The prophet and coffee

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PazamaManX
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The prophet and coffee

Post by PazamaManX »

I was scrolling through Facebook and an article came up about an LDS NHL player and how giving up coffee has been a blessing for him, yada yada yada.... In the comments, one person commented on the benefits of coffee and keeping the spirit of the WoW. A reply to his comment berated him for not following the prophet and trying to deceive members with worldly things.

Which got me thinking, has a prophet ever specifically mentioned coffee? The WoW doesn't mention it. It's part of the church's policy and is all over church literature, but has it ever been said at the pulpit by a prophet himself? I know for many members, there's no difference between the two, but if one wanted to truly say they were "following the prophet"...

I've done some searching, but haven't found what I'm looking for yet. I thought Nelson had said something about it at GC a few years ago, but I also haven't found that yet either. And as a disclaimer, I do drink drink coffee as I don't believe it's a violation of the WoW. So I'm partial to the original commenter on the FB post about keeping the 'spirit' of the WoW.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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nibbler
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by nibbler »

Not strictly what you're asking for, but this is an "official" statement from the church.

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.or ... ugust-2019

There's also section 38.7.14 in the handbook:
Word of Wisdom and Healthy Practices
The Word of Wisdom is a commandment of God. He revealed it for the physical and spiritual benefit of His children. Prophets have clarified that the teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 89 include abstinence from tobacco, strong drinks (alcohol), and hot drinks (tea and coffee).
Neither is the words "don't drink coffee" coming out of Nelson's mouth while acting in the capacity of president of the church, but things labeled official communications and information in the handbook might as well be. I'd think Nelson would take issue if those didn't represent his thoughts on the matter.

Digging is difficult because the ban on coffee is just understood, not many feel the need be explicit, but I did find the following talk from Nelson during the October 1988 general conference:

http://churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ge ... m?lang=eng
His Word of Wisdom includes sound nutritional guidance and simple instructions. We are not to drink alcoholic beverages. (See D&C 89:5–7.) We are not to use tobacco. (See D&C 89:8.) We are not to drink tea or coffee. (See D&C 89:9.) And in this same spirit, we are not to use addicting drugs.
Yes, that quote is dated, but nothing has changed in the interpretation of the WoW since that talk was given.

I don't drink either tea or coffee (and have no plans to) but I think the church's policy on coffee and tea is a ridiculous stake to put in the ground. I think with time more and more members will just ignore parts of the WoW and not care, eventually forcing a change once it reaches critical mass.

I wouldn't worry about what people on either side of the debate say, you do you. There's always going to be that person that berates others for not following the prophet... and chances are they've justified not following the prophet when it suited them on some other subject.
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Minyan Man
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Minyan Man »

I recently ran across the following quote from Brigham Young:
The Lord gave me strength to lay aside tobacco, and it is very rarely indeed that I taste tea or coffee; yet I have no objection to aged persons, when they are fatigued and feel infirm, taking a little stimulus that will do them good. It is wrong to use narcotics, for the nervous system is destroyed or injured thereby; but we should maintain a healthy action of all the powers of the body, which should be devoted to the service of our Father and God in building up His kingdom on the earth.
JD 11:140-141, Brigham Young, October 9, 1865.

When I was a missionary, it was expected from our investigators to completely quit the use of tobacco & alcohol before they could be baptized.
I always wondered why don't we ask for a commitment to quit over time? Changing a habit is difficult to do. When you can't do it immediately,
you will, a lot of times say, what is the use? I tried to quit immediately & relapsed & feel guilty. I don't measure up to the LDS "standard" & never will.
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PazamaManX
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by PazamaManX »

nibbler wrote: 03 Jun 2022, 14:05
Neither is the words "don't drink coffee" coming out of Nelson's mouth while acting in the capacity of president of the church, but things labeled official communications and information in the handbook might as well be. I'd think Nelson would take issue if those didn't represent his thoughts on the matter.
Very true, and if ever discussing the subject with someone, a "Well technically..." isn't going to fly since it is just generally understood as doctrine, as you said. Not that I have any interest in having such a discussion; no minds would change on either side. For many, the spirit of the WoW isn't health, but obedience. Something that I think departs from the original point of the WoW, but they can do them and I'll do me. I was really more interested as an exercise of intellectual honesty for myself. If something that was originally stated to not be a commandment is being treated as one, then I like to have my logical ducks in a row when breaking from the current practice of said "commandment". And thanks for finding those sources.

Minyan Man wrote: 04 Jun 2022, 07:13 I recently ran across the following quote from Brigham Young:
The Lord gave me strength to lay aside tobacco, and it is very rarely indeed that I taste tea or coffee; yet I have no objection to aged persons, when they are fatigued and feel infirm, taking a little stimulus that will do them good. It is wrong to use narcotics, for the nervous system is destroyed or injured thereby; but we should maintain a healthy action of all the powers of the body, which should be devoted to the service of our Father and God in building up His kingdom on the earth.
JD 11:140-141, Brigham Young, October 9, 1865.

That's a fascinating quote, and not one that I've heard before. It's interesting the number of things said and done during Brigham Young's time that are so different from the church today. But then that was a century and a half ago; lots of time for the cultural and political tides to change.

Minyan Man wrote: 04 Jun 2022, 07:13 When I was a missionary, it was expected from our investigators to completely quit the use of tobacco & alcohol before they could be baptized.
I always wondered why don't we ask for a commitment to quit over time? Changing a habit is difficult to do. When you can't do it immediately,
you will, a lot of times say, what is the use? I tried to quit immediately & relapsed & feel guilty. I don't measure up to the LDS "standard" & never will.
That reminds me of a lady on my mission who had those same struggles. It was the issue of smoking for her. She was emotionally run through the dirt from the constant pressure put on her by us missionaries to get baptized. Which she genuinely wanted to, but could never get there because she couldn't kick the smoking habit. I imagine every missionary has at least one person like that on their mission. As nibbler said, it's a ridiculous stake to put in the ground, and especially so for a baptismal requirement. If the excuse for the WoW originally not being a commandment was so that currently addicted people wouldn't have to beat an ingrained addiction to keep a new commandment, then wouldn't logic follow that we apply the same principle to addicted converts?
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Gerald
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Gerald »

A few years back, Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll did a survey of LDS members regarding a number of issues. The quote below is regarding the Word of Wisdom:
Our survey also found that Mormons are not monolithic in how central they see Word of Wisdom observance to Mormon identity. Only 34% of U.S. Mormons, for instance, insist that abstaining from coffee and tea are “essential” to being a good Mormon. In contrast, 57% say that abstaining from alcohol is essential. It seems that while many Mormons might shrug their shoulders at a member of their congregation indulging in an occasional cappuccino, a weekend margarita would be met with much stronger disapproval.

Age matters here. There is a strong generational gap in perceptions of the Word of Wisdom and Mormon identity. Only 31% and 46% of Millennials say that abstention from coffee/tea or alcohol is essential to being a good Mormon, compared to 52% and 76% of Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.
I think whatever is said in Church and whatever people say in public, private practice regarding the WOW probably varies widely and wildly. I know of a member who said the chocolate cake literally is "devil's food" and refuses to eat it. Other members are okay having an expresso from time to time. When administration at BYU (in Provo) made the decision to allow caffeinated beverages on campus, administration at BYU (in Idaho) made the conscious decision to continue the caffeine ban on their campus. My uninformed guess is that the GAs know about all this variability and probably recognize it's not necessarily the most important of all commandments but don't want to risk alienating conservative members by loosening up the standards but also don't want to alienate more progressive members with strong statements. So it's a hill they don't want to die on. My guess is that alcohol and tobacco (and related products) will always be forbidden but there will be a slow gradual evolution towards looking the other way when members drink coffee or tea. Maybe. We'll see.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
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Roy
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Roy »

My doctor told me to only drink coffee, unsweetened tea, or water (rather than sugary drinks). If the WoW was intended for health benefits then the coffee and tea parts do not seem to be helping.

I see it mostly as a cultural marker now, a way to divide the in group from the out group.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

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Roy
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by Roy »

PazamaManX wrote: 03 Jun 2022, 10:12 I was scrolling through Facebook and an article came up about an LDS NHL player and how giving up coffee has been a blessing for him, yada yada yada.... In the comments, one person commented on the benefits of coffee and keeping the spirit of the WoW. A reply to his comment berated him for not following the prophet and trying to deceive members with worldly things.
It is interesting what we can frame as being a blessing for us. Even major difficulties can be reframed as blessings because maybe they taught us an important lesson, or were character building, or the kept us from an even greater calamity. I happily support people's perceptions about what is and is not a blessing for them. We all have the right to tell our own story in whatever way helps us to find purpose and meaning.

The comment section is the worst place to have a decent discussion about almost anything. In many comment sections, there is a total lack of civility and everyone feels attacked.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
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PazamaManX
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by PazamaManX »

Gerald wrote: 05 Jun 2022, 05:24 My uninformed guess is that the GAs know about all this variability and probably recognize it's not necessarily the most important of all commandments but don't want to risk alienating conservative members by loosening up the standards but also don't want to alienate more progressive members with strong statements. So it's a hill they don't want to die on. My guess is that alcohol and tobacco (and related products) will always be forbidden but there will be a slow gradual evolution towards looking the other way when members drink coffee or tea. Maybe. We'll see.
That's something I hadn't thought about, but there might be some truth to that. Back in 2019 when a clarification was published in the New Era about vaping, coffee tea, etc. the article didn't have any GAs list as the author. I did also hear that someone from the publishers said that was an oversight or something, but still. It also doesn't help that the standards of what the WoW encompasses varies at the local level. A past stake president of mine once said in stake conference he would not give anyone who drank coke a temple recommend and yet coke is served in some temple cafeterias. In places where marijuana is legal like Colorado, I've heard of people getting TRs while still being open casual smokers. But, cross the border into Utah and good luck with that.


Roy wrote: 05 Jun 2022, 09:18 My doctor told me to only drink coffee, unsweetened tea, or water (rather than sugary drinks). If the WoW was intended for health benefits then the coffee and tea parts do not seem to be helping.

I see it mostly as a cultural marker now, a way to divide the in group from the out group.
Tea is definitely something that IMO the church shouldn't have gone so hard on. It is probably their biggest divergence from reality. Take Japan and green tea for example. How anyone can say that something guzzled by the healthiest and longest lived country in the world is an unhealthy drink, with a straight face, is beyond me.

Another thing I find funny about it being about health, is that it's good for your health until your doctor tells you otherwise. My mother-in-law for example, had a glass of wine at night suggested to her by her doctor for headaches. Since is was for "medicinal purposes", her bishop said it was okay. Do any other commandments get a hall pass from professionals? Say hypothetically, a marriage counselor suggested that a couple try swinging. Would that exempt them from the law of chastity?
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson
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nibbler
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by nibbler »

PazamaManX wrote: 05 Jun 2022, 12:32 Back in 2019 when a clarification was published in the New Era about vaping, coffee tea, etc. the article didn't have any GAs list as the author.
Some thoughts:

1) It was published in the New Era. Not to say that the New Era isn't as official as any other church publication, but it's interesting that they chose the New Era over the Ensign/Liahona, a letter to be read over the pulpit on Sunday, or even general conference. My guess is that they were targeting youth because they were afraid the youth weren't taking total abstinence to the extremes leaders wanted them to.

2) There were two articles in that New Era on the WoW.

Excerpt from the first (The Word of Wisdom: What It Is, What It Isn’t):
What the Word of Wisdom is not

President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015), President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught us what the Word of Wisdom is not:
...
3. An excuse to be obsessive.
“Learn to use moderation and common sense in matters of health and nutrition, and particularly in medication. Avoid being extreme or fanatical or becoming a faddist” (a faddist is someone who follows every trend).
Excerpt from the second (Vaping, Coffee, Tea, and Marijuana):
If you’re in a coffee shop (or any other shop that’s well-known for its coffee), the drink you’re ordering probably has coffee in it, so either never buy drinks at coffee shops or always ask if there’s coffee in it.
Never buy drinks at a coffee shop on the off chance your drink contains a little coffee. That sounds a lot like "an excuse to be obsessive." We recognize that adding a ban on soft drinks to the WoW is being obsessive. We have a much harder time realizing that total and complete abstinence is also an extreme. If we truly did follow the counsel of what the WoW is not, "learn to use moderation and common sense" we wouldn't be quizzing people in coffee shops to guarantee our non-coffee drink was never within a three foot radius of a drink that contained coffee and we wouldn't be drinking milk in bars to avoid the appearance of drinking alcohol.
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nibbler
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Re: The prophet and coffee

Post by nibbler »

PazamaManX wrote: 05 Jun 2022, 12:32 Another thing I find funny about it being about health, is that it's good for your health until your doctor tells you otherwise. My mother-in-law for example, had a glass of wine at night suggested to her by her doctor for headaches. Since is was for "medicinal purposes", her bishop said it was okay. Do any other commandments get a hall pass from professionals? Say hypothetically, a marriage counselor suggested that a couple try swinging. Would that exempt them from the law of chastity?
Totally down to leadership roulette. Where that particular gun has two bullets instead of one (BP and SP interviews).

It's a hypothetical, but you'd have to find a marriage counselor that would suggest such a thing and you'd have to find a BP and a SP that respected the counsel of a marriage counselor that would suggest such a thing. I doubt those stars ever align.

Wrong or right, I think people place more faith in medical professionals' recommendations than they do in psychologist/therapists' recommendations. The rules of if > then typically have a better track record in the physical sphere (set a broken leg this way, it heals) than they do in the mental sphere (too many unknown variables).
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