Beer-drinking Mormons

I recently went to a sauna night at a church member’s house, and another member, very active, shows up with a can of beer. Really.

It turns out it is 2.8% beer, and he says drinking this isn’t forbidden by the Word of Wisdom because a grown man cannot get drunk off of it. He claims lots of Mormons do it. The host amiably disagrees, but he drinks no-alcohol beer. I’m skeptical as well, but I drink home beer and sima (which translates as mead), both of which have extremely low alcohol levels. I believe most Mormons here do, and in fact sima was served at our wedding reception in the stake center with no raised eyebrows. Another brother present drinks none of the above, citing the ‘appearance of evil’ concept.  Later, I ask a very orthodox friend, and he says he doesn’t drink 2.8%, but he doesn’t think it is forbidden, and he mentions that his father and brother imbibe.

Is it possible for five Mormons to have different ideas about what the Word of Wisdom means, and yet they all believe they are keeping the Word of Wisdom? Is it significant that all five are very active life-long members? How about the fact that all five conduct temple recommend interviews?


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  1. MikeInWeHo says:

    Where do you live, Norbert?

  2. Man, I need to move to Europe.

    In Spain, the members would drink near-beer (“sin alcohol” in spanish) at church socials. There was a few six packs left over in the church fridge one Sunday, and a member offered it to us missionaries.

  3. “drinking this isn’t forbidden by the Word of Wisdom because a grown man cannot get drunk off of it. ”

    I must have missed the verse or GC talk that says it’s ok as long as you’re not getting drunk off it ;)

    On the other hand, I hear beer tastes like horse piss. (It certainly smells bad.) Why drink it if NOT for the alcohol content?

  4. Finland, Mike. This kind of thing never happened in Burbank.

  5. Mild drinks made with barley, folks. Utterly in keeping with the WofW.

  6. StillConfused says:

    Slightly off topic but the worst alcoholics that I know here in Utah are LDS. Because they drink on the sly, they don’t have the natural social pressures not to be a lush. So if someone wants to drink, doing it in the open like this would be preferable in my opinion.

  7. Julie M. Smith says:

    “Is it possible for five Mormons to have different ideas about what the Word of Wisdom means, and yet they all believe they are keeping the Word of Wisdom?”

    Yes. I think a lot of the WoW is about the temptation to judge, not the temptation to imbibe.

  8. “home beer.”


  9. I have always wondered how beer became banned when the WoW seems to expressly allow it.

  10. Time to remind ourselves of the pleasures of Null Komma Josef:

  11. “Hot drinks”:
    Some people think it somehow means Coke. Some people think “decaffeinated coffee” is ok. Some people don’t drink any tea. Some people don’t drink black tea but drink green tea. Some people don’t drink green tea. Some people won’t drink yerba mate.

    “Strong drinks”
    Some people think this means liquor. Some people think this means any alcohol whatsoever. Some people won’t use vanilla or other cooking extracts with alcohol. Some people won’t use cough medicines with alcohol.

    “Barley for mild drinks”
    Some people consider beer a barley drink and therefore specifically ok as it truly isn’t a strong drink. Joseph Smith drank beer. Some people think Postum is a barley drink but not a “hot drink”. Some people instead classify beer as a “strong drink” and therefore think it is banned.

    This was specifically told to be used for the sacrament in the WofW. Christ drank wine. Joseph Smith drank wine. It was actually used in the temple for sacrament into the 1900’s. Many people won’t drink wine today, grouping it with the “strong drink” category although they are addressed differently in the WofW

    “Eat meat sparingly except in winter or famine”
    We all pretty much completely ignore this one and rationalize it away as if it didn’t exist.

    So, people have made the WofW mean whatever they wanted over the years. It is certainly interpreted very differently to us than to JS.

  12. iguacufalls says:

    As long as nobody adds Guaraná to the banned list, then I’m AOK. Otherwise, I may have to “drink on the sly” as StillConfused said. I think I’m safe, though. I just read on M* that it was served at the Porto Alegre temple open house several years back.

  13. Man, I picked the wrong time to stop sniffing glue.

  14. Interesting that just south of Norway in Germany Coke or Pepsi is against the word of Wisdom. My Mission President’s instructions were that we could drink it in our apartments if we wanted, but not on the street and that the rule could continue as long as he didn’t get complaints from the members. He brought up a good point that we needed to respect the LDS culture of which we were guests.

    It wasn’t a problem for me since I don’t really like Cola, and there wasn’t a Dr Pepper to be found in all the land.

  15. References to a banned list confuse me as there doesn’t seem to be one. Or there are many different ones.

  16. When the Church makes detailed and specific rules, everyone freaks out about feeling like their agency is taken away. When the Church is vague and open to interpretation, everyone gets mad and asks for clarification.

    I think rules are funny.

  17. I think as long as the Church has a checklist of questions you have to go through on a regular basis to keep a TR, this attitude is going to be with us.

  18. I read something somewhere that said “mild barley drinks” was referring to “small beer” – a low alcohol beer that existed at the time the Word of Wisdom came out.

    I’ve smelled beer a few times and wanted to throw up.

    My sister sipped a “near beer” once and said it was the worst thing she ever tasted.

    So I’m not interested.

  19. “‘Eat meat sparingly except in winter or famine’ We all pretty much completely ignore this one and rationalize it away as if it didn’t exist.”

    Every time I’ve been asked about the WoW in my temple recommend interviews in the last 10 years or so, I’ve admitted that I don’t eat meat sparingly. Usually I get a look from the interviewer like, “You know what I’m asking here, and it’s not about meat. Don’t complicate my life.” Nonetheless, I find the admission cathartic–so much so that I usually go home and eat a steak because I’m feeling so good.

  20. I remember that Paul Peterson was supposed to write a book about the Word of Wisdom. I don’t know if that book ever was published …

  21. After having to clean up dozens of partially-empty cans after my uncle’s party as a teenager, I vowed never to drink beer. It really stinks.

  22. I would leave it up to the local leaders: bishops/stake presidents to determine for their region what it means to “live the Word of Wisdom.” The reality is, there are lots of drinks that are bad for us in large amounts (and some in small amounts). As mentioned in Gen Conference before, we don’t have arsenic on the official WoW list, but that doesn’t mean we should partake of it.

    Personally, I hate the taste of barley drinks, so wouldn’t be tempted to drink “near beer.” However, a nice, no alcohol wine would do very nicely with dinner….

  23. I think it’s funny how in the church “hot drinks” has morphed to a discussion of chocolate bars and frappucinos :-) The spirit of the law tells me we should all be eating healthy, in moderation, and probably avoiding high-fructose corn syrup. Here in Utah we’ve got some passionate green-smoothie/sprout types preaching that this is the new WofW, but so far that’s not what’s being served in the Church Office Building cafeteria and Lion House Pantry…

  24. Aaron Brown says:

    I don’t know what is or is not prohibited by the WofW, but I’m pretty sure invoking the “avoiding the appearance of evil” concept is decidedly unhelpful in getting to the bottom of this question.

  25. Fletcher says:

    I got used to drinking herbal teas on my mission in Brazil, though the mission rules expressly prohibited missionaries from drinking chimarrao, or herba mate (Where’s Ben Pratt?). In teaching the word of wisdom, we expressly stated that black tea was a no-no, but mate and other herbal teas are okay. I wonder how that little crack from Elder Holland about how we shouldn’t be serving tea in the first place was translated to other languages (i.e. word-for-word, or was there some adjective to reference black tea).

    I drink apple cinnamon tea every morning when I get to work. It warms me after my early am commute on a train/bus and doesn’t make me sleepy like hot chocolate. I would venture to guess that there might be some bishops/SPs would not issue a recommend to me, but I know there are some who would and do.

  26. The part I always come back to is in verse 4: “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.” We’ve seen tobacco executives swear in front of congressional inquiries that they had no idea that nicotine was addictive, and others give testimony in those committees that not only did they know, they directed that the nicotine levels in cigarettes never dip below a line that guaranteed addiction. It’s a law of health, sure, but it’s also a pretty powerful proof (to me at least), that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
    I think as well that the main point of the WoW is that there is a potential for us to abuse just about any natural substance, addictive or otherwise–and that we shouldn’t allow others to get gain from addicting us. Or allow ourselves to become addicted.
    For me at least, it’s more about moderation than strict rules. That being said, I don’t drink, beer or wine or hard liquor, but I’m not opposed to using any of those in food I prepare. I use caffeine to combat migraines and to wake myself up in the morning, but I’ve found that more than one 20 oz. cola per day doesn’t work for me. I’m more worried about what the HFCS is doing to me than the caffeine or phosphoric acid in my Coke. I’ve come to appreciate Joseph Smith and the Restoration almost more for these sorts of pragmatic (and prophetic) innovations than strictly doctrinal insights.

  27. Is there a sense that disliking beer and coffee involves virtue?

  28. I just wanted to pick up on the opening statement: “I recently went to a sauna night at a church member’s house”. Our Ward quiz night sounds very boring in comparison :)

    I think it is for the individual to decide for themselves. I’m reminded of the scripture: “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. ” – Doctrine and Covenants 58:26

    And “as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me; only be faithful, and declare glad tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth” – Doctrine and Covenants 62:5

  29. The temple recommend question is simply “do you keep the word of wisdom?” That leaves the question wide open to the person (and the local leader).

  30. “Is there a sense that disliking beer and coffee involves virtue?”

    In the case of beer, absolutely. I say this simply because as a kid, I discovered that beer looked bad, smelt bad, made the people who drank it look bad and smell bad, and tended to make them act like idiots. Some things from childhood stick with you, reasonable or not.

  31. beer is good
    beer is good
    beer is good
    and stuff

  32. StillConfused says:

    Having a relative wreck the Exxon Valdez was enough to scare me away from alcohol – no religious figure needed on my part

  33. “Is there a sense that disliking beer and coffee involves virtue?”

    I get that impression, from comments on threads like this. It’s funny how many people come out to proclaim how yucky all that bad stuff tastes and/or smells. Most people I know enjoy the taste of beer.

  34. Is it possible for five Mormons to have different ideas about what the Word of Wisdom means, and yet they all believe they are keeping the Word of Wisdom?

    Didn’t the stories in your post already answer this question?

  35. “a nice, no alcohol wine would do very nicely with dinner”

    Grape juice?

  36. #30, #32

    I think there is a big, big difference between your experience and mine. I think even non-LDS folks would agree that drunks are bad and that piloting a ship under the influence of alcohol are bad.

    I attend many social functions where someone might have a beer or two with dinner, etc. They are perfectly normal people with very high morals and senses of social responsibility.

    I actually have a bigger issue with my kids being taught at Church that beer “made the people who drank it look bad and smell bad” or that if you drink beer you are going to crash an oil tanker and are therefore a bad person. It takes great effort on my part to teach my kids that the vast majority of people who drink are good people who just happen to enjoy a beer or glass of wine now and then. They look at someone with a cigarette and judge them as a “bad person”, and they didn’t get that from home.

    I’m sorry that the non-LDS folks some of you seem to know are all drunkards if they drink at all and aren’t the responsible drinkers that my friends are.

  37. In Russia the missionaries are expressly allowed to drink kvas which has about 3% — but it tastes like throwup after the fact. I think I’d rather drink something that tastes good.

  38. As long as I’m never asked to choose between the everlasting restored gospel and Jamocha shakes from Arby’s, the rest is hair -splitting as far as I’m concerned.

  39. My favorite comments on this strand:

    “When the Church makes detailed and specific rules, everyone freaks out about feeling like their agency is taken away. When the Church is vague and open to interpretation, everyone gets mad and asks for clarification…I think rules are funny.”

    “Every time I’ve been asked about the WoW in my temple recommend interviews in the last 10 years or so, I’ve admitted that I don’t eat meat sparingly. Usually I get a look from the interviewer like, “You know what I’m asking here, and it’s not about meat. Don’t complicate my life.” Nonetheless, I find the admission cathartic–so much so that I usually go home and eat a steak because I’m feeling so good.”

  40. I was shocked to find O’Doul’s in my grandmother’s new husband’s fridge because he seemed like such a conservative guy. Later I found out his first job was driving a beer delivery truck – this was in southern Utah, probably in the ’40s.

    I’m interested to see how differently people view the WoW in Finland. I grew up in a Mormon culture where it wasn’t even OK to cook with alcohol. I’d be interested to hear more people’s views on tea. Green tea is probably much healthier for me that diet Coke, yet I drink the latter because it’s not considered a “hot drink” (I only drink my caffeine cold, of course).

  41. In my case the virtue of disliking the smell of beer would cancel the vice of liking the smell of coffee.

    I actually love the smell of coffee.

    I think beer is an acquired taste for many regardless of their religio-cultural affiliation.

  42. Come on, Mike S. Don’t read too much into a comment. What do kids drink beer FOR? Combine that with a little church sponsored re-affirming doctrine and wallah! you have #30.

    I certainly don’t teach my kids that people who drink beer are bad.

    And when I bring them home after a party I always keep a pan in my car so they can vomit if they need to. See how non-judgmental I am?

  43. Maybe I should have said the vice would cancel out the virtue. I got those words mixed up a bit, I think.

    Perhaps I should add that I have mixed feelings about the smell of tobacco. The smoke of cigars makes me want to gag but some tobaccos don’t smell all that bad to me at all.

    I’ve seen some Mormons deliberately go into fake coughing fits around tobacco smoke – which I think is obnoxious.

  44. Brigham Young referred to beer as a mild drink:

    “The same may be said of money spent in the purchase of beer. It is a mild drink, and is very pleasant and agreeable to a great many; but when a man pays his fifty cents, his dollar or his ten dollars for beer it goes into the hands of the grocery keepers and they send it off, and it does no good to the community. The beer itself does no good, it injures the system of those who habitually indulge in the use of it, and, whether they think of and realize it, or not, they will be brought to account for the means they have thus wasted. (Journal of Discourses Vol. 18:72)

    Young’s condemnation is only against the purchasing of beer as he thinks the money could be spent better elsewhere. While he points to problems with overconsumption, he does not condemn the drinking himself. I believe I read elsewhere that Young encouraged homebrewing for a while in Utah.

  45. While on a trip in Utah I heard from someone (maybe a guide at one of the sites) that Brigham Young actually sent people to colonize certain locations with the aim/goal of growing grapes and making wine.

  46. Francisco Colaço says:

    The use of herbal teas (called infusions or tisans also) is allowed if tea leaves are not present. Here in Portugal we (like in Brasil, as it was mentioned) members of the Church drink them extensively. While not a regular use of those, I do enjoy one in a while a mint infusion, at the manner of the Sahara berbers. No tea leaves, just peppermint.

    We may also use beer or wine in food preparation, and I do when I am cooking, provided the food boils. Alcohol boils near 90 degrees Celsius, well below water. Therefore, as soon as water starts to boil, all alcohol has been evaporated.
    It’s great, because meat boiled in wine is quite a treat, as is chicken boiled in beer.

    Now, we may ask ourselves why the word of wisdom. I think personally it has nothing to do with health de per se. It has more to do with alteration of behaviour. A drunk person will (even if not addicted) be in risk of doing more or less unconsciously acts that cause suffering to himself or to the loved ones. We all know of cases of domestic violence and spouse abuse fuelled by alcohol. Other drugs also alter behaviour.

    I am a convert to the Church, albeit being converted in my youth. I would not touch a beer with a ten foot pole, unless for cooking. I believe that, when in doubt, I’ll stay in the safe side and cut alcohol and coffee and all other substances named in the WoW completely from my life, and that is a rule we follow within my family naturally, and had to date no problems with it. I have seen with my ouw eyesbranch presidents drinking champagne «just because it is New Year’s Eve so it’s allowed», and other things alike that would probably raise your hair— I just walk away and leave them be.

    We suffer pressures from just about any other portuguese, spanish, french or italian to drink. We are often offered bottles of fine wine which I thank and use later to make meat sauce (beforehand I emptied them in the sink, but then I thought that when you empty a dose of french champagne down the drain I might as well use it to flavour the food). As always the food is boiled, and a bottle of wine will serve us for months before another offer takes it’s place.

  47. I know I’ve said this other places in the Bloggernacle, but I once had a girlfriend (when I was a naïve teenager) that wouldn’t walk down the coffee aisle at the grocery store — to avoid smelling it — because she thought it would lead her down the slippery slope from tolerating, to liking, to embracing, etc. If she absolutely had to walk by it for some reason, she would hold her breath.

    (She also had the habit of compulsively saying, out load, “That’s a bad word, you’re not supposed to say that,” every time a “hell” or “damn” cropped up in a movie. She was one of those that would self-censor these words out of scripture reading. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.)

    I was ashamed to admit at the time that I loved the smell of coffee. Now I always make a point of walking past the coffee in grocery stores and inhaling deeply.

    It was experiences like these that led me to drink caffeinated soda “socially” as a teenager (behind my mom’s back). Now I drink it just because I like to scandalize those who have strong opinions about not drinking it.

    What do I see on the vanguard of Word of Wisdom controversy? Ah, yes, Choffy. DKL has become a connoisseur of the stuff.

  48. Adam Greenwood says:

    “we don’t have arsenic on the official WoW list, but that doesn’t mean we should partake of it”

    You teetotal fascists can have my ice-chilled cans of arsenic when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Get your “morals” out of my refrigerator.

  49. Latter-day Guy says:

    “ice-chilled cans of arsenic”

    Philistine. True connoisseurs know it should be served at room temperature in a snifter.

  50. I too think the WoW isn’t just about health. For whatever reason, I think the church members are supposed to be “a peculiar people” — ie., stick out a little. Historically, there’s always been something to make us really stick out. I wonder if it is coincidence that right as the furor of polygamy was dying down, the WoW started becoming a big deal.

    Any of you historians think this concept has any merit?

  51. Francisco Colaço says:

    One said here Christ drank wine. Christ gave it to drink, but nowhere in the gospels state for sure he ever drank it. The latin word «vinus» (or the greek equivalent) would mean a lot of things, from fermented to non-fermented grape juice and all the nuances in between.

    It is thus not clear if Christ ever drank fermented wine.

  52. With a history of alcholism in my family I have learned that staying away from it is good for me and healthy for those around me.

    When I did drink, I bought beer only for the getting drunk aspect. Wine I thought was terrible but I did like some of the mixed drinks especially Long Island Iced Tea which beat you up because you got fooled by the taste and drank too much too quickly.

    Honestly, other than how cool Guiness looks as a draft drink with the clover leaf stamp in the foam I really do not miss any of that.

    Coffee on the other hand… sigh. I love the smell and could never justify decaffinated. But do justify barqs and Pepsi.

  53. #50 I kind of agree having read about the rise of WoW as a commandement instead of recommendation. Though GAs for a long time before were unhappy with Smoking, chewing, and hard alcohol.

  54. #51: Give me a break. (or, if you’d rather) Oh, Brother.

  55. “I’d be interested to hear more people’s views on tea. ”
    The old German missionary discussions used to point out black and green tea as being against the Word of Wisdom. Don’t know what the new discussions say, but that’s still what I go by.

    My mother learned the hard way about how to teach children about cigarettes and alcohol after my little sister, within hearing of a smoking construction worker who was working on our future house, said “look, that man’s doing drugs!” My mother was more than a little embarrassed.

  56. Technically, coffee does not smell good. The smell of coffee triggers the pleasure center in the brain. Same with chocolate.

    Just like cola doesn’t taste good. It really doesn’t. It’s an acquired taste.

    Same with beer. Beer really does smell and taste horrid to someone who has not acquired a taste for it.

    If it didn’t make you feel good, or wasn’t part of our culture, no one would touch the stuff.

  57. This I know: There is no better hymn to drink Finnish home beer to than Scatter Sunshine (Auringon Kulta) while using a Sean Connery accent in Finnish.

    I miss the MTC

  58. Latter-day Guy says:

    “Beer really does smell and taste horrid to someone who has not acquired a taste for it.”

    Huh. I actually like the taste, but have never put any effort into “acquiring” a taste for it.

  59. The most important question is whether it was a cheap and smelly (and probably American) beer, or whether it was, say, a Hoegaarden Belgian white or a nice Hefeweizen with a slice of orange. That initial inquiry determines all further analysis.

  60. “Same with beer. Beer really does smell and taste horrid to someone who has not acquired a taste for it.

    If it didn’t make you feel good, or wasn’t part of our culture, no one would touch the stuff.”

    I like NA beer, and liked it straightaway. It doesn’t make me feel good, isn’t part of my culture, and its taste did not take acquiring.

    “It is thus not clear if Christ ever drank fermented wine.”

    Not really worth responding to, but…

    Christ’s critics called him a “winebibber,” a name that 1) wouldn’t have been earned if no one ever saw him drinking (in fact the verse says “The Son of Man came eating and drinking”) and 2) wouldn’t have been an insult had he been sipping grape juice.

  61. I like beer. Acquired taste at about age 12.
    I like coffee. Acquired taste at about age 15.
    I love iced tea. Not a hot drink by any stretch of the imagination, but what are you gonna do?

    I have never had a “nice” non-alcoholic wine. They have all tasted of vinegar.

  62. Scott T. says:

    #46 – Francisco Colaço:

    Does Alcohol Really Boil Away in Cooking?

  63. #45 – Indeed, a Church-sponsored wine industry briefly thrived in Santa Clara and Toquerville.

    #50 – I’m no historian, but I’ve seen support for that before, I think in Alexander’s Mormonism in Transition. Arrington in Great Basin Kingdom writes about an emphasis in WoW compliance in the 1860s, which he connects with the coming of the railroad. The need to be distinct and Brigham Young’s fear of investment money being squandered on ‘imports’ like tobacco may have been factors.

    Original Post – That WoW interpretations vary from person to person (or from region to region) doesn’t worry me. The differences in understanding throughout history dwarf those seen at your sauna night. If present leaders were concerned, they could easily word recommend questions more precisely.

  64. “Does Alcohol Really Boil Away in Cooking?”

    It depends on how and how long you cook it. Most cooking will remove some portion of the alcohol, but very few cooking methods will boil it all away.

  65. #51: Odd, coming from a Portuguese man:

    Pouca tardança faz Lieu [Baco] irado
    Na vista destas cousas, mas entrando
    Nos paços de Neptuno, que, avisado
    Da vinda sua, o estava já aguardando,
    Às portas o recebe, acompanhado
    Das Ninfas, que se estão maravilhando
    De ver que, cometendo tal caminho,
    Entre no reino d’água o Rei do vinho


    Este que vês, é Luso, donde a Fama
    O nosso Reino «Lusitânia» chama.

    «Foi filho e companheiro do Tebano [Baco]
    Que tão diversas partes conquistou;
    Parece vindo ter ao ninho Hispano
    Seguindo as armas, que contino usou.
    Do Douro, Guadiana o campo ufano,
    Já dito Elísio, tanto o contentou
    Que ali quis dar aos já cansados ossos
    Eterna sepultura, e nome aos nossos.

    «O ramo que lhe vês, pera divisa,
    O verde tirso foi, de Baco usado;

  66. I meant to say “ironic,” not odd.

  67. Scott T. says:
  68. “Watch what you choose to do. For instance, someone might want you to smoke. Never forget that I told you — don’t do it. Say no. That can of beer that somebody wants you to try, don’t do it. Don’t you ever do it. That drug that someone might want you to use, don’t touch it. Stay away from it. It can destroy you.” — Gordon B. Hinckley

  69. When you grow up with an alcoholic father, it’s hard to respect the example of anyone who thinks not getting drunk is the point of the Word of Wisdom–especially among a Church of people that claims to know better.

    Just remember the all too real truth that children don’t just imitate what they see–they exceed the examples they see.

  70. “Is there a sense that disliking beer and coffee involves virtue?”

    For my part it’s more apologetic than claiming virtue. I don’t like the taste of cola or the smell of alcohol so they are no temptation to me. It’s like survivor’s guilt: I didn’t do anything to deserve my lucky break, and I wonder why I can breeze by something that is such a struggle for some. Oh, I’ll take my lucky break all right, but I recognize that it isn’t fair.

  71. Caraway, is it wrong to drink cola?

    Man I like the taste of cola. Cola bottle candy is just fantastic.

  72. Thanks to those ever-helpful Europeans, you can now get your beer and your cola in one drink:

  73. #50. I think this has been deemed “tactical morality” by some.

    And to the person who mentioned Jamocha shakes… I’m glad someone’s on the same page as me about those.

  74. I’m convinced, based on the science I’ve read, that white flour, white sugar,and high fructose corn syrup are worse for us than any alcoholic beverage or tea.

    I think the WoW is only tangentially related to health, yet a lot of the comments seem focused on what’s healthy or good for you.

    But I have used beer to marinate a steak before. Tastes great (the steak. Never tried drinking the beer).

  75. I disagree that any alcoholic beer would be okay.

    But I also have to point out that sima is NOT an alcoholic drink– unless some company adds it later, but I’ve never heard of that. Sima is made like homemade root beer. Sure it gets fizzy from fermented yeast, but it’s not alcohol.

  76. Sure it gets fizzy from fermented yeast, but it’s not alcohol.


  77. Brian A in comment #63 … thanks. That rings right. I’m pretty sure we were driving through or visiting Toquerville for some reason.

    The other thing I remember about the stop we made was that there was a booklet being sold at this historical location – the booklet was about indigenous plants to the area and how those plants had been utilized by American Indians. Oddly, just about every single plant had somehow been used to treat syphilis. After seeing that over and over and over again in the book – I simply got the impression they were desperate to find something, anything in the plant world that would treat that sickness or its symptoms.

  78. I drink yerba mate every single day and I think it makes me a better Mormon, not to mention a better mother. Some people would disagree with both points. I think the same can be said for the beer drinkers… I don’t really see a problem here. I think the ‘spirit of the law’ is to avoid things that can cause dependency. And my personal thoughts (rationalizations?) are that, since I don’t HAVE to have mate every day (I just prefer to, but suffer no ill effects if I skip a few days or a month or whatever), I’m fine.

    I also cook with tequila. Did that today, actually.

  79. #56 -“Beer really does smell and taste horrid to someone who has not acquired a taste for it.” LOL. Does the same go for dirt, turds, and piss?

    I always laughed when I would be at “parties” at BYU where people were drinking “Near Beer” or “Odul’s”. I would ask them why they drank it. They didn’t drink it to get loaded. All of them would say it tastes like piss, so it wasn’t for the flavor. Basically, from what I could tell, they drank it as some sort of optic joke or a temple-recommend-worthy rebellion, he. Ohhh the BYU experience . . .

  80. StillConfused (#32): Having a relative fire a torpedo at the RMS Lusitania was enough to scare me away from shooting civilians, no religious figure needed on my part.

  81. #63, #76: Look, the place is called TOQUERVILLE. It’s got bigger Word of Wisdom problems than a defunct viticulture sector.

  82. There are 12 BIC Mormons in my immediate family of origin, two of whom taught the rest of us about WoW adherence. Yet, we seem to have 12 unique interpretations of the WoW.

    So I say yes.

  83. Since this seems to be a WOW discussion I have a question that I have not found an answer to here in Costa Rica. My question is, is it o.k. to use medicinal marijuana?
    If you have had a liver condition and in need of pain relief, is it o.k. to use it?
    My branch pres. just looks at me and laughs, can’t get a straight answer from him.
    I have seen family members addicted to prescription drugs and that is not pretty.
    Does anyone know the answer to this?

  84. Roblynn,

    And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
    Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

  85. I’m okay with disparate individual interpretation. I don’t have a problem carrying a temple recommend and occasionally imbibing.

  86. so gst, is firing on civilians a genetically passed trait? I hadn’t heard.

  87. Dr. Horrible says:

    WoW is about obedience, not about health.

    All commandments are for our spiritual benefit, not our physical benefit. I read that to mean that I don’t consume X or Y because it is HEALTHY for me, but I do so because I have been told by a prophet NOT to. It’s a matter of faith and obedience.

    But, it still leaves WoW open for interpretation: what Tea are they talking about? Do prescription drugs count, etc…?

    As someone pointed out, it becomes a personal matter. The temple recommend interview just asks if you obey the WoW.

  88. Dr. Horrible says:

    Something I have noticed the older I get…WoW seems much more gray to me than it did as a “FREE TO CHOOSE” youth. Or, at least the social settings in which i find myself make me reflect and ask, “Why DON’T I just have this glass of wine that the host just offered me as a gesture of good will?”

    And, for those who have commented on the indoctrination of our youth about the evils of those who drink and smoke: it ain’t just the church. The DARE programs at most schools are pretty Draconian. My senior partner was telling me that his son came home from school and commented, “Dad, you shouldn’t have that beer with dinner, it is going to make you lose brain cells and become stupid.”

  89. Christine says:

    Come on. Can anyone really suggest with a straight face that drinking good old fashioned American beer with more than 40% is keeping the WofW? Ask your bishop if that meets his definition. That take a lot of rationalization — not to mention ignoring the obvious dangers of alcoholism and the negative effects of alcohol. Those who occasionally imbibe and carry a recommend are just engaged in one massive self-deception in my view.

  90. Christine: why is the bishop’s interpretation better than mine? Of the five men in the op, three are or have been bishops.

  91. Latter-day Guy says:

    “good old fashioned American beer with more than 40%”

    If your beer has 40% abv, then it isn’t “good old-fashioned” anything. Beer (particularly in the US) usually has less than 10% abv. 40% is more typical of hard liquors (whisky, etc.).

  92. Latter-day Guy says:

    As it happens, you should visit the “Tactical Nuclear Penguin” link in the sidebar to the left.

  93. 40% what?

  94. Christine says:

    Sorry: Misprint — put 10% correct the sloppy typo. My bad; culpa mea, I’m stupid etc.

    Norbert: I don’t understand what you are saying — that drinking beer is somehow OK with the word of wisdom? Why is the bishop’s interpretation better? Well, (1) he won’t be inebriated while deciding whether his interpretation is correct; (2) he won’t be engaging in rationalization; and (3) he hold the keys to your temple recommend.

  95. Arlin Fehr says:

    I’ll just leave this right here shall I?


  96. After my father offered a couple of cold beers to the LDS missionaries tracting in our neighborhood, they politely declined the invitation and talked about Heavenly Father’s promises when one abides by the Word of Wisdom which was explained in further detail. My father was a problem drinker and was the son of an alcohoholic father. I was ten years old when the missionaries visited our home and never saw my father drink alcohol again. The missionaries spoke, the Spirit was present, and my father knew their message was true.

  97. Peter LLC says:

    It will be a sad day indeed when religious observance is policed by a wiki.

  98. Christine says:

    Gotta go with Peter LLC on that one — even if the LLC stands for Laughable Loud Cult.

  99. Christine, the OP doesn’t make the argument for drinking ‘full strength’ beer; but what it does raise is that even amongst bishops and members of stake presidencies, there is a wide variety of ways to understand religious observance. If I go to someone in such a position for clarification in the Word of Wisdom (or tithing,m or keeping the Sabbath Day, etc.), aren’t I just receiving their best thinking or their perception of common practice? Isn’t that what we all do anyway?

    And in my experience, most of us engage in rationalization for whatever position we’ve taken, even if it is the accepted one.

  100. >The old German missionary discussions used to point out black and green tea as being against the Word of Wisdom.

    Actually, they just said “schwarzer Tee”. Whether to see green tea as a black tea is another matter, one open to personal interpretation, I think.

  101. Here in Sweden, anything less than 2,25 % alcohol is considered to be “alcoholfree” (according to the government’s health regulations)m and can be sold to anyone in a regular store.

    Our Cider for example contains between 0,3-2.2 % alcohol and is a very common drink among members.

  102. My first mission area apartment was situation between two breweries. One of my companions had a great explanation of why beer is the same as hamster pee.

  103. That should be situatED, as in located . . . but it was an unpleasant situation, too.

  104. What the Word of Wisdom isn’t: The Law of Moses.

    What the Word of Wisdom is: A “principle with promise” that teaches moderation and self-mastery. It gives us an idea of what to consume, what to avoid entirely, and what to take in moderation. For example, a pint of beer in no more than every 24 hours (or more) acts as a natural antidepressant, but more than that has the opposite effect. And if people feel like they can’t trust themselves to maintain a moderate amount, then it’s their choice to exercise their agency and avoid it completely.

    Personal research has also confirmed that many blends of coffee release a harmful acid when it gets too hot, but the coffee bean itself is very useful in medicines. Herbal teas, especially green tea, are some of the best ways to cleanse the body and relax the mind. “Hot drinks” means just that as something that’s scalding can burn the throat and eventually lead to cancer over the long term- so I just let my green tea cool down.

    I’d also like to point out that the inclusion of adherence to the Word of Wisdom in the temple recommend interview was not inspired because it is not a commandment and many, many people who aren’t following the “Do” list are given recommends.

    And what about the many harmful things for us today that aren’t mentioned specifically in the Word but research shows what kinds of long-term damage they could cause: High fructose corn syrup and aspartame in carbonated and diet sodas are far worse in the long run than caffeine, and yet I see those drinks being consumed all over the place.

    Section 89 tells us the promised blessings that come from adhering to the Word of Wisdom, and Section 82:10 tells us what happens if we don’t, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” That’s it. We’re not under any covenant to obey the Word of Wisdom, so not living it exactly won’t be held against us as a sin. BUT we do need to remember that our bodies are considered our personal temples, so defiling them with unclean things will be held against us.

  105. Apologies for the double post, but for any one who wants to rebut my argument and claim that the Word of Wisdom became a commandment over the course of church history, please provide the written revelation wherein the Lord repealed Section 89 and the record of the church accepting it as scripture.

    Also note that the supposed meeting where Brigham Young announced the Word of Wisdom as a commandment is a myth. He placed the attendants at that meeting, not the whole church, under covenant to obey it; a decision he later regretted because many of them could not keep it, leading them to be charged with sin under his care.

  106. Things I’ve gleaned from the comments:

    1) Any 5 people in the Church will have 10 different opinions on what anything means

    2) At one end of the spectrum, “strong drinks” means liquor as it meant at the time of JS when the revelation was given. Anything less than that is probably ok. Weak beer, like here in Utah and many other places, is likely a barley drink specifically talked about in the WofW. And besides, JS drank a beer now and then.

    3) At the other end of the spectrum, “strong drinks” means any alcohol whatsoever. This obviously includes beer, wine, liquor, but also includes cooking extracts, cough medicine, etc.

    4) There’s not really an answer to the question, which I find actually quite refreshing

    5) People on the “liberal” end of the spectrum tend to not care about the people who choose to be on the other end of the spectrum.

    6) People on the “conservative” end of the spectrum tend to want to call people on the other end of the spectrum to repentance.

    7) Most bishops stick to “Do you follow the WofW?” and leave it at that. Unfortunately, some press their personal interpretations forward as Church “doctrine”. These would also probably deny JS a TR for drinking beer and wine.

  107. Dave P,
    Of course you are right that the history of the WoW has not always been one of prohibition. I think most people who read this blog are aware of this. But the real issue is how the church today understands the WoW.

  108. Doesn’t a sauna involve a bunch of naked people sitting around together sweating? Seems like that would lose you your temple recommend right there. Don’t you know how the church feels about naked people?

  109. Couple of things,

    My exp is that WOW interpretation range from person to person. The US membership tends to have stricter personal standards then outside the US. In my exp you would never find a group of former bishops and current active adult males sitting around drinking low alchohol beer

    There is an element of “traditions of my fathers” that runs thru WOW observance. In other words if you are say in South Africa where I served my mission low alchohol home brewed beer in Black areas was not considered by many members to be a WOW violation because they had always drank it as a culture.

    You have similar issues with Tea in other cultures.

    The flip side is that for some US mormons they were raised in their homes with Coke being against the WOW and some folks still hold to this. This is also a tradition of my fathers situation.

    My final point is that people often look beyond the mark with WOW observance and make personal preferences into a quasi doctrine. AKA no white bread, chocolate, no meat etc. All of these things are fine to practice as long as you do not make a gospel hobby out of them.

  110. #108. Not sure about you but I typically had a towel…

  111. Mike S, interesting summary of the comments. I wish I had read that last comment first and I could have saved myself the time of reading all the others! :-)

    The GHI gives the “official” declarationi of what is meant by WoW observance. I don’t have a GHI anymore, but if I remember correctly, it speaks of alcholic beverages, tobacco, coffee, tea and harmful (addictive?) drugs.

    That said, when our family joined the church (my parents and siblings and I), the friends who introduced us avoided caffeinated soft drinks, and we learned to, too. My brother as an adult returned to them; I did not. Big deal.

    Truth be told, the thing I miss is a nice glass of iced tea.

    That there are blessings for “over observance” is in the lives of those who so live. Those who limit meat in their diet see benefits. Those who choose not to drink cola drinks see a benefit, as well. Hopefully among those benefits is not the assumption that they can preach their particular brand of WoW observance to others at every turn.

    I became aware of regional differences in WoW observance on my mission in Germany, too — decaf coffee was allowed for missionaries when invited by investigators (so as not to offend; I tried it once and decided to offend after that first attempt as it tasted awful to me), and we specified black tea as others have observed.

    When I lived in Japan, local members coached me on the acceptability of some teas vs others (herbal yes; green no).

    Personally I find cigarette smoking a filthy habit, but having worked among smokers for years (and only in the last few years been free of second hand smoke thanks to new laws), I realized that I could easily have become hooked on tobacco.

    Having two close family members who are alcoholics (and one of those also a heroin addict), I appreciate President Hicnkley’s warning to youth cited above. Nevertheless, knowledge of the risks did not prevent those two from picking up in the first place and becoming addicts themselves. The point of the Wow may or may not be to avoid addiction, but if you never pick up in the first place…

    Teaching children tolerance (and even acceptance and love) toward those who are different from us is a challenge all parents face; some do better than others.

  112. “Caraway, is it wrong to drink cola?”

    Whenever the topic arises in Mormon discussion, there is the expectation that some will say yes — otherwise, there would be no more Mormon discussion of cola than there is of bok choy. Regardless, I do not assert my distaste for cola as a virtue — or as a failure to enjoy mortality to the fullest, for that matter.

  113. @107,

    But who or what is “the church”?

    Is it simply the General Authorities? Or is it something more expansive? (D&C 10:67 suggests a broad definition, stating that “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.”)

    To be honest, I would guess that very few (if any) General Authorities would expressly condone the consumption of drinks with 3% alcoholic content. Or green tea. Or decaffeinated coffee.

    But these views are far from universal among the membership of the Church, as the comments in this thread attest. It would seem that accepted WoW observance is a mixture of “official” exhortation, local custom, and individual interpretation.

    Therefore, I would say that it’s rather difficult to pin down how “the church” understands the WoW, because the WoW’s modern meaning is fluid, being influenced by both the views of “the church” narrowly defined (i.e., General Authorities, Church HQ) and the views of “the church” broadly defined (i.e., the collective membership).

  114. “Satan will tell us that it’s ok, that everyone else is doing it. He will tell us that it will bring popularity and acceptance. Satan’s lies can be ever so convincing. When such justifications or excuses are given – by others or by the whisperings of the temptor, you are warned.” – Elder Richard G. Scott

  115. President Monson says:

    Shalan, your moniker is too close to “satan” for me to accept.

  116. All of this is a tempest in a teapot(!!!) since clearly whatever alcohol happened to be in said beer was safely boiled away by the heat in the sauna. Duh.

  117. tempest in an alcohol pot

  118. Steve Evans says:

    tempest in a mild barley drink pot.

  119. Butch Bowman says:

    #104 Dave P., you seem to have worked your way into a logical corner:

    “the inclusion of adherence to the Word of Wisdom in the temple recommend interview was not inspired because it is not a commandment”

    To me, it is helpful to think about two distinct entities: 1) the scripture called D&C 89 and 2) the commandment taught by the missionaries and among ourselves as “the Word of Wisdom.” There are many, many differences between the two, not all of which have even yet been pointed out in this discussion. Also, I do not agree that all commandments we promise to keep when we are baptized are found in the scriptures (i.e. written revelations). Attending your meetings is an example of this. The Word of Wisdom (i.e. the commandment, not the scripture) is another example, although it is a strange case, because the commandment is so heavily based upon a scripture but really different from it. Of course, when a commandment is taught but not codified in scripture per se, it is much more open to interpretation, as is the case with this commandment.

    My personal interpretation is based on the flip chart I used as a missionary, which said the WoW (commandment) prohibits use of 1) Alcohol 2) Tobacco 3) Coffee and 4) Tea. But I understand that others’ interpretations of what even the flip chart means—what to speak of the scripture itself and the folklore surrounding both—will differ. And that’s okay with me, since Jesus himself seems to have not cared much about dietary laws anyway.

    I don’t think the WoW is really about health or addiction, for reasons that have been well delineated by others here. However, I don’t think it’s about just obedience, faith, not judging others, etc. either. It is part of living according to God’s wisdom in a broader sense. This is what Bhagavad Gita refers to as sattva guna, or the mode of goodness, as opposed to the other modes of passion and ignorance. It is what Nephi refers to as living “after the manner of happiness.” It is the material arrangement that makes it easier for the soul to approach God and develop his or her relationship with Him and Her. I think the commandment version of the WoW boils down to what the leaders of the Church over time have discerned as being a good standard for the members of the Church to be able to begin to do this. Part of this discernment also has to do with what is seemly for us to have as our behavioral standard as a people of the Lord. But the scripture version gives us the ability to explore for ourselves other aspects of God’s will for our temporal salvation.

    #56 Susan M:

    “Technically, coffee does not smell good. The smell of coffee triggers the pleasure center in the brain. Same with chocolate. Just like cola doesn’t taste good. It really doesn’t. It’s an acquired taste. Same with beer. Beer really does smell and taste horrid to someone who has not acquired a taste for it.”

    The biochemical effects of different substances on the brain are objective events. Whether something tastes or smells good is a subjective observation. The two actually go hand in hand rather than being mutually exclusive as you seem to be suggesting. Most of our personal likes and dislikes eventually boil down to matters of so-called acquired taste. I’m sure lots of things you eat and drink would be gross to me, for example. In short, I think you are missing the mark in trying to base an interpretation of this scripture/commandment on your own taste preferences.

  120. agreed, as has been noted, there’s less “alcohol” in this pot than in cough syrup

  121. (that was a response to #118 — Butch sneaked in a massive comment inbetween)

  122. tea-bagging in a piss-pot.*

    too far?

    *a slight explanation for this iteration: tea is bad, and, i think, bagging is too; and beer tastes like piss, according to posters on this thread, ergo tea-bagging and piss-pot.

  123. Peter LLC says:


  124. #25 Fletcher, some missionaries brought kilos of chimarrão back home with them, and I imagine some used it while missionaries. I wasn’t interested. I thought it smelled awful.

    The other day a colleague asked me about the LDS view of coffee. My answer was essentially that the Word of Wisdom has more to do with moderation and self-discipline than with specific proscriptions. I do have my own internal list of proscribed substances, but I recognize that it is different from–though informed by–the Word of Wisdom as interpreted by the Brethren.

  125. So, Norbert,

    Is it possible for five Mormons to have different ideas about what the Word of Wisdom means, and yet they all believe they are keeping the Word of Wisdom?

    Yes. Yes it is.

  126. I don’t think I’ve yet heard mention (a statistic from the 60s) that liquor sales increase in Salt Lake City during General Conference.

  127. Sidebottom says:

    To set the record straight on alcohol and cooking (and supplement the online article provided)

    @#46 “As soon as water starts to boil, all alcohol has been evaporated” is just plain wrong. The alcohol and water don’t boil independently at different temperatures – alcohol and water mix completely to form a mixture with a single boiling point. When the mixture boils/evaporates it generates a vapor that is alcohol-rich compared to the mixture itself. For example, a 50% alcohol mixture will generate a vapor that has >50% alcohol. If you boil this mixture with the lid off, the alcohol-rich vapor will be carried away. Because more alcohol is leaving the system than water, the alcohol content of the remaining liquid will gradually decrease.

    But Kaimi #64 is only half-right…

    If you boil this mixture with the lid on (like one might do when braising meat), the alcohol content of the mixture doesn’t change. The vapor will recondense on the lid of the pot and dribble back down into the original liquid. You might lose a little bit of alcohol if the pot isn’t well-sealed but don’t kid yourself.

    [insert rant about state of science education in this country]

  128. Sidebottom says:

    While I’m at it:

    @#75 If making Sima involves yeast and fermentation it’s not made like homemade root beer. The fizz in root beer (and most soft drinks) comes from direct carbonation. With homemade root beer solid CO2 (dry ice) is usually the most convenient option.

    The fizz in beer, sima, etc. on the other hand comes from a fermentation reaction which converts sugars into carbon dioxide (hence the fizz) and, that’s right, alcohol. The precise conditions of fermentation as well as post-processing and/or distillation determine the ultimate alcohol content of the drink. Whether the alcohol content of sima is significant to warrant WoW considerations is a question I’ll leave for the philosophers.

    SB out.

  129. Hey Norbert,

    I was pretty surprised about this. Not sima and kotikalja of course, but a Finnish Mormon drinking bought-from-the-store beer. It’s always seemed to me like the lines were pretty clear, since you can’t even get on the bus on the weekend without cider and beer bottles rolling all over the place. I can kind of imagine an “it didn’t come from Alko so it’s OK” kind of attitude, but the LDS community’s position as other in Finnish society would have made me expect excessive obedience on this one. Guess I’ll have to ask around…maybe you’ve just managed to break through the barrier from American Mormon to Finn Mormon and the guard is being lowered!

  130. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    During my mission to Japan, we were encouraged to drink three types of tea that were considered acceptable. Wheat tea, herb tea, and seaweed tea. I believe this was even specified in our Culture for Missionaries book. We couldn’t drink green tea, which made for numerous bad first impressions. Interestingly, wheat tea is usually a summer iced tea, but the Japanese LDS would frequently serve it warm. Some Japanese found this practice to be odd. I had my first drink of an alcoholic beverage on my mission where the colorful beverage can printed in Japanese looked like a soft drink. It was served with dinner in the home of a potential investigator. After a few sips, I started trying to read the ingredients and began to make out the katekana symbols for the english word alcohol followed by “8%”. I was surprised and relieved that I had an excuse to stop drinking the bad tasting stuff.

    I remember dreading being seated next to my third grade teacher at the cafeteria, who I loved and respected as a great teacher. She would have coffee with her lunch and the smell seemed quite noxious to me. Years later, I complained about the smell of the coffee machine that was installed in a group office with cubicles, but no one would believe me that the odor was offensive.

  131. @130,

    No flower tea? Or is flower tea just not popular in Japan?

  132. VanhinIigeni says:


    having served my mission in Finland, this topic served as a stumbling block for both prospective investigators and less-active members. ‘Koti kalja’ and ‘sima’ blur the lines that are otherwise black and white stateside, but the hardest thing to overcome was the apparent split on perspectives. It seemed to me that someone from either the area presidency, or even a visiting authority, needed to lay down the standard and let people make a conscious decision rather than wading through all the different perspectives.

  133. (89) Come on. Can anyone really suggest with a straight face that drinking good old fashioned American beer with more than 40% (sic) is keeping the WofW? Ask your bishop if that meets his definition. That take a lot of rationalization
    This always makes me smile. Christine, you want rationalization? Explain to me how YOU are keeping God’s suggestion to drink “mild drinks” made from barley. Go on, rationalize that one.

    Alan Rock Waterman has a pretty good write-up about how Mormons came to believe that beer was against the WoW. I think he did a great job. His conclusions were along the lines of it being a publicity stunt to increase baptisms during the time that prohibition was gaining in popularity and mormon conversions were stagnant due to the poligamy stigma. Worth reading.

    I live the word of wisdom to the best of my ability. I even try to abstain from meat 1-2 days a week, you would not believe how hard this is for a beef-lover like me.
    I look forward to the day that I come across a wine made by a Mormon.

  134. Couple thoughts on beer, specifically how it is different that liquor:
    1 Beer and Wine are brewed, liquors are distilled. They are not just different in alcohol content, they are different in preperation processes.
    2 It would be VERY difficult (and really, damn near impossible) for a normal person to get alcohol poisoning from normal beer. Very easy from liquor.
    3 While beer may be considered an “acquired taste” by adults, and this seems to be evidence that it is bad for you or something like that, I’ve heard anecdotes before of parents letting their children taste beer to settle their curiosity, most children like the taste of the barley drink. It is most likely as we get older and accostomed to very sweet drinks that beer starts smelling/tasting “like horse piss”
    4 Beer contains Hops which is often used as an herbal remedy for a number of things, most notably: Anxiety.

    And lastly, we never needed the WoW to tell us not to be drunkards, the bible does a pretty good job of explaining the evils of intoxication. The proscribing of liquors was directly consistent with previous revelation. IMO, So was the prescribing of beer.

    In summation Norbert, yes, I think its possible “for five Mormons to have different ideas about what the Word of Wisdom means, and yet they all believe they are keeping the Word of Wisdom

  135. harikari says:

    From the Prince-Wright biography of David O. McKay:

    “Because of his optimism he was able to see past things that were stumbling blocks to other church members and even to chuckle as he accepted human foibles. He told his fellow General Authorities, ‘Now, Brethren, don’t you worry too much. It’s good for every dog to have a few fleas.’ Besides, he said, ‘Perfect people would be awfully tiresome to live with; their stained-glass view of things would seem a constant sermon without intermission, a continuous snub of superiority to our self-respect.'”

    “And so he gently chided Apostle John A. Widtsoe, whose wife advocated such a rigid interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as to proscribe chocolate because of the stimulants it contained, saying, ‘John, do you want to take all the joy out of life?’ But he didn’t stop there. At a reception McKay attended, the hostess served rum cake. ‘All the guests hesitated, watching to see what McKay would do. He smacked his lips and began to eat.’ When one guest expostulated, ‘”But President McKay, don’t you know that is rum cake?” McKay smiled and reminded the guest that the Word of Wisdom forbade drinking alcohol, not eating it'” (pp. 22-23).

    Makes sense to me .

  136. Francisco Colaço says:

    Orwell, #65:

    – Got the irony. Messed with the wong person ;-)

    Thanks for the text from the Lusíadas. Please do not go to chant IX. Thou art warned!

    Incidentally, The Star-Spangled Banner’s tune is the same as an old English drinking song that is usually called “To Anacreon in Heaven”. (Don’t worry, we got our anthem composed probably under influence, and debuted in cheap theatre).

    This is the first verse of your anthem, sorry, of Anacreon in Heaven:

    To ANACREON in Heav’n, where he sat in full Glee,
    A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
    That He their Inspirer and Patron wou’d be;
    When this Answer arriv’d from the JOLLY OLD GRECIAN
    “Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
    “No longer be mute,
    “I’ll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
    “And, besides, I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine
    “The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’s Vine.

    Guess what, also a elegy of Bacus! You have five more strophes, and if you wish to read them, google away. If the syllables seem not seem to fit in the tune SSB, be aware that english was pronounced differently in the 17th Century England, and so was the metric of the phrase.

    You may read more about the evolution of modern english in «Made in America» by Bill Bryson.

    Scott T., #62:

    I doubt those numbers, I honestly do.

    Now flame away.

  137. Francisco Colaço says:


    Christ was also called «son of a harlot», «bastard of a roman soldier» and «mad». I hope your argument will not be extended.

    I just have to ask one thing: are General Authorities right or wrong when they mandate abstinence from alcohol, coffee, tobacco, etc. There was no priesthood ban revelation. That was plain wrong, humane and did not bear good fruits. Is it similar on WoW?

    Brigham Young had a revelation or not confirming the word of wisdom? He claims he had, and that makes all the difference. So, we have one of three situations:

    1) Brigham Young was not a prophet, and we may start to look for mormonist within eastern mormons (30 denominations, more or less, start looking).

    2) He was lying about having received revelation, in the pulpit, which leads us to case 1).

    3) He was right. And then two paths arise:

    3.1) Brigham Young was right, but posterior over-restrictive interpretation of a revealed truth was wrong, _on pulpit_, and _by several presidencies_, on a revealed truth. Back to 1) but at the least you may also try to find the essence of mormonism within the 30 western mormon denominations.

    3.2) BY was right and the successive presidencies were right.

    Choose your poison.

  138. #75. I beg to differ; Home made root beer when made with yeast (the way they taught my mom in Relief Society) does indeed have alcohol in it-about .5%.

  139. 137
    Sincerely not trying to be rude, but your English is not easy to follow, so I’m not sure I know what you are trying to say (I empathize, since my boss at work speaks Spanish and I’m sure she has a hard time understanding me sometimes.)

    BUT, I’m not sure I’m familiar with a “mandate” to abstain from alcohol. And in reference to Brigham Young, if he confirmed the word of wisdom of the time, he would be confirming one that was given “not by commandment or constraint” and one, that I believe, promoted the use of beer in moderation.

    As far as GAs since then:
    “Whenever you find any doctrine, any idea, any expression from ANY source whatsoever that is in conflict with that which the Lord has revealed and which is found in the holy Scriptures, you may be assured that it is FALSE and you should put it aside and stand firmly grounded in the truth in prayer and in faith, relying upon the spirit of the Lord. -Elder Joseph F. Smith Apr. 1917

    So I propose Option 4) the General Authorities are good men trying to do good things and lead the church. Sometimes by revelation, often by inspiration, and often by best judgment. All men are fallible. Even the good ones.

  140. Set 'um up barkeep says:

    #126- The increased alcohol consumption during conference is due to the Born-Agains who come in to save our souls.

  141. Some time ago I bought a bottle capper. We had been making home made root beer and letting it get a little fizzy. this time I let the bottles age in a little used bath tub for about 2 weeks.

    Very fizzy. No sugar. I wonder what happened? This must be HOME BEER!

    I took a taste of it and would not let the children drink it but I did finish the bottle. With dinner.

    When my 3rd daughter turned 7 or 8 she coined the phrase “Daddy? Can I have a Corona???” It must have been my fault.

  142. It’s been interesting to read different views about the subject. For my own part I like 16, 26, 28, 44, 46 and 68. And for those who drink (eg. Coke or whatever): can you stop any day and never drink again, or are you “addicted”? It’s individual. But find a copy of “Church Handbook of Instructions Book 2” (or ask your bishop for it) and read about WofW from there. It’s pretty simple.

    Oh, and go see wikipedia and “caffeine”. If your confused about coffee, teas or soft drinks. What’s the difference of one cup of coffee and a bottle of classic Coke? Not much. I drink Coke some times, but I don’t HAVE TO get it regularly. Remember DC 89:4. And DC 58:26 and 62:5. And pray about things.

  143. Mickey Finn says:

    It is delightful to read your comments. Everyone seems to have grasped the gist of WoW, yet it is quite a plea-bargaining going on about what is and isn’t allowed.
    Anything in excess is bad, but still not necessarily everything in moderation good. If someone chooses to drink mild alkoholic beverage like one beer with alcohol content of 2,8% or less after sauna, I’ll not be the one to condemn that.

    What was the invitation to throw stones? That particular pleasure is reserved for the sinless ones. I am not naturally a man of moderation in anything, and do sorely envy those who are. (oops, there goes another deadly sin). I do occasionally eat too much, sometimes meat, sometimes sugar so much that my ears ring. That is not to my interpretation keeping the WoW as well as I should. Because I’ not a moderate person, I don’t drink beer or wine or liquor. If I was, I might, but as I’m not, I won’t. It’s easier for me to abstain from something than to have it in moderation. Abstinence is not moderation and those here, who abstain from things and think of themselves as moderate, could take a look in the mirror. Any fatties out there? That’s not moderation, and that could be interpreted as not keepind the WoW.

  144. # 111 Paul

    “The GHI gives the “official” declarationi of what is meant by WoW observance. I don’t have a GHI anymore, but if I remember correctly, it speaks of alcholic beverages, tobacco, coffee, tea and harmful (addictive?) drugs.”

    It says that the only interpretation of “hot drinks” was given by the early leadership of the Chruch – it means tea and coffee. And then GHI says about avoiding harmful and addictives substances, unless it is done under the supervision of the competent specialist. It doesn’t even say “alchohol”.

    In many countries there are milk drinks that have some tiny percent of alchohol in them – around 1%, and even kids drink them. But even a 2,5% beer sounds not so good.

  145. Regarding the prohibition on “hot drinks”–

    Can somebody please explain to me how this injunction can reasonably be interpreted so as to permit hot chocolate, while forbidding iced tea?

  146. #136 Francisco Colaço:

    Yes, yes, yes, that’s all very well, most Americans know something of the tune’s origins. But, I’m sorry, borrowing the melody of a drinking song just isn’t on the same level as having Bacchus as the mythical forbear of your nation — enshrined in the national epic, no less. Listen, if it’s in Camões, it’s as good as gospel as far as I’m concerned. ;)

    And there’s no need to warn me about the Isle of Love. I’ve read it plenty of times.

  147. Wesley Powell says:

    #108 Doesn’t a sauna involve a bunch of naked people sitting around together sweating? Seems like that would lose you your temple recommend right there. Don’t you know how the church feels about naked people?

    LOL!!! You must be from Utah, this is a worldwide church!

  148. Here’s how to explain the Word of Wisdom.

    Everyone more liberal with it than me is going straight to hell, and will have live worms crawling through their flesh because of their addictions and destructive behavior.

    Everyone more conservative with it than me is a religious nut-job on his or her hobby horse, trying to read things into it that aren’t there.

    Everyone who agrees with me is a Celestial Person (TM) and a fellow Saint and Scholar.

    Some actual statements I’ve heard:

    “It says wine of the vine of your own make. Just because I’m a chemist and can distill brandy in my closet doesn’t mean it’s against the Word of Wisdom, cause I made it myself.”

    “We shouldn’t be using white store-bought bread in the Sacrament, because white flour is against the Word of Wisdom, and Christ would never allow His body to be represented by something against His law.”

    “That spaghetti sauce is against the Word of Wisdom, because it has sugar and High Fructose Corn Poison.”

    “All fresh fruit contains some alcohol, so fruit must be dried before we can eat it.”

    “Section 89 doesn’t say nothin’ about THC.”

  149. Mickey Finn says:

    #108 Doesn’t a sauna involve a bunch of naked people sitting around together sweating? Seems like that would lose you your temple recommend right there. Don’t you know how the church feels about naked people?

    How does the Church feel about naked people?

  150. #133:

    A common “wine made by a Mormon” (actually, whine) is along the lines of “when are we moving back to Utah?”

  151. Wesley Powell says:

    Or in some cases, why are we moving back to Utah.

  152. Ella Menno says:


    The use of C02 is rather a recent development in the making of sodas. The traditional method uses natural yeasts and fermentation of about 7 days resulting in lower sugar content but a bit of natural fizz. Yes there is a very small percentage of alcohol, like less than .5%. As you may well know, some soft drinks in the US also have miniscule amounts of alcohol but they are not required to label them as such because of how little it is, much like manufacturers can label a product that has trans fats as a zero trans fat food even though it actually contains .5 grams or less. Traditionally fermented beverages contain all sorts of good stuff while modern sodas are full of nastiness, IMHO. Personally, I would say that the traditional sodas are much closer to the spirit of the WoW as a health treatise. Of course, I would also say that a nice iced tea or coffee is way better than a Coke any day.

  153. There don’t seem to be any good hard lines to follow. Should we not use vanilla flavoring because of the alcohol in it? Should we not eat chocolate because it has a little caffeine? Either of those ideas seems to be going too far to me. However, I did stop eating things like rumcake that had real rum in it when I learned that much of the alcohol does NOT evaporate during cooking. I’ve never felt tipsy from eating rumcake but I don’t really want to use alcohol at all, and if there is a significant amount in rumcake then I would prefer to avoid it.

    I’m very addicted right now to diet coke, though. I’ve kicked the habit several times, and even suffered through weeks of killer headaches to do it, but something always gets me started again, usually some need to drive when very sleepy or something of the sort when I’m choosing to stay alive and drink caffeine rather than avoid it and possibly fall asleep driving and die, killing my son along with me. That always seems reasonable at the time, yet I’m quickly addicted again and spend a long time trying to taper down and get off caffeine again without the excruciating headaches.

    So I really do believe caffeine is a powerful mind-altering addictive drug and not healthy for me, yet I never can seem to give it up for good. =( So I have WoW issues about that.

    I hope I never get asked to give up chocolate or to stop using vanilla flavoring, though, as that would seem silly.

  154. Jared T. says:

    Holy crap, I’ve been missing out! :)

  155. I thought because of the whole multiply and replenish kick the church was situationally in favor of naked people.

    ahh the WoW- I’ve always thought it was to set us apart, help us be free of addictions (maintaining the ability to choose), and to promote health-and thus have a people better prepared to serve.

    I can’t eat sugar so that pretty much puts most drinks off the table…also I have alcoholism in my family history-very motivational to figure your body may have the natural tendancy to be addicted.

    As a no sugar aside-a newer sugar substitute called xylitol. Technically it’s a sugar alcohol. Some of the crazy pepole I hang out with have that disucssion-is this the kind of alcohol we avoid-of course that leads to the avoiding fruit discussion.

    I had a BYU bishop that used to always ask a a WoW follow up of-are you getting the sleep you need? I’m glad as a pregnant lady to not have THAT part of my TR interview. Not that I’m against sleep, I just don’t find it possible. I don’t think it’s bad to encourage college students to consider their health either.

    Definitely Michael *I* understand the WoW but others are too liberal or make it a gospel hobby. ;)

  156. #3 “On the other hand, I hear beer tastes like horse piss.”

    Wow, you know people who tasted horse piss??…yuckkk! lol

  157. StillConfused says:

    Lately I have been feeling like my metabolism is slowing. It has been 22 years since I had a drop of caffeine so just grabbing a diet coke was not prudent for my little heart. I did research and found that this one white tea drink had 10mgs of caffeine (1/10th a cup of coffee) So I tried it. But it was soooo nasty tasting to me. I gave some to my concrete worker and he said how great it was and it tasted just like iced tea. So I think iced tea must taste like dirt. No wonder people put so much sugar into it.

  158. MikeInWeHo says:

    Iced tea tastes great, especially with a little lemon. It seems odd that such an obviously healthy beverage wound up excluded by the current interpretation of the WoW, especially when Diet Coke gets a wink.

  159. StillConfused says:

    Mike, you and I will have to disagree on that one. (the taste part not the health part).

  160. MikeInWeHo says:

    It’s an acquired taste, I suppose.

  161. Wesley Powell says:

    #158 If you’re implying that Iced Tea is better for you than Diet Coke or any soft drink for that matter, I completely agree. I spent a good part of my mission trying to convince the tea drinkers of Ireland about the harmful effects of tannic acid and the damage it was reaping on their bodies. Later I discover that tea contains various types of polyphenols but tea does not contain tannic acid. It’s all a well intentioned belief.

    Beer on the other hand, like all fermented foods are actually good for you. Some claim it tastes like “horse piss”, I’d love to know how they make their comparisons. I’d also like to somehow believe that horse piss is against the WoW. Growing up LDS, I said a lot of the same things only to find out later that it’s actually pretty good (beer, not horse piss), it’s just not what you’re use to.

    It’s been fun to read through the varied beliefs that exist in our Church.

  162. Mike, iced-tea is the taste I miss most, and the one I am most tempted to blur the lines on.

  163. Neal Kramer says:

    This is the most delightful thread!

    I have the world’s biggest problem with white granulated sugar. I think I could probably open a bag and just pour the stuff down my throat. But I prefer the way our good friends at Hostess mix it into so many deadly products.

    Then there’s all natural ice cream! How could I live without it? Only three ingredients. SUGAR!

    I drink very little soda pop. No caffeine.

    No beer or alcohol.

    No coffee and no tea.

    But when I look at myself in the mirror I admit that I see someone who looks very much like he eats too much sugar.

  164. StillConfused says:

    Sugar is a big issue. Because I have severe hypoglycemia, it has been over 30 years since I have had any measurable amount of refined sugar. (I can’t even have fruit on an empty stomach). I think my illness is actually a blessing because I never acquired a taste for the sweets.

  165. Funny the way this thread is going, I’ve decided to stay away from sugar for 2 weeks. Now instead of spending all day finding and consuming chocolate and soda, I’m pondering my sanity.

  166. If there is a Mormon who drinks beer and works for Apple, I just want to say, please be very careful with the prototypes.

  167. This is where the Word of Wisdom is confusing. There is a huge emphasis in the modern LDS Church regarding any alcoholic beverage whether it is strong (like spirits or liquor) or relatively mild (a single beer with dinner seems relatively mild). What about the other proscriptions in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom? I’ve never seen a member of the LDS Church refuse a cheeseburger, hot dog, steak, etc… With regular consumption, over time, red meat is probably more dangerous than regular consumption of a single beer, everyday, over time. Didn’t President Snow proscribe the limitation of meat, which was overturned?

    So, why the modern emphasis on prohibition of alcohol use? I always hear young Mormon couples who have taken a hiatus from the religion who are ready to get back into church and marry in the temple. The only thing I hear them discuss regarding lifestyle change is cutting alcohol use out of their life; but why, if you are not worthy of entering the temple unless you follow the word of wisdom, is that the only concern?

    Just something I have wondered.

  168. “With regular consumption, over time, red meat is probably more dangerous than regular consumption of a single beer, everyday, over time. ”

    Many of the negative health effects of red meat aren’t inherent in the meat itself, but how the cattle are raised and what they’re fed. Red meat has really only become “bad” for you in the last 60 years or so.

  169. As a former drinker (not an alchoholic, but Like most most people from my part of the world I could put a fair bit away) I like the firmer stance on the WoW – I’m rather sure I could drink enough 2.8% beer in one session to get loaded and get myself in all sorts of trouble (yes, I have poor self discipline). Anyway my wife won’t allow me to have even ‘no alcohol’ beer, and as long as she’s willing to keep me happy, I’m happy to reciprocate. The world would be a much better place if people would adopt the WoW en masse.

  170. Butch Bowman says:

    #168 Ben S. “Red meat has really only become ‘bad’ for you in the last 60 years or so.”

    The myriad ways in which Mormons perform mental gymnastics to get out of the sparing use of animal flesh is truly amazing. Again, this scripture is not really about physical health. It is about our “temporal salvation” and (in my opinion–see comment 119) living “after the manner of happiness.” Drinking a glass of wine with dinner every night has been shown to have quite a positive effect on human health. Drinking a cup of coffee (or several cups) every day (assuming it’s not scalding hot) will not CAUSE any health problems at all, although if you happen to have stomach problems, it could exacerbate them. Eating a small amount of red meat every day has never been shown to have any significant effect on human health one way or another, as compared to abstinence.

    Please go and actually read the revelation, and then consider this idea: the Lord is pleased when the flesh of beasts and fowls is used not at all, because it SPARES the lives of animals. As your mind begins to balk at this notion, quickly remember the following: 1) in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ate only fruit that grew spontaneously. 2) In the millennium, lions will eat grass.

  171. Please go and actually read the revelation, and then consider this idea: the Lord is pleased when the flesh of beasts and fowls is used not at all, because it SPARES the lives of animals.

    Thats a nice notion. Except that in our modern combine-tractor farming world it is completely false. Tractors farming wheat are likely to kill more sheer numbers of animals than a human would eating a completely free-grazing cattle/lamb/etc. diet.

    The Least Harm Principle Suggests that Humans Should Eat Beef, Lamb, Dairy, not a Vegan Diet.

    The only way you are going to kill less animals by eating vegetarian is if you grow the garden yourself and don’t tractor harvest it.

    Would you like to interpret for a little more for us regarding the will of God in his commandments, or would you maybe like to leave that to him?

  172. Please keep in mind, I try to cut down on my meat intake to the best of my ability, like I mentioned above. But I’m not going to act like I’m a genius and others are morons because I know why God wants us to use meat sparingly.

  173. Butch Bowman says:

    #171 & 172 B. Russ
    “Would you like to interpret for a little more for us regarding the will of God in his commandments, or would you maybe like to leave that to him?”

    “I’m not going to act like I’m a genius and others are morons because I know why God wants us to use meat sparingly.”

    Well, that was harsh. Listen, I’m just sharing some thoughts here. I had hoped the words I used to frame those thoughts, as well as the tone of my writing, would make it clear that I was in no way trying to interpret scripture for other people. That’s between God and the individual. As I said before, “the scripture version gives us the ability to explore for ourselves other aspects of God’s will for our temporal salvation.”

    As far as the idea that being a vegetarian involves more killing of animals than being an omnivore, I must admit this issue had not occurred to me before. So I thank you for giving me something new to think about on this issue. But my initial impression is that this is really nit picking (literally). Oh yeah, and mental gymnastics.

  174. Well, that was harsh. Listen, I’m just sharing some thoughts here. I had hoped the words I used to frame those thoughts, as well as the tone of my writing, would make it clear that I was in no way trying to interpret scripture for other people.

    The myriad ways in which Mormons perform mental gymnastics to get out of the sparing use of animal flesh is truly amazing.
    Please go and actually read the revelation, and then consider this idea: the Lord is pleased when the flesh of beasts and fowls is used not at all, because it SPARES the lives of animals. As your mind begins to balk at this notion, quickly remember the following:

    I’ll freely admit that its hard to read tone through a computer screen, but rereading your comment, I still see a strong tone of judgmentality, thats why I was harsh.

    As for the “mental gymnastics” of killing fewer animals by eating free-range meat than strictly vegan, I’m not really seeing your point. Like I said before, I eat meat very sparingly (at least when compared to my peers) and try to abstain from meat completely at least two days a week. But in reference to the revelation itself, I don’t think its as clear cut as being either A) about health, B) about having faith to comply, or C) sparing animals. I think they are all three valid parts of the revelation and worth considering, but none of them explains the revelation by itself.

  175. Butch Bowman says:

    B. Russ:

    Yes, it’s very difficult to discuss this topic without stirring extremely strong emotions. That’s why I avoided bringing it up my first go ’round. But then I felt compelled to respond to Ben S. In rereading my own comment (#170), I see that my tone was inappropriate, so I apologize for that.

    I agree that health, addiction, obedience, etc. are all part of what the scripture addresses and that none alone (or even all together) explains what the revelation is all about. I personally believe the overarching principle involved in D&C 89 is living “after the manner of happiness.”

    Also, you deserve a prize for getting me to give serious consideration to something posted on ;-)

  176. Butch & B. Russ,

    Play nice.

  177. #142
    See the link below for caffeine content in drinks:

    Click to access caffeine.pdf

    Coffee is at 133 mg / 8 oz ( I have seen it at 90-120 mg on other sites)

    Coca Cola Classic is 35 mg/ 12 oz can

    Other caffeinated sodas are in the 35-50 mg/12 oz can

    Coffee is more than double/triple the amount of these sodas in a smaller size (8 oz vs 12 oz), therefore not very comparable.

  178. Butch Bowman says:

    B. Russ–
    I also would agree that traditional hunting and fishing and traditional animal husbandry are much more humane and ecologically sound than modern factory farming methods. One of the reasons I gave up meat was because I had no desire to personally go out and kill the animal myself. Of course, if I went home and told my wife I want to grow all our own food to avoid killing field mice and crickets, SHE would kill ME, so there you go.

    Scott B.–We’re trying.

  179. 175 apology accepted, forgive my harshness.

    176 noted.

  180. I think the interesting thing to notice here is that free from any rationalization or quantification of “avoiding harm” in following it, the word of wisdom simply isn’t implemented in the same way it reads.

    As others have pointed out, the church seems to have focused on certain parts of it and ignored certain others, especially in some parts of the world. Ignoring the ‘use meat sparingly’ clause while focusing on coffee and tea (and iced tea) seem silly. And while it does say no to strong drinks, it says yes to mild barley drinks (yet I’ve never heard anyone point this out in church). More than that, it seems to campaign overall for all things in moderation and good health… Yet the difficulty of actually determining if one is living healthy while eating bon bons everyday is much harder than a yes/no smoking question.

    I almost wonder if our current focus on certain yes/no answers comes down to ease of application and enforcement. I mean, who really wants to hear constant discourses on what exactly ‘sparingly’ means?

  181. Butch 170, I didn’t say anything in my comment about the Word of Wisdom, just tried to correct the idea that red meat is inherently bad for you. You’re assuming that a)I go to the Churrascuria every night, and b)the only way I can justify it to myself is to make red meat not be “bad”, since c)the Word of Wisdom is about health.

    So ease off the judgmental assumptions and strawmen there pal, since a,b, and c are false.

    As for my knowledge of food and red meat in particular, I admit that it’s largely second-hand, but that my source is my wife (PhD- food studies, MS-food science, Cooking School in Baking/Pastry, BA in Chemistry)

  182. “Is it possible for five Mormons to have different ideas about what the Word of Wisdom means, and yet they all believe they are keeping the Word of Wisdom?”

    Yes. The same is true for Tithing. Ask a bishop to give a definition of “full-tithe payer” and they’ll say 10% of your increase, whatever that means to you so that you are honest with God. They might give guidelines, but I don’t believe they get into strict definitions that detract from the spirit of the law.

    Same goes for beer, and caffeinated products (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc). At some point, we need to get past the ingredients and look at where our heart is and the spirit of the commandment as best we understand it.

  183. Regardless of whether the revelation pertains to physical health or not (and you can’t ignore the inherent health benefits of following the word of wisdom) mainly my question is how people choose to follow one recommendation so strictly while ignoring all others? Like my example with young couples, I often hear them preparing for a temple marriage by giving up drinking alcohol but give little thought to limiting consumption of meat, hot beverages, etc. Is this because alcohol is the most social of these activities and so it has to be the first thing to go to insure others know they are preparing for a temple marriage? Is it because it is perceived as the most dangerous or harmful? Is alcohol the thing that hinders people from feeling they have a close relationship with God? I wonder about this aspect of people regarding the use of alcohol so sternly while, often, ignoring the rest (at least where I’m from).

    I’m sure that there are many things that Joseph Smith could not have foreseen in our modern world, which would have been included in the Word of Wisdom so I think people must use careful intelligent scrutiny to determine what is best for their life. There are many things that are harmful to spirituality and religion; alcohol is one of those things, but there are many others.

  184. Erin, it is important to understand that the “Word of Wisdom” as written in the Doctrine and Covenants is different than the “Word of Wisdom” rule that we use as a test for fellowship.

    Since the days of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, there has been a divergence between these two things. Intoxication (typically via hard liquor) has always been viewed as sinful and grounds for church discipline. Eating meat has never been viewed that way (though Lorenzo Snow did apparently believe in abstaining as much as possible). Hot beverages were immediately understood to be coffee and tea.

  185. Butch Bowman says:

    #181 Ben S.

    Again, I apologize for the inappropriate tone of comment #170. I really was not trying to be judgmental or holier-than-thou. I was just trying to present an idea that I have found many people have trouble getting their mind around, because it challenges their lifestyle. To me, it just seems so clear that the scripture advocates a vegetarian lifestyle in times of plenty. I honestly don’t feel that being a vegetarian makes me morally superior to anyone else. As I said in #119, Jesus was not a fan of dietary laws. I’m just trying to understand the meaning of the scripture and apply it to my life. That being said, I do feel that avoiding meat as a practice in respect for life has been of some benefit to me in my spiritual walk. So that was why I wanted to share it. But obviously I didn’t do a very good job.

    As far as science and health go, I actually tend to agree with you and your wife. Modern agricultural methods probably result in less healthful products. I was just making the argument that in terms of documented, measurable effects, a moderate amount of wine is beneficial, while moderate amounts of coffee or meat do not appear to be harmful. This argues against a pure “law of health” interpretation of the scripture/commandment.

  186. Wesley Powell says:

    I use to take the Word of Wisdom very seriously myself, in fact, at one point I became a vegetarian over the whole ‘eat meat sparingly’ thing. I decided to try it for a year to see how I would feel and I felt great, physically and mentally but in some ways I missed meat. Eventually I was able to train myself to enjoy a nice medium rare steak once again, not very often, just sparingly. God didn’t mince words when he said he put them here for the benefit and use of man.

    The “Word of Wisdom” as we know it today is so much different than in the days of the early church. I guess that’s because it was introduced “not by commandment or constraint” and so people took it as a word of wisdom, or good advise. Now it’s become a standard by which we judge others by, and unfortunately people are judged by the parts that aren’t even in there. Coffee, beer, iced tea, red bull, etc, I guess we can find a way to include those things. What about Diet Coke, fast food, those 3500 calorie Iceberg shakes people flock to after Saturday church meetings and punch & cookies after any “extra” meeting.

    For me, I believe it comes down to moderation in all things. Perhaps the greater sin is in judging others by their outward actions and appearances. It seems to me that garments and Word of Wisdom, the main outward expressions that can be seen by others have become a baseline of judgment. To each his own and love one another.

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