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Word Of Wisdom: From Principle To Requirement

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I just finished reading an interesting Dialogue article by Thomas G. Alexander called The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement. http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V14N03_80.pdf

 

The author walks us through the evolution of the WoW from a principle with a blessing to a requirement for full fellowship and worthiness. He illustrates how social and political pressures combined with past statements of church leaders and scriptural study to influence the evolution of the WoW to a commandment in the church. He claims there is no evidence a "revelation" was received which changed the status of the WoW from principle to revelation.

 

Are any of you familiar with this article? What are your thoughts about looking at the WoW as an example of how doctrine and policy change within the church?

 

 

FYI- Bill Reel- This would be an interesting topic for a podcast.

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I just finished reading an interesting Dialogue article by Thomas G. Alexander called The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement. http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V14N03_80.pdf

 

The author walks us through the evolution of the WoW from a principle with a blessing to a requirement for full fellowship and worthiness. He illustrates how social and political pressures combined with past statements of church leaders and scriptural study to influence the evolution of the WoW to a commandment in the church. He claims there is no evidence a "revelation" was received which changed the status of the WoW from principle to revelation.

 

Are any of you familiar with this article? What are your thoughts about looking at the WoW as an example of how doctrine and policy change within the church?

 

 

FYI- Bill Reel- This would be an interesting topic for a podcast.

 

I think that is a bit of a stretch. It was put to the whole Church for as accepted doctrine, and it was.

SEE http://ldsscriptureteachings.org/2011/02/21/dc-89-the-history-of-the-word-of-wisdom/

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Such an interesting article and an interesting topic.

If someone were to put together a chart with the following data for the first 8 or 9 Prophets it would be interesting:

 

PROPHET'S NAME

(ex. Joseph Smith)

 

PROPHET'S TEACHING ON WOW

(ex. That no official member in this Church is worthy to hold an office, after having the Word of Wisdom properly taught to him, and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with or obey them).

 

PROPHET'S PERSONAL OBSERVATION OF THE WOW

(ex. Called at the office and drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England, and reviewed a portion of the conference minutes" HC 5:380
The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; ... Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as brother Taylor and the doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out" HC 6:616
 

PROPHET'S ADMINISTRATIVE PRACTICES ON THE WOW

"Joseph tested the Saints to make sure their testimonies were of his religion and not of him as a personable leader. Amasa Lyman, of the First presidency, related: 'Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time, he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter, he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar. Some of the brethren were tried as was Abraham of old'" ("Joseph Smith As An Administrator," Master's Thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p. 161).

 

The same thing can be done with all the early prophets (Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff etc..all the way up through the prophets that made it a temple requirement.)

Edited by JLHPROF

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Why don't you come over to my place for a pint and we can discuss the sobering details of this article on greater detail. 

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Why don't you come over to my place for a pint and we can discuss the sobering details of this article on greater detail. 

 

Put me down for a pint of Barq's. ;)

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I think that is a bit of a stretch. It was put to the whole Church for as accepted doctrine, and it was.

SEE http://ldsscriptureteachings.org/2011/02/21/dc-89-the-history-of-the-word-of-wisdom/

Thanks for that link.

 

Wouldn't a vote to accept the WoW indicate acceptance of the WoW as written?

 

 

D&C 89

 

To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the aword of wisdom, showing forth the order and bwill of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the bweak and the weakest of all csaints, who are or can be called saints.

 

So if I was asked to vote to accept this I would interpret it as a principle and not a commandment. Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect others would also interpret it in the same way? It's also interesting that Lorenzo Snow and Wilford Woodruf took more issue with the eating of meat (because animals had spirits) and less with the substances we associate with the WoW now.

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The WofW, except as stated in the 89th Section, is not doctrine as practiced today in the church.  The current policy is just that, a policy that was instituted at a point in time and we live under that policy today. There really is not anything to argue about as far as compliance goes; the current leadership request that all faithful members of the church comply with strict adherence to the majority of the 89th Section.  

 

The 2nd verse of the 89th Section reads:

 

To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

 

The Word of Wisdom is as simple as it sounds, a revelation given for the temporal salvation of the leadership and the members. However, originally obedience was not by commandment or constraint.  Today, the policy is by way of commandment and constraint.  Should we kick against it, ignore the promises of obeying its principles, for the sake of our own pride or desire?  Some will gladly do so while the vast majority of the saints obey.  

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When did the WOW become part of the temple recommend interview questions?   (In other words, when did it become necessary to follow the WOW in order to be temple worthy?)

(I'll try to look this up too.)

Edited by ALarson

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I just finished reading an interesting Dialogue article by Thomas G. Alexander called The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement. http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V14N03_80.pdf

 

The author walks us through the evolution of the WoW from a principle with a blessing to a requirement for full fellowship and worthiness. He illustrates how social and political pressures combined with past statements of church leaders and scriptural study to influence the evolution of the WoW to a commandment in the church. He claims there is no evidence a "revelation" was received which changed the status of the WoW from principle to revelation.

 

Are any of you familiar with this article? What are your thoughts about looking at the WoW as an example of how doctrine and policy change within the church?

 

 

FYI- Bill Reel- This would be an interesting topic for a podcast.

 

I haven't read that essay yet or studied much about the WoW history, thanks for sharing, I’ll take a look. 

 

I also think it would be interesting to learn more about how each generation interpreted the WoW requirements.  Strong drink is defined differently in 2015 than it was in earlier generations. 

 

Personally, I see the abstinence emphasis we have today with both pros and cons.  Should it be a requirement to go to the temple?  I’m not sure.  It definitely excludes some very good people from eligibility.  One of the worst cons that comes from our strict adherence to abstinence is an unhealthy judgment of others who do use these substances, even those who use them responsibly.  Also there is this false premise that the consumption of alcohol or tobacco somehow alienates a person from God, and that too is an unfortunate myth perpetuated by an overall good principle of avoiding harmful substances. 

 

What I learn from all this is that any principle taken to an extreme can turn from a positive thing into a negative.  

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It definitely excludes some very good people from eligibility.  

 

This is probably just an issue of semantics, but the word of wisdom does not exclude people from the temple.  People make choices that exclude them from the temple.  

 

One of the worst cons that comes from our strict adherence to abstinence is an unhealthy judgment of others who do use these substances, even those who use them responsibly.

 

I agree that because this is one area where it's easy to see our sins it makes it very easy to judge each other based on that.  Whenever i teach this in school to the youth or primary i ALWAYS remind them that we aren't to judge others and that people who have never made covenants to obey the WoW are not sinning when they don't.  Because kids are such black and white thinkers it's a lesson that they need to hear often and i find myself repeating it a lot with my own kids.

 

Also there is this false premise that the consumption of alcohol or tobacco somehow alienates a person from God, and that too is an unfortunate myth perpetuated by an overall good principle of avoiding harmful substances.

 

This i disagree with.  I don't mean that someone who smokes or drinks can't be directed by God, but it seems obvious that when people are under the influence of foreign substances (or addicted to chemicals) that they are not going to be able to interact with God or the Spirit to the same extent that they otherwise might be able to.  

 

A drunk person (even just a buzzed person) behaves differently and to some extent (big or small), is being controlled by alcohol.  Nicotine controls people as well just in different ways.  And being controlled by something else and not having control over ourselves more than likely has negative impacts for our spirits.

 

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When did the WOW become part of the temple recommend interview questions?   (In other words, when did it become necessary to follow the WOW in order to be temple worthy?)

(I'll try to look this up too.)

 

Pretty much always. However enforcement has not always been equal to today's.

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The WofW, except as stated in the 89th Section, is not doctrine as practiced today in the church.  The current policy is just that, a policy that was instituted at a point in time and we live under that policy today. There really is not anything to argue about as far as compliance goes; the current leadership request that all faithful members of the church comply with strict adherence to the majority of the 89th Section.  

 

The 2nd verse of the 89th Section reads:

 

To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

 

The Word of Wisdom is as simple as it sounds, a revelation given for the temporal salvation of the leadership and the members. However, originally obedience was not by commandment or constraint.  Today, the policy is by way of commandment and constraint.  Should we kick against it, ignore the promises of obeying its principles, for the sake of our own pride or desire?  Some will gladly do so while the vast majority of the saints obey.  

 

I agree with this.  Whether by commandment or not, it is given to the least of the saints.  Do we want to be the least by not even being able to follow this?  Or do we aim a little higher?

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I think the question of brewing or fermenting vs. distilling might give a better idea of what "strong drinks" are.

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This is probably just an issue of semantics, but the word of wisdom does not exclude people from the temple.  People make choices that exclude them from the temple.  

We are both technically correct.  If tomorrow they add a new requirement saying that everyone wearing green can't attend the temple, then you can still say that it's an individual’s choice to wear green.  And I can say that it’s the policy about wearing green that excludes people, both are accurate descriptions.  I’m saying that the current definition for the temple requirement on WoW observance excludes people that I believe shouldn’t be excluded and that is unfortunate in my opinion.  

 

 

This i disagree with.  I don't mean that someone who smokes or drinks can't be directed by God, but it seems obvious that when people are under the influence of foreign substances (or addicted to chemicals) that they are not going to be able to interact with God or the Spirit to the same extent that they otherwise might be able to.  

 

A drunk person (even just a buzzed person) behaves differently and to some extent (big or small), is being controlled by alcohol.  Nicotine controls people as well just in different ways.  And being controlled by something else and not having control over ourselves more than likely has negative impacts for our spirits.

 

I can see your point about degrees of misuse of substances, drunkness, etc will likely impair someone from receptiveness to God or the spirit, but I’m not confident that it does in all cases. If we believe in an all powerful God, we must acknowledge his power to push through the clouds of intoxication and communicate with a person if desired.  Overall I agree with you about not abusing addictive substances and losing control having an impact on our spirit.  

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Pretty much always. However enforcement has not always been equal to today's.

 

 

I found this regarding it being a requirement for temple worthiness:  

In 1898, the First Presidency noted that bishops should not to withhold temple recommends based upon the Word of Wisdom

Just before the turn of the century, in 1898, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve discussed the Word of Wisdom:

 

President Woodruff said he regarded the Word of Wisdom in its entirety as given of the Lord for the Latter-day Saints to observe, but he did not think that Bishops should withhold recommends from persons who did not adhere strictly to it. [6]

 

 

So, even by this date keeping the Word of Wisdom was not a “point of fellowship”—you could still have a temple recommend if you didn’t obey, though the leaders remained clear that it was a true doctrine from the Lord.

 

And this:

By 1902, temple recommends were beginning to be denied to those who did not follow the Word of Wisdom

By 1902, the Church leaders were strongly encouraging the members to keep the law, and were even beginning to deny temple recommends to those who would not. They were, however, still merciful and patient with the older members who had not been born into the system, and for whom change was presumably quite difficult:By 1905, the Council of the Twelve were actively preaching that no man should hold a leadership position if he would not obey the Word of Wisdom. [8] On 5 July 1906, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve began using water instead of wine for their sacrament meetings. [9] By 1915, President Joseph F. Smith instructed that no one was to be ordained to the priesthood or given temple recommends without adherence. [10] Heber J. Grant became President of the Church in 1918, and he continued the policy of Word of Wisdom observance; after that time temple attendance or priesthood ordination required obedience to the principle. Thus, the Church membership had eighty-five years to adapt and prepare for the full implementation of this revelation. [11] By 1933, the General Handbook of Instructions listed the Word of Wisdom as a requirement for temple worship, exactly 100 years after the receipt of the revelation by Joseph Smith.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Word_of_Wisdom/History_and_implementation

Edited by ALarson

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By 1933, the General Handbook of Instructions listed the Word of Wisdom as a requirement for temple worship, exactly 100 years after the receipt of the revelation by Joseph Smith.

 

Wow.

100 years and members still weren't following it.

182 years and members are still debating whether they should.

 

Sounds like we need to keep teaching the Israel Barlow principle still...when a prophet of God drops a hint....

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In 1898, the First Presidency noted that bishops should not to withhold temple recommends based upon the Word of Wisdom

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

By 1902, temple recommends were beginning to be denied to those who did not follow the Word of Wisdom

 

 

Key point: Wilford Woodruff died in September 1898.

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Wow.

100 years and members still weren't following it.

182 years and members are still debating whether they should.

 

Sounds like we need to keep teaching the Israel Barlow principle still...when a prophet of God drops a hint....

 

Safe to acknowledge that our 2015 practice for observation of the WoW will change in the next 100 years as well.  Could it also be that our current interpretation has gone too far, or misinterpreted the WoW in some way? 

 

It’s frustrating to learn about the complex history that explains how we got to where we are today.  Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like God is always involved in the process, that much of how we got here was culturally influenced.  Why should I assume that God led us to the promised land on the WoW issue in 2015.  How do we know we aren’t still in the wilderness, and perhaps a future understanding will lead us to a more inspired understanding.  

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I found this regarding it being a requirement for temple worthiness:  

 

And this:

http://en.fairmormon.org/Word_of_Wisdom/History_and_implementation

Also- on page 79 of the article- " In June 1902 the First Presidency and Twelve agreed not to fellowship anyone who operated or frequented saloons. In the same year, Joseph F Smith urged Stake Presidents and others to refuse recommends to flagrant violators but to be somewhat liberal with old men who used tobacco and old ladies who drank tea. Habitual drunkards, however, were to be denied temple recommends."

 

"In September 1905 George Albert Smith advised the Stake Presidency in Star Valley Wyoming to refuse "to longer tolerate men in presiding positions who would not keep the Word of Wisdom."

 

Beginning July 5 1906 the "First Presidency and Twelve substituted water for wine in the sacrament in their temple meetings."

 

"In a letter dated December 28, 1915, President Smith said that young "or middle-aged men who have had experience in the church should bot be ordained to the Priesthood nor recommended to the privileges of the House of the Lord unless they will abstain from the use of tobacco and intoxicating drinks."

 

1933 Church Handbook- first published notice that members desiring temple recommends "should observe the law of tithing". The applicant should also observe all other principles of the Gospel, should keep the Word of Wisdom, not use profanity, should not join nor be a member of any secret ouath bound organization and should sustain without reservation the general and local authorities of the church."

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It's also interesting that in the March 1917 Improvement Era published an article dealing with the question "Should LDS Drink Coca-Cola?" The answer was "No." The article argued that cola contained the same drugs as tea and coffee.

 

In October 1924 representatives from Coca-Cola contacted the church to ask them to rethink their call for abstinence from Coke. President Grand first refused to change the position but later changed his mind when they demonstrated that the amount of the drugs (caffeine) was substantially less than coffee and tea.

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It's also interesting that in the March 1917 Improvement Era published an article dealing with the question "Should LDS Drink Coca-Cola?" The answer was "No." The article argued that cola contained the same drugs as tea and coffee.

 

In October 1924 representatives from Coca-Cola contacted the church to ask them to rethink their call for abstinence from Coke. President Grand first refused to change the position but later changed his mind when they demonstrated that the amount of the drugs (caffeine) was substantially less than coffee and tea.

 

And then this in 2012 ( http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-news--getting-it-right-august-29 ):

 Despite what was reported, the Church revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89) does not mention the use of caffeine.  The Church’s health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and “hot drinks” — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee. *

 

(The post originally included the sentence; "The restriction does not go beyond this."  But it was later re-worded with no further comment.)

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Note the promised blessings given at the end of the section. At what point do those blessings correlate with the temple endowment, and would we deny ourselves of those high blessings?

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Safe to acknowledge that our 2015 practice for observation of the WoW will change in the next 100 years as well.  Could it also be that our current interpretation has gone too far, or misinterpreted the WoW in some way? 

 

It’s frustrating to learn about the complex history that explains how we got to where we are today.  Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like God is always involved in the process, that much of how we got here was culturally influenced.  Why should I assume that God led us to the promised land on the WoW issue in 2015.  How do we know we aren’t still in the wilderness, and perhaps a future understanding will lead us to a more inspired understanding.  

I'm curious in what ways that you believe that our current interpretation has "gone too far?" And if that interpretation is the official policy or the opinions of individual members? I've met members that wouldn't eat chocolate based on their interpretation of the WofW.

 

As to the complex history that got us here today, I would say that He is always involved in the process. The Lord isn't going to bind our agency though, He won't command in all things. We're allowed to stumble and fall through the wilderness - per your analogy, which I like - so that we can learn for the better. I think our understanding of the Word of Wisdom is an example of this.  

Edited by Gohan

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This is an area that I think it depends on who your Bishop is. if you smoke a little or social drink once or twice a year and you tell someone about it my guess is you probably won't be denied a recommend, if you working to overcome it. That's different from importing drugs from wherever or making moonshine in your neighbour's basement or downright alcoholism

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Note the promised blessings given at the end of the section. At what point do those blessings correlate with the temple endowment, and would we deny ourselves of those high blessings?

 

An excellent point and something to ponder.

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