When I was growing up, there was an elderly couple in my ward. The wife had been a faithful, active member for years and the husband, a non-member, attended church with her faithfully every Sunday until he died. From what I remember, he was well-received and well-liked by the people of the ward, but it was a known fact that he never became a member himself because of his smoking habit. He tried, but just couldn’t kick the habit. So he could never be baptized.
Years later, an older gentleman — another very heavy smoker — investigated the Church and, despite having smoked for several decades, managed to quit and was baptized. A strong, active member now, he has never looked back and (as far as I know) never relapsed. One can say that without his strong desire to be baptized, he probably never would have quit smoking.
Over the years, I’ve encountered a few people who have expressed a desire to be baptized but cannot because of a problem with the Word of Wisdom. For some, it’s a case like the elderly gentleman I mentioned at the beginning. Sometimes lifelong smokers, they have repeatedly failed to quit and know that they are enslaved to their addiction — even though they may have a testimony of the Gospel and a desire to be baptized.
For others, it’s not so much a matter of addiction, but rather a doubt that God cares so much about whether or not they have a glass of wine with dinner that he would keep them out of his Church if they were a good, Christlike person otherwise.
So, it’s a matter of pride, right?
Probably. But perhaps their argument is not so hard to dismiss when we look at the history of the Word of Wisdom — which was given in 1833 “not by commandment or constraint” (D&C 89: 2) and was not implemented in the strict fashion that it is today until after 1900 — making many of the early Saints, including Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, violators of this non-mandatory law due to their consumption of banned substances.
Also, if we want to get technical, how many Mormons are truly living the Word of Wisdom? How many of us are eating meat “sparingly” and only in times of “in times of winter, or of cold, or famine?” (D&C 89: 13)
Most of us will probably agree that adhering to the Word of Wisdom is a good idea. I’m not attempting to argue otherwise because I love what it stands for. But, when someone has a sincere desire to be baptized into the Church and is worthy in every way — except that he has failed to quit smoking, or perhaps has a beer or a glass of wine on occasion — are we perhaps forgetting the spirit in which the revelation was given? Or is the current policy the way that the Lord always intended it to be and to change it would be lowering the bar?
I agree with LDS Anarchist. It makes little to no sense to make the WoW prerequisite for baptism. Other than obedience to the law of chastity and not having committed murder, as far as I know converts are not required to demonstrate obedience to other commandments. By placing the WoW on the same level as murder and sexual transgression, it demonizes those who are addicted and minimizes other less obvious sins. A convert myself, I do not recall being asked whether I looked at pornography, lied, stole, etc. in order to be baptized.
It is also noteworthy that the WoW was NOT given by commandment – indicating that it was never a sin to be disobedient to it. Unless God decided that what was previously not a sin was now a sin? Um, no.
I think it should be on an individual basis. Perhaps that opens up a whole slew of other problems, but I don’t think everyone is the same. Someone who refuses to give up their glass of wine “may” have an attitude issue, in which case, the wine isn’t the issue, and they’re probably not ready to be baptized anyway. At the same time, those with life-long habits should be given some slack, imho. Regular members can break the word of wisdom and still attend meetings, take the sacrament, have callings, etc. I feel more passionate, however, about tithing. I don’t think it should be a requirement to be baptized. That is a temple issue.
I feel like it’s very important that the standard be upheld. I love being a member of a community in which nobody smokes, drinks alcohol, or uses illegal drugs. It may not be 100% perfect but it’s the minimum expectation. I’m a convert who at one time did smoke and drink alcohol. I had quit both 5 years or so before I got baptized. I gave up coffee and tea the year before, as I was contemplating joining the church and wanted to uphold all the standards. I’ve been nothing but happy for all those things, and I wouldn’t want to deny other potential converts these blessings.
It’s my opinion that an addict, difficult as it may be, has a choice every single time they use the substance of their addiction. Each time they say yes, they get weaker and each time they say no thanks, they get stronger. So all it takes is 100 nos in a row to quit any addiction. The urge will happen multiple times a day at first, but each no makes it easier to stay strong for the next one. After a week the urges may have tapered down to one a day, and after a month to one a week. Then get ready for the occasional urge out of the blue when you think you’ve conquered it already, and haven’t had an urge in months. Those are sometimes the hardest to resist because we’ve let our guard down in the meantime. However, there is nobody so craven that they can’t summon those 100 nos to be free. I would strenuously object to any weakening of the Word of Wisdom in our community because I think it is wise and protective, and much terrible personal tragedy is averted thereby.
You wrote: “I love being a member of a community in which nobody smokes, drinks alcohol, or uses illegal drugs.” We are talking about baptism, which LDS people say is needed to have salvation. Bottom line: should smoking keep a person from being saved? To say yes, I think is blasphemy (and support by no scripture anywhere). It may be nice to affiliate with those you deem to be pure, but heads up: we are all SINNERS. Smoking is not even a sin. So, go ahead a baptize people, then, if you want to BAN them from the social club, so be it. But why refuse to baptize them? Noboby in Corinth would ever have gotten baptized, because all those Greeks were wine drinkers!
Think about it… the thing that helped millions of people in the US quit smoking is when workplaces became smoke-free indoors. Not being around smokers, not being exposed to smoke helped most people in our society to be able to quit. The major group of people who smoke today in the US are blue collar workers whose workplaces mostly have not yet banned smoking. Making smoking more difficult helps people quit, incidentally saving them and their entire families from horrible health consequences and early death. It’s really a good idea and very worthwhile.
I hate to be blunt about it, but yes, it should. I had a [b]MONSTER[/b]smoking habit before I joined the Church, I know what it’s like to essentially receive the ultimatum, it’s either the Church or it’s the smokes, but you can’t have both! Fortunately, my desire to join the Church outweighed my desire to continue smoking so I kicked the habit over a period of weeks and got baptized, I just truly believed that I had found God’s true Church and that no matter what withdrawal symptoms I might have to go through, they were worth it. It was no easy task, I’ll admit but the faith in my new found religion was enough to get me through it. Trust me, you have to truly believe in the Gospel to be willing to quite something as addictive as cigarettes.
Interesting arguments, I sympathize with both sides. But I like what Adam F says about it being on an individual basis. Although there are some success stories about smokers being able to give it up in order to be baptized, as in JD’s case, I also feel for people like the elderly man I mentioned in the post who just couldn’t. I know a lot of smokers who just can’t seem to quit, even if their life depends on it. I think perhaps Adam made a good point about individual basis in such a case. If a person like that elderly man demonstrates a desire and ability to be a good member of the Church in every other important way, perhaps a bishop should have the authority to use his best judgment in order to make an exception?
I applaud Tatiana and JD for giving up their addictions. I can only imagine how hard it is. And I’m sure that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young would have said the same. 🙂
I adhere to the WoW and appreciate its health benefits. But, I have never heard of anyone being excommunicated over NOT living the WoW. So, IMO, it should not be a requirement for baptism. It reminds me of immigrants to the US who have to pass this major test that almost no “born in America” citizen would be able to pass. Why do we expect converts to be more “Mormon” than those of us born in the church? I think that at any given time in a normal member’s life they would not be “worthy” for convert baptism. So why can’t we be a little more charitable toward those who come to Mormonism by choice, rather than by birth? It’s about learning to follow Jesus, folks. I realize that some people are right on His heals, but most of us (like me) are far behind but striving to keep a steady pace. Can’t we make room for others who are just as wonderfully imperfect as us?
We should do away with all requirements for getting baptized.
It should be okay to do the following and still be baptized
3. Premarital sex, regardless of gende4
4. Or anything else.
You should be able to live any kind of lifestyle and be baptized.
“By placing the WoW on the same level as murder and sexual transgression, it demonizes those who are addicted and minimizes other less obvious sins. A convert myself, I do not recall being asked whether I looked at pornography, lied, stole, etc. in order to be baptized.”
A story from my senior year at Provo High School illustrates how LDS can lose perspective.
A high school friend got pregnant.
We were talking about what she planned to do.
I asked her “Are you considering marrying the father of your baby?”
She replied, “Oh I could never marry him. He smokes!”
I’m on the fence. I agree that the standards of the WoW should be upheld, but also realize that many may need the extra help from the gift of the Holy Ghost to quit their habits. A gift they can only recieve after baptism.
Some “official” principles are eternal, meaning they are the same today, yesterday, and forever. Examples include having faith in God, faith in Christ and His atonement, cold-blooded killing of another person, violation of marriage vows, deceit, etc. I think someone wishing to join the Church should be required to accept those principles.
Some “official / quasi-official” things are temporary, meaning they change day to day, year to year, etc. This includes things like white shirts and beards, tattoos, and the Word of Wisdom. Christ drank wine. The Nephites had wine. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many other church leaders drank. Wine was used in the temple for the sacrament into the 20th century. So this is obviously NOT an eternal principle, just something that happens to be taught now. In my opinion, things like this should NOT be required of people wanting to join the Church, and shouldn’t be as emphasized in the Church anyway.
And if we’re becoming sticklers, we don’t make people become vegetarian or else prove they’re starving before they join the Church, do we?
9- “We should do away with all requirements for getting baptized.
It should be okay to do the following and still be baptized
3. Premarital sex, regardless of gende4
4. Or anything else.
You should be able to live any kind of lifestyle and be baptized.”
Because everyone who smokes or drinks alcohol must also be a fornicator, bank robber, or “anything else”? That’s a pretty big leap, Jon.
I know I was being facetious (#9) but if you are doing these things
3. Whatever else that may be proscribed
You are less suseptible to the influence of the Holy Ghost.
This logic is similar to the idea of smoking. People say that their grandpa smoked like a train but lived till he was 110.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with the standard. The problem is, once you’re a member, the WoW is severely reduced in its importance. Obviously it’s part of the TR interview, but if you have a recurring problem with the WoW as an active member of the church, it’s likely that you will have little to no disciplinary action ever taken against you. It just seems disproportionately punative to refuse someone membership in the church. Maybe a slightly lower threshold, like a testimony of the WoW and a commitment to live it, should be sufficient. This would only put a convert on equal footing with other members of the church, in my opinion.
I knew a Bishop once who in my opinion, was leaning towards baptising an investigator regardless of them quitting the cigs. I was a little surprised by his implication. it seemed to fall on death ears, but he made a very good point “he wouldn’t excommunicate some one for smoking, but would help them work through it.
I can see it’s usefulness in measuring someone’s commitment, but if you have never had an issue with smoking what measures your commitment, perhaps you need to refer 6 friends who are taught by the missionaries, or complete two months worth of H/T or V/T.
IMO: it is essential to start someone on the best path possible, most people would expect to feel a significant difference before and after the gift of the Holy Ghost. Can someone who is smoking feel the spirit? If they do feel the Spirit whilst smoking will that reinforce the behaviour? would someone have sufficient motivation after baptism to give up anyway now this behaviour has been permitted ?
However we can’t afford investigators to stop investigating, because they have WoW issues, that is just ridiculous, sinners not feeling welcome to sit along side the rest of us sinners & unprofitable servants. I have no real solution, except despite their weaknesses they should feel loved, which I’m not sure everyone does.
I have to admit, I do not consider consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco to be sinning. I look at it in the same way as temple attendance. NOT going to the temple is NOT a sin. GOING to the temple is something EXTRA that blesses our lives. Likewise, NOT partaking of tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea is going the EXTRA mile and can be a blessing to us.
We really need to mentally and culturally separate the WoW with SIN.
#16 – I agree.
#13 “things like this should NOT be required of people wanting to join the Church, and shouldn’t be as emphasized in the Church anyway”
The problem is the belief that the church is run by a prophet of God. If the prophet, as God’s representative, believe that the WoW should be emphasized, couldn’t it be that God is also making the same emphasis?
If we only look to “eternal” truths, there is really no need for a modern prophet at all. If we believe that our prophet gives us truths for our times, then the emphasis could be seen as coming from God.
a testimony of the WoW and a commitment to live it, should be sufficient.
I don’t know about now, but when I was a missionary (76-78), this was pretty much the standard. I once tried to impose a one-week-tobacco-free-before-baptism rule on one of my investigators and the district leader shot me down. “Repentance can be immediate,” he reminded me (quoting some GA). As long as they weren’t smoking in the interview, if they made a commitment to keep the WoW, that was good enough for him.
And yes, my investigator was baptized and she relapsed. Some years later, however, she quit again and is now fully active. Not sure what conclusions to draw from that, but I personally continue to favor a relatively high standard.
I agree with #18 pinkpatent. I think this is where being aware of the WofW’s history plays an important roll. When we assume that it’s always been the way it was since 1833, it’s easier to assume that breaking it is a “sin” and tend to judge people accordingly. Having learned that there was more to it than that has caused me to look at it in a different light.
#13 Mike “And if we’re becoming sticklers, we don’t make people become vegetarian or else prove they’re starving before they join the Church, do we?”
Exactly! As a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I can say that there is a part of me that would like nothing more than to see the WofW’s instructions on meat consumption being enforced as the rest of it. Obviously, though, the current leadership does not feel it’s that important to be sticklers on meat consumption. So why on the rest of it?
You bring up a very fundamental problem – knowing when a prophet speaks as a prophet and when a prophet speaks as a man. I know that if I were ever to be prophet (don’t worry, would never happen), I would still bring the baggage along of the decades I lived before as a man. I would still have my own opinions. I would still have my own feelings.
This is well documented and has been discussed in other posts. Equally well meaning church leaders came down on opposite sides of the young earth-old earth debate. Equally well meaning church leaders felt blacks were cursed from the preexistance at the same time others felt it was just a practice of the church (see McKay’s biography). BY talked about inhabitants of the moon and the sun, and missionaries among them. Does God really think that a woman having 2 earrings in an ear is a sin, or was that a generational thing and President Hinckley just didn’t like it?
With regards to the WofW, it was given as a suggestion to Joseph Smith. Even after, he still drank alcohol, so it obviously wasn’t that big of a deal. Fast forward to external influences and what prophets bring to the table. Someone doesn’t like giving money to the “gentiles” for alcohol. Feelings towards prohibition come along. Etc. Around that time, the alcohol part tends to become more emphasized. The Word of Wisdom itself wasn’t particular emphasized, as if it were, were should all practically be vegetarians as “famine” doesn’t seem to be much of a problem in “super-sized” America.
There is also a tendency to “out-flank” to the right of existing practices as time goes by. “Hot drinks” are interpreted to mean “diet coke”. Avoiding “strong drinks” expands to “all alcohol” expands to “not a drop” to stories about how it’s better to die then let a drop of alcohol pass your lips. Not liking an extra earring expands to breaking off an engagement because of an earring.
So, back to your question, the biggest issue we don’t really know, is when is a prophet speaking as a prophet and when is he speaking as a man? Do we blindly accept that “when the prophet speaks, the thinking is done”? Or do we take the teachings of the church as guidelines to be a better person, but accept that everyone may interpret them in different ways at different times in their lives, and also recognize that the teachings may change next week or next year?
I agree with #20. I do not believe there is any requirement imposed by the Brethren that a person have lived the word of wisdom for any particular time period–it is simply that the person “live the word of wisdom.” Preach My Gospel p. 204.
In fact, Preach My Gospel explicitly recognizes that addicts investigating the Church and who are willing to live the Word of Wisdom will often have relapses, before and after their baptism, and includes and entire subsection about addiction and addiction recovery. http://broadcast.lds.org/Missionary/PreachMyGospel___17_10_ImproveTeaching__36617_eng_017.pdf
Among other things, it states:
“Since it is likely that some may return to an addiction, priesthood leaders and members
should not be shocked or discouraged if they learn that an investigator or new member may be struggling with such problems. They should show confidence in the individual and not be judgmental if the person yields to an old craving. They should treat it as a temporary and understandable setback. Condemning the addicted investigator or new convert is never helpful and will likely lead to discouragement, failure, and inactivity. A new convert who suddenly stops attending Church may have given in to an old addiction and is feeling unworthy and discouraged. An immediate visit giving encouragement and support can help the person succeed. Members should show in word and action that they accept the converts (see 3 Nephi 18:32).
“Remaining active in the Church and striving to live faithfully are the most important
things any individual can do in overcoming addiction problems.”
I think that the WoW is something that a lot of members of the church aren’t fully living as the Lord would wish us to do. I think food can be an addiction just as much as smoking, drinking and drugs. Obesity is a huge problem and the health issues related to it are killing people prematurely. I believe that the WoW is an essential part of spiritually disciplining oneself. Many people have problems with “emotional” eating, where they eat when they are sad, depressed, angry, bored, etc. It takes self-control and discipline to learn to eat to sustain oneself and not to eat just to make oneself feel better. I think learning how to physcially discipline oneself is critical to spiritual growth, so I feel that the WoW should definitely be a prerequisite to getting baptized. This of course, is being said by something who puts a lot of focus on healthy eating and exercise, but I really do believe that being able to discipline the body is critical to our spiritual growth and development.
Having said all that, I come from a family with many members who have suffered from WoW addictions. Several have passed away in the last year from severe alcoholism and smoking related issues. They were never members of the church, but I have seen the severe consequences of their choices and how it is affecting their children now. We all know that smoking kills and it is devastating to those they leave behind, especially when smoking related deaths are preventable. I have seen people who never give up addictions and I have watched people work very hard and give them up. Giving up any addiction is ALWAYS possible and it is a choice, no matter how difficult. There are many resources out there to help those who want to quit. I feel the standard needs to be the same for everyone in the church. Smoking and drinking may be difficult for one person to give up, but another may struggle with gambling or porn. We all have our crosses to bear and our weaknesses to work on, but I believe it is all part of the santification process. The bar has to be high in order for us to stretch and grow, otherwise it is too easy to take the path of least resistance.
I totally agree that the “4 no’s” do not constitute the spirit of Section 89.
In fact, a careful reading of it reveals that it’s mostly dietary. Tobacco, alcohol, tea, etc. are not the main killers in our society. Heart disease and other problems related to obesity are.
Do you think there would be a little uproar in the Church if they started jerking temple recommends for everyone that is more than a little bit overweight?
To be fair….from this day forward….all bishops/branch presidents’ offices will be equipped with a scale and an obesity chart.
Can you imagine how many would go inactive immediatley?
I believe the requirement should be the “willingness” to try to live the commandment for baptism. Willingness may be shown by making efforts, but if there are slip ups along the way, that is why the person needs baptism and the holy ghost to help keep them in the right way, continually watchful unto prayer.
You shouldn’t require perfection before becoming a member, just a willing heart and contrite spirit, and let church membership and the Atonement work the change in the person’s behavior over time.
AdamF: We’re FAR more likely to see a relaxing of the WOW baptism standard than a relaxing of tithing.
And the people in charge of making those decisions have grown up individually abstaining and with very strong cultural programming regarding the banned items. It doesn’t put them in a position to necessarily think either reasonably or compassionately. I mean, if they have a testimony, why can’t they just quit, right? There has also been some pretty strong cultural programming (at least in my mormon upbringing) that not only are those vices bad, the people who have them are also bad. It’s a distinction I’ve always tried to help my children understand that people are good or bad based on how they treat each other, so you can have good and bad mormons and good and bad smokers, drinkers, etc.
I really believe that the prohibition era, coupled with the end of the polygamy era led to a tightening of WOW observance and the enforcement through temple recommend and baptismal requirements. Prohibition is sort of obvious, but without polygamy, an entire generation of mormons were without their identities: outsiders, different, special, peculiar. WOW issues saved the day and allowed us to again feel different and superior because we had higher standards than the rest of the world. Phew, that was a close one! Good thing we can always find ways to create the necessary hierarchy of righteousness.
I wonder how much of the WoW enforcement at baptism is an optics issue. We look good/different/healthier to the world because we abstain from these things – we literally “clean up” (cleansing the outer vessel) when we stop smoking/drinking/no coffee or tea. Coffee = coffee breath, smoking leaves odor and carcinogens on clothing, drinking = red nose and red wine stains on teeth. Is it literally an exercise to cleanse the outer vessel (from a baptism standpoint)? IMO, there are “enlightenment” benefits to stripping away addictions, including all in the WoW and food addiction, addiction to prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and even exercise addiction. The principle is to have balance in our lives.
“all bishops/branch presidents’ offices will be equipped with a scale and an obesity chart.” So, if it is an optics issue (the quickest way to make a huge change in a convert’s life and appearance for the positive), then why is obesity not tackled with similar fervor? Clearly, members are not living moderately if they are obese. The principle is being violated.
As to whether baptism should be allowed, I agree it should be case by case. It’s like the health care plans that give price breaks on smoking cessation – you can get the price break if you state your intention to quit within a time frame and possibly agree to free counseling. That seems sufficient to me, someone’s intention to quit. My mother was a big coffee drinker, and literally drank her last cup right before she stepped into the font. The missionaries were nervous about that, but she didn’t have any more coffee after her baptism. A man we baptized on my mission had a major smoking problem, but he was sincere in his desire to give it up. Unfortunately, after his baptism, he never really could kick the habit, and he felt so out of place around the other members (it was really really bad, in their defense), he eventually quit going. They were not being judgmental, but he stuck out like a sore thumb. Bless his heart, though. He really wanted to make it work. Did we do the right thing? I still feel we did.
The problem with that is there are always people who abuse or take advantage of things. There are too many people that think things are no big deal and they can repent later. It makes it harder for all the people who are willing and sincerely trying. The church has to deal with the all the people that are a part of it, not just the ones who are sincere and truly willing. “Willing” to one person can have a far different meaning than to someone else and so one person may be having a lot more “slip ups” than another. I think when the expectation is set, it is far easier to deal with the issue on an individual level and I think people are more willing to try harder to give up the addiction as well.
I agree with the benefits of living the Wow. But I still believe that unless we are going to excommunicate members who do not live the WoW, we should not be preventing people from being baptized who do not live the WoW.
The Word of Wisdom speaks of “conspiring men” both at that time and in the future. Therefor, if the prophets have changed their approach to living the Word of Wisdom since it was revealed, this helps my testimony of its truthfulness. The promises of the Word of Wisdom include health and “hidden treasures of knowledge.” Perhaps a stronger committment to this principle will lead to a lot more answers the questions than only those regarding health.
Jen, how are you, or any other members, harmed if some other member of the church drinks a cup of coffee? Does it affect YOUR testimony of the WoW? Does it cheapen your temple worthiness? NO!
These kinds of attitudes make our church seem like a country club rather than a church. Religion is for people who are NOT YET PERFECT!
“With regards to the WofW, it was given as a suggestion to Joseph Smith. Even after, he still drank alcohol, so it obviously wasn’t that big of a deal.”
What exactly are your sources on this matter, I distinctly remember reading about Joseph refusing alcohol even when offered to him by a surgeon as anesthesia during a very painful leg operation.
JD – one that comes to mind quickly is in Bushman’s book – JS and others drank wine the night before they were killed. The “Joseph refusing alcohol” story from his youth is misplaced, imho, trying to relate it to the WoW.
It is also alleged that he drank wine in the temple.
It’s also alleged that a lot of it wasn’t alleged. 😉
#34 – I don’t think this necessarily means anything, since, as was stated above, the WoW was not “by commandment” in JS’s day, but it is well known that Joseph regularly partook of strong drink. For a time there was a bar in the hotel in Nauvoo.
“Jen, how are you, or any other members, harmed if some other member of the church drinks a cup of coffee? Does it affect YOUR testimony of the WoW? Does it cheapen your temple worthiness? NO!
These kinds of attitudes make our church seem like a country club rather than a church. Religion is for people who are NOT YET PERFECT!”
Have you ever lived with someone who everyone thinks is great, righteous and wonderful on the outside, yet lives completely contrary to what they “appear” to be? I am talking about people who use the church as a vehicle to look good and who abuse the codes and commandments in a way to get what they want, yet still appear another way. They are out there because I have dealt with several of them now much longer than I ever wanted to. I am well aware that religion is for people who aren’t perfect, but if one of the main purposes of the church it to perfect the saints, then there needs to be standards and expectations.
A baseline standard has to be set with the WoW and then the spirit can direct each individual in their own personal circumstances. I don’t believe that just being willing is a good baseline because willingness is too variable in each person. We obviously don’t feel the same about this issue, but personally attacking me is over the top. I have dealt with enough people in my family with addictions that I understand the challenge, but I also understand that we all have to make choices and if we want to be a member of the LDS church, giving up alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc. is a part of becoming a member. And FYI, for many, having a loved one give up something that has affected their relationships negatively for a long time can be a welcome relief.
Jen, I wasn’t trying to attack you, so I am sorry if it came across that way. I was just trying to state that living the WoW is its own reward. The blessings are obvious to me. But I just don’t feel that I need to insist that everyone else live by the same standard as me in order to be a member of our church.
You have a problem with hipocracy. So do I! If someone professes to be one thing, but is in fact something else, I have a problem with that. But if a person openly states that they drink coffee, or whatever, and they are not trying to lie to get a TR, then I really don’t have a problem with them being a member of the church.
And BTW, I watched my FIL die of Emphysema, and my GF was an alcoholic, so I know the consequences of not living the WoW.
Again, I am sorry if it seemed like I was attacking you, it was not my intent.
The post is misunderstanding the nature of the situation. Current church leaders define the requirements for baptism into the church. Period.
Now if one thinks God disagrees with current church leaders on how the church is run then this is probably not the right church to join to begin with. If one wants to start a church where there are no requirements to be baptized that is easy enough as well. (Of course there are already churches out there like that so joining one of them could work too).
Sources: Here are a few cut and pasted:
May 3, 1843 – “drank a glass of wine with Sister Janetta Richards, made by her mother in England”. (History of the Church, vol. 5, pg. 380).
January 29, 1844 – Capt[ain] White of Quincy was at the Mansion last night and this morning drank a toast” The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 443).
June 1, 1844 – “Drank a glass of beer at Mooessers” (The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 486).
June 27, 1844 – “Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor, and the doctor,…” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 616)
Also, from our own History of the Church:
On the night that Joseph was murdered he drank again. The LDS Church records describe in detail that, “The gaurd immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the gaurds brought them into the jail …. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph [Smith], who tasted, as also Brother Tylor ….” (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 616)
Some may argue that this was for sacrament so I will address this argument before it starts with John Taylor’s statement. “Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent to revive us” (History of the Church, vol. 7, pg. 101)
For more, see:
There are more. Simply google “Joseph Smith alcohol”. Not that hard to find.
Of note, these references are for the original version of the History of the Church. They have been largely edited out of the versions you can purchase today, for the obvious revisionist reasons.
“I just don’t feel that I need to insist that everyone else live by the same standard as me in order to be a member of our church”
I agree that members aren’t the ones who insist anything on anyone, the church sets the standards, and the standard is that the WoW must be followed in order to join the church. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I don’t think a lot of members are even following a greater portion of the WoW, IMO. I think the health code is ignored far too much and that is why we have an epidemic of obesity and disease.
“But if a person openly states that they drink coffee, or whatever, and they are not trying to lie to get a TR, then I really don’t have a problem with them being a member of the church.”
I don’t have a problem with that either, but we were specifically discussing WoW issues before joining the church and a prerequisite for being baptized. Again, as I mentioned earlier, I think a significant part of spiritual growth comes from learning to be able to physical discipline ourselves. I have a friend who can’t live without her coffee every morning. She has made comments when I have been with her about not being able to function without it. It clearly affects her ability to do anything else and it is sad as I knew here before she was ever hooked on it. I think these types of addictions affect us spiritually and that is why the standard is set. I am not saying that I am the judge of others, but I am saying that I think it is important to maintain it as a prerequisite for baptism.
JD’s comment about Joseph’s use of alcohol is telling. (Although certainly not his/her fault as modern teaching in the church concerning the WoW never includes the history of how or why it became a commandment.) For anyone who has studied early LDS history, questions of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea use by members and leaders are well documented. To add my bit to the Word of Wisdom discussion, section 89 actually encourages the consumption of at least one type of alcohol. The modern definition of a “mild barley drink” from the 1800’s as a very well know name today. It’s called BEER… If you think they’re beer didn’t have alcohol in it, than you don’t understand how barley drinks are made.
I’m not sure many members are going to run out and get a Bud Light, but to assume that the WoW today is anything like what it was for the first hundred years of the church’s history means ignoring literally hundreds of journal entrees from early members and sections of “History of the Church” by Joseph Smith and “The Journal of Discourses”…
Therefore, if we believe God is unchanging and laws are irrevocable declared in heaven, then the use of those substances cannot be considered a sin. That’s not to say the church can’t make a standard for its members and insist on abstinence from certain things to demonstrate their commitment, but let’s not start believing that God decided to make it a sin around the prohibition timeframe. I also don’t believe that one’s ability to feel the “spirit” has anything to do with obedience to the WoW. Has others have pointed out, the WoW has many facets that get ignored today and yet many obese church leaders claim divine inspiration. 🙂
“I also don’t believe that one’s ability to feel the “spirit” has anything to do with obedience to the WoW. Has others have pointed out, the WoW has many facets that get ignored today and yet many obese church leaders claim divine inspiration.”
I think that not taking care of oursevles physically does affect our spirituality in the sense that when we don’t feel good about ourselves physically we tend to dwell on it more than we should. I know people who focus on their weight A LOT and it becomes an obsession. This can take away from their ability to focus on more important things, including spiritual things. As many of us know, it is easy to feel a literal difference when we eat well and exercise compared to when we don’t. When we take care of ourselves physically, I think it frees up our minds and capacity to do more and allows us to be more receptive to spiritual things as well.
Should observance of WOW be required for baptism? No. It shouldn’t be required to attend the temple either. The idea that God determines a person’s spiritual cleanliness based on whether they drink tea is one of the sillier notions that we’d do well to discard.
Just a word of wisdom: not all obesity is due to breaking the WoW’s caution on moderation.
I agree with your points about taking care of ourselves physically. I think we are much more in tune with ourselves, God, and humanity in general when we do that. That’s why I see the W of W as much more of an “obedience” law as a “health” law, in spite of correlated lessons to the contrary. If it was truly a health law, it would be modified a bit:
– Tobacco: still discouraged. Nothing good has ever come from this
– Alcohol: perhaps “moderation” is better. A beer is a “barley” drink. A glass of wine is actually healthy for you according to most studies. While there are always the people who bring up alcoholism, abuse, etc., the vast majority of the world understands the difference between having a glass of wine with dinner and alcohol abuse. It seems that only LDS Church members attempt to paint this with the same broad brush.
– Hot drinks: there is nothing special about coffee or tea. To be honest, they are probably more healthy for you than sodas, with or without caffeine, diet or regular. Many teas have been shown to be beneficial as far as antioxidants and other things that weren’t known back in the 1800’s. Perhaps the interpretation of “hot drinks” should be updated to something different
– Foods: As a few people have alluded to above, American is fat. There is no way around that. We eat junk. Yet at the same time, we completely ignore the very plain part of the WofW about eating meat “only in times of famine”. In the current health care debate, we talk about the 10-year $1 trillion cost. That’s $100 billion / year. We spend over $150 billion / year on things DIRECTLY related to obesity, and that number is increasing. Obesity causes more deaths, morbidity, etc. than alcohol. Yet we tend to ignore it and joke about “relief society arms”. If the WofW was truly about “health”, this would be emphasized MUCH more than whether someone has a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.
And how much better off are we because of this? Utah has the highest rate of anti-depressant use in the country. Utah has the highest rate of abuse of prescription drugs in the country. It seems we are just substituting one thing for another. I would argue that a glass of red wine at the end of the day is much more healthy than taking all the drugs we do “legally”. And when a 100 pound overweight man talks to a fit woman about having a cup of green tea as being wrong in an interview, there is just something wrong.
#46: “Just a word of wisdom: not all obesity is due to breaking the WoW’s caution on moderation.”
This represents an extremely small minority of people who are obese. We have the same genes as our European / Asian / and other ancestors who came over. Other nations aren’t as fat as us. It is due to our overeating and sedentary nature. Immigrants tend to be as thin as their native country. The next generation (same genes) tends to be as fat as us.
And it’s all a matter or interpretation. If we can stretch “hot drinks” to cover “diet coke”, surely we can “stretch” eating sparingly, times of famine, wholesome grains, etc. into eating a healthy diet and moderation.
Again, that’s if the WofW was about health and not about obedience to current interpretations.
I think anyone considering batism should have to read this thread, so they will know exactly to what extent they will be scrutinized by their soon-to-be fellow saints.
Amen brother. Thanks for the well thought out response to Jen’s comment.
We’re actually on the same page here of sorts. That should scare you. 🙂 I completely agree that good health is tied to our spiritual feeling of wellness. Therefore, following a sensible diet, getting regular exercise and the right amount of sleep can do wonders for you. If we take the WoW as being a health code than it needs some modernization. Much of what was considered by the “temperance societies” of the early 1800’s as essential to good health is now outdated. (Mike did a good job of explaining that.)
Now, if the WoW is just an outward sign of your commitment to Mormonism, than only those who profess belief in the church would find difficultly in receiving divine inspiration if they’re not living up to that standard. (After all, people’s perceptions are their realities.) My point is, for people who don’t believe in the “one trueness” of the LDS faith, they’re ability to be inspired is not impaired by strict obedience to the don’ts of the WoW. However violating good sense when using those forbidden substances certainly can block our ability to feel spiritual, if you get my meaning…
Ironically, I don’t scrutinize anyone for WofW or health issues. I am a doctor, and I counsel people about weight every day. So I don’t really scrutinize anyone for that either, just try to help them be more healthy.
To be honest, the thing I have much less tolerance for is fellow members who essentially think you are “going to hell” if you have the same glass of wine that Joseph Smith did, yet find nothing wrong with cheating their fellowman in business, or taking numerous “legal” prescribed drugs, or being morbidly obese, or teaching their kids that non-LDS folks who drink or smoke are “bad people”. I also detest the condescending attitude that our priesthood teacher recently had when he talked about non-LDS people who just “didn’t understand” when they weren’t following the WofW.
I would like much LESS scrutinization in this church about WofW, white shirts, earrings, tattoos, % home teaching visits, etc. I would like much MORE welcoming of everyone as fellow travelers on this earth, all hoping for a better tomorrow in Christ. But perhaps that’s too Eastern or New-Age and can’t be quantified in a TR interview or a quarterly report.
51- “I would like much MORE welcoming of everyone as fellow travelers on this earth, all hoping for a better tomorrow in Christ. But perhaps that’s too Eastern or New-Age and can’t be quantified in a TR interview or a quarterly report.”
Me too! 🙂
The official standard set by the FP and 12 is that a convert “live the word of wisdom.” How long do you think a convert must have given up on those substances before he or she can be considered “living the word of wisdom”?
One of the questions in Preach My Gospel is what a interviewing missionary should do if a prospective convert smoke a cigarette in that last day or two. No answer is given in the book.
Suppose a convert is willing and tries to give up the substances, but slips immediately after baptism. Does that mean it was a mistake to baptize the convert? Does that mean the convert was not trying hard enough (because any one can give up an addiction if he or she just tries hard)? If so, then why does Preach My Gospel emphasize support and encouragement for such a person, rather than simply telling them to try harder (and tell them that they were obviously not trying hard enough before)?
“Suppose a convert is willing and tries to give up the substances, but slips immediately after baptism. Does that mean it was a mistake to baptize the convert? Does that mean the convert was not trying hard enough (because any one can give up an addiction if he or she just tries hard)? If so, then why does Preach My Gospel emphasize support and encouragement for such a person, rather than simply telling them to try harder (and tell them that they were obviously not trying hard enough before)?”
Why do I get the feeling that you think I am assuming quiting smoking and drinking is easy or that I wouldn’t be supportive or encouraging of others who are trying to quit? My parents were converts and both drank and smoked before joining the church and most of my family drinks and smokes. I tried to help my grandparents quit smoking but they each died younger than they should have anyway. Just because I think it is important to obey the WoW in order to be baptized doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be supportive of those who need are trying to quit. Remember too, you have to balance support and encouragement. Sometimes it can be easy to enable others, especially those with addictions.
In answer to your question, who knows what it means unless you know the person and the situation personally? Every person handles addictions differently and those who are supporting them handle it in different ways as well. So, unless you know the situation well, there is no specific answer that I have to give you. The reality is some people do try harder than others and some have a harder time quiting than others due to genetic factors and such. There are too many variables in each individual situation to be able to give a general answer.
I wonder if the health code part of the WoW isn’t emphasized because back when it was first introduced people were doing a lot of hard physical labor daily and weren’t eating a lot of refined and processed foods, not to mention drinking 42 oz. sodas. It would be nice to see some classes being taught in church about healthy eating and exercising. All I see is my kids coming home with more candy in a month than I ever got in a year when I was growing up. I don’t understand the lack of attention on the health code aspect of the WoW and wonder why it doesn’t receive more, especially nowadays.
I do see what you are talking about in relation to obesity and lack of eating healthy in the church, but I also see people starving themselves, over exercising and just over doing it completely. Some people are so focused on their bodies they spend hours trying to maintain it. Somewhere there has to be a balance.
“We’re actually on the same page here of sorts. That should scare you.”
It does! 🙂
The reality is there are only good things that come from taking care of yourself physically, IF you don’t go overboard. Your moods, energy levels and overall health are all greatly affected by what you eat and whether you exercise or not. I believe the connection between caring for yourself and spirituality is great and it doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, you will reap rewards when you take care of our body. For me, I feel it enhances my ability to commune with the Lord. For you it may mean something different in a spiritual sense. All I know is, like my teenagers say….it’s all good! 🙂
“Just a word of wisdom: not all obesity is due to breaking the WoW’s caution on moderation”
I know this is true, we are all built differently. Hormones, side effects from drugs that need to be taken, genetics, etc. all play a role. I think the emphasis needs to be on taking care of ourselves the best that we can under the circumstances that we live and with what we have been given.
I think we all agree that living a healthy lifestyle is a good idea. But if I choose to start drinking alcohol tonight, (which is a possibility considering our A/C broke today and its 102 here)I can guarantee you I wouldn’t be excommunicated tomorrow. I just think its unfair to keep someone from being baptized for doing something that wouldn’t get them excommunicated. Does anyone even get disfellowshipped for WoW violations?
I know of two women who were married in the temple (both are divorced now), and chose to break the WoW after they were married. This led to endangering their children while driving under the influence, child neglect, severe marital stress (which led to divorce) and loss of parenting rights. Five children are now without a mom and it all started with WoW issues. One of them was disfellowshipped for sure and now may be exed (don’t know for sure). I don’t know the status of the other, but I do know that breaking the WoW isn’t as trivial as one might think.
The word of wisdom became the ‘trademark’ of the Salt Lake church after the rejection of polygamy. You will note that the institutionalization of the WoW came shortly after the manifesto. The leaders needed something to differentiate that members from those not of the fold. Much like tithing was a ‘temporary’ substitute for the law of consecration, WoW could be viewed as the less stressful alternative to multiple wives as a way to demonstrate uniqueness.
If you are curious about the true conditions that are to be met before a person is considered to be a member of the church of Christ, you should read Moroni 6:1-4.
What about the idea that baptism is a promise that you make to live the commandments. If you are addicted, you are starting out unable to live the WoW. So, it is a benefit to the individual to wait until out of the addiction to make the promise.
I guess the only relavant thing would be to also make sure they are willing to be honest and attend church, etc., and they aren’t addicted to gambling or golfing on Sunday.
Thank you spektator.
When’s the last time anyone that is a member of the mainstream Church saw someone stand up and witness to the congregation that they are repentant, as a prerequisite for baptism?
I’ve seen it occasionally as a fundamentalist but I can’t recall ever seeing it in my 30 or so years in the mainstream church.
Certainly food for thought.
“Five children are now without a mom and it all started with WoW issues.”
Jen I normally agree with most of what you say, (so i hope you won’t hold it against me”)
I doubt that scenario started with WoW, breaking the WoW was probably a symptom, a symptom of neglect, unrighteous dominion, abuse, of course I don’t know the circumstances but this sounds to me as a Iceberg, that the “priesthood holder” has kept concealed.
If this was presented in a lesson as an attempt help people keep commitments I would throw a hissy fit.
sorry this is not on point.
individuals should not be baptised but should be fellowshiped as if they are members, given assignments, home taught, even permitted to partake the sacrament as a reminder of covenants they will one day make.
It’s true that alcohol use can be a symptom of something untreated like depression or mood disorders. It’s also true that alcohol use can cause depression and mood disorders. It’s hard to know which came first sometimes. All I know is, alcohol has killed far to many of my family members. I consider it a deadly enemy, and want nothing whatsoever to do with it. Something like 10% to 15% of my extended family were or are alcoholics. By living the Word of Wisdom, our Mormon community is giving the lives back to the ones who would be those 10% or 15% among us. May they never find out that they are potential alcoholics, by the simple expedient of never drinking in the first place. Along with the lives of those given back, the Word of Wisdom also blesses their families, children, pets, spouses, et al. It’s quite traumatic growing up with an alcoholic parent or living with an alcoholic spouse. The damage reverberates down the generations.
We Mormons are greatly blessed by keeping the Word of Wisdom. It’s an enormous boon to our families and overall health. We’re hugely lucky to have it. I hope we never give it up.
*far too many
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the current policy regarding alcohol stands. What about the coffee and tea? Mike S mentioned green tea, which has been a source of confusion for me. I once had to decline it from a Chinese friend because I honestly didn’t know whether it was “OK” for me to drink. Embarassing.
Here’s the thing about green tea that confuses me. When I was once involved in giving the missionary discussions in German, the WofW specifically stated no “black tea” (“schwarzer Tee”). So, that meant to me that “black tea” (i.e. Earl Grey, English tea, etc.) was the only tea off limits. Green tea is not “black tea.” Ah, but it has caffeine. Yeah, but it’s not because of the caffeine that we don’t drink coffee and black tea, I’ve been told. If it were about the caffeine, Coke and Pepsi would be specifically banned. OK, so green tea is OK, right? Not according to a letter that was released by the stake president in my parent’s ward. OK, so what about decaf green tea? Oh, but that’s like drinking decaf coffee and that’s bad too. But why was a guy in my ward who is a temple worker drinking decaf coffee?
Can anyone explain the tea thing to me? And the decaf coffee?
Go to the official LDS site and plug in “word of wisdon” in the search engine. And caffeine is a reason not to drink coffee or tea or soft drinks.
So what about decaf green tea? It’s not black and it doesn’t have caffeine.
Its probably ok. Some people really get into the “word of wisdom”, a little too much.
On that LDS search engine – also check: “Gospel Hobbies” and keep an eye out for: “Our Strengths can become our Downfall” by Elder Dalin H. Oaks.
What about decaf coffee? If no, then why is decaf tea OK, but not decaf coffee?
Sorry for the direct questions. I’m not trying to trip you up here, I’m just curious about how y’all see things. 🙂
“I doubt that scenario started with WoW, breaking the WoW was probably a symptom, a symptom of neglect, unrighteous dominion, abuse, of course I don’t know the circumstances but this sounds to me as a Iceberg, that the “priesthood holder” has kept concealed.”
I would tend to think the same thing if I were not intimately aware of the situations, but I care full-time for several of the children who have no contact with that parent now, so I know all the details of the situation and then some.
I know without a doubt there was no unrighteous dominion or abuse going on, in fact, it has been difficult to reconcile seeing mothers behave in this way. I still struggle to understand it, but I can assure you, it did start with WoW issues and continued to get progressively worse to the point of restraining orders having to be in place because of mom being high or wasted and doing really stupid things around the kids.
Being a mom myself, this has been a situation that has shocked and amazed me beyond belief. I think the tendency is to think that a man must have done something to the woman or she must be being abused or hurt to act in this way, but in this case, it is just the woman making really bad choices. It seems to be happening more and more nowadays and it is hard to watch and believe.
Actually, one “bottom line” to consider is “image”. We don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. So, I wouldn’t drink decaf, non-alcoholic beer etc. not only because of image, but I would not want to influence an addict, who might be thinking that I’m useing the real thing.
Also, I’m weak myself.
Would you view it as OK to drink decaf coffee in private?
If one is weak. Why take the risk? However, some people have been drinking coffee and alcohol since they were kids, and have grown accustomed to the taste. If its not going to harm your body, will it hurt your mind? Personal preference would be my answer.
I have been confused on the green tea issue as well. FUZE makes a green tea and I have heard all about the benefits of it. I did look it up on the internet and from what I can tell, we are not supposed to drink it, but I hear members talking about herbal teas and such and don’t know how they differentiate between them all.
“What about decaf coffee?”
Remember, there is always POSTUM! 🙂
As far as what is and isn’t acceptable in the WofW, I believe we need to look more closely at the question that is implied in the Word of Wisdom. Are we willing to sacrifice these things and anything like unto it, and ponder more in terms of obedience to the intent of the law rather then parse what is and isn’t “healthy” and what is or is not included in the Word of Wisdom. The church is not in a position to pass an official judgment on every questionable product or activity that can be developed in a vibrant capitalist economy. We need to make proper and enlightened decisions and ask ourselves, what did God intend, or when appropriate, what did the past prophets intend, and what do current prophets intend. I think the church has created a minimum standard to follow. As we achieve greater maturity in the gospel, we should be able to adapt that standard to the other products we run across.
In addition, As I see it, Prophets address us on three matters. Doctrine, policy, and counsel. We need to understand the differences in these areas. Obviously, white shirts, tattoo, earrings and such are not part of TR interviews and live in the world of counsel and should be treated as such. WofW obviously lives in the world between doctrine and policy and should be accorded a greater deference.
I tried postum once and hated it. If that’s what coffee tastes like, then I’m glad I haven’t tried it. I’m not missing anything. 🙂 Fruit-infused tea, on the other hand, sometimes smells really good on a cold day when I’m serving it to patients at work. I usually end up having hot chocolate, which with all the sugar is probably worse for my body than the tea would have been. 🙂
Jen – “Remember, there is always POSTUM!” Actually, they stopped manufacturing Postum about a year go. Which is too bad. Postum rocks! Frankly, it’s way better than coffee (except perhaps those snazzy froofy coffee drinks that are like someone dissolved a dessert into their cup of coffee. I morally object to drinks with 500 calories).
Partaking just isn’t important enough to me to make it an issue – but I’m not hooked on anything, so that’s easy for me to say.
Strictly for consistency, I’d like to see the only “action” standards be those that would get a member excommunicated, and I don’t mind the WofW being part of temple attendance, so I understand the argument to exclude strict WofW adherence from the baptismal requirement.
I also understand the need to have a measurable standard by which commitment can be judged. We all decry the baseball baptisms that occurred years ago in some missions, so we don’t want “easy entrance” at the cost of inactivity. Heaven knows how much time has been dedicated to criticizing the Church for being too lax in its requirements. It’s really easy to take either position and blast the Church for whatever it decides.
Personally, I lean toward the position described by Heber in #26 – for the reasons articulated in Preach My Gospel, quoted by David in #23. The “official” Church stance appears to support “willingness” over “full control over time”.
As Rich in #78 pointed out, we are virtually bombarded by several products produced that have a detriment to the body.
The LDS Church may or may not change the requirements for baptism concerning the Word of Wisdom. But the Temple Recommend is a different matter.
What are the “secret things” one takes that may impinge on one’s rightousness as they enter the Temple?
I smoke and drink coffee and tea. Because of my choices, I am not deemed worthy to be re-baptized. Yes, once upon a time I was a member (through conversion) and did my best to observe the WoW. I am now an ex-Mormon who, at times, would like to once again be “one with the Saints.” Perhaps one day.
Don’t give up.
And don’t let your testimony be swayed by others who really have “gone off the cliff” and have made a complete rejection of the LDS church, as well as God, Himself, – in some cases.
re 83: uh…even as one who has really “gone off a cliff,” I would have to say that if someone “would like to once again be “once with the Saints,”” then they most certainly should not let their official membership status stop them.
Basically…if you have the desire and intention, does it matter that you are not on the rolls and by the institution’s standards, you currently are not allowed to be baptized? Can’t you still participate in church, strive to apply the scriptures to your life, and try to strengthen your relationship with God?
Kraft Foods stopped making Postum in October 2007.
I, too, agree with Heber in #26. I believe members who have the Holy Ghost and struggle with some W of W issues could better resolves those problems. Although the W of W is not a problem for me, I have many non-member friends who are meek, pure, kind, benevolent, charitable, and compassionate and yet who do not obey the W of W. I believe they would make excellent members of the Church and that a W of W that was encouraged but not enforced would make better members of us all. In a sense, I wonder if sometimes the strict interpretation of the W of W does not make some members appear pharasaical, since some so easily discredit or reject those who smoke or drink alcohol as sinful while they themselves struggles with issues of pride or unrighteous dominion. If I drink energy drinks throughout the day and avoid coffee, am I any more worthy or spiritual? If I do not smoke but gossip and belittle my friend who does, in whom is the greater sin?
In addition, I believe that the adoption and promotion (but not enforcement) of a health code by the Church would make better people of us all.
spektator, #61 hit the nail on the head. Adhering to the W of W has much less to do with health than with an outward demonstration of belonging to a specific community. It’s a marker to set us apart from the world.
These are my thoughts about the whole subject, being born into the church.
When you’re a convert, depending on how old you are and your thoughts and personality, you’ve probably drank coffee or tea every morning, had beer or wine daily or for holidays, and committed pretty bad wordly sins depending on like I said, personality. When you recieve the gospel and accept it, you want to be baptised, but all these sins have already been committed. The fourth article of faith states, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Note that the second is repentance, followed by baptism. When you are baptised, you repent for every mistake you’ve made before, and the slate is cleared off. When it comes to addictions, they are painful, and like Satan, they ensnare you from freedom. As John Bytheway said, “God is all about freedom”, which is why the WoW came. As long as you have faith that those addictions will go away, they will, whether in this life or the next. The dangers of drugs and alcohol is that you purposely put yourself there and if drunk or out of it, when you snap back you may find you killed someone, stole something or gotten pregnant or committed the action, in which you are responsible for the sin. Also, maybe drinking coffee will keep you away from the temple, but if you’re not married yet, it could also keep you from having an eternal mariage and an eternal family. Is coffee really that important? One of my friends, as soon as she converted, stopped drinking coffee and wine immediately after, which suprised me how easy it was for her. I know well now that her faith was so strong she was able to quit so easily. And as for those who can never quit, feel bad about baptising but want to and pass away later on, the work can be done for them in the temple, when ciggarettes and the sort don’t exist anymore. 🙂 I have a testimony that the Word of Wisdom was given to us for a reason, and whether we apply ourselves to it or not is our choice–we did, of course, fight for that agency before we came to Earth–but Heavenly Father watches us at every second of our lives and knows if we’re worthy of certain blessings for obeying the WoW. And as long as we strive to, our Savior will help us the rest of the way there, since he suffered for our sins. It is our choice and our decision as to how many blessings we want in life and in the eternities, but the question remains, “How hard will you work for them?”
PS: With the thoughts of tea, we only get herbal, we don’t drink energy drinks and sodas for the most part are caffine free. But like my testimony said.
Aug 22nd, 2009 at 7:48 pm
I smoke and drink coffee and tea. Because of my choices, I am not deemed worthy to be re-baptized. Yes, once upon a time I was a member (through conversion) and did my best to observe the WoW. I am now an ex-Mormon who, at times, would like to once again be “one with the Saints.” Perhaps one day.
One day may never come. Life is short.
89- Wow, I don’t know where to start.
First of all, coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol are substances that the LDS church asks IT’S members to avoid. It is in NO WAY a sin for people not of our faith to partake of these substances, unless their faith also prohibits them. If I were an investigator, I would be insulted if the missionaries asked me to repent of something that was not a sin.
Second, not everyone who consumes alcohol is irresponsible about it. Amazingly, most people who consume alcohol find a way to not kill anyone with a car, beat their wives, fall into bed with every man they meet, or even become addicted. Do some abuse alcohol? Yes. But I guarantee you that there are probably more mormons, percentage wise, who abuse food than non-mormons who abuse alcohol. If I am incorrect about this, then I would like to know when all these LDS men are going to give birth to those babies they are carrying, because alot them look like they are about 20 months pregnant.
Third, the whole hot drinks thing is a mystery to me. HOT chocolate is ok, but hot coffee and tea are not. Does that mean that Iced Coffee and Tea are ok? Some people say its the caffine. But there is caffine in Coke, Pepsi and other soda products that mormons drink all the time. I even bet that if I boiled some Diet Coke and drank it hot, that I would not be considered to be breaking the WoW.
I obey the WoW, but I have to admit that most of it seems like “rules just for the sake of rules”. And I still stand by my opinion that if a life long member of the church would not be excommunicated for a WoW violation, then why should an investigator be denied baptism for the same behavior? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!!!!!
“But I guarantee you that there are probably more mormons, percentage wise, who abuse food than non-mormons who abuse alcohol. If I am incorrect about this, then I would like to know when all these LDS men are going to give birth to those babies they are carrying, because alot them look like they are about 20 months pregnant.”
First of all, I think that Americans in general use food to their detriment, not specifically just Mormons. In fact, there are more Mormons now that live outside of the US so I would say that your “guarantee of more mormons abusing food than non-mormons” is off at best.
Second, I am not seeing these huge overweight mormons you are talking about. There are more members that I know who exercise, participate in marathons and triathalons, etc. than those who look like they are “20 months pregnant.”
Third, just because there are a lot of people who don’t abuse alcohol, doesn’t mean that its use and abuse doesn’t destroy lives. I have a friend who lost her son to a drunk driver and another one who’s family lost 3 members of his family due to a second offender drunk driver hitting and killing them all instantly.
I believe that the WoW is necessary today because of the way we live. When it was first introduced there were no vehicles to drive, so drunk driving wasn’t an issue. Health issues were much less of an issue because you had to work your butt off to get anything done and you most likely ate more healthy than not. The society we live in demands a code and a command from God because of the nature of the way we live. God knows what He is doing and the requirements to live the WoW are not to bring people down, but to help them to live a better, healthier life. I think it is wise to trust that God knows how to care for the body that He created for us rather than to question His wisdom in making it a requirement for baptism.
91- I never said that investigors would be denied baptism for not observing the WoW. My friend wasn’t denied baptism for that behavior. She repented and was baptised shortly after. My grandpa wasn’t a member, but everything he did would’ve allowed him to become one. However he felt bad because of his smoking habit he started at a very young age. He was slowly weaned off, but that was because his health was so bad from it, and he ended up dying before his hair got grey. Its actually been a year and a day, now, so our family is going to do his work as well as his wife’s in the temple. Now I also never said that any of us are perfect, either. The only perfect being who ever lived was the Savior. My parents were both converts as well, so the WoW wasn’t observed until they became members, and one of them even had a bit of a challenge afterwards to quit smoking. I don’t think the WoW was “rules for the sake of rules,” because Heavenly Father wouldn’t give us lousy advice for the sake of amusement! He is our almighty and forever wise, loving Heavenly Father, and as our parent he would want to let us know of things that are important to adhere to in our lives. And yes, maybe a lot us lds members are abusing food more than nonmembers abusing alcohol. A lot of Americans in general are doing it, but as I said we are not perfect but are only striving our hardest to become perfect. I for one eat almost nothing but fruits and ramen, so meat is sparing in my diet, and I appreciate that you are acknowledging something that members need to work on as a whole as well. It is all from our Heavenly Father, though, like a patriarchical blessing in a way. And in the end, it promises that those that observe, “shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.”
And I’m sorry I got you mad at me. I thought this was something to post personal views on, but I guess I’m wrong. I didn’t mean to contend or make myself sound like I’m perfect whatsoever. I’m only an imperfect teenager afterall, and was only stating what I believe is true, what I know is true. I will apologize again, and ask for your forgiveness as I feel terrible now.
“I thought this was something to post personal views on, but I guess I’m wrong. I didn’t mean to contend or make myself sound like I’m perfect whatsoever.”
Your personal views are valid and important and you don’t have anything to apologize about! It is nice to have younger people posting here so don’t stop posting and don’t feel terrible, you have done nothing wrong for expressing your feelings on this subject. You are more than welcome here, so keep posting! 🙂
Jen and Vanessa, I think we all agree in the health benefits of the WoW. But this particular thread is about:
“Should Observance Of The Word Of Wisdom Be Necessary For Baptism?”.
It is NOT a referendum on the WoW. If you want to get into a discussion about the pluses and minuses of the WoW, fine. I can find research touting the benefits of coffee, tea, and drinking a small amount of alcohol each day. (The cardiac benefits of Red wine, for example.)
My argument is not with the WoW, but with members of my faith who use it as a yardstick to judge all people by. Does it occur to you how this makes us appear to our fellow humans? We come off as holier than thou, uppity, and down right rude. Not the best missionary technique, if you ask me.
Vanessa, you are probably a very nice girl. I have teenagers at home, so I understand where you are coming from. You stated in your post,
“When you’re a convert, depending on how old you are and your thoughts and personality, you’ve probably drank coffee or tea every morning, had beer or wine daily or for holidays, and committed pretty bad wordly sins depending on like I said, personality. When you recieve the gospel and accept it, you want to be baptised, but all these sins have already been committed.”
Do you understand that partaking alcohol, tea, coffee and tobacco are absolutely not sins for people of most other faiths? So, to accuse these kind people of sin, is not fair. I am glad that you are taking such an interest in the LDS community and putting your ideas out there. Others may agree or disagree with you, and its their right to state what they feel.
I want you to think about how you feel when you hear other Christians say that mormons are not Christians. That is what some of them think, you know. I work with people who like me very much, but they tell me to my face that I am a sinner,that I am not a Christian, and that I am going to hell. I don’t like it. So, I am very careful to not call other people sinners, especially for something rules that do not apply to them. I know that you have a testimony of our gospel, that is obvious, and I think its great. 🙂
I hope you and Jen (and everyone else) keep posting here. I like to read all points of view, even if I disagree and post my disagreements. Please, post your disagreements with me.
Don’t confuse someone who challenges what you have to say with an attack. The point of this forum is to hear and express different points of view. Your understanding of an issue can be expanded when it’s presented here for others to comment on. I hope that as you read some of their points of view you may see that they have validity as well.
I agree with Pinkpatent that the Church should not require WOW compliance prior to baptism. The missionaries should most definitely inform the investigator that this health code is one of our major tenants of faith and that compliance WILL be required when they desire to seek the blessings of the Temple.
If someone is truly seeking to understand God and desires to have the blessings of the Holy Ghost to battle their addictions, why should we hold that back from them at a time when they need it the most?
“My argument is not with the WoW, but with members of my faith who use it as a yardstick to judge all people by. Does it occur to you how this makes us appear to our fellow humans? We come off as holier than thou, uppity, and down right rude. Not the best missionary technique, if you ask me.”
The reality is we have to make judgments about situations everyday. If a boy comes over to pick up my daughter for a date and I smell alcohol on his breath, then I will make a judgment about him and not allow her to go with him, especially if he is driving. If I smell pot on my son’s friend and he is about to go to hang out with him, I will tell him he has to skip hanging out with him this time. We all know the health risks of second hand smoke and I am responsible to protect my children from it, so I will do my best to keep my children out of a smoking environment. Also, if my son or daughter’s friend’s father (or mother) has a drinking problem, I will be more apt to have their friends come to my house because of the possibility of erratic, negative behavior when drinking is taking place. These type of situations all call for judgments to be made and I don’t fault anyone for making them, nor do I see them as holier than thou judgments. We have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themsevles or do not understand how to do it.
“So, I am very careful to not call other people sinners, especially for something rules that do not apply to them.”
If you do believe that the LDS church is the true church on the earth today and God is at the head of it, then God intended the WoW to be for all of His children, not for a few select. Just because they don’t choose to follow the WoW or they don’t know about it, doesn’t mean that God didn’t intend for it to be for all of them. If God requires people to follow the WoW to be baptized, do we truly think we are more wise than Him and can say how foolish of Him to do such a thing?
I think that you are right in that we aren’t the judge of those who struggle with addictions and we need to leave that to God, but we definitely have to make judgments (as I mentioned above) in relation to situations that involve others who choose to use alcohol, drugs, etc. That doesn’t mean we teach our children that they are bad people, we just teach them that they are God’s children as well and just life a different lifestyle than we do.
“If someone is truly seeking to understand God and desires to have the blessings of the Holy Ghost to battle their addictions, why should we hold that back from them at a time when they need it the most?”
I don’t believe for a minute that God doesn’t help those battling addictions when they truly are seeking to do so, baptized or not. He is no respecter of persons and He will be there for those who seek after Him. He is more than capable to help those who desire to overcome addictions and He will meet people where they are at in this process.
Jen, does it ever occur to you that other people think THEIR churches are true? Would you be surprised to learn that non-mormons do not feel beholden to our particular codes of conduct? (They don’t feel compelled to pay tithing to our church or come and clean the chapel on Saturday mornings.) Is it possible for you to separate PARTAKING of alcohol or coffee/tea with being ADDICTED to them? Have you ever considered that the MAJORITY of people who partake DO NOT ABUSE these substances?
You continue to make these VAST leaps from partaking in something to addiction, abuse and tragedy. Life just isn’t like that. It’s not black and white. It’s not US and THEM. We are all God’s children, He loves us all the same, even those who drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, have a cup of coffee….whatever. He loves us. We need to love each other.
I agree wholeheartedly. I would venture that Joseph Smith had the company of the Holy Ghost even though he drank alcohol. Why wouldn’t other people today be the same?
I am tired of your personal attacks. Did it ever occur to YOU that your approach is judgmental?
Which part is it you agree with? I never said that a person couldn’t be directed by God if they drank or smoked, etc. In fact, read comment #98.
Sorry Jen, if my approach seems judgemental. My wordsmithing is not perfect, I am trying to speak to your argument, not to your person. I always assume that comments directed my way are to meet my argument, not me personally. It is obvious that you and I disagree, respectfully, I hope.
I agree with the point of her post – that we are quite presumptuous to think that every minute tradition/teaching of the LDS Church is intended for the entire world. I also respect the fact that God works through other religions and faith systems to help people. And I also agree with her point that MANY (probably the majority) people can have a glass of wine with dinner, etc. without becoming addicts, beating their wife, or anything like that. For every story you can tell me about a bad outcome from alcohol, I can tell you just as many from people being fat.
From post #97: “God intended the WoW to be for all of His children, not for a few select”. I respectfully disagree. Jesus drank wine. JS and other church leaders drank wine and beer. The Nephites drank. I consider them to be part of “His children”. To expect everyone in the world to follow our current interpretation of it seems odd to me.
“…In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days…this word of wisdom [is given by revelation].” D & C 89:4
Sorry for bringing this up if it was brought up before. But, would this mean that previous WoW issues in history are not the same as they are in this dispensation?
I agree that God works through other religions and faiths to help people. I also NEVER said that people become addicts by having a drink of wine with their dinner etc. The main point I have been trying to make is that I feel it is important to maintain the standard of the WoW if a person wants to be baptized and I realize that others don’t agree.
“I respectfully disagree. Jesus drank wine. JS and other church leaders drank wine and beer. The Nephites drank. I consider them to be part of “His children”. To expect everyone in the world to follow our current interpretation of it seems odd to me”
Jesus, JS and the Nephites are not on the earth anymore though and God has told us what He expects of us now. I get the part about most of His children not knowing about it, but my point is (and it wasn’t made as clear as I should have made it) that those who are wanting to be baptized have to adhere to this whether they were Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, etc. before joining the church. It applies to everyone in this sense and no one is excluded.
“For every story you can tell me about a bad outcome from alcohol, I can tell you just as many from people being fat.”
I’m not trying to tell you every bad outcome that comes from alcohol. Some people are surrounded a lot more by addictions than others and so that is their frame of reference. If you haven’t had to deal with alcoholism in your family, good for you. I have noticed that you comment often about earrings, tattoos and white shirts and I think those things just aren’t that big of a deal at all. We all have things that are important or not important to us based on our experiences in life, so I think it is important to try and respect one another in this way.
“Jen, does it ever occur to you that other people think THEIR churches are true? Would you be surprised to learn that non-mormons do not feel beholden to our particular codes of conduct? (They don’t feel compelled to pay tithing to our church or come and clean the chapel on Saturday mornings.) Is it possible for you to separate PARTAKING of alcohol or coffee/tea with being ADDICTED to them? Have you ever considered that the MAJORITY of people who partake DO NOT ABUSE these substances?”
I’m just going to answer your questions in order so I hope it makes sense. Yes, in fact, all of my extended family members are not LDS. I love and respect them and their beliefs. I’m fully aware of the fact that many people don’t agree with the WoW and not only do they not agree with it, they mock it. It is possible for me to separate partaking of alcohol or coffee/tea without being addicted to them and I do. I had friends in high school who drank and “partied” and didn’t become addicted. In my extended family there is severe alcoholism so I have seen both sides of it. I haven’t ever met anyone who just smokes on occasion. Most of the smokers I know smoke everyday. I don’t know what your definition of abuse of substances is. Do you consider a person who gets drunk abuse? What are your definitions of abusing a substance?
“You continue to make these VAST leaps from partaking in something to addiction, abuse and tragedy. Life just isn’t like that. It’s not black and white. It’s not US and THEM. We are all God’s children, He loves us all the same, even those who drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, have a cup of coffee….whatever. He loves us. We need to love each other.”
If I have made these leaps then I also need to say that I don’t feel partaking of these things always leads to addiction, abuse and tragedy. I am fully aware of what life is like. Maybe it is important to consider what a person is dealing with on a daily basis before stating what life is like and what it isn’t. Maybe life isn’t a certain way for you, but for me it is. I think that as you say we need to love one another, I would add that we also need to seek to be compassionate with one another also. I know of others who lives are much harder than mine and I am in no position to tell them what life is like. Only the Lord can see what ones life is really like and there are no two lives that are the same.
Sorry, #106 is in response to #99
I understand how circumstances in a person’s life can affect their perspective. People I love dearly, that are also LDS, are at varying levels of WoW observance. I would never want them pushed out of the church because they felt that others were judging them. On the other hand, I do obey the WoW and have set a rule of not allowing those things in my home. But, I have to accept their presence in my life because I love the people connected to them.
I guess this makes me more open to seeing the best in all people. I simply don’t use the WoW yardstick. I can’t. I understand how others can do it, but it doesn’t work for me. I am at a place in my journey where I just want to see the good in everyone. I try to look past everything but their hearts.
Group Hug Everybody!
103- Mike, will you sit by me at church? 🙂
“I simply don’t use the WoW yardstick”
Hopefully you aren’t making this statement insinuating that you don’t make judgments and the rest of us do. I think it is dangerous to assume that you are seeing the best in all people and then say that this is because you don’t use your so-called WoW yardstick. There is a really big difference between setting limits and boundaries and judging people. I don’t judge people that don’t live the WoW in my family and I love them for who they are, but just as you don’t allow those things in your home, I don’t allow smoking or drug use in my home, etc. I think in seeing the best in people it would be better to drop the assumption that everyone in the church is judging others with some “yardstick” and truly just assume the best in others.
I was trying to find some common ground, you mentioned that you have family members with these issues. I wasn’t trying to make any kind of judgement statement. I was trying to explain why I feel the way I do, while expressing an understanding for your point of view.
I am sad that these rules take away from what is the most important. The w of w separates some types of addicts from other types of addicts. It seems to be more important than what really is the most important, and that is to follow the example Christ, to try to be like Him, to love one another. I am sad that a true believer cannot be allowed to take upon themselves the name of Christ through baptism because they are struggling with a drug or alcohol problem. I am sad that while that person is held back from the fold, a food or shopping addict is not. All addicts should be held to the same standard. Addiction is destructive no matter what type it is. The letter of the law has become more important than the spirit of the law. We are all sinners. One who is struggling with any aspect of the word of wisdom, who believes in Christ and His atonement, should not be denied full access to the power of the atonement. They should be baptized into the church. We all fall short. None of us are worthy of the kingdom of God without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Gluttony is supposed to be one of the seven deadly sins. If abstaining from drugs and alcohol is required for baptism, then why isn’t abstaining from gluttonous overeating? It just comes across as hypocritical. It makes no sense, and it makes me downright sad. I don’t believe that abstaining from alcohol is a doctrine of salvation. I believe that what truly matters is loving one another, not judging, being honest, humble, chaste, repenting for our sins, seeking forgiveness, being forgiving, being merciful. I am so sad that the word of wisdom is treated the way it is. It distracts from what really is the most important in regards to our personal salvation. I believe the word of wisdom is inspired. But it is being treated in such a way that it detracts from where our attention needs to be, and that is on Jesus Christ.