- The opinions of the sitting president of the church
- Wider political considerations
- Acceptance among Protestant/Evangelicals that were also pushing for temperance during that same time period.
Though unstated in the article, I'd add that there might have been an element of "keeping up with the Joneses." If the wider Protestant groups are moving towards temperance, it wouldn't look right if the true church was more lenient. Some parts of the article read like the church tended to follow wider societal trends rather than taking a leading position.
They didn't want wider Christianity to gang up on them. They wanted to be seated among other Christian groups, not set up as a rival to them. I suppose that much hasn't changed.
Which is interesting. They had the actual revelation that says it wasn't a commandment but they go to the JoD to build the case that it was. Of course this could have been an instance where a leader with a strong opinion cherry picked from an authoritative source to support an argument they wanted to make. People do that all the time.At a meeting on May 5,1898, the First Presidency and Twelve discussed the Word of Wisdom. One member read from the twelfth volume of the Journal of Discourses a statement by Brigham Young that seemed to support the notion that the Word of Wisdom was a commandment of God.
I suppose a church of continued revelation is also meant to work that way.
One thing that struck me was the difference of opinions shared by church leaders 100 years ago. We don't really get that now. These days there's more of a united front, at least in public view. We really only get a small glimpse of the differences of opinion once a member of the Q12 becomes "unleashed" as president of the church and begin to enact their differences.
The article suggests that the ban on coffee was very much a matter over caffeine, as caffeine was central to the debate over Coca-Cola. I don't think they would have said that was the official reason, but some of the debate appeared to center around whether a substance was a stimulant.
It was difficult to parse out, but the focus appeared to be on alcohol and tobacco at the time the WoW was made a requirement for a TR. I say hard to parse because I'm left to guess that coffee and tea were implied. That's the danger of leaving it at saying "Word of Wisdom." There's a loss of precision. Was the first temple requirement a prohibition on just alcohol and tobacco or was the introduction of the requirement just as restrictive then as it is today?
From the Dialogue article:
From Luke 5:30Meanwhile, the Church continued its campaign against tobacco use. An article in the Improvement Era, March, 1923, argued that tobacco users naturally linked themselves with evil persons such as profaners, criminals, vagrants and prostitutes.
But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?