What is the Word of Wisdom?

Pamphlets from the Cleveland Temperance Society were in the Kirtland area and you can see almost exact replica wording (Joseph's pattern to borrow from publications of the time) to the WoW "revelation."

You can read "Means of Preserving Health, And Preventing Disease" from 1806 and see where it says, "Avoid the excessive use of hot drinks such as coffee, chocolate and tea, particularly the last."

While the men socialized they often did so with whiskey and tobacco, and the women with coffee and tea. It's clear from Whitney's statement that Emma complained to Joseph about the nasty spittle on the floors, and it's clear that BY made a comment much later in the 1850s that, "If men are to give up their whiskeys and tobacco, women are to give up their coffees and teas."

BY owned the whiskey distillery in SLC and it was recorded by travelers to be a strong whisky, called "Valley Tan." The church owned the vineyard and press (the building is still there) in Laverkin, and the bottles were called "Dixie Wine." A bottle was placed by BY and Erastus Snow in a box encased in the SE corner of the stonework with coins, records, newspapers, a sliver plate, and a bottle of Dixie Wine!

The LDS church regulates every aspect of your life, including the temperature of your caffeine and you underwear! It really could attract more members if it eased up on hot caffeine! Tea is good, mild barley drinks (beer) are fine and the WoW actually says that, and alcohol by itself is not harmful, it's like anything -- moderation is the key. I will say spot-on, good on ya on tobacco for the WoW forbidding that, that is no bueno, and good in moderation (I get meat sweats if I eat too much)!

Does God care what you eat and drink? Or is food and beverage about moderation?

Does God really care about the temperature of your caffeine?

Does God have an opinion about herbal (vs black) tea?

Does God condone the plethora soda/cookie shops in Utah? My daughter worked at Fizz here in St George, I joked w/her that she was working at the Mormon Coffee Shop!

The LDS church tries to regulate everything in your life, from the temperature of your caffeine to your underwear! :)

The temperance movement was alive and well in 1830s US, and as we've learned from 1920s prohibition and from religious experience, when you make something illegal or verbotten, it just leads to over-interest and over-use of it (kids often go nuts in college). Yin and yang, don't push too much on one side or an equal force will attract -- walk the middle path. I've told my daughters, drink for social occasions and to have fun (to celebrate) (not the opposite), but drink in moderation (no reason to ever lose control in excess), and be responsible in all that you do. Make good choices.

Coffee, tea, bear -- these have become faith-tests and worthiness-signals in the LDS church and culture. You can be judged quicker for ordering coffee than for other "sins." Coffee a sin, really? it's a very external-type of religion socially, as Mormons have a ward congregation (in Utah that can be 4-5 blocks wide and long), and it's a very socially-active faith (youth groups, adult parties, Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, etc.). There's kind of a hierarchy of sins in Mormon culture, where alcohol and tobacco are right out, pornography is worse than alcohol, etc.

The WoW has inconsistencies in what it says vs how its now observed, e.g. hot drinks (can drink hot chocolate but can't drink tea, even if cold, or coffee), e.g. mild barley drinks (WoW says they're okay, but in modern culture Mormons can't drink beer), e.g. only eat fruit in the season thereof (well it's okay now to eat whatever fruit in whatever season). e.g. somehow caffeine when I was growing up was deeply frowned upon (could get you judged by the neighbors!), but about mid to late 00s it informally became okay b/c BYU vending machines started selling regular Coke.

WoW was loosely followed until 1920s, e.g. BY had a whisky distillery, there was a church-owned winery in Laverkin and a bottle of Dixie Wine was placed in the time capsule of the cornerstone of the St George temple, JS had a bar in his Nauvoo mansion, he wrote in his journal about going to get a beer one night, etc. The WoW was 1830s frontier folk thinking and borrowed from the temperance pamphlet. (it's not an eternal, cosmic, absolutist thing!)

It's human nature to want to fit in and to be at the top of the caste -- and sadly that's what judging people by their drinks, does. (I literally used to look down on people that smoke or drink alcohol). I've heard people close to me derogatorily say, "They are beer drinkers." When my wife moved to Springville, UT in the 80s she wasn't initially allowed to play with a girl in the neighborhood, as her dad drank beer. It's really sad how people use their beliefs and make them into projections used for judging.

Moderation is a universal principle for healthy living.

shawnmatheson profile image for wasmormon.orgshawnmatheson

It’s used as a device to prove loyalty and obedience to the organization. It’s implementation in modern Mormonism was a reaction to the prohibition movement, and until then most prophets drank alcohol. It’s also entirely nonsensical. The quickest way to evaluate its absurdity is to try to explain it.

bethlundgreen profile image for wasmormon.orgbethlundgreen

Something that is just totally incorrect and hypocritical. I will drink coffee if I want to, and I will not go to "outer darkness" for it.

Dominique profile image for wasmormon.orgdominique