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Vol.  9  No. 10 October 2007  Page 20
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Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore

Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Louis Rushmore

Born Out-of-Wedlock

I was born out of wedlock and my mother was formerly married to a man, of which wasn’t my father (I was born after their divorce). They had an unscriptual divorce (of which she said was his idea), and now he has remarried. In her repentance in becoming a Christian, do I have to seperate in one instance or another from my mother, since I am one born out of wedlock? Also, does I Corinthians 7:11 allow her to stay single if their is no reconciliation? Sorry. Since learning more about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, I have been desperate in getting the complete truth for myself and others. [Name & Location withheld at the discretion of the Editor]

    For your part, being “born out of wedlock” attaches no spiritual fault or sin to you. Babies, irrespective of the circumstances of their births, arrive on planet earth sinlessly perfect. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezek. 18:20). Guilt for sin comes later in life; “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezek 28:15). The fact that you were conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) was sin shared by your biological parents. If your mother had never repented of that sin, she still would have been your mother, just as despite the sin of one spouse (perhaps even to being withdrawn from by the church) spouses still have marital responsibilities that are not diminished. Yet, even family are obligated to convey disapproval rather than approval toward delinquent Christian family members. However, if your mother’s repentance upon becoming a Christian (expressed or not expressed publicly) included all previous sins, including fornication that led to your birth, God has chosen to forget the sin (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17), and so should you as best you can.

    Under the New Testament, divorce and remarriage is forbidden except in the case of fornication or death of a spouse (Romans 7:1-3; Matthew 19:9). At least one spouse in every divorce is guilty of the sin of divorce; divorce is forbidden under Christianity (1 Corinthians 7:10). If, though, a divorce occurs not because of fornication or adultery, the spouses are required to reconcile or remain separate (1 Corinthians 7:11). If reconciliation is not possible, the parties to the interrupted marriage are required by inspired, apostolic command to “remain unmarried.” If your mother included in her repentance when becoming a Christian, or at some other time, any responsibility she may have for the divorce, she is forgiven by God. In the case of an “unscriptural divorce,” she must remain unmarried to continue to be pleasing to God.


Deuteronomy 14:26

Can you please explain the wine or the strong wine in Deuteronomy 14: 22-28. I’m not drinking wine or strong wine, I’m teaching bible class every sunday and my topic is about giving (offering, tithe and giving in the new testament) but the second tithe is mention in the book deuteronomy 14. Yours in Christ, Omar Agustin

    Deuteronomy 14:26 reads, “And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink [“similar drink” NKJV], or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household” (KJV). Whatever Deuteronomy 14:26 means, respecting “wine” and “strong drink,” it must harmonize with other portions of divinely inspired Scripture about the same subject. Someone once said that Scripture is its own best commentary (i.e., other passages that are more easily understood pertaining to the same subject contribute to the proper understanding of more difficult passages). “…Scripture must serve as a guide to understand Scripture. Any problem text must be interpreted not in isolation but in the light of the overall teaching of Scripture. An interpretation of a passage contradicting the whole trend of Scripture must be rejected as wrong” (Bacchiocchi 224). One passage “doctrines” are suspiciously under substantiated by divine inspiration and scare me; proponents of social drinking (of alcohol) pin their hope for the defense of alcoholic beverages on Deuteronomy 14:26, forasmuch as more feeble strategies of the same sort fall flat upon inspection. The argument that Deuteronomy 14:26 demonstrates divine approval of social drinking is the lone biblical specimen of supposed divine sanction of beverage alcohol.

    First, that “strong drink” (KJV) or “similar drink” (NKJV) in Deuteronomy 14:26 cannot refer to and sanction the use of an alcoholic beverage is obvious when one acknowledges that God specifically condemned consuming alcoholic beverages respecting acceptable worship under Judaism; “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations” (Leviticus 10:9 KJV). The Bible cannot both disallow (Leviticus 10:9) and allow (Deuteronomy 14:26) the consumption of alcohol under the same Law (Judaism) respecting the same purpose (worship) without making the Bible contradictory. Jewish worship being the same in both passages, the references to “wine” and “strong drink” must refer to different substances (i.e., alcoholic in Leviticus 10:9 and non-alcoholic in Deuteronomy 14:26).

    Second, the words “wine and strong drink” constitute an expression that uses two independent words to express a single idea; this figure of speech is called “hendiadys” (Merriam-Webster's). This is similar to the grammatical use of the apposition in language where two adjacent nouns are equivalent to each other in meaning. In other words, the affect is saying it twice. Therefore, whatever the word “wine” means in the context in which the expression appears is what the words “strong drink” or “similar drink” mean. The context of Deuteronomy 14:26, then, neither refers to alcoholic wine nor other alcoholic drinks since the Law prohibited the use of alcoholic beverages by Jewish worshippers (Leviticus 10:9). “Strong drink” or “similar drink” in Deuteronomy 14:26 cannot refer to an alcoholic beverage.

    Third, in Deuteronomy 14:23, the “wine” associated with the harvest offering was fresh grape juice, coming from a word, tirosh, that means just squeezed out (Biblesoft’s). The reference to “wine” and “strong drink” or “similar drink” in Deuteronomy 14:26 is a reference to the same beverage for the same purpose at the same occasion and place. The only difference in circumstances between verse 23 and verse 26 is that the participants relative to the latter verse lived far from place of worship, and they had to convert their offers to money so they could travel more easily, but upon arrival at the place of worship, they spent the money to avail themselves of the same offerings. Hence, just as the beverage of Deuteronomy 14:23 was non-alcoholic, the reference to the same thing in Deuteronomy 14:26 refers to the same, non-alcoholic beverage. This means that the word, shekar, translated “strong drink” or “similar drink” does not always refer to an alcoholic beverage, but rather the context determines whether the reference is to alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Further, the verb form of shekar refers to drinking deeply, but he context must be examined to determine what beverage is being drunk deeply, and whether that beverage is alcoholic or non-alcoholic (Haggai 1:5-6; Song of Solomon 5:1. Context is everything in Bible study, especially when generic words are involved. Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible concurs that shekar may be fermented (alcoholic) or unfermented (non-alcoholic), depending upon the context in which it is found (qtd. in Bacchiocchi 231).

    Fourth, sometimes shekar referred to a sweet beverage, which was obviously not alcoholic since fermented beverages are naturally bitter rather than sweet. In Isaiah 24:9, shekar would become bitter and be ruined, along with other ruinations of the Jewish homeland as punishment of God toward his rebellious people. “Isaiah 24:9 suggests that shekar in the Old Testament was a beverage valued because of its sweetness, a quality which disappears as the sugar is converted to alcohol” (Bacchiocchi 229).

    Fifth, the words “strong drink” have a contemporary meaning that did not correspond to the times existing when Deuteronomy 14:26 was penned.

The adjective “strong,” though consistently used in conjunction with shekar, is not part of the word itself, but an added word. This gives the false impression to a modern reader that people drank distilled liquor in Old Testament times. This is obviously wrong because the process of distilling alcohol did not develop until around A.D. 500. (Bacchiocchi 229)

Today, Bible students must always be vigilant not to overlay a contemporary template on the ancient past, by which one’s interpretation of biblical passages will be flawed.

    Sixth, the word shekar, which in Deuteronomy 14:26 is translated as “strong drink” (KJV) or “similar drink” (NKJV), provide us our English words “sugar” and “cider,” according to numerous dictionaries (Bacchiocchi 232-233). This alone indicates the true nature of the word shekar, at least in some of the biblical contexts in which it is found. This bit of information corresponds with the non-alcoholic characteristic of the beverage in Deuteronomy 14:23 and its relationship to the beverage in Deuteronomy 14:26. The context definitively pronounces the “strong drink” or “similar drink” of Deuteronomy 14:26 as non-alcoholic.

    Each of the preceding points interacts and concurs with each other respecting the true nature of shekar or the “strong” or “similar drink” in Deuteronomy 14:26. The supposed last ditch effort for imbibers to find biblical sanction for social drinking falls flat upon careful inspection.

Works Cited

Bacchiocchi, Samuele. Wine in the Bible. Berrien Springs: Biblical Perspectives, 1989.

Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.

Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1993. CD-ROM. Seattle: Logos, 1996.

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