Too Serious About the Word of Wisdom?

August 26, 2004 | 42 comments
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When I was six years old, my best friend’s mother got out some ice cream for me. When I put a spoon in my mouth, I noticed a strange flavor. I looked at the box to see what the flavor was: COFFEE! Panicking, I put my hand over my mouth and immediately ran home to spit it out in a toilet. The poor woman called my mom to see what was wrong. I’m not sure what she said, but thinking about that experience reminds me of just how overboard good Latter-day Saints sometimes go when it comes to the recommendation-turned-commandment known as the Word of Wisdom.

One of the few correct things that most people know about Mormons is that they generally don’t smoke, drink, etc. And that’s one of the few things that some of our members seem to really understand as well. The Word of Wisdom is an inspired and marvelous thing, certainly, but I worry about how much more attention it seems to get in the minds of our youth than, say, avoiding pornography. Wouldn’t it be great if the thing about Mormons that really made us stand out from the mainstream world was our aversion to pornography, even more than our aversion to coffee?

Somehow we’ve done a great job teaching our children and adults to avoid tobacco, coffee, and alcohol like the plague. But in today’s climate, the thing that the Prophet seems to most frequently equate with the plague is not Lipton tea or Camel cigarettes, but pornography. Thinking of Gordon Smith’s recent post on this issue, I agree that we need to find a way to better prepare our people against this major evil. Missionaries who may be well trained in helping people overcome smoking need to be even better trained in helping those struggling with more dangerous addictions, and I suspect that bishops and other leaders need a much higher level of expertise in this area.

I hope we can see the day when one of the most remarkable and well known things about Mormons is not what we don’t take into our bodies, but what we don’t take into our minds. What we teach is wonderful, but too many are ill prepared for the power of the temptations that abound today. It can be a genuine struggle, sometimes a daily struggle, even for the most faithful of Saints, depending on their circumstances. Coffee has never been that big of a problem for most of us.

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42 Responses to Too Serious About the Word of Wisdom?

  1. Jeff Lindsay on August 26, 2004 at 1:50 am

    I don’t mean to downplay the Word of Wisdom at all, and I recognize it’s connection to morality. Many of the moral problems that afflict people begin with alcohol or drugs that break down inhibitions. It’s a real problem out here in heavy-drinking Wisconsin, where my little town of Appleton is in the nation’s top 10 cities in terms of bars per capita, and where seventh-grade parties may feature illegal kegs provided by gracious parents. Living the Word of Wisdom is an important part of one’s daily spiritual breakfast. But with the incredible filth available on cable TV, the Internet, and even network TV (I think some of the most troubling scenes I ever encountered as a young man involved salacious nudity on public television stations, typically PBS, as well as lurid moments on network TV – these once “safe” places make it very easy for LDS people to be caught off guard).

    Many parents with cable TV don’t recognize how dangerous “bleedover” from supposedly scrambled adult channels can be. It was a devastating problem for some young people I have known. It is usually possible to get a free hardware block for those channels to prevent bleedover. This is just one of many tips that we need to know about to help fight the war against Satan’s most powerful advertising/misinformation.

  2. Rusty on August 26, 2004 at 2:20 am

    Nice post Jeff. Lately I have been thinking a lot about what you articulated so well: that we seem to be really good at keeping some commandments (visible ones like WofW, tithing, white shirts & ties), while not doing so hot on others (less visible ones like impure thoughts, pride, selfishness, unrighteous judgement, etc.).

    We are especially careful to only ingest “herbal” teas but have no problem sitting through Austin Powers (but it’s so funny!). We calculate to the last cent how much of our income is ten percent, but we’re annoyed that our calling requires our time during the week. It’s sad, and I think most of us are guilty of it in one form or another.

  3. Bob Caswell on August 26, 2004 at 2:36 am

    “Missionaries who may be well trained in helping people overcome smoking need to be even better trained in helping those struggling with more dangerous addictions…”

    Whoah! Could you expound? Based on the context, it seems like you are suggesting missionaries be trained in helping people overcome pornography? Interesting idea. But am I the only one who thinks it’s similar to my single friends giving me marriage advice? Ok, maybe it’s not that bad.

    By all means, I don’t mean to suggest that missionaries themselves have problems with pornography. Excuse my lack of articulation, but there’s just something plain weird about single young males being skillfully trained in “pornography counseling”.

  4. Don on August 26, 2004 at 3:40 am

    We as Mormons have learned how to “look good” to our fellow members and our neighbors. We put on our smiley faces, go to church, and keep the commandments…at least the ones that show.

    Sometimes we are like the “whited sepulchres”, we look good on the outside but are full of dead bones.

    No one like to show their problems and imperfections but I agree we need to work as hard on the commandments that don’t show as we do on those that do.

  5. Don on August 26, 2004 at 3:43 am

    We as Mormons have learned how to “look good” to our fellow members and our neighbors. We put on our smiley faces, go to church, and keep the commandments…at least the ones that show.

    Sometimes we are like the “whited sepulchres”, we look good on the outside but are full of dead bones.

    No one like to show their problems and imperfections but I agree we need to work as hard on the commandments that don’t show as we do on those that do.

  6. Nathan Tolman on August 26, 2004 at 9:23 am

    Before everyone gets on the “People in the Church are hypocrites” bent, I would just like to point out the visible commandments are usually the easiest to keep and are most often internalized at an early age. Pornography of various sorts can sneak up on one, but a cigarette or coffee will almost never find its way into your mouth.

  7. Scott on August 26, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    Most coffee ice creams actually contain a meaningful amount of coffee. Not as much as a cup of coffee, on a per serving basis. But, still, more than most Mormons would feel comfortable partaking of directly. Some stats are attached below:

    (1 cup) — Caffeine (mg)

    Coffee, brewed — 135
    Coffee, instant — 95
    Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Almond Fudge Frozen Yogurt — 70
    Cascadian Farm Coffee Chocolate Sorbet & Cream — 70
    Cascadian Farm Mocha Fudge Frozen Yogurt — 70
    Starbucks Lowfat Ice Cream, Latte or Mocha Mamba — 60
    Häagen-Dazs Fat Free Coffee Frozen Yogurt — 50-60
    Élan Coffee Frozen Yogurt — 50
    It’s Soy Delicious, Espresso or Espresso Almond Fudge — 50
    Sweet Nothings Espresso Fudge — 50
    Ben & Jerry’s Lowfat Coffee & Biscotti Ice Cream — 40
    “TCBY” Nonfat Kona Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt — 40
    Espresso (1 shot) — 35
    Häagen-Dazs Lowfat Coffee Fudge Ice Cream — 20-30
    Colombo Nonfat Shoppe Style Chocolate
    Cappuccino Twist Frozen Yogurt — 20
    Healthy Choice Lowfat Cappuccino Mocha Fudge Ice Cream — 20
    Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Fat Free Coffee Fudge Sundae Frozen Yogurt — 10-15
    Dreyer’s (Edy’s) No Sugar Added Light Mocha Fudge Ice Cream — 10-15
    Alta Dena Lite Mocha Mocha Ice Cream — 10
    Healthy Choice Lowfat Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream — 10
    Mattus’ Lowfat Coffee Ice Cream — 10
    Coffee, decaf — 5
    Dannon Light Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt — 0
    Élan Decaffeinated Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt — 0
    Mattus’ Fat Free Coffee Cappuccino Swirl Ice Cream — 0
    Stonyfield Farm Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream, all coffee or mocha flavors — 0

    Scott

  8. BTD Greg on August 26, 2004 at 12:43 pm

    Wait, I thought we just couldn’t drink it.

    Could someone pass me the tiramisu?

  9. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 12:46 pm

    Where would chocolate covered espresso beans fall in all of this?

  10. Kim Siever on August 26, 2004 at 12:58 pm

    Coffee? Gross. I cn’t believe people want to eat it in its undiluted form. Even watered down it’s gross. I had it once from my mum’s coffee cup when I was four or five, and have never touched the stuff since. I am going to gag now.

    Now, Lipton’s iced tea. That’s a whole different story.

  11. Paul Mouritsen on August 26, 2004 at 1:09 pm

    Forty years ago, Jeff Lindsay’s point would have been well taken. Then it sometimes seemed that every other sacrament meeting talk was about the evils of smoking and almost every primary lesson warned against giving in to peer pressure. But today that is not the case. In our ward at least, I have not heard a sermon on the Word of Wisdom in years. Everyone seems to take it for granted.

    Of course, it is still a big hurdle for new converts.

  12. Paul Mouritsen on August 26, 2004 at 1:11 pm

    Forty years ago, Jeff Lindsay’s point would have been well taken. Then it sometimes seemed that every other sacrament meeting talk was about the evils of smoking and almost every primary lesson warned against giving in to peer pressure. But today that is not the case. In our ward at least, I have not heard a sermon on the Word of Wisdom in years. Everyone seems to take it for granted.

    Of course, it is still a big hurdle for new converts.

  13. hansemann on August 26, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    Hey Kim: your post reminded me of my childhood. My mother was active LDS but my father was not. He was a good Norwegian Lutheran who absolutely had to have his coffee in the morning. (Norskies use caffeine to jumpstart their hearts). He would get up at 4:30am to get ready for work and would be out of the house by 6. Anyway, unbeknownst to my mother, I would get up at the age of 4 and have morning coffee with the old man (he would put milk into my cup with the coffee). I loved it and got quite used to getting coffee every morning. Things were going great until one evening when my parents had their friends over for dinner and I got a coffee cup out of the cupboard and demanded my cup of coffee. The old man caught hell that night!

    During the summer he would tie up a hammock in our backyard, listen to the ball game, smoke cigarettes and sip beer. I must have been about 3 or 4, but I would sneak up on him when he had fallen asleep and get whatever beer was still left in the can. After a few successful times one day I went through the usual routine and snagged his can of beer. Unfortunately (fortunately?) he had finished the beer and was using the empty can as an ashtray. I threw my head back to get some brew and instead got a mouthful of cigarette ash. To this day (and I’m 55 now) I can still taste that horrible cigarette ash!

    Long story short, I repented (who says kids are guiltless before age 8!) and am an active LDS guy. No more coffee, beer or ciggies for me.

  14. Jim Richins on August 26, 2004 at 1:29 pm

    I think there are at least three reasons why Mormons have been able to cultivate such a successful image regarding the WoW:

    1) The world, quite frankly, has been catching up to us for the last couple of decades, and now almost universally recognize the problems associated with smoking, alcoholism, etc. It makes it easy for us to say “I told you so”.

    2) People generally feel it is much easier to talk about WoW in clear and simple terms than (especially) sexual sin. I think this is initially a good thing, as it indicates an intrinsic reverence for a topic so sacred.

    3) To a degree, it was easier to talk about WoW sins because 50 years ago they were far more prevalent and socially accepted. It is easy to point to something widely recognized or tangible to contrast Gospel standards with. 50 years ago, Playboy was brand new and highly controversial. So, there didn’t seem to be much need to talk about the dangers of pornography at all.

    Perhaps now, in the 21st century, we have inherited a situation where WoW problems are on the decline, and we are actually winning the battle! We now need to adjust our defenses to counter the new attacks on chastity. Unfortunately, this means that we must find ways to talk about such sensitive subjects with candor, but also with sensitivity and tact.

    Chastity also offers the unique challenge that we have to tailor our messages to be age-appropriate. I have little reluctance talking about Bill Clinton and oral sex with a group of adults for example. But, you have to be very, very vague when teaching similar concepts to Primary children. For the Youth, I think we have to be more candid that we as adults are probably comfortable with, since I am certain they already know a lot more (probably inaccurate) information than we expect.

    Another difficulty with chastity is that sex is not inherently sinful. It is a blessing for marriage and a sacred power for procreation. When I was young, whatever lessons I might have received about chastity devolved into generalized messages like “sex is bad”, “stay away from girls – they might seduce you”, “your penis is your enemy”, “you should feel guilt and shame for having sexual desires”.

    Each of these messages is as equally a distortion of Truth as is “sex is for any consenting adults”, or “whatever makes you feel good”.

  15. Scott on August 26, 2004 at 1:36 pm

    A chocolate-covered espresso bean contains between 3 and 5 mg of caffeine.

    “Tiramisu” is said to be derived from the Italian words for “pick me up,” because of the stimulative effects of the dessert’s caffeine and sugar content.

    Scott

  16. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 2:09 pm

    Any chance chocolate covered espresso beans get by under the caffeinated soda exception? Maybe I should go look up how much caffeine is in a soda.

  17. Charles on August 26, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    I completely agree that some of the WoW issues are outward and that some of the more greivous sins such as p0rnography are internal. I think that another reason p0rn is such a difficult thing to avoid is that it is very intertwined into everyday actions. Certainly there are the graphic types of p0rn, but as its been pointed out the media is full of things that seem okay except for that one scene.

    If you smoke, you smoke and thats against the WoW. Drinking can be ambiguous too. Someone may not drink, but they use alcohol in cooking or something similar.

    P0rn is a lot like that on tv, cable, movies, etc. Its much harder to distill out of our everyday intake.

  18. Scott on August 26, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    I wasn’t aware of any “caffeinated soda exception.” Where has that been articulated?

    According to the National Soft Drink Association, the following is the caffeine content in mgs per 12 oz can of soda:
    Red Bull 80 (per 250 ml)
    Jolt 71.2
    Sugar-Free Mr. Pibb 58.8
    Pepsi One 55.5
    Mountain Dew 55.0 (no caffeine in Canada)
    Diet Mountain Dew 55.0
    Kick citrus 54
    Mello Yellow 52.8
    Surge 51.0
    Tab 46.8
    Coca-Cola 45.6
    Shasta Cola 44.4
    Shasta Cherry Cola 44.4
    Shasta Diet Cola 44.4
    Mr. Pibb 40.8
    OK Soda 40.5
    Sunkist orange 40
    Dr. Pepper 39.6
    Storm 38
    Big Red 38
    Pepsi Cola 37.2
    Diet Pepsi 35.4
    RC Cola 36.0
    Diet RC 36.0
    Canada Dry Cola 30.0
    Barq’s Root Beer 23
    Canada Dry Diet Cola 1.2

    Scott

  19. Nathan Tolman on August 26, 2004 at 3:51 pm

    Perhaps I have missed something but I have never seen anything official that it was the caffeine that the Word of Wisdom was talking about, even if there is quite of this talk swirling around the Church for quite some time.

    Can anyone give me a reference on this?

  20. Ryan S. on August 26, 2004 at 3:51 pm

    The “caffeinated soda exception” has been articulated for me in many temple recommed interviews.

    Bishop- do you follow the WoW?
    Me- Yes, although I drink A LOT of Dr. Pepper
    Bishop- I prefer Diet Pepski. Here’s your recommend.

  21. Kaimi on August 26, 2004 at 3:51 pm

    Umm, is there a rule _against_ caffeinated soda to begin with? After all, they’re not exactly a “hot drink,” are they?

  22. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 3:55 pm

    All I know is that I see plenty of Mormons who drink caffeinated sodas and it doesn’t appear to trip any alarms or raise any worthiness obstacles.

  23. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 4:03 pm

    There must be a debate about whether or not the issue is caffeine (contradicted by LDS cola drinkers) or temperature (contradicted by hot chocolate drinkers). I was going to raise the issue of solid versus liquid, since we’re talking about “hot drinks” … but again we have our cola drinkers.

    Surely this debate already took place somewhere on T&S.

    I’m just being a little playful here. I went on a trip with some friends a year or so ago and ate some chocolate covered espresso beans. I love Raisinets and these didn’t seem all that different. So I’m trying to figure out if I was breaking the law or not. Honestly, I don’t think it matters all that much…

    If the chance rose again I’d probably avoid them anyway. But I was thinking, maybe the issue isn’t caffeine per se but the level of caffeine. So I thought we could maybe argue about how many milligrams of caffeine are acceptable/unacceptable. Maybe I can have Coca Cola but Jolt Cola is out of the question.

    So my question is — what amount of caffeine trips the Word of Wisdom prohibition? (assuming anyone excepts this as a premise).

  24. Kaimi on August 26, 2004 at 4:20 pm

    The church’s relatively new gospel reference guide, True to the Faith, states:

    The Word of Wisdom is a law of health revealed by the Lord for our physical and spiritual benefit. In this revelation, which is recorded in section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord tells us which foods are good for us to eat and which substances are not good for our bodies. He promises spiritual and physical blessings for obeying the Word of Wisdom.

    In the Word of Wisdom, the Lord commands us not to take the following substances into our bodies:

    • Alcoholic drinks (see D&C 89:5–7).

    • Tobacco (see D&C 89:8).

    • Tea and coffee (see D&C 89:9; latter-day prophets have taught that the term “hot drinks” refers to tea and coffee).

    Anything harmful that people purposefully take into their bodies is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. This is especially true of illegal drugs, which can destroy those who become addicted to them. Stay entirely away from them. Do not experiment with them. The abuse of prescription drugs also leads to destructive addiction.

    The Lord declares that the following foods are good for our bodies:

    • Vegetables and fruits, which should be used “with prudence and thanksgiving” (see D&C 89:10–11).

    • The flesh “of beasts and of the fowls of the air,” which is “to be used sparingly” (see D&C 89:12–13).

    • Grains such as wheat, rice, and oats, which are “the staff of life” (see D&C 89:14–17).

    —-

    See http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll?f=id$id=tchg-pix.nfo%3Ar%3A2c47$cid=tchg-pix.nfo$t=document-frame.htm$an=JD_36863Wor$3.0#JD_36863Wor

  25. Ryan S. on August 26, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    danithew-

    My understanding is that the WoW prohibits ‘hot drinks’ which we have been told (now) means ‘coffe and tea.’ I have never seen anything official about caffeine itself- only rumors of Church Presidents making comments to reporters, in Stake Conferences, etc. Having said that- I believe that less caffeine is better because it is healthier. I know I feel better when I don’t drink soda- and when I don’t drink soda with caffeine. However, I have never heard of anyone being denied a temple recommend for caffeine consumption, but know of people being denied recommends/baptism for coffee/tea consumption. As far as I can tell, the prohibition is coffee and tea, and not caffeine.

  26. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 4:23 pm

    I thought caffeinated soda was against the Word of Wisdom for many years and while growing up in New York I even believed it enough to tell my non-LDS friends that Mormons weren’t allowed to drink caffeinated soda. This subject arose because one of my best friends had two parents who worked for Pepsico (very nice sculpture gardens, by the way, if you can ever visit their headquarters) and another friend’s family was absolutely religious about drinking Coca Cola.

    Consquently, my friends who worked for Pepsico kept a six-pack of Pepsi Free in the fridge that was purely designated for me.

    The first time I ever drank and swallowed (yes, I’m pulling a Clinton here) a caffeinated soda was during my mission. There was simply no way I was going to tell a poor Guatemalan woman that the soda she had just purchased and was giving me was verboten. Since then I’ve accepted cola when it’s offered but don’t purchase it on my own. Kind of an odd compromise but it works for me.

  27. clark on August 26, 2004 at 4:30 pm

    There have been GA’s who drank cokes or pepsis as well. I can think of one in particular who always had a diet Coke in our mission when he visited. (Names withheld to protect the guilty) Not that this means anything. I mean look at J. Golden Kimball.

    But I think at worst caffiene is on par with watching Schindler’s List or Band of Brothers.

    Having said that though, it would seem to me that decaffinated coffee still is against the word of wisdom despite having no caffine. Yet I know of a few people who justify it on that regard. I know I’d feel *very* bad doing it.

    It’s one of those things with lots of grey areas. For instance is cooking wine bad? (And no – everything *doesn’t* burn off) Are swiss chocolats with alcohol in bad? Whatabout alcohol used to deliver flavors? (i.e. vodka used for vanilla or cherries)

    If one wants, one will get very anal and have all sorts of problems. i.e. the alcohol in vanilla can’t burn off in the icing for your cake.

    To see the extremes some folks go trying to live the letter of the law, I had one roommate at BYU who wouldn’t eat pickles because his mom told him the vinegar might have alcohol in! (Yeah, this guy was a little nutty from a small town in Idaho)

  28. Jim Richins on August 26, 2004 at 4:34 pm

    Caffeine is NOT the reason for excluding coffee or tea in the WoW. Caffeine, though perhaps unhealthy, has nothing at all to do with it. Section 89 lists generically “hot drinks” and “strong drinks”, but certainly doesn’t mention “caffeinated drinks”, nor for that matter, “alcoholic drinks”. Furthermore, I have never heard of any commentary on the WoW that associates “hot” or “strong” with “caffeine”.

    So, why do we exclude coffee, tea, and alcohol? For “strong drinks”, the association is pretty easy to make, because in the same verse, the Lord mentions wine. (He also goes on to say that wine is OK, so long as it is for the sacrament and from our own make).

    But, the association between “strong drinks” and hard liquor or beer exists because “strong drink” was a contemporary term for those beveragesin 1833. Likewise, “hot drinks” referred almost exclusively to coffee and tea. Hot chocolate or soda pop did not exist on the 19th century frontier. Thus, when the revelation was given, there was no doubt in the Prophet’s mind that this is what the Lord meant.

    Since that time, people have inferred that because coffee and tea are excluded, and they also contain caffeine, then all caffeinated beverages should be excluded. Again, I am not aware of any canonical pronoucement or commentary to justify this leap of logic.

    I am aware of this question on caffeine being posed to President Hinckly in a letter, and he responded to the issue by saying basically, “we leave the decision of how strict an interpretation of the WoW to follow, up to the members.” (I’m sorry, I don’t have the exact reference). He said at the same time, however, that we understand strong drinks to mean alcohol, and hot drinks to mean coffee and tea.

    If our understanding of the WoW changes in the future to include soft drinks (the very name is the antithesis of what the Lord said), then I will immediately put down my Dr. Pepper. I think it is very unlikely that this will happen.

  29. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 4:39 pm

    Another Guatemala story ..

    Besides your regular coffee bean coffee, Guatemalans also make a coffee drink from burnt corn (at least I believe that’s how it is made — I know it involves corn).

    So on one of my very first days a woman poured me a cup of “cafe” and provided some sweet little breads to eat with it. I immediately told her that I couldn’t drink “cafe.” My companion told me that in fact, this was coffee that I was allowed to drink. I was incredulous. After all, it’s called “coffee”, therefore I cannot drink this.

    Only after a very extended discussion/argument was I tentatively convinced that my companion wasn’t nuts and that I could actually drink this dark hot drink. In time I came to love this corn coffee, which is often referred to also as “Morcafe.” I never was able to confirm that this was a combo of the words “Mormon” and “cafe.”

  30. Bryce I on August 26, 2004 at 4:54 pm

    All this talk about chocolate-covered espresso beans and fake coffee reminds me of caphe cut chon, which is a prized (and expensive) coffee made from beans which have passed through the digestive tract of a civet.

    If that doesn’t put you off coffee, I don’t know what will.

  31. Greg on August 26, 2004 at 5:01 pm

    “Too serious about the Word of Wisdom?”

    Yes.

    But I think statements like this go far: “I have never heard of any commentary on the WoW that associates “hot” or “strong” with “caffeine.” Myself, I don’t believe caffeine is against the WOW, but I admit that Church leaders in the past have so counselled. To wit (from a 1975 Ensign):
    _____
    “Is it against Church standards to drink cola beverages or any other beverage containing caffeine?”
    Answer/Bishop H. Burke Peterson

    This is a very perplexing question to many. [story of Daniel omitted] The Word of Wisdom is a guide to strengthening the body and mind and keeping them healthy so the spirit of the individual can function without impairment. If we understand the Word of Wisdom properly, we will do all things necessary to avoid weakening the marvelous temple the Lord has given us to house our spirit. * * *

    We know that cola drinks contain the drug caffeine. We know caffeine is not wholesome nor prudent for the use of our bodies. It is only sound judgment to conclude that cola drinks and any others that contain caffeine or other harmful ingredients should not be used.
    _____

  32. don on August 26, 2004 at 5:14 pm

    If caffine was a WoW issue I’d be in deep trouble for all the excedrine I’ve taken. It’s the only thing that will stop my headaches. I better go take a couple now!

  33. sid on August 26, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    I converted to our Church in my 20′s, and so, while in college had drunk all kinds of alcholic drinks, and of course, was a regular tea and coffe drinker, actually consuming multiple cups each day. And when the Missionaries taught me, I read D&C 89, and since deciding to convert havent touched tea or coffee or alcohol again. However, I still wondr aboutthe prohibition on tea and coffee, because unlike alcohol, I do not think they are either detrimental to ones health, or gateway chemicals, that leads a person consuming it to commit sin by leading to more dangerous products, say, like Marijuana being a gatewaty drug for cocaine etc.
    The reason for my question is this – my family back in Indian is involved in the tea business, and the issue of the WOW has led to a very tense situation, to the point that my parents have refused to have any contact with me since I joined the Church. and I have a hard time accepting hat my parents, relatives and a lot of wonderful people involved in the production of tea are in some way sinners.

  34. Adam Greenwood on August 26, 2004 at 5:54 pm

    The W. of W. is going to be intrinsically more of our image until nice neighbor women like the one you discuss start offering p(rn as easily as they would coffee ice cream. Heaven forfend!

    But your point is wellmade and I generally agree with it.

  35. Marc D. on August 26, 2004 at 6:27 pm

    quote from Leonard J. Arrington:
    ‘A good friend related an experience with David O. McKay at a reception. In a moment of courage, the hostess served rum cake. All the guests hesitated, watching to see what McKay would do. He smacked his lips and began to eat. One guest gushed, “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.’

    From the live of apostle Henry D. Moyle:
    ‘The congregation at a Lansing Stake Conference has not forgotten one encounter with Henry Moyle.
    “Some of you say that Coca Cola is against the Word of Wisdom,” he stated. Then he took a glass and a bottle of the beverage from inside the pulpit, poured out a portion, drank it, and said:”I hope you understand the message.”

  36. danithew on August 26, 2004 at 6:31 pm

    That Moyle story about him drinking coca cola is incredible. I’d like to try that the next time I get an opportunity to speak or teach a class. I’d have to make sure to get the “classic” Coke bottle to dramatize the effect.

  37. Scott on August 26, 2004 at 6:37 pm

    I’m not sure how we got onto sodas and pain relievers. My claim–one which “sophisticated” Mormons often seem ignorant of–is that coffee ice cream usually contains meaningful amounts of coffee. Most Mormons are uncomfortable drinking coffee. Most Mormons would be uncomfortable drinking iced coffee. So is it unreasonable for a Mormon to be uncomfortable eating a frozen coffee custard, sorbet, gelato, or ice cream? Would that be going “overboard,” as the opening post in this thread suggests?

    As for some of the other issues…

    ———————————–
    Excedrin® Extra Strength: Acetaminophen 250 mg, aspirin 250 mg, and caffeine 65 mg. (For informational purposes only. I’m not claiming that one should or should not use OTC drugs containing caffeine.)
    ————————————
    Interview on Larry King Live on September 8, 1998:

    HINCKLEY: …You’ve read a part of the word of
    wisdom. The word of wisdom covers many things. It covers the excessive use of meat, as I see it. It covers, in a very particular way, the use of tobacco and alcohol.

    KING: By saying no?

    HINCKLEY: By saying, by proscribing those things.

    KING: No to caffeine?

    HINCKLEY: No to caffeine, coffee and tea.
    ————————-
    Interview on 60 Minutes on April 7, 1996:

    Mike Wallace: No alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea, not even caffeinated soft drinks…

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Right.
    ————————-
    Interview on Compass with David Ransom on November 9, 1997:

    DR: What’s wonderful about not drinking coffee?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Oh ah coffee has all kinds of caffeine in it, other things. You don’t need coffee. Nobody needs coffee. You can get along without it, David (laughs).
    ————————–
    That’s three public statements in national or international media in which the sitting prophet has indicated that caffeine and caffeinated beverages are contrary to the Word of Wisdom. Granted, they’re not First Presidency statements that have been accepted into the canon in open conference. But must they be in order for members to reasonably take them as a guide? Twenty years ago, there may have been major stigma on cola drinkers. But in more recent years, there seems to be a lot judgment directed against members who do not consume caffeinated soft drinks (e.g., overboard, holier-than-thou, anal, ignorant, etc.). And, ironically, many of my cola-drinking Mormon friends seem “behind the times� compared with my non-Mormon friends who seem cognizant of possible health problems associated with the regular consumption of caffeine.

    Scott

  38. Kaimi on September 3, 2004 at 10:11 pm

    [Restored from Other Thread]

    This very caffeine question was posed to a general authority visiting my mission. As I recall, Elder Redacted’s paraphrased response was, “The Lord hasn’t seen fit to instruct us one way or the other on this. There are certainly those who feel strongly about it, even among the Brethren. As for me, unless the Lord offers revelation otherwise, you’ll have to pry the Pepsi from my cold, dead hands.”

    Comment by Chad too at August 26, 2004 06:40 PM

    ****

    Rather than debating whether a Prophet’s word is good enough or not…

    Why not get into how to make Sr. Lindsay’s thread workable? i.e.

    1. How many Saints will vow to work against SI’s swimsuit issue?
    2. “” re: Wearing clothes made by manufacturers that use nudity to advertise? i.e. Abercrombie, et al.
    3. “” etc…

    Comment by lyle at August 26, 2004 07:11 PM

    ****

    [Heavy sigh] Word of Wisdom silliness again.

    Coffee and tea contain caffeine. They also contain at least 600 other organic compounds, only about half of which have been characterized, and of the ones that have, most of which are known carcinogens.

    Why pick on poor caffeine as the cause for the Section 89 prohibition? There’s much nastier stuff in that cup of coffee, even if it’s decaf.

    For that matter, why don’t the WoW Pharisees freak out about eating lettuce, which contains significant levels of nicotine?

    Just stay away from coffee and tea and don’t try to do Section 89 one better.

    Comment by diogenes at August 26, 2004 07:39 PM

    ****

    Diogenes,

    (1) Please provide some substantiation for your claim of “significant levels of nicotine” in lettuce.

    (2) You say coffee and tea contain 600 organic compounds, about half of which have been “characterized.” Of those half, you claim that “most are known carcinogens.” Please name twenty organic compounds in tea and coffee that are known carcinogens. And, if you want to be really persuasive, show that they are present in harmful amounts. I’d like to see some substantiation for this claim.

    (3) Direct your sermon on the harmlessness of caffeine to President Hinckley, who–on the basis of his public statements–is apparently unaware that the substance should not be singled out. Set the old man straight so he doesn’t keep embarrassing himself on national television.

    (4) Your heavy sigh, accusation of silliness, and labelling of those who happen to disagree with you as Pharisees conveniently illustrates the point I made in an earlier post about the peculiar intolerance that non-cola-drinking Mormons often encounter. Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, perhaps you can respond with evidence and arguments.

    Scott

    Comment by Scott at August 26, 2004 08:53 PM

    ****

    Sid,

    Since many scientific studies have demonstrated the healthy, life-lengthening properties of tea, I think your family members involved in the tea industry are more like saints than sinners. Breaking the Word of Wisdom is a sin for Mormons (though whether being involved in the tea trade is breaking the WOW is debatable), but it can’t be considered a sin for nonmembers, who aren’t believers and haven’t made the covenants involved.

    I don’t think the WOW forbids caffeinated soft drinks, nor do I think caffeine is bad in and of itself. However, the danger in caffeine is that it tempts one to try to get by on less and less sleep, which is quite unhealthy in the long run. So some individuals (e.g., myself) are better off avoiding caffeine in order to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

    Comment by Heather at August 26, 2004 09:30 PM

    ****

    On the 60 Minutes interview:

    Is 60 Minutes really the forum to announce clarification of doctrine or really go into the topic in depth?

    Comment by Nathan Tolman at August 26, 2004 09:30 PM

    ****

    Hmmm………..

    I have knows members (very few, I could count them on my left hand, but they exist) who smoke marijuana regularly and justify it under the WoW because it says to use the herbs of the field.

    As far as caffeine – My mother suffers from extreme migranes, and even prescribed medications didn’t help.

    In desperation, and despite a vow never to take caffeine (she even avoided chocolate) she tried Excederin (an Asprin/Caffeine Blend) and found it knocked her headaches right out.

    Comment by Ivan Wolfe at August 26, 2004 09:45 PM

    ****

    Just my 2 cents worth, I think Heather is closest to the right path here. I humbly, perhaps even hesitantly, suggest that section 89 has more to do with section 130 than it does with physiology. Which, parenthetically, concords with an observation that God always seems to give us one good thing that saves us from several bad consequences at once. Having grown up in the center of the church, and getting all the grief about colas, I think that the cola angle is a tad pharisaical. The point is the covenant. I’m sure that those who advocate ‘extending’ the WoW to colas would, perhaps, have been equally as zealous if they had lived during the era of the covenant of circumcision. . .

    Comment by XON at August 26, 2004 11:18 PM

    ****

    Although the word of wisdom was originally a statement on health all it is now is another form of control. Do what we say or you will be punished. If a person was supposed to be health to get a temple recommend the some of these very overweight saints would not be waddling into the temples.

    Comment by Chad at August 27, 2004 12:38 AM

    ****

    Scott –

    I’m not altogether sure if we’re going to get very far if you are the sort of person who believes that President Hinkley announces doctrine in banter with Mike Wallace.

    But, just for fun, pretty much off the top of my head: benzo(a)pyrene(4), chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, benzaldehyde, diacetyl, ethyl acetaldehyde, dioxin, hydrogen peroxide, methyl glyoxal, various members of the tannin family, benzene, ethyl benzene, d-limonene, 4-methylcatechol, styrene (and not from the cup, either), furfural, furan, benzofuran, lots of other furan derivatives, benzyl acetate, 1,2,5,6-dibenz(a)anthracene, hydroquinone, quercetin glycosides, catechol, 4-methylcatechol, toluene — let’s see, we’re well over twenty, aren’t we? — and quite a long list of others. Coffee tends to be considerably nastier due to the roasting process, although some of the structures (like the quercetin glycosides) are unique to tea.

    You get about ten milligrams of (known) carcinogens per cup. More than enough to send most laboratory animals to an early grave.

    One or more of these compounds tend to be found in fresh fruits and vegetables, so on the “avoid other foods containing the same compounds found in coffee” theory of the Word of Wisdom, you should make a point of staying away from apples, celery, carrots (which contain a good dose of caffeic acid), cranberries, black pepper, most other spices (especially cinnamon), etc.

    Bruce Ames’ group has done a lot of this kind of work, for example summarized in the table here. (Which, BTW, indicates that my information is somewhat dated and the number of uncharacterized compounds identified in coffee some time ago exceeded 1,000).

    Comment by diogenes at August 27, 2004 01:00 AM

    ****

    Whoops, sorry, just noticed 4-methylcatechol got onto the list twice. Strike the second occurrence.

    Add 3-methyl-1,2-benzenediol, trigonelline, chlorogenic acid, oxalic acid, and/or 2-furancarboxylic acid instead if you care to.

    Comment by diogenes at August 27, 2004 01:09 AM

    ****

    I subscribe to the theory that the purpose of the “don’ts” in the WOW is to “remind us (and perhaps others) who we are” when we are socializing with others in the world. I think it is no accident that the substances we are to avoid are the most common “social” beverages in American society. (If the most common worldly social beverage was hot chocolate, and hardly anybody drank coffee, perhaps we would be required to avoid hot chocolate instead of coffee.)

    Comment by VeritasLiberat at August 27, 2004 01:56 AM

    ****

    I also saw the 60 Minutes and Larry King interviews, and saw that Pres. Hinckley was providing simple, even vague, answers to all of the questions, not only those referring to the WoW. I don’t keep a copy of the transcripts from those interviews in my scriptures to refer to when doubts about doctrine arise, though, because of the context of that interview. In that context, the Prophet, in very candid moments simultaneously recorded for TV, was providing an overview – an introduction – to people who are not members. I am certain that if the Prophet had a few extra minutes between questions to formulate his answers, he could have been more precise. Unfortunately, we can only speculate on how much more precision might have been included.

    Heck, our dear Prophet, bless his heart, is very old. He may not have even heard Mike Wallace mention caffeine. Don’t forget as well that Mike Wallace is a very skillful journalist who knows how to craft loaded questions by lumping a large number of topics together, in this case some prohibited items, some not, in order to try to “pin down” the interview subject.

    Much of the posts in this thread have focused on finding a scientific reason for justifying the WoW, but all of us should already know that the Lord does not give temporal commandments, only spiritual. The WoW is a spiritual law – a test of faith even. And, oh yeah, it will also help us maintain better than average physical health, too. Obedience to this law brings far more strictly spiritual blessings than physical (which physical blessing, our bodies being Temples afterall, are also spiritual).

    Temple recommends do not depend on some arbitrary standard for physical health, because a person’s spiritual capacity is not proportional to his/her aerobic capacity or Body Mass Index. Otherwise, why build handicap access ramps to the Temples?

    Section 89 does NOT include any prohibitions on caffeine, beer, hard liquor, or even marijuana. Wine and tobacco are the only substances denoted specifically, and even then, each of them are qualified by giving appropriate uses for each. Therefore, our basic understanding of the WoW is based on current Church practice – which is NOT to exclude soft drinks, herbal teas, coffee in ice cream, or rum cake.

    The same “current Church Practice” (remember that old quote from McConkie?) interpretation of doctrine appies to Tithing as well. If I attempted to take Section 119 literally, I would only pay 1/10 of the annual increase in my net worth, not out of every paycheck.

    I applaud those saints who, in an effort to follow Pres. Hinckley in every word, make the additional, personal commitment to abstain from all caffeine, in the same way I respect those saints who choose to avoid meat and become a vegetarian or vegan.

    However, I also believe that there is significant danger of becoming Pharisaical, just as has been described. The WoW is not the only commandment that when obeyed based on extreme interpretations, could actually begin fostering the sin of Pride. Sabbath day observance or the Law of Tithing come immediately to mind.

    Shall we play a game of one-upmanship on who can obey any of these commandments “better”? Would that even be productive from the perspective of spiritual growth (see James 2:10)?

    I know that this is not the intent of my brethren and sisters who feel more comfortable excluding even the slightest appearance of harmful substances from their diet. But, as I have said before, it is not the harmful physical compounds that prompted the Lord to provide Section 89.

    If the current Church practice changes to exclude Dr. Pepper, then I will immediately and happily put it down.

    Comment by Jim Richins at August 27, 2004 11:34 AM

    ****

    Here is a funny story that I always think about when on this topic. A professor of mine at BYU was in the bishopric at the time that he had a kidney stone (or gall stone, I don’t remember). He went to his doctor, who was a friend of his and likewise a member of the Church. He told him of the obvious solution, to come in and be injected full of drugs, they’d remove the stone, and he would heal. Then, he proceeded to explain to him another way to rid himself of the stones. He told him to go to the grocery store, buy a six pack of beer and urinate it out. So he did just that. Spent $8 on a six pack of Fosters (he was Australian…loyalty I guess), drank it, I assume embibed himself, and urinated the thing out. He doesn’t even remember it hurting. He saved a couple thousand dollars on a procedure that would have pumped him full of drugs anyway. Later the bishop asked him if he had passed the stone and he explained how he had. They had a good laugh together.

    I think I would do the same if I were in his position. But then again, I swear sometimes because it’s funny.

    Comment by Rusty at August 27, 2004 11:57 AM

    ****

    I used to go to general conference with the president of a neighboring stake, who had a wise approach to the Coke–WoW question. (He, by the way, had no problem with Coke–our post-conference ski days at Alta would always begin with a stop at the 7-11 at the bottom of Little Cottonwood Canyon, where he’d get a Big Gulp–64 oz. Coke to start his day.)

    If someone in a recommend interview mentioned Coke in response to the WoW question, he’d simply ask: “Do you think that that [your drinking Coke] is a problem?” If the person thought that he was doing something wrong, he would counsel them to stop doing it. If not, then he’d simply move on.

    Interestingly, this is the same approach leaders are now counseled to follow if matters of sexual intimacy between husbands and wives come up in an interview.

    Comment by Mark at August 27, 2004 12:26 PM

    ****

    Scott,

    In 1972, the Church issued a Priesthood Bulletin that stated, in part, the following:

    “With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”

    If the church is going to change their mind and take an official position on the matter, it certainly wouldn’t be announced on national television. This is particularly true when more than half of the Church’s population don’t get 60 minutes broadcast into their living rooms.

    Comment by Kim Siever at August 27, 2004 12:48 PM

    ****

    “…the peculiar intolerance that non-cola-drinking Mormons often encounter.”

    I don’t think your statement is correct unless modified: …the peculiar intolerance that PROSELYTING non-cola-drinking Mormons often encounter.

    If you’re discussing a personal commitment you’ve made and would like to share why, that’s fine. But as long as there’s any perception of a Samuel-the-Lamanite type of approach, you’re always going to meet some serious resistance.

    Comment by Bob Caswell at August 27, 2004 01:09 PM

    ****

    Scott,

    You might also recall in Priesthood Session following the Mike Wallace interview that Pres. Hinkley said that some members were concerned that he had misrepresented the doctorine of the Church in that interview. He made it clear that his knowledge of the doctorine of the Church was intact and that he had simplified things for the interview. He didn’t specify what parts of the interview this had occurred in, so it seems that there is a blanket disclaimer on the contents of the entire interview.

    As an aside, many of the missionaries in my MTC group were very relieved when we arrived at the mission office for the first time and found ample evidence of Coke consumption the instant we walked in the door. Coke was banned in the entire area a year later though, and a few weeks later Cherry Coke came out in Brazil. I spent a year with those cans taunting me. Luckily Guarana is excellent and sells in greater volumes than even Coke, so it wasn’t too tough.

    Comment by yet another John at August 27, 2004 01:14 PM

    ****

    “we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs *under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit*”

    Here’s my pet WOW theory.

    (1) God designed our bodies–individually and collectively–to function in a certain way: regular feedings, X hours of sleep, etc.

    (2) If you have to have a Coke at 2:30 to make it through the afternoon (or, dare I say, 64 oz. to get ready to ski), then you are effectively circumventing God’s design for your body. Maybe you need a nap at 2:30, or to go to bed earlier, or whatever.

    (3) Hence, a Coke in a restaurant once a week, or whatever, is not a ‘habit’ and not a problem.

    I don’t claim this to be authoritative or binding on anyone else, and I don’t think I’d teach it in a class. But it makes sense and feels right to me.

    Comment by Julie in Austin at August 27, 2004 01:41 PM

    ****

    Okay, I’ve made my smart ass commment, now here’s a substantive one:

    For me, to understand the Word of Wisdom, one must understand its history and the way in which it evolved from prescriptive to proscriptive. It was initially given as a word of advice (and, it turns out, pretty sound, healty advice). My pioneer forebears brought sacks of coffee with them when they travelled across the plains. Joseph Smith shared a bottle of wine with his companions on the night he was shot at the Carthage Jail. (I’ve no information about whether it was wine of his own making.)

    Unfortunately, the saints ignored the good advice, and it became a strict proscriptive rule. (I don’t recall when exactly, but I believe during Brigham Young’s presidency.) Now, the degree to which the saints adhere to the word of wisdom is a sign of their obedience to a clearly proscribed behavior—an objective way to measure whether a member is doing right. Although coffee and alcohol may have traits that could—especially when taken in excess—have harmful effects, I don’t believe them to be taboo for this reason. Rather, we don’t do it because we’ve been told not too. And there are benificial side effects as well.

    Personally, I like Dr. Pepper, though Big Red is tasty, as is Diet Coke with Lime.

    Comment by BTD Greg at August 27, 2004 02:11 PM

    ****

    Why do I let myself get sucked into these things?

    1) I am not a vegetarian. I often eat and even cook dishes with wine, liquor, liqueur, coffee, or tea. I take OTC painkillers that contain caffeine. I drink the Brazilian soda Guarana which contains naturally occuring caffeine. (I don’t drink colas for the same reason I don’t drink most soft drinks: they’re cloyingly sweet and saturate the palate so I can’t taste food.) I’ve recreationally inhaled nitrous oxide. I’ve smoked hookahs (without inhaling). I am well acquainted with the “gray areas” of the Word of Wisdom.

    2) Diogenes, I appreciate your list (off the top of your head) of carcinogens in coffee and/or tea. But, as the toxicological adage goes, it’s the dose that makes the poison. Do you have any evidence that any of those substances are, in the amounts present in coffee and tea, harmful to humans? I’m also still intrigued by your claim of significant levels of nicotine in lettuce. I’m no expert in these matters and am open to correction.

    3) As to President Hinckley’s public statements, I expressly acknowledged when posting them that, “Granted, they’re not First Presidency statements that have been accepted into the canon in open conference.” I did not claim that they were a binding doctrinal pronouncement. However, they indicate that President Hinckley (at least over a three year period) interpreted the Word of Wisdom to preclude caffeine and caffeinated soft drinks. And, to many members of the Church, President Hinckley’s interpretation–even if not pronounced in a formal way–carries significant weight. I don’t think a member who, on that basis, chooses to avoid caffeine is necessarily “anal” or “pharisaical.”

    And, with that, because of time constraints, I bow out. Smoke’em if you got’em.

    Scott

    Comment by Scott at August 27, 2004 02:15 PM

    ****

    From what I understand (as Susan Black taught in my BYU Church History class) the WoW wasn’t established as a commandment to all members until the 30′s under Heber J. Grant. Certain members were asked to live it, but not the general membership. Prohibition was up for repeal (because the people believed that if you get rid of prohibition, you get rid of organized crime…) and President Grant told the members (in Utah) to vote against it, something about deaths on the highways. Contrary to his counsel, the members voted for repeal, it passed (Utah was the swing state) and Prohibition became history. At that point President Grant instituted it as a general commandment for the whole Church membership.

    I appologize if some of my details are off, but I often wonder what would be the state of the WoW if the membership had obeyed President Grant’s counsel.

    Comment by Rusty at August 27, 2004 03:37 PM

    ****

    I don’t think avoiding caffeine is bad. Heavens, I avoid sugar in drinks, and I don’t think that is being anal. I fully understand those who for various reasons avoid nutrasweet. I think where some get the “anal” term coming up is when they decide their personal preference isn’t enough but that they want to judge others based upon their consumption.

    Heavens, I used to never drink caffinated drinks. I picked it up on my mission but mainly only drank on road trips. But the last ten years I’ve definitely been drinking far too much pop. However after trying to stop a few times the past few weeks I think my cravings are such that it is probably an addiction to diet coke. Not that it is a particularly bad addiction. But I can certainly understand wanting to stop.

    I think, all things considered, that the carbonation is probably worse than the caffeine. Indeed it is more the carbonation that bothers me.

    Comment by clark at August 27, 2004 03:38 PM

    ****

    Scott: I don’t think it’s anal or pharasaical for a member to choose that, for them, obeying the Word of Wisdom includes avoiding caffeine.

    But absent stated church policy to the contrary, holding that against people who drink caffeinated colas is. There is a difference.

    Comment by Chad too at August 27, 2004 04:02 PM

    ****

    For what it’s worth, we previously had a fairly interesting discussion about the word of wisdom here, with some of the same themes coming up.

    Comment by Greg at August 27, 2004 04:04 PM

    ****

    Yall have gone and done it again. Proven that its much easier to make a mountain out of a WoW molehill than tackle the real insidious evil of p0rn.

    Can we get back to the real topic?

    How do we get people off p0rn? Seems easier to avoid WoW substances than to avoid all media, which is pretty much saturated with erotic imagery, and daily repeated contact with immodesty. Much easier to kick cigs than the allure of T&A–which one can enjoy anytime and anywhere without smelling up your clothes.

    I thought we were going to have a real helpful discussion and once again the bloggernacle is threatening to collapse into trivial gospel pursuits.

    Comment by Bud Light at August 27, 2004 06:07 PM

    ****

    I think the entire WoW, caffene or no, when is alcohol acceptable thing is so dead that not even the Hindus could reincarnate it.

    I believe that what the post began with is a far more interesting and deep discussion. Why is it that we can obey the WoW with some high degree of success but fail to live up to oaths and covenants that seem to have a much greater impact. What can we do to instill this success in our youth.

    But then I guess just like revelation, people will recieve only what they are ready to recieve in a gospel discussion.

    I have enjoyed a few of the posts here regardless and appreciate those comments.

    Comment by Charles at August 27, 2004 07:02 PM

    ****

    I think the whole WoW, caffene or no, discussion is so dead not even the Hindus could reincarnate it.

    I think the original post was far more interesting and relevant to our world today. Why are we so successful in keeping the WoW and indoctrinating its importance into our youth, yet when dealing with the more illicit sins and problems faced by society we seem to fail.

    I can only imagine we are failing because of the resources being devoted to its discussion. How can we get these important issues understood by our youth, or even those who have made oaths and covenants to avoid them.

    I guess just like revelation, you only get what you are ready for in a gospel discussion. I have truly enjoyed a few of the comments here and thank those responsible.

    Comment by charles at August 27, 2004 07:08 PM

    ****

    Danithew,

    Right on on corn coffee — that stuff is awesome. I can still remember numerous times of coming in after a cold, wet day, to some warm cafe de maiz and sweet bread.

    Do you know where it can be found? I’ve tried making it myself (toast some corn, right?) without much success.

    Comment by Kaimi at August 27, 2004 07:59 PM

    ****

    Re the pr0n issue, I just noticed this recent ABC News story about cyber pr0n addictions:

    http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/SciTech/2020_cyberporn_040827-1.html

    Comment by Kaimi at August 27, 2004 08:37 PM

    ****

    and cooper anderson did an interview with a p#rn star which i blogged about today…to try and have a disccusion re: P#rn prevention rather than WoW.

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/books/08/27/jenna.jameson/index.html

    Comment by lyle at August 27, 2004 08:55 PM

    ****

    Kaimi,

    I’m impressed you tried to make some yourself. I have got to think there’s a way to get some Morcafe here in the U.S. but so far I haven’t seen it up here. I loved dipping the little breads in it too, just like you said. If I ever find a panaderia that serves those breads and the Morcafe, I’ll be sure to pass on the news.

    I just did a google-search on the terms “Morcafe” and “corn coffee” and this was all that I could find:

    http://www.geocities.com/webcipes/bevs/b781.html

    Comment by danithew at August 27, 2004 10:06 PM

    ****

    Danithew & Kaimi, they say that the hot chocolate we had in Guatemala (the real stuff, not this Swiss Miss junk) is twice as potent as a cup of coffee. It wouldn’t surprise me. It took me a while, but I loved that café with sweet bread. NOT the stuff with cinnamon or the stuff with rice in it. Atol was delicious as well.

    Comment by Rusty at August 28, 2004 01:30 AM

    ****

    Sorry to butt in here. I normally just enjoy reading the posts and never comment. However, I just finished reading through all of the really good discussion on the Word of Wisdom. I am really impressed with all of the thoughtful discussion regarding a fun and always-guaranteed-to-generate-debate topic. It’s very late, and I should go to bed.

    However, I can’t help adding one idea to this discussion, that – at least to me – is glaringly absent. In the last verse of section 89 there is a promise “that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.â€? This is indeed a ponderous phrase to find at the end of a health law.

    After, some rumination, I have concluded that this promise refers to the Exodus and Passover when the Israelites were commanded to take the blood of a lamb without blemish and put it on the door frames of their homes. The lamb of course was a type of Christ and his blood saving us from death (I apologize for pointing this out …Stay with me I promise I’m getting to the point).

    Anyway, God knew who they were without the Lambs blood on the door frames; he’s God after all. But this was the Lord’s way of recognizing his covenant people. It was an outward symbol of an inner commitment to follow Him. Perhaps, he also commanded them to do it so THEY could also recognize who had chosen to follow God and who had not. The Lord already knew their hearts and their addresses.

    So here is the point. Perhaps, the Word of Wisdom is – in addition to many other good things – our modern day lambs blood and Passover. It is an observance of outward tokens of our inward commitment to follow the covenant. It sets us apart from the world and it constantly reminds us of who we are. And maybe what’s in the food and drink is not so important as what’s in our hearts.

    Just a few thoughts before bed. Goodnight.

    Harold Glade

    P.S. Don’t you wonder if there weren’t some Israelites debating exactly what constituted a lamb without blemish? Small scratch? Birthmark? Droppings matted in the fur? And how much blood on the door posts? Totally painted? Just a dab? A few drops?

    Comment by Harold Glade at August 28, 2004 04:24 AM

    ****

    “Perhaps, the Word of Wisdom is – in addition to many other good things – our modern day lambs blood and Passover. It is an observance of outward tokens of our inward commitment to follow the covenant. It sets us apart from the world and it constantly reminds us of who we are.”

    Amen.

    Comment by Bob Caswell at August 28, 2004 11:39 AM

    ****

    I believe that, to sum up the WoW, if it’s good for the body (grains, fruit, etc.) then do it. If it’s bad (alcohol, smoking) then don’t. If it’s specifically prohibited by the word of wisdom or by an interpretation that is reliable as an authoritative source, don’t do it. If not, return to the first matter I mentioned. Is it good? If yes, do it. If no, don’t. Now of course the difficulty is this: how bad does it have to be in order to abstain from it? Or how about if we eat the largest steak we can find for our birthday which unfortunately happens to fall in August and we’re living in the northern hemisphere of the earth (i.e. not winter)? Maybe I should move to australia so I don’t have to give it up. If we’re taught to eat lots of grains, but we don’t, are we better or worse than someone who frequently drinks caffeinated beverages which are obviously not healthy? I will restate: if it’s specifically prohibited by the word of wisdom or by an interpretation that is reliable as an authoritative source, don’t do it. If your opinion is based on a non-authoritative source such as some that have been cited earlier, then it is just that, an opinion. I happen to like red ties, but I will not be upset if my friend prefers blue. When things are grey in the gospel, I believe that the Lord is allowing us to figure it out and do what we feel is best. Or maybe sometimes it just doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of things we do that are a long more unhealthy than caffeine, yet not specifically mentioned by the word of wisdom, but they never get attention. How many of you exercise every day? I don’t, but I probably should. I also drink the occasional Dr. Pepper, but i suppose it would be healthier to have water, so I get I should stop. The thing is, I don’t intend to exercise every day, nor do I intend to quit the caffeine. I guess I’m just imperfect and I still have things to work on. My point? Figure it out yourself. Discuss with others, but don’t get too defensive or upset if they don’t agree with you.

    Comment by Derek at August 29, 2004 10:24 PM

    ****

    I believe that, to sum up the WoW, if it’s good for the body (grains, fruit, etc.) then do it. If it’s bad (alcohol, smoking) then don’t. If it’s specifically prohibited by the word of wisdom or by an interpretation that is reliable as an authoritative source, don’t do it. If not, return to the first matter I mentioned. Is it good? If yes, do it. If no, don’t. Now of course the difficulty is this: how bad does it have to be in order to abstain from it? Or how about if we eat the largest steak we can find for our birthday which unfortunately happens to fall in August and we’re living in the northern hemisphere of the earth (i.e. not winter)? Maybe I should move to australia so I don’t have to give it up. If we’re taught to eat lots of grains, but we don’t, are we better or worse than someone who frequently drinks caffeinated beverages which are obviously not healthy? I will restate: if it’s specifically prohibited by the word of wisdom or by an interpretation that is reliable as an authoritative source, don’t do it. If your opinion is based on a non-authoritative source such as some that have been cited earlier, then it is just that, an opinion. I happen to like red ties, but I will not be upset if my friend prefers blue. When things are grey in the gospel, I believe that the Lord is allowing us to figure it out and do what we feel is best. Or maybe sometimes it just doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of things we do that are a long more unhealthy than caffeine, yet not specifically mentioned by the word of wisdom, but they never get attention. How many of you exercise every day? I don’t, but I probably should. I also drink the occasional Dr. Pepper, but i suppose it would be healthier to have water, so I get I should stop. The thing is, I don’t intend to exercise every day, nor do I intend to quit the caffeine. I guess I’m just imperfect and I still have things to work on. My point? Figure it out yourself. Discuss with others, but don’t get too defensive or upset if they don’t agree with you.

    Comment by Derek at August 29, 2004 10:25 PM

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    Do you think the Church is trying to send us a message by not allowing the sale of caffein soft drinks on Church property, such as: BYU-Provo, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, MTC’s, and temple cafeterias?

    To me the message is loud and clear. If it is important enough for the Church to go to all the trouble of prohibiting the sale of these drinks on Church property, then it seems to me that we as members should avoid them also. Message received!

    the

    Comment by Scott Fife at August 29, 2004 10:35 PM

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    Do you think the Church is trying to send us a message by not allowing the sale of caffein soft drinks on Church property, such as: BYU-Provo, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, MTC’s, and temple cafeterias?

    To me the message is loud and clear. If it is important enough for the Church to go to all the trouble of prohibiting the sale of these drinks on Church property, then it seems to me that we as members should avoid them also. Message received!

    the

    Comment by Scott Fife at August 29, 2004 10:37 PM

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    “Do you think the Church is trying to send us a message by not allowing the sale of caffein soft drinks on Church property, such as: BYU-Provo, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, MTC’s, and temple cafeterias?”

    Nope. I think they’re trying to be sensitive to the feelings of those Saints who DO believe that all caffeinated drinks are sinful.

    Comment by VeritasLiberat at August 29, 2004 11:09 PM

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    “Do you think the Church is trying to send us a message by not allowing the sale of caffein soft drinks on Church property, such as: BYU-Provo, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, MTC’s, and temple cafeterias?”

    Scott, I see where you are coming from but the Church not allowing something to be sold on its property does not imply that it is condoning such an item. For instance, the Church doesn’t sell sexy underwear in the MTC or temple cafeteria. But does that mean we should receive some sort of secret message that sexy underwear is never appropriate? I don’t think so.

    Comment by Bob Caswell at August 30, 2004 01:58 AM

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    I don’t believe that the church sells condoms on campus either. Yet birth control is certainly allowed (and is probably wise for many married students).

    Comment by Clark Goble at August 30, 2004 02:27 AM

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    To compare soft drinks to condoms and sexy under clothes is a BIG stretch. The fact is that soft drinks of all kinds ARE SOLD at eating facilities located on Church property, but no caffeine soft drinks. The BYU campuses have to be the only places on the planet where there are soft drink machines containing no caffeine drinks. And the national fast food chains found at the BYU food court, can only seve caffeine free drinks. That has to be unique in the world of fast food.

    The Brethren made a deliberate decision a long time ago to prohibit caffeine soft drinks from being sold on Church property. This decision deserves our attention. I believe they are saying these drinks are “harmful”, not “sinful.” Caffeine is an addictive drug, and even though the quantities of caffeine found in soft drinks are much less than coffee, it is still significant enough to be of concern to the Brethren. With all the mega, super size fountain soft drinks available today, a person can easily drink more caffeine through soft drinks than coffee, and many people can’t get through one day without their Pepsi or Coke.

    If it is a concern to the Brethren, then it seems to me it should be a concern to us. Maybe these caffeine soft drinks are more harmful than we think and we ought to just trust the Church on this one.

    Comment by Scott Fife at August 30, 2004 03:46 PM

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  39. Jeff Thomas on September 9, 2004 at 2:17 pm

    This is all bunk! There’s no way that President Hinckley would ever say “caffine is okay” or “coke is okay”. The reason being, many of the ignorant members of the Church, those whose testimonies are based on such fallicies would be shaken, and leave the church. Look at the members now, we have trouble understanding “no tea, coffee, tabacco, alcohol, or other harmful drugs”. Imagine if at this next conference, President Hinckley says, “no coke”. People would then say, “well, can we drink Pepsi?” “What about Vanilla Coke?” “Hey, does Dr. Pepper have caffine?” “I know a Snickers bar is okay, but what about a ‘King Size’ Snickers?” We would look like idiots in the supermarket, reading the label on every thing we buy. We become Pharasis, worshipping the law and not the Savior. So let’s just shut up about it, and stop submitting these list that say, “Ben & Jerry’s Lowfat Coffee & Biscotti Ice Cream has 40 mg of caffine and TCBY Nonfat Kona Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt has 40mg caffine. Who the hell cares? Just remember, “don’t drink coffee”, that’s it. Plus, members of the Church have the Spirit, if they feel not to drink or eat it, then don’t.

  40. Julie in Austin on September 9, 2004 at 2:36 pm

    Jeff, I am not going to comment on the *content* of your response (#39) but the *tone* was inappropriate for T & S. Please see the posting guidelines for more info and be more polite and respectful in your disagreements in the future.

  41. Ken Maxwell on October 15, 2004 at 7:30 pm

    I drink an ocassional coke or pepsi and I take anacin (which contain caffine) tablits every day for my arthritis pain and I dont feel a bit guilty. I think there are really a lot more important things in this life to worry about than this. Many years ago when I was fairly newly active in church, I mentioned to my Bishop during a Temple interview than I did indeed drink a coke or pepsi occasionaly. His response was “well we will sit down and have a coke and talk about it some day”.

  42. Lilly on October 29, 2004 at 12:37 am

    I find myself getting more and more confused with the caffeine debate in the church. My son asked a church member today if her daughter drinks Coke. The woman told my son no, that her daughter is not allowed Coke because of the caffeine. My son then asked me if this girl could not have caffeine why does she eat chocolate and why was her brother drinking hot chocolate at church?

    I know of a member who told me, she cant function in the morning unless she has had a cup of hot chocolate.What is the difference between that and a cup of coffee? To me, she sounds just like people at my work claiming they cant function without their morning coffee. A chocolate bar contains 30mgs of caffeine and I see many members eating chocolate. I am not sure of the exact amount of caffeine in hot chocolate, but there is caffeine in it.

    Medications such as cold medicines, muscle relaxers, pain relievers and anti-migraine medicines can have as much as 100mgs of caffeine. Do these same people advoid pain killlers because of the caffeine?

    Can someone then explain to me if we are not to have caffeine.Why do I see so many members eating chocolate and drinking it at so many church functions and why is there hot chocolate available in food orders from the Bishop’s Store House if we are not to have caffeine?

    I personally chose to drink caffeine free diet coke, when I drink it. When I get a severe migraine and I cant get rid of it myself I have to go to the hospital and get an injection. So before I get to the point of needing an injection, I will drink a Dr Pepper along with some pain killers and most times it works. I also suffer from allergies and at times I cant breathe and have to use my inhaler. If I still cant breathe after two puffs I will drink a Dr Pepper as I am on my way to the hospital to get further treatment. The Dr Pepper helps to open up my air way just a little bit further until I cant get a Ventilin treatment. My doctor has told me that is a very wise thing to do if I am struggling to breathe. Believe me, when I cant breathe, I am not worried about having caffeine, it can be lifesaver at that point for me.

    So, I just cant help but wonder if these same people who vigillant about not having caffeine in sodas are they just as vigillant about not eating too much sugar and fat. Which we all know it not good for our bodies. Do they exercise everyday?

    If we are so concerned about our health, why are so many of our church functions surounded by high fat foods and inactivity( I mean of the exercise type)? Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity are on the rise in North America and within the church and these diseases are killing people. I dont hear of too many people at church tell us not to eat fast food, sugar, fats etc, because it detrimental to our health. But will go on about caffeine to others as they are eating their chocolate cake and drinking hot chocolate.

    IMHO, many members are missing the whole picture about good health. There is so much more to good health and the Word of Wisdom, than just advoiding coffee, tea and colas.

    Just wondering?

    Lilly