When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Post Reply
User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 7145
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Heber13 » 16 Dec 2013, 14:43

It seems the thread on Race and the Priesthood (which was a great discussion all...thanks :clap: ) opens the door on questions about church policies and teachings, and interpretations of revelation and scripture, and man's theories behind them. Clearly the people receiving revelation are influenced by their environment as they see through the glass darkly, and try to put in language meaning, which has its limitations.

It also seems that over time, continuing revelation allows
new “light and knowledge” that had erased previously “limited understanding.
That is a hard pill for many of us to swallow. Changing teachings? Prophets teaching some things wrong? If so, how does that make us any different from any other church?

All important questions.

It has led me thinking of this one:

What if the Word of Wisdom was not a revelation as our church policy is now, and taught as we are taught now?

It seems reasonable, in the 1800s, people thought that harmful substances restricted the spirit or showed lack of character unbecoming of a disciple of Christ. Many converts to Mormonism brought that with them from their prior religions.

It can't be traced to Joseph Smith. He received D&C 89 as a revelation, but it is not a ban on alcohol or any specific substance, and in fact is a word of wisdom, not by way of commandment. JS occasionally imbibed. BY encouraged Utah to grow tobacco to build the economy.

It seems people interpreted the D&C89 a certain way, and some High Councils in Kirtland and Missouri interpreted a certain way, and needed clarification from the prophet when they started excommunicating people for it. I actually don't know the history off the top of my head when it became a commandment, and became a condition for temple worthiness. (But I'm sure some of you or Mormon Heretic knows it).

In our present day, there is greater medical knowledge and scientific knowledge of substances and our health. And there are more things that didn't apply back in the 1800s, like energy drinks, prescriptions drugs, healthy aspects of wine, etc etc etc.

So, if you take the logic applied to Race and the Priesthood...isn't it a pretty good argument that the Word of Wisdom is outdated and will also go away?

My answer is no, and would like to hold my reasons until I hear others' thoughts on the subject.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16636
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Dec 2013, 15:00

Disavowal? No. There is absolutely no need for that.

As you said, D&C 89 itself (the "revelation") isn't the issue; it's the way it changed to an enforced standard (parts of it, anyway) and now is applied to baptism and temple attendance that is the issue. Already, not following the current policy won't get someone excommunicated. Drinking various types of tea (officially, in some areas, and un-officially in many others) won't get a temple recommend pulled.

This (dietary codes) and the Priesthood ban (racism) are so different that the same arguments simply don't apply.

Re-interpretation of the current policy, especially the consequences of not following that policy? Yeah, I could see that (although I'm not holding my breath for a change any time soon) - and I absolutely would like to see it happen.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
journeygirl
Posts: 231
Joined: 04 Apr 2013, 19:12

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by journeygirl » 16 Dec 2013, 15:12

I was watching an LDS produced video clip yesterday in which the missionaries of the 1830's or 40's are teaching about the word of wisdom and they quote that section of D&C how it is not given as a commandment. It was weird to hear it pointed out in a modern video. From what I know, the word of wisdom is pretty much in line with the mid 1800's health beliefs. I find it strange when I hear people say how inspired the word of wisdom was since now we know that it is proven by modern health. Because it isn't, modern health tells us that coffee, tea and wine are healthy for many people. I view the word of wisdom as an exercise in obedience, but obedience to who? Probably the church and not God. For that reason I would like to see it go back to being a suggestion, or just dropped entirely and a more balanced view of health taught if at all. I think it will change over time.

Roadrunner
Posts: 887
Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Roadrunner » 16 Dec 2013, 16:11

A "clarification" or as Ray put it a "re-interpretation" would definitely be nice. Like others have said, I don't think it will happen soon. There are other items that are probably higher on the list of needing clarification or re-interpretation.

As a side note, I wonder if marijuana use for medicinal purposes will be officially addressed by the church. As states legalize its use and as public sentiment seems to accept it more I can see it as an issue for some SPs or bishoprics during temple recommend interviews, even if it's prescribed by a doctor.

User avatar
Cadence
Posts: 1176
Joined: 08 Dec 2009, 21:36

When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Cadence » 16 Dec 2013, 16:17

I have already disavowed the WofW. Not holding my breath for the church to make an official announcement.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by SilentDawning » 16 Dec 2013, 16:26

If it's not a commandment, then why does it it restrict us from going to the temple if we don't abide by it? I don't have a problem with it personally, but I ask this question. It seems to me that policy and commandments are often mixed as one in our Church. One must be on guard at all times and use their common sense and critical thinking.

But Heber is right -- the priesthood disavowal opens up all so-called "revelation" to question. The disavowal also lumps us in with all other churches that are lead by charismatic leaders who gain influence over us for verious reasons. It just so happened that in this case, claims of infallibility and access to direct revelation were the golden nugget that convinced everyone to get with the policies -- both good and bad.

I'm reminded of Milgram's experiments on social influence, and how people in authority were able to convince subjects to administer higher and higher levels of shock to an actor who expressed concern at how much shock they were receiving, eventually screaming for mercy, and then, finally went silent....And the majority of subjects kept administering the shock because someone in authority told them to do so.

The willingness of prophets after JS and BY who perpetuated the mistake of the priesthood ban are a case in point -- how even men of intelligence, ability and normally good moral conscience can be persuaded to perpetuate beliefs that are not wholesome, and that disadvantage large groups of people.

Would we disavow the word of wisdom? I don't think so -- there is no reason to. The church leaders are either too proud to do so, or too entrenched in our tradition to do so. Yes, there are members who don't like it -- but there isn't a social stigma against it like discrimination and lack of equality granted to people of different races. I see no reason for disavowing it.

This disavowal, and the lifting of the priesthood band in the 70's shows that the church does vow to public pressure -- but only on its own terms, and at a time that doesn't make the changes in policy/commandments/revelation (not clear what it is, in my view) appear man-made.

I think this is a great test for the church though...as more and more people learn about the disavowal, the leaders will see the impact it has -- in the short term and long-term. If the disavowal tends to NOT alientate the faithful, and creates more converts, and removes a stumbling block for many active members, I think we will see more willingness on the part of the church to disavow past teachings -- but only in a graduate, measured way.

The poll I started is encouraging -- it seems that almost everyone here saw no change in commitment, or a slight increase as a result of the disavowal -- the net effect has been positive in the short-term. Hopefully the time will come when the leaders can disavow other aspects of our religion that are wrong.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Featherina

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Featherina » 16 Dec 2013, 17:24

Hopefully, and prayerfully, common sense gets reinstated (or instated)...
So... everything good in moderation and under the right circumstances.
It's like a note - by itself, it's not "right" or "wrong" - but only appropriate or not in context with other notes, pitch, timing etc.

If caffeine helps me stay awake and avoid crashing while driving in the middle of the night... then I'll have some caffeine.
If I feel better and am more physically healthy by eating more fruits, vegies and grains than meat, then I'll do so.

Personally, I feel that alcohol is something that is wise to avoid, if I am responsible for my children (which currently is pretty much 24-7).
However, if I want to relax, and I'm on vacation without them, and don't have to drive, etc... a little may be ok.

User avatar
cwald
Posts: 3628
Joined: 10 Aug 2015, 06:39

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by cwald » 16 Dec 2013, 20:41

I see no relationship between the current interpretation of the wow, and D&C 89.

IF the church can claim that JS never instituted the ban, and disavow it for such reasons, than there is no reason they couldn't do the same for the WOW.

Also...most adults do drink alcohol. And they are responsible, law abiding citizens, parents, spouses.







Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6747
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Dec 2013, 20:59

SilentDawning wrote:If it's not a commandment, then why does it it restrict us from going to the temple if we don't abide by it? I don't have a problem with it personally, but I ask this question. It seems to me that policy and commandments are often mixed as one in our Church. One must be on guard at all times and use their common sense and critical thinking.
I couldn't agree more. I don't think I would be exaggerating much If I said there are a thousand examples of this.

I don't have a problem with the WoW itself, either, and I live it. On the other hand, I also don't think there's anything wrong with a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail every once in a while (as long as you're not an alcoholic). One side of my family has a long line of alcoholics and smokers, and I believe tendency to become such is genetic, and that addictions of any kind are at least somewhat genetic. It's the reason I don't gamble, either. I live the WoW because I believe it's good advice, not because I think it's a commandment. Even if I did have the occasional beer, I would still say I lived the WoW.

That said, Section 89 specifically does state that the revelation was given as a greeting, not a "commandment or constraint." It's actually one of the things I have struggled with doctrinally. Again, I obey it, but I don't see how it became what it is. Why is living the WoW a "commandment" now, and a measure of "worthiness?" How did that come about? Likewise, the scriptural references to tithing are a bit scant. How did tithing obtain that same status? I certainly can see having a testimony of the gospel, believing in the Godhead, living the law of chastity, being honest, etc., really are measures of worthiness - they're core doctrine and commandments.

I don't see the church coming around to a disavowal of this idea, either, but like Ray I think there should be a change in the policy of enforcement of it.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
cwald
Posts: 3628
Joined: 10 Aug 2015, 06:39

Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by cwald » 16 Dec 2013, 21:24

Please show me anywhere in DC 89 where it prohibits beer, tea, coffee or pot.

Thanks in advance.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

Post Reply