Monday, August 25, 2008

The LDS Word Of Wisdom Wasn't Just A Warning Against Harmful Substances, But Also Against Deceptive Advertising

Many of you are familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints health code, known as the Word of Wisdom. It was revealed to the first president of the Church, Joseph Smith in 1833, and subsequently incorporated into the Doctrine and Covenants as Section 89.

But while the health aspects of the Word of Wisdom are well-known, what's less publicized is the fact that Joseph Smith actually warned us against the deceptive and persuasive advertising which would be used to make these substances attractive to people. Here's the applicable part of Section 89 below:

1 A Word Of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—
2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—
3 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: 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—
5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
8 And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

First, let's look at verse 2. It states that the Word of Wisdom is sent by greeting rather than by commandment or restraint. What does that really mean? When Mormons sit for worthiness interviews from their priesthood chain of command, whether it be for a temple recommend, for mission service, or to accept a higher office within the Priesthood, they are asked if they observe the Word of Wisdom. If the answer is No, then the person will be denied the desired opportunity until he is in compliance. However, the individual will NOT be subject to formal Church discipline.

And therein lies the difference. If you break an actual commandment, such as adultery, you can be subject to Church discipline, which can result in probation, disfellowshipment, or excommunication. However, breaking the Word of Wisdom, since it's not a commandment, merely results in denial of a particular privilege, such as a temple recommend.

Now look at verse 4. This is where the warning against advertising is delivered. And it's definitely come to pass. Advertisers motivated by pure amoral profit show macho men and demure women consuming alcohol and tobacco in an effort to make these substances appear more desirable. Remember the "Marlboro Man"? A macho cowboy. What they didn't show were career smokers hospitalized with lung cancer or hacking their lungs out with COPD. They don't look very macho. Joseph Smith apparently foresaw this, and incorporated this into Section 89.

And finally, the health code itself. Remember, Joseph Smith received and delivered the revelation in 1833, and it is worded in context with the references of the time. As references changed and new substances were invented and marketed, various General Authorities issued subsequent supplemental guidance to keep the Word of Wisdom contemporary. Consequently, the harmful substances identified in Section 89 have been further defined as follows:

(1). Strong drink - any alcoholic beverage. This includes alcopops and 3.2 beer.

(2). Tobacco - any form of tobacco, smokable, chewable, or sniffable.

(3). Hot drinks - formally defined to mean coffee and tea. Decaffinated coffee and tea is O.K.

In addition, the General Authorities have since declared that the consumption of caffeinated soda and recreational drug usage also constitute violations of the Word of Wisdom. provides some more guidance. You can also read more authoritative Church guidance HERE.

The consumption of meat is authorized by the Word of Wisdom. However, Mormons are directed to use meat sparingly, since it requires that we take an animal's life. A diet rich in meat actually contributes towards obesity and other health problems. Those who really want to go the extra mile would consume meat only during times of cold weather or scarcity of grains and fruit. Don't forget, the Lord provided the ancient Israelites with BOTH manna AND quail. But Mormons aren't asked about meat consumption during a worthiness interview.

Compliance with the Word of Wisdom is required to be accepted for membership in the LDS Church in the first place, and to retain full membership privileges once in the system.


Anonymous said...

The part about decaf coffee and tea is not true. No coffee and tea mean no coffee and tea. Herbal tea here is the only exception.

Anonymous said...

tanic acid is why we cannot drink coffee and any drink with it in it.

Anonymous said...

Cofee is really good for you so is tea.It's good for everthing read in web MD about it. Joe smith was person you controlled a cult and the cult is still a cult and locked in a bubble. Joe Smith never followed his WOW anyway look it up.

Anonymous said...

“Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more. The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor and the doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out.”

- History of the Church, v. 6, p. 616, June 27, 1844, 5 p.m.

Anonymous said...

“Called at the office and drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England, and reviewed a portion of the conference minutes.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 5, p. 380, Wednesday, May 3, 1843

Anonymous said...

“April 17.- This day the Twelve blessed and drank a bottle of wine at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon forty years before.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 4, p. 120, Friday, April 17, 1840

Anonymous said...

“[It was] common then for everybody to drink, and to have a drink in the field; one time Joe, while working for some one after he was married, drank too much boiled cider. He came in with his shirt torn; his wife felt bad about it, and when they went home, she put her shawl on him.”

- Saint's Herald, v. 28, no. 11, June 1, 1881, p. 167

Anonymous said...

Did young Joe drink?
“Everybody drank them times.... They would have it at huskings, and in the harvest field, and places of gathering; the Smiths did not drink more than others.”

- Ezra Pierce, Saint's Herald, v. 28, no. 11, June 1881, p. 163

Anonymous said...

Joe Smith Made it all up and mormons follow joe smiths made up cult look up hebrews 1:1-2 Jesus is Lord.

Anonymous said...

“About 1842, a new and larger house was built for us.... Father proceeded to build an extensive addition running out from the south wing to the east.... At any rate, it seemed spacious then, and a sign was put out giving it the dignified name of ‘The Nauvoo Mansion,’ ... Mother was to be installed as landlady, and soon made a trip to Saint Louis.... When she returned Mother found installed in the keeping-room of the hotel - that is to say, the main room where the guests assembled and where they were received upon arrival – a bar, with counter, shelves, bottles, glasses, and other paraphernalia customary for a fully-equipped tavern bar, and Porter Rockwell in charge as tender. She was very much surprised and disturbed over this arrangement, but said nothing for a while... she asked me where Father was. I told her he was in the front room... Then she told me to go and tell him she wished to see him. I obeyed, and returned with him to the hall where Mother awaited him. ‘Joseph,’ she asked, ‘for the spiritual head of a religious body to be keeping a hotel in which is a room fitted out as a liquor-selling establishment.’ He reminded her that all taverns had their bars at which liquor was sold or dispensed. Mother’s reply came emphatically clear, though uttered quietly: ‘Well, Joseph, ... I will take my children and go across to the old house and stay there, for I will not have them raised up under such conditions as this arrangement imposes on us, nor have them mingle with the kind of men who frequent such a place. You are at liberty to make your choice; either that bar goes out the house, or we will!’ It did not take Father long to make that choice, for he replied immediately, ‘Very well, Emma; I will have it removed at once’ – and he did.”

- Joseph Smith III, The Saint’s Herald, January 22, 1935, p. 101

Anonymous said...

Temple Recommend

Interview Process:
Interviewing Instructions
Exercise great care when interviewing applicants for recommends to enter a temple. Make it clear that you represent the Lord in determining worthiness to enter his holy house. No unworthy applicant should receive a recommend. Be certain that each applicant is worthy as a result of living up to Church standards and principles. Acceptable answers to the recommend interview questions ordinarily will establish worthiness to receive a recommend. Do not assume that worthiness to enter the temple at one time is reason for a casual interview later. Discuss the interview questions with each applicant, and keep each interview private.

Require an applicant who is not living up to Church standards and principles to demonstrate true repentence before receiving a recommend to enter a temple.

When interviewing an applicant for a recommend, do not inquire into personal, intimate matters about marital relations between a husband and his wife. Generally, do not deviate from the recommend interview questions. If, during an interview, an applicant asks about the propriety of specific conduct, do not pursue the matter. Merely suggest that if the applicant has enough anxiety about the propriety of the conduct to ask about it, the best course would be to discontinue it. If you are sensitive and wise, you usually can prevent those being interviewed from asking such explicit questions.

Interview Questions for Recommends to Enter a Temple

1. Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?

2. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?

3. Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?

4. Do you live the law of chastity?

5. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

6. Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?

7. Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?

8. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

9. Are you a full-tithe payer?

10. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?

11. Have you ever been divorced or are you now separated from your spouse under order of a civil court? If yes, (a) - Are you current in your support payments and other financial obligations for family members, as specified by court order or in other written, binding commitments? (b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection
with your divorce or separation that have not been previously resolved with your bishop?

12. If you have received your temple endowment -- (a) Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple? (b) Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?

13. Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?

14. Do you consider yourself worthy in every way to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances?

In each interview, emphasize to the applicant the need to safeguard the recommend. It must never be loaned and should be reported immediately to the issuer if lost or stolen.

OLD Questions 11 & 12 (replaced by 11a & 11b)

11. Have you ever had a divorce that has not been cleared by appropriate priesthood authorities, where required?

12. If you have ever been divorced or separated, are you presently fulfilling your obligations for the support and maintenance of your family?

Anonymous said...

“Brigham raised his hand and said, ‘I swear by the eternal Heavens that I have unsheathed my sword, and I will never return it until the blood of the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum, and those who were slain in Missouri, is avenged. This whole nation is guilty of shedding their blood, by assenting to the deed, and holding its peace.’ ... Furthermore, every one who had passed through their endowments, in the Temple, were placed under the most sacred obligations to avenge the blood of the Prophet, whenever an opportunity offered, and to teach their children to do the same, thus making the entire Mormon people sworn and avowed enemies of the American nation.”

- Elder John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, 1877, p. 160, online at

Anonymous said...

I will, through the Veil--Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, power in the Priesthood be upon me, and upon my posterity through all generations of time, and throughout all eternity

Anonymous said...

i love how only the popular part is put up what about

17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

Though not currently accepted by the church the word of wisdom says beer is good.

Anonymous said...

It also says wine is ok if you make it you're self and drink it for sacrament