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Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 12:00
by Heber13
I have no basis for this other than my own thinking...but I feel the church has acknowledged the need to relax on the stuffy rules of our grandfathers. Today's world just doesn't obey because "it is what we do" for no good reason.

We've been seeing lots of changes lately. I maintain that the brethren are smart enough to have common sense about change, even if they are slow and deliberate in doing it.

Even my missionary son has told me the visiting general authorities have been talking to missionaries about the need to relax on some rules that are not necessary.

With these changes, and the global nature of the church and some changes that would mean more to people outside Utah, I gotta think coffee and tea would be up there with things that are ready to change.

It would be a simple change, to me, and makes sense. No longer asking specifically about coffee or tea on TR interviews or for baptism. Reiterate to all members the spirit of the word of wisdom, and that it should not be a laundry list of specific things told by the church on what we can and cannot drink or eat, but teach the principles and let people govern themselvse on how they apply the spirit of the commandment.

In my last lesson this past sunday in Priesthood meeting, I had the class read this quote aloud about families deciding how to do home study:
If they will prayerfully look at the manual and other resources, then they will be able to see how they can use them in a way that is “best for their individual and family situation,” he said.
“The strongest feeling is that we should not regulate families or individuals or determine what they should do,” he said.
I believe a similar change in the Word of Wisdom would be in line with the types of changes being made, and it actually would be a welcome change for other world-wide cultures and for missionary work. It wouldn't be that big of a deal.

And it would remove the feeling that Word of Wisdom on coffee and tea is simply a test of obedience, even if there are so many other items on a health code that are not included from our current interpretation that have resorted to specific coffee and tea.

What do you all think?

Is this likely change to come soon?

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 12:30
by Rumin8
Speaking for myself, this would be wonderful! The myth of the WoW as a health code needs to go away. In my view it is a very public obedience test. That is where it begins and where it ends with me. This is one thing that feels very "Law of Moses" to me. I've done a lot of research on the WoW and it has been fascinating how it started to how it has evolved to what is generally practiced today. We've gone from "greeting" to "constrained" and "commanded" in direct violation of D&C 89. This is yet another example where practice has gotten in the way of doctrine. I think much the same can be said for other social issues the church is facing today.

I have been pretty candid in some of my posts here that I have very strong feelings on the WoW. It's not my number one issue, but I find the whole fixation on it to be nonsensical. This goes back to high school when one of my closest friends left the church because of what she views as the crazy interpretation of D&C 89. I felt it was silly that she left over that, but in hindsight I completely understand. It turned out not to be her only issue, just the most public one.

I personally have been in situations where I have been seen with coffee or other things. Or I have been in pictures (while not participating) on social media with people who are partaking of the forbidden items. You would have thought I was drowning babies from the way people responded to it. There is such a deep and ingrained aversion to these things I would be very surprised if anything changed. Look how long it took for someone in church HQ to talk about caffeinated soda. Even now that's a gray area (although you can now get diet coke at BYU, so it's all on the up and up now). Even my spouse feels in some part that my lack of faith is due to my issues with the WoW. I've tried to explain that it is a symptom, not a cause. Meeting someone for coffee or over a drink has had very positive social effects for me, as I am a classic introvert. But that's for me. I've learned everyone is different and has different hot buttons. I'm very moderate in my habits. I've found a balance that works for me. Like all things in life, it requires constant awareness and adjustment.

I served my mission in South America, in an area that Yerba Mate was a way of life. I personally see no difference between Yerba and Green tea. I drank Mate regularly while I was on my mission, since word was that it was not against the WoW. Of course I also drank Coke often on P-Day eve, and that was against the mission rules (as was observing P-Day eve). However, if Mate was enforced as the same as tea, then there would have been very few members of the church in that area. I've also never understood why WoW was a condition to joining the church. As part of the TR process, it's the high bar of membership, not the low bar, IMO.

I hope I haven't offended anyone with these thoughts. I do understand there is real danger with some of the proscribed items, particularly alcohol.

I also hope for this change. I pray for this change. It could be one less area for people to be judged and found wanting.

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 12:33
by lotsofgray
How about going back to “not by way of commandment...” as it was intended originally. Broad suggestion and from “the best books” imparting great wisdom...


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Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 12:38
by Rumin8
Totally agree, lotsofgray (obviously from my longwinded post above).

I did want to add one addendum. With credit to the user Off The Rameamptum, they shared the following article in a previous thread of mine. I found it very interesting and I have shared it widely with like-minded people: ... mormonism/

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 12:46
by lotsofgray
Anyone know the history of wow and when it became commandment instead of suggestion???

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Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 13:23
by Heber13
There is a good history of the Word of Wisdom from Dialogue. ... N03_80.pdf

Also, there is a decent book and quick read on getting the facts straight about it you can purchase:
The Word of Wisdom by Steven C. Harper (2008, Paperback)
I find it interesting how it seemed to come into the church as a tradition from cultural beliefs back in the 1800s, but then got codified.

But clearly even into the early 1900s, church leaders were interpreting it differently...some emphasizing not eating meat, and others focusing on coffee and tea. And various ways of alcohol consumption, but emphasis on moderation not abstinence for many.

Again...I think this is the kind of thing the currently leadership is open to...taking traditions of our fathers, and shedding the arbitrary rules that don't have a real basis for revelation and commandment.

Rumin8 makes lots of good points about other things like Mate, and it just seems to show how we cling to traditions. And also how little some people know the real history of it and the changes over time until it morphed into the rule we have today...which seems unnecessary to me and even becomes a hinderance to some people coming to church. My aunt, for example, just doesn't feel comfortable with so much emphasis on it. She understands there is a test of faith she is not willing to follow and she loves coffee...but it makes her feel "less than" or 2nd class citizen and has stopped going to church. I'm sure there are lots of factors...but her coffee is the top one she brings up about not feeling comfortable at church.

It seems 1940s authoritarian correlation commandment to me. Outdated. Of little use. Needs changed.

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 13:57
by dande48
We are VERY proud of the "D&C WoW". We hold to it as a sure sign Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and praise it as a health code "many years ahead of its time". It is SUPER out of date, and is in need of serious revision. Heck, most members don't know or follow half of it. But we LOVE it.

As for the "TR WoW" (which solely focuses on five abstinences), since its inclusion in the TR interview, it's been pretty hard engrained into our cultural identity. It's a mark of pride for us. When people think of "Mormons" one of the first things they think of is, "they don't drink alcohol or coffee". To make matters worse, we even go so far as to equating the D&C WoW and the TR Wow, believing they are one in the same, when they really are not.

I expect the TR interview to change under President Nelson. It has changed in the past, and it is fairly easy to change. But I have a hard time imagining the "TR WoW" changing anytime soon. I don't think it will, before we do away with most if not all of the TR Interview (fingers crossed!). But I fully expect, even if it is taken off the TR Interivew, the "TR WoW" will always be considered a commandment, even if it is more loosely enforced, like in Brigham Young's time.

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 14:04
by dande48
lotsofgray wrote:
11 Jan 2019, 12:33
How about going back to “not by way of commandment...” as it was intended originally. Broad suggestion and from “the best books” imparting great wisdom...
The D&C Word of Wisdom is super outdated, and no one really follows it. Plus, to be frank, as a health code, it kind of sucks. There are plenty of better health guidelines out there. I guess there's some wisdom here and there, but as a whole, I wouldn't say there's anything exceptionally wise about it. I do think there is wisdom is staying away from Coffee, black tea, alcohol, tobacco, narcotics, and opiods, but that's a whole different "WoW" from the one found in the D&C.
lotsofgray wrote:
11 Jan 2019, 12:46
Anyone know the history of wow and when it became commandment instead of suggestion???
Brigham Young made the abstinences part of it a "soft commandment", meaning it was technically a commandment, but still left up to personal implementation, so long as you weren't publically drunk, or chewing in the tabernacle. But growing tobacco to sell to non-Mormon traders was strongly encouraged (BY was first and foremost a capitalist).

Heber J Grant made Brigham Young's "soft commandment" into an explicit "hard commandment" and included it in the TR interview.

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 14:58
by On Own Now
I think there are two changes the Church could make immediately that would not require anyone to raise an eyebrow:

- eliminated coffee and tea as prohibitions.
- eliminate WoW as a test for baptism, but keep it as a temple-worthiness issue (thus making the transition from non-member to member easier)

I would love for the Church to relax beer/wine use, but I don't see that happening... or at least if it did, I'd stay off the roads in Utah for a few weeks.

Re: Word of Wisdom: The next change

Posted: 11 Jan 2019, 15:14
by SamBee
I am extremely glad to have given up coffee and tea. The word of wisdom is the biggest practical life change that I have made, and I think I would continue living it if I left the church.

The general public aren't aware of all the health risks connected with them from triggering epilepsy and insomnia/disrupted sleep, depression, anxiety etc over to the cardiovascular problems that it causes, from hemorrhoids to heart attacks.

I don't consider drinking tea and coffee a sin, but I do consider it a health risk.