰

  10. Hi, my name is Jenni, and I never tasted any alcohol until after I left my Fundy church. I have tried it now, and I don’t like it. But I have finally gotten to the point where I don’t feel like I have to explain myself to everyone – there are people in the world who choose not to drink for whatever reason, and it’s okay for me to be one of those people without stating my lack of moral objections.

      1. I didn’t take it that way, I thought she was basically giving a little backstory about her own non-dealings with alcohol. Personally, I was in a similar situation. I never tasted it until I left Fundy-land. Then, when I did, I didn’t like the taste of any of it at all. However, recently friends of mine got me drinking wine, which I now really like. Beer…yuck! Hard liquor…yuck! So, like Jenni, I just don’t drink if I don’t want to, and people don’t really care or pressure me to drink. Despite what I was told growing up, people will not make you feel bad for not drinking with them…well, not all people anyway.

        1. “people will not make you feel bad for not drinking with them” … that’s because we always need a designated driver!

    1. Jenni – I understand completely and I appreciate your comments.

      Just as in life everywhere you just have to look over rude people.

      God Bless You! πŸ˜€

  11. I think the real issue here is being avoided. Confused and Single is wearing Tommy Hilfiger jumpers which we know is a sign she is already on the path to worldliness. Nothing of the world should be branded on our clothing lest our testimony be desecrated.

    1. Well, it’s not real. Ask CMG is a satire post. But the sad thing is that it COULD be real. We’ve all heard these arguments before. πŸ™

    1. amazing! not that dating methods used in archaeology can be trusted. ken ham would probably tell us that it actually only dates back to 1957.

      1. Ken Ham would show you a completely fossilized miner’s hat that dates to the 1800’s that until it was found, the evolutionists would not have believed could be fossilized in such a relatively short time.

        1. actually, evolutionists aren’t at all surprised that things can calcify/petrify/form into rock quickly, certainly not the calcium carbonate of the miner’s hat (if i remember my bju geology class correctly), especially since it wasn’t encased in rock and therefore not really a fossil πŸ™‚ and either way, i was just making a (lame) joke. πŸ™‚

        2. What? How can a hat be a fossil? It was never alive.

          Anyhow, every geologist or paleontologist I’ve ever heard talk about fossils says it doesn’t necessarily take a long time to form a fossil. Dating of fossils is based on other evidence besides the mere fact that they have turned to stone.

        3. Mike/Big Gary – yea I screwed up again, its not a fossil, in my enthusiam to suppor good ol Ken my fingers got ahead of my brain.

      2. Now that reminds me of a quip by another on a blog discussion of the new “Noah’s Ark” theme park plannend in Kentucky:

        “When a coin in Ken Ham’s coffer rings, a soul from liberalism springs!”

        Not really related, but too funny not to share!

        1. Mike – No problem, I realized you were making a joke, but I am an unashamed fan of Answers in Genesis, and I just looooooove how Ken Ham scares the old-earth evolutionists to death.

        2. TSO – I am familiar with the geochrisian site and it is a fine one btw, but I disagree with many of their findings. I want to look at your site more closely, looks interesting. Tks

    2. That’s interesting! (about the 6100-year old winery, back at the beginning of this thread).

      ‘”Deliberate fermentation of carbohydrates into alcohol has been suggested as a possible factor that prompted the domestication of wild plants and the development of ceramic technology,” said Barnard, who teaches in the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.’

      Therefore, it’s not just cities that are tainted by the association with alcoholic drinks, but all domestic plants and ceramics. So, to avoid sin, we should eat only wild plants, drink from wooden cups, and eat from large (wild) plant leaves instead of dishes.

      1. I was reading the article this morning, about the discovery of the winery, and was thinking how this discovery was going to put a dent in alot of fundy preaching. Don’t know about your ex-fundy pastor, but mine would pontificate about no one during this time knew about the distallation process yada,yada,yada, of course the discovery doesn’t prove that the Jews had access to this technology, but now at least we know that the technology dates back some 4000 years before Christ.

        1. Don’t worry, it’s not going to put a dent in any fundy preaching. Information is out there that disproves many other fundy myths (e.g. KJVO, the unbroken line of Baptist succession, etc.), and that hasn’t stopped them yet.

  12. A quote from a former IFB “pastor” of mine: “Why would you want to drink wine? It’s nothing but rotten grape juice.”

    Needless to say when someone pointed out the wedding at Cana there was a lot of hemming and hawing and “culture of the times” talk.

    1. Ah, IFB logic. So if bacterial action = rotten, I guess he only eats unleavened bread, and abstains from cheese, yoghurt, kefir and tofu, as well as many kinds of sausages. Also non-artificially carbonated root beer, ginger beer/ale and many others…

      Then again, Abraham ate curds…(Genesis 18)

  13. I would like to point out that the holy book only prohibits the fermentation of grape and grain and only thus because, when our holiest of prophets was offered a choice, he took milk over wine.

    Per my understanding of the law, this means that mead and cider, which are made from neither grape nor grain are both perfectly allowable.

  14. Dear CMG,

    I have to admit that I am a little more than disappointed with your answer. I GAVE YOU SO MUCH MATERIAL TO WORK WITH!!!!

    I had to babysit (well, they don’t call it babysitting) the homeschool kids again today, so was beyond elated to see my letter featured. Unfortunately, the littlest one was a little fussy today. (She had had her will broken the day before, and was perhaps a little sore.) I really feel torn about taking the Bible literally and following your advice. I am certain the two can’t conflict, so the problem must lie with me? So I gave the poor girl some vanilla extract. (Figured it would be a minor offense to you and your pastor-less than real strong drink, but pleasing enough to God as a fulfillment of the passage in question.) It seemed to help, but a few minutes later she threw up on my Tommy Hilfiger jumper.

    Well, I took that as the Lord’s leadin’ that I ought not be wearing such high fallutin’ clothing, and should garb myself in more modest apparel, in the more modest sense of the word. Or maybe it was just a sign from heaven that alcohol truly does lead to poverty!?

    But sadly, when her parents arrive home that night (they were speakers at a parenting seminar at a Biblical Chastisement Conference at our church)they saw that I was no longer wearing my Tommy Hilfiger jumper, and questioned me. Penalties abounded for all.

    Needless to say, I am still confused by your response. I keep thinking of the passage “whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” and so I feel for me not to give out strong drink to the heavy hearted would be sin for me. 😐

    A Confused and Single (somewhat-still) MIWAH

  15. Hi, I am a new Christian and kind of stumbled on this site while looking up info about BJU. I’ve never quite understood the term “fundy”. what is a fundy technically supposed to be? I know its short for fundamental, but what does that mean in a Christian context?

    1. In short it is a rabid legalistic cult that passes itself off as Christian, mostly found in the Indepenedent, Fundamental, King James Only, Baptist circles.

    2. Historically a fundamentalist held to orthodox truths of Christianity: Jesus is God, salvation is through faith in Christ, Jesus truly rose from the grave, He was born of a virgin, etc. Over time, fundamentalism began to stand for strict standards (some included no going to movie theaters, no pants-wearing on women, no listening to rock music or “Christian rock” (praise & worship music, contemporary music), and in some churches only reading the King James Version of the Bible. Separation is ESSENTIAL for fundamentalists: separation from the world, separation from those who say they are Christians but deny some basic fundamental (such as the virgin birth), a secondary separation from those who agree with you but won’t separate from the same people you do, and eventual separation from Christians who disagree on standards (such as what music to have in church or what Bible version to read).

      Not everyone on this site is a Christian. Many of us are. We LOVE Jesus and are so thankful for His salvation! His grace is amazing! But we want to make sure we are following HIM and the Bible and not the extra man-made traditions that were taught to many of us in our independent fundamental Baptist churches.

  16. Personally, I see this as two birds one stone. If you truly value modesty to the point of tackiness, which you should as a daughter of Christ, consider dating those who are perishing, THEN when you give them strong drink, they will think you are worth all the rubies on the planet!
    Think of this as “wisdom dating,” see, it’s not manipulative if you use the resources available!
    Boom. Roasted.

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