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The Real "Word Of Wisdom"

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I’ve never understood the big quibble over the Word of Wisdom. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages or hot drinks (defined as coffee and tea by the Brethren). Don’t use illegal drugs. Eat meat sparingly and eat more grains and fruits and vegetables. If you obey, you will be blessed both temporally and spiritually. Seems pretty straight forward to me. As to how much further you take it (such as not drinking pop or cooking with wine, etc.)… That is a completely personal decision between you and the Spirit.

As to why drinking coffee will keep you from getting a TR but not eating a lot of meat…the only way I know how to answer that is that the Church can’t micromanage people’s lives to that level. Determining how much meat is too much is rather arbitrary and may vary for different people. That is what modern science and the Spirit are for. But a cup of coffee is something more concrete.

As for iced tea and tiramisu, they may not be the worst things in the world to take into your body, but personally I see them as a gateway to start rationalizing other things. Somebody might find that they really like the flavor of coffee and tea, and reason that if iced tea and tiramisu are okay, then an occasional cup of hot coffee or tea are no big deal either. That is why I think it’s probably a good idea to avoid them. But of course this is my personal interpretation and I won’t impose it on others.

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And the Word of Wisdom is freaking NOT caffeine! It is coffee and (black) tea. Do not drink decaf, because it isn't the freaking caffeine, it is the freaking plant! Decaf coffee and tea are still coffee and tea. Get it through your thick skulls, pharisees!!! If it comes down to which components of coffee and tea are the reason for the ban, then why not WATER?? Or tannin? Or any of the other natural chemicals that make up these plants? Can we use a little LOGIC here?

Historically, the Church has allowed members to drink decaffeinated coffee; however, the Brethren have recommended against its use since at least the early 1970s.


  • "[W]hile the Word of Wisdom mentions neither tea nor coffee, nevertheless, while the Prophet was still living, his brother Hyrum specifically stated that 'hot drinks' meant tea and coffee; and it has been also generally understood that it is the active drugs in those beverages that make them harmful and that where those drugs have been removed, the harmful effect resulting therefrom is absent." (Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency, to J. Leland Anderson, 17 September 1945)

  • "Leaders of the Church have advised against the use of any beverage containing, harmful, habit-forming drugs or ingredients under circumstances that would result in the acquiring of the habit. The use of a beverage from which the deleterious ingredients have been removed would not be considered as breaking the Word of Wisdom." (First Presidency to W. Dean Belnap, 12 February 1970)

  • "In reference to the Church's attitude regarding Sanka coffee. The use of a beverage from which the deleterious ingredients have been removed would not be considered as breaking the Word of Wisdom. However, in all cases it is well to avoid the appearance of evil by refraining from the use of drinks which have the appearance, the smell, and the taste of that which we have been counseled not to use. However, temple recommends should not be denied to those drinking Sanka or the cola drinks." (First Presidency, letter dated 3 December 1971)

  • "While the use of beverages where the deleterious effects have been removed might not be considered breaking the Word of Wisdom, it is well to avoid in all cases the appearance of evil by refraining from the use of drinks which have the appearance, the smell, and the taste of that which we have been counseled not to use." (First Presidency letter, dated 17 April 1975)


Sources: Statements of the LDS First Presidency: A Topical Compendium, comp. Gary James Bergera (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2007), 503-505; http://emp.byui.edu/...acoffee_tfp.htm

Edited by Nevo
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No, the "D&C version" does not.

I keep seeing this silly old chestnut dragged out. It is false.

In the 19th century there was a popular drink called "Barley water." It was a cordial, i.e. a non-alcoholic drink usually served cold. That's why it was a "mild drink" -- or, since there were multiple incarnations of it, "mild drinks." Beer is not a "mild drink," it is fermented, hence "strong drink." Most beers have similar alcohol content to wine.

Note also that there is one Word of Wisdom, not two. Only a subset of it -- specifically the "don'ts" -- has been adopted by the Church as a commandment.



And here is an absolutely marvelous mild drink I grew to love when I was on my mission in Germany.

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if I can I try to drink a can of coke or diet pepsi a day just so I have something for my dentist friend to do when I visit him-I do drink water and milk and other stuff too!

I once heard that there was a Latter-day Saint who was so perfect he had to drink a Coke once a month just to keep from being translated.

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Pahoran agrees with us that it's alcohol content that determines whether a drink is "strong" or "mild". The difference is where you draw the line--Pahoran thinks everything with an alcohol content above 0% is strong, while you and I think the line is a bit higher.

An interesting point is that a fairly strong beer (e.g. 5.5% alcohol content) is much closer to having the same alcohol content as Mountain dew (0%) than it is to having the same alcohol content as weak whisky (40% alcohol content).

That's a clever and specious sophistry; no wonder you're using it.

In the city where I live, every day hundreds of people get falling-down drunk by drinking nothing stronger than beer. How drunk can you get drinking Mountain Dew?

And yet, in utter defiance of this fact, there are still those who insist that beer is a "mild drink."

No. It is not.



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