Dec 26, 2008

When The Word Of Wisdom Leaves You Lacking In Wisdom

As I said in a previous post, I have no problem living the Word of Wisdom.

Or rather, I have no problem living the Word of Wisdom when I understand exactly what the Word of Wisdom includes.

I've come to realize that there are a lot of Word of Wisdom grey areas, or certain parts about it that we're all a little fuzzy on. Sometimes I've had friends ask me, "Can you eat/drink this?" And I have to say, "Uh... I don't know, so I guess I better not just to be safe." That happened to me many years ago when I was out with a Chinese friend and was served green tea, which, silly me, thought was soup. It was in a little bowl and looked like soup and I was about to try it, but when he said it was green tea, I had to decline. Later on I discovered that it's black tea that's included in the Word of Wisdom. And green tea isn't black.

Ah, but it's because of the caffeine. That's what makes green tea off limits, right?

Tell that to all the Mormons who drink Coke and still get a temple recommend.

So caffeine isn't what makes something OK or not OK. Right?

Depends on who you ask.

I'm going to list some Word of Wisdom questions that I've had but have never really found a concrete answer to. Maybe some of you know better than I do, or are also confused:
  • I grew up believing that ANY tea that wasn't herbal was bad. I believed this until, ironically, I happened to sit in on the missionary discussions when I was in Germany. This was before "Preach My Gospel" and The Elders had those flip-cards with phrases and pictures. Under the Word of Wisdom section, it listed the usual alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and "schwarzer tee," or "black tea." OK, so what does that mean? I worked in the food section of Wal-Mart once and I use to peruse all the different kids of tea. The English "Earl Grey" teas did say "black tea" on the label, so it was clear that those would be out. But then there were all these yummy-smelling other teas that looked red, yellow, green, but were not considered "black tea," nor "herbal tea." Now, if I were a German investigator, I would assume that any tea that wasn't black would be OK -- such as green tea, for example. But green tea has caffeine. Does that make it bad? If so, then decaffeinated green tea must be OK, right? Ah, but it's not herbal tea. However, it's not black. Confused? Me too.
  • Browsing through recipes for chocolate cake in various magazines here, I discovered that almost all of them call for a small amount of coffee. I make my own cake and it's fine without it, but what happens when you get invited to someone's house, they serve you a piece of cake, which you know probably contains coffee? When I did my temple prep classes, the brother teaching them seemed to say that something like coffee in baked goods is not something we should worry about too much and that we shouldn't obsess over the Word of Wisdom. And yet I've heard of some Mormons not even using vanilla in cookie batter.
  • Speaking of coffee, is decaf OK? I remember my parents' home teacher, who was a temple worker at the time, mentioning how he had stopped by the local donut shop to get his cup of decaf. I remember being surprised that decaf was OK because I had understood all coffee -- decaf or not -- to be a no-no. I still find it hard to believe that decaf is OK, but maybe it is?
  • Are there any rules about cooking with alcohol (i.e. wine)? I knew an Italian brother in my home ward who cooked authentic Italian food and used wine because, according to him, the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process. I've heard others say this, but I've also heard that it doesn't evaporate completely. So what do you do when you discover that a delicious cream sauce or an Italian soup contains wine? Should you get rid of it or not worry about it? Just the other day, I was in a hurry and picked up a microwavable meal that was discounted because it was about to expire. When I got home, I noticed that the label said it contained white wine. When I checked the list of ingredients it said "white wine powder." I felt torn for a few seconds but then I thought, "Dang it, I'm not going to throw out a perfectly good meal just because of that."
  • Red wine vinegar. Do you/would you use it?
  • And then there is "alcohol free" beer and wine. I've never tried any of these products, first of all because I don't think I'd like them (at least not the beer), and second of all because most of them aren't entirely alcohol-free. With a few exceptions, they usually contain trace amounts of alcohol, around 0.5%. My dad used to tell me about something called "Texas Pride," near-beer which contained 0% alcohol and was brought to the Church picnic by a member who later went on to become an Area Authority. As far as I know, no one had a problem with it.
On the one hand, it's not like I'm dying to consume any of these things. But on the other hand, when it's served to me, it would be nice to know whether it's worth disappointing my host or drawing strange looks by declining something if I don't have to decline it. It would certainly be nice to say with confidence, "Yes, I can drink green tea," or "Actually, I don't drink any kind of tea. Sorry."

By the way, the picture above is of "Munkholm" alcohol-free beer which I've seen some members of the Church drink here in Norway. It was even served at a Mormon wedding that I attended. It's got 0% alcohol and if I thought I'd like it, I wouldn't have a problem drinking it.

What about "the appearance of evil?" If you were out at a restaurant with a bunch of friends, would you feel strange holding a bottle that looks like that?

29 comments:

Lisa said...

I've actually been working on a similar topic for an entry lately, though I'm positive mine would resemble more of a "rationalization" post.

It's all very confusing. I was told all teas, except herbal, were off limits.

I had one strong friend who rejected all cokes and pepsis.

Another strong friend who drank Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew.

???

As for alcohol, I've always avoided using any for cooking. My husband recently (within the past year) brought home the cheapest bottle of vodka possible so he could make homemade coconut extract. It took me a while, but it is just like pure vanilla extract.

I had no idea some members reject that, too. I wonder if they don't take their cold meds, either.

DH says there are some who won't drink hot chocolate because it's a "hot drink"

Screw that.

Anymore, I would buy wine for cooking. I have used red wine vinegar before.

I'm over the appearance of evil crap. It's between God and me, not the gossipy lady at church and me. God knows what I'm doing and why, and that's all that matters. If someone wants to judge based on so little, that's their problem.

Ugh, now I need to go work on my post! 'cept I've a very sick baby :(

Thanks for the topic, FD. Interesting indeed.

Bored in Vernal said...

Here's my personal WofW:

Teas: I drink only herbal varieties

Soda: Occasionally I drink Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper, while feeling extremely guilty

Hot Chocolate: that would be a yes

Coffee: I think it's OK to have it in cake or ice cream or candy, but I never have.

Wine: I think it's OK to cook with it, but I never have

Near Beer: I think it's OK, but I've never tried it

Medicine: I have never taken anything but Tylenol, but I don't look down on those who do

Coffee: I think decaf is out. I have tried Postum but don't like it.

Vanilla, etc.: I have used every type of extract there is.

Your mileage may vary

Natalie said...

All very interesting questions....

As far as the coffee and tea thing goes, when my husband was taking the missionary lessons 3 1/2 years ago, they said that it wasn't the caffeine, but the "catanic acid" (sp?) that made it prohibited, and that it existed in coffee beans (which means decaf was out) and in green and black tea (or all but herbal). Apparently the stuff eats away at your stomach linings?

I have no idea if this was doctrinal stuff or what.

And I don't think I'd cook with wine, just because I have no idea how to tell when the alcohol is actually gone, but I definitely order pasta dishes at restaurants that come in a white or red wine, or even vodka sauce. I figure, if they can sell it to people who aren't of drinking age, it must be okay.

As for caffeine in general, I don't drink it for entirely non-religious reasons. It's just not good for you. But I don't think it's forbidden in the WoW, and I have no problem with my hubby taking the occasional Coke or Mountain Dew. And, I've HAD caffeinated beverages plenty of times in the past (just don't like them), whereas I've never touched a drop of alcohol.

And I'm confused with all this talk of extracts.... what could be wrong with vanilla extract? I use that stuff all the time. Why do some people worry about it?

Lula O said...

I agree with Lisa, I don't go for the appearance of evil talk. Do whatever works for you. My husband is diabetic and when he's tired of diet coke he drinks Odouls, a non-beer product from Coors I think, because it only has a few calories. He could care less what anyone thinks. It's really no one's business.

Personally, I don't think the WofW includes tea and coffee because of tanic acid, as they knew very little of what was contained in those drinks at the time. Smoking, alcohol, coffee and tea are all as horribly addicting then as they are now. I think that's why they were included, in my humble opinion.

Of course, Joseph Smith hadn't planned on someone extracting that addictive main ingredient and putting it a lovely sugary drink I like to call heaven, or else he would have written - tea, coffee, and anything that has those same ingredients...

Not using vanilla?? That's probably the weirdest thing I've ever heard.

Not cook with cooking wine, or red wine vinegar? Sounds way too over the top to me. I use it all the time in Italian dishes and one heck of a cucumber salad! And anyone who's ever eaten at an Italian cafe has definitely had it in their food.

I love Ben and Jerry's coffee and toffee ice cream...and tiramisu.

A favorite joke of a non-member friend of mine says it all -

What's the difference between a Mormon's and a non-Mormon's favorite 'pick me up by the boot straps' drink?

Temperature

The Faithful Dissident said...

Tiramisu, that's a good one! I had that served to me once, not really knowing what it was. I could taste the coffee right away, but only once I was done did my hostess mention the cognac. I felt so guilty afterwards... :)

The one I've been most interested to hear your perspectives on is the cooking with alcohol because I'm always afraid that I might have to say no to an entire dinner if there is a wine sauce or something. Even though I don't eat meat, I eat a bit of fish, and I think a fair number of white sauces will have a dash of white wine. I remember when I went to Germany the first time for a summer course and my host mother did all the cooking, I remember seeing wine bottles on the counter and although I didn't actually see it, I think that she probably used it in some of her cooking. So I just hoped that she didn't and tried to forget about it. I certainly couldn't actually taste any alcohol in the food.

Lula O made a good point about Italian food. We went to Tuscany a couple years ago and the food was AMAZING! Best food in the world! I love soups and sauces and since everything was authentic, I assume that at least some of them had some wine in them. In Germany, I discovered that they even put booze in ice cream.

Like Natalie, I avoid caffeine simply for health reasons. I'm not a soda drinker anyways, mostly because of the sugar, so my only source of caffeine is from chocolate.

Lots of medicines contain alcohol. I used to take grape Dimetapp, an antihistamine, and it tasted amazing! Gave Welch's grape juice a run for its money. :)

To all the sisters, I once took one of those pills for PMS cramps and then I read the label. Loaded (and I mean loaded!) with caffeine. So I never took another one.

Natalie, about the vanilla extract, I think it's only the pure vanilla extract that probably contains a bit of alcohol. Whether it does or it doesn't, cookies just aren't cookies without vanilla. :)

John said...
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John said...

To me, there is always the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law, and this especially applies to things like the Word of Wisdom.

So what is the spirit in which the Word of Wisdom was intended? Well, if we actually read the scripture, it's not even a commandment ("To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom").

In fact, it wasn't even adhered to by most members (including General Authorities) until the end of the 19th century. When Joseph Smith sent missionaries out in the early days of the Church, he used to tell them specifically not to adhere to the WOW too strictly, as it would turn off investigators offering them tea, coffee, or a drink.

Joseph Smith drank smuggled wine in the Carthage jail on the night he was assassinated by the mob, and his close friend and fellow member, Porter Rockwell, opened a bar in Joseph Smith's mansion house in Nauvoo (until Emma Smith got upset and told Joseph she didn't like crowd it attracted).

In reading early Church history books, they will often include letters between General Authorities talking (as if in passing...you know, like it was no big deal) about having coffee, tea, or alcohol being served at various meetings.

In Truman G. Madsen's talks about the Presidents of the Church, he mentions David O. McKay giving Joseph Fielding Smith a hard time because he was such a stickler on the WOW and refused to drink decaffeinated coffee.

Anyway,I think the real point of the WOW is just as it says, "Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints".
In other words, you can never become a drunkard or an addict if you simply avoid something entirely, and we really don't have a way of knowing if we are "weak" in terms of becoming addicts until we actually become an addict or a drunkard, right?

The real danger in these substances, I believe, is intoxication, addiction, and harm to our health. When we consume something like non-alcoholic beer, which is not intoxicating (doing the math, you'd have to drink 16 non-alcoholic beers at 0.5% alcohol to equal one regular beer which has about 8%)is not addicting, and is only harmful in that it is high in calories (which may be a health advantage if you have a low caloric intake).

Unfortunately, the interpretation of the Word of Wisdom seems to have evolved with time, from Mormon doctrine to Mormon dogma. I personally know members that eat meat at every meal, and overindulge in those foods most detrimental to one's health, but will stop talking to an individual for such "moral outrages" like seeing someone walk into a Starbucks ("One must avoid the appearance of evil!" is the usual argument). Talk about missing the mark!

The Faithful Dissident said...
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The Faithful Dissident said...

I remember being taught in church that the wine that is mentioned in the Bible (i.e. Jesus turning water into wine, the wine used in the Last Supper, etc.) was non-fermented pure grape juice. I remember telling that to a friend of another Christian denomination and he thought it was a load of crap. Now so do I.

Just today in church we read the specifics about the partaking of the sacrament in the Book of Mormon and it specifically says "wine." That Latter-day leaders were instructed to use water instead of wine today is understandable, but it's hard to dispute that the wine mentioned in scripture was exactly that. And I doubt anyone cared to make alcohol-free wine in those days. Why the need to make up stories about grape juice?

Karene said...

I had a lot to say after reading this post, but wasn't able to comment immediately. Now I can pretty much sum up my response in a resounding "Amen" to what John had to say.

I've heard the same thing about the wine in the Bible and the early Church just being grape juice. I don't think it matters whether it was or whether it wasn't (and really, we have no way of knowing). If it was alcoholic wine, apparently the Lord decided that we shouldn't use it anymore. It may be just one of those Church practices that have evolved over time. Even if it was grape juice, again...apparently the Lord decided we should use water instead.

This reminds me of something really interesting that happened in our ward last week...my husband was responsible to provide the sacrament bread for the month of December. We eat mostly wheat bread so he usually just brought a loaf from home each Sunday. Last Sunday, after three weeks of this, the bishop told him that people had been complaining to him about the use of wheat bread for the sacrament. Evidently, these people claimed that it was inappropriate to use wheat bread because white bread is symbolic of Christ.

Maybe I'm way off, but THAT is one of the more ridiculous things I've heard lately.

Cindy said...

I've seen you around the blogs but this is the first time I've visited yours and I have to tell you I'm loving it. I can relate to a lot of what I'm reading here. Keep up the good work!

Shar said...

Ha Ha! I second what John said, "from Mormon doctrine to Mormon dogma."

I couldn't agree more. I think we need to choose what we eat wisely, but we also need to be practical about things.

The avoiding of extracts seems a little silly to me, although, it wouldn't surprise me if there are people out there who do that.

I'm okay with green tea, although, I do feel terribly guilty about it and try to limit it to when I am sick.

Soda with caffeine I have no problem with, although I think it can become an addiction for some.

I also don't mind cooking with alcohol because I think whatever is left is negligible.

I agree with Lisa. It's between me and God. I don't care much anymore what the gossipy lady at church thinks.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Karene, that's funny about the bread. We've used whole-wheat bread with seeds and sprinkled bran sometimes in my ward. Your husband should have said that using white bread is actually against the Word of Wisdom because it says we should use whole grains. If they wanna get really technical. :)

My guess is that if it really was just grape juice, it wouldn't have been changed to water. Using Welch's would have perhaps made the sacrament more authentic that way -- and tastier. :)

I had always assumed that the early members practiced the Word of Wisdom immediately after Joseph Smith received the revelation, until I read "Rough Stone Rolling" and realized that it took quite some time before it was really "enforced."

Cindy, thanks for stopping by and for the nice compliment. :)

Gay LDS Actor said...

I'm with John on this one.

For me, I really think the Word of Wisdom is mainly about moderation in all things and staying away from things that are unhealthy or unsafe.

I, too, think it is a "spirit of the law" thing rather than a "letter of the law" thing (which is how I feel about most things, so take my words for what their worth).

For example, there's nothing about drinking antifreeze in the Word of Wisdom, but that seems like a no brainer. It would be harmful or unsafe to drink it, so I suggest God's law would advise against drinking antifreeze.

Alcohol, drugs, nicotine, coffee, etc. are potentially addictive substances which is why I think we are advised against partaking of them. However, I would suggest that someone who drinks Coca-Cola every day or who gorges on ice cream is more in violation of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom than someone who takes a medicinal teaspoon of wine every once in a while.

I see obese Mormons over at the Chuck-A-Rama buffet here in Salt Lake City shoveling food down their throats like there is no tomorrow, and I think they're probably more in violation of what the spirit of the Word of Wisdom is really about than, say, someone who has an occasional glass of wine once a month.

That being said, I have never been interested in drinking or smoking in the slightest. They just aren't temptations for me. I've never done drugs, but the occasional dose of nitrous oxide at the dentist's office does help me understand the draw. I do think that any substance that causes us to lose control and do things our spirit shouldn't do is a danger.

I have an occasional cup of coffee (decaf, by the way) every once in a while. I also have a serious ice cream addiction (seriously, if there were a Betty Ford clinic for ice cream addiction, I think I would have to go). I am under the belief that my overeating of ice cream is a far more serious violation of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom than my occasional drink of coffee. I think the fact that I rarely exercise is more in violation of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom than eating some food cooked with wine. I think that frequently pigging out at a buffet is more in violation with the spirit of the Word of Wisdom than buying an occasional decaf mocha frappucino once every couple of months.

That's just my opinion, but maybe, as Lisa inferred about herself, it's more of a way of rationalizing my choices.

I remember in geology class many years ago our teacher was showing us what carbonic acid could do to a rock. I poured a small amount on my sample rock, and it burned a little hole in the rock. He said this same acid was found (in trace amounts) in the soda we drank. I would imagine years and years of drinking soda (both with its carbonic acid and sugar) would do terrible things to one's stomach lining and/or teeth. I would imagine the huge amounts of chocolate or caffinated beverages I see many Mormons indulge in are not particularly healthy. Yet there's no official proclamation on that. Studies have shown that wine taken in moderation can be beneficial in reducing heart disease, help prevent the common cold, can cut risk of a stroke, and cause fewer kidney stones. Yet we're pretty much told no wine...ever! I really think it has to do with moderation in all things, no matter what. I understand the reasons for commanding people not to drink alcohol or coffee, for example, because they can become addictive. I know a girl who can't function if she doesn't have her morning coffee. That, to me, is unhealthy. But I am of the opinion that one is not going to hell for drinking an occasional cup of coffee or eating something with alcohol in it (especially on accident).

My two cents.

The Faithful Dissident said...

You bring up an interesting point about the nitrous oxide at the dentist. Although I doubt that I have an addictive personality, none of us really know until we're actually there. When I had my wisdom teeth out years ago (I was awake for it) and was given painkillers to take afterwards (codeine, I think), I took one and felt AMAZING. Had the best sleep of my life and felt like I was in heaven. No medication has ever affected me like that before or since (not even valium, which the dental surgeon gave me to take the night before the extraction). I only took one of those codeine pills, even though I had more, because I wasn't really in pain. But I remember thinking that I could sort of see how people can become addicted to drugs when they are in physical or mental pain and when drugs can take you on such a great trip. I've often suffered from a lot of stress and anxiety in my life. Who's to say that I wouldn't have become an addict if I had tried something to "take the stress away?" Also, I LOVE grape juice. The best, of course, is Welch's, and I can drink it by the litre. For all I know, I could have become an alcoholic through wine drinking because of my love for all things grape.

I used to think that addictions -- whether drugs or alcohol -- were things that just required willpower. Now I know that they're not. Willpower needs to be exercised in the stage before we take that first drink or first joint because after that, there is always the potential for addiction.

derekstaff said...

AFAIK, there is no official doctrine on decaf. I know of one bishop who permitted decaf. His successor would not, which was rather frustrating for those who now had to give it up.

The whole "pure wine of the grape" line is bogus, a fiction seemingly adopted wholescale by Mormons from the early 20th century temperance movement among progressive Protestantism. The truth is that the civilizations of the Classical era didn't have the technology or biological understanding to prevent fermentation if they wanted. Their "grape juice" was alcoholic within a few days whether they wanted or not.

I'm on the "Spirit of the law" side. Keep your body healthy. I don't try to isolate what chemicals are supposedly at root of the bans. I don't know whether caffeine is the big issue in coffee or tea. But I do know that all pop is loaded with sugars, that carbonation messes with your blood, etc, so I avoid pop of any variety. Because I've never heard of anyone becoming intoxicated from eating foods cooked in wine, I'm not to worried about cooking with wine. I have heard of people becoming plastered while cooking with wine ("1/4 cup of Merlot for the sauce, and 1 cup of Merlot for me..."), but that really isn't an issue for me. I don't cook with coffee, but I wouldn't freak out if someone offered me a cake with coffee (and I'm tempted to brew the stuff as potpourri--I lovethe aroma!). I'm minimizing my meat consumption, and maximizing my (whole) grains and veggies.

Keep the big picture in mind, and you should be okay.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Derek, that's interesting about the two bishops and their differing view about decaf. Seems sort of unfair to be so inconsistent. Suddenly someone is not temple worthy just because the ward gets a new bishop.

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of reading about "the appearance of evil." The phrase comes from the King James Version of 1 Thessalonians. Now, the KJV was a fine version in time, and it still has much value. But something has happened in the last 400 years to the English language: The meaning of some words has changed.

And one of those words is "appearance." Paul is not saying, abstain from various activities because they may appear evil. What he is saying, and what the 17th-century reader would have understood him to say is, abstain from all kinds of evil or (to get a little bit closer to the KJV language) abstain from anything that involves evil appearing.

Now there very well may be good reason to avoid those things that give the impression of wrongdoing. But the reasons are ones of pragmatism, not scriptural admonition.

And, for what it's worth, they now serve real coffee, not just decaf, at the Polynesian Cultural Center, as well as caffeinated Pepsi.

Anonymous said...

To put another spin on the word of wisdom -- to me the overall goal of it is to treat your body well, and maintain it in good shape (physical health = increased spiritual health). To me, people who abuse any substance are technically in some form breaking the word of wisdom, no? For example, we are taught to "eat meat sparingly". So are people who consume copious amounts of fatty red meat, who have high blood pressure, are over weight, and are out of shape, and who don't consume a balanced diet any better than someone who cooks w/ the occassional wine, or has a cup of tea when offered in a social setting? Is the meat eater not damaging their body more? I'm not pushing the usual suspects (alcohol, tobacco, coffee/tea) aside, but I think it's everything in moderation, and a total package deal with what, & how much we put into our bodies (in general), and take care of our bodies (exercise).

The Faithful Dissident said...

Anonymous, I agree. All we have to do is look at the average American diet and compare it to, for example, the Mediterranean diet. In places like Italy, people drink wine probably almost daily, but in moderation, and eat a diet rich in healthy oils, fresh produce, and little meat. A North American, on the other hand, may never touch alcohol or coffee, but consume lots of salt, trans-fat, and eat very little fresh produce. There's no question in my mind what's better for the body. And what's good for the body is good for the spirit, in my opinion. That doesn't mean, of course, that I need to drink wine in order to be healthy. I'm blessed enough to have a wide variety of healthy food choices -- even non-alcoholic grape juice! :)

Allie said...

This is a bit old, but I have to say I'm glad it's water not grape juice (or anything else) during the sacrament, because fairly regularly, one of my kids dumps their little cup all over themselves (or me).

:)

What Derek said about one Bishop being okay with decaf and one not... I've been feeling really frustrated lately, because I feel like I have a testimony, but because I have issues over prop 8, depending on the personal views of a local leader, I could lose my temple recommend.

That just doesn't sit well with me. I have to keep reminding myself that no one is perfect, so I need to have as much patience with the imperfections of local leaders as I would want them to have with me. Tough anyway.

Anonymous said...

The Word of Wisdom was given, "not by way of commandment, but as a Word of Wisdom to the Wise." Today it is treated as a commandment but the LDS Church. In the vernacular of the day "hard spirits" (distilled spirits) were already distinguished from wine and beer as they remain today and so the reference to their medicinal use externally is consistent with this interpretation. Who ever heard of pouring wine or beer over an open wound for sterilization purposes to qualify these in the same sense as they are advocated for medicinal use doctrine? Wine should never have been proscribed from use in the Sacrament for the LDS faith, and the thin and flimsy lie about "wine" being served at The Last Supper being actually grape juice should be challenged and condemned. Give me one LDS scholar who can provide sufficient justification for how the Hebrew word in the original text could have been meant to infer grape juice rather than wine. I think they are so full of baloney.

Tom and Layne Fender said...

caffeine is not against the word of wisdom, and is okay in moderation. we do not drink tea or coffe because of the tea leaf and coffee bean.at least that is how it has been explained to me.

Anonymous said...

When i joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints, i was surprised when I was asked if I would be willing to stop drinking iced tea. My response was “if the Lord wants me to”. I hadn’t known that iced tea was bad.
I was already totally on board with other aspects of the word of wisdom. I had been a Mennonite and never used tobacco, alcohol, or coffee (there may have been a few exceptions: tasted wine at a wedding once, never used tobacco, never liked the smell or taste of coffee- but many Mennonites do- but I often drank iced tea especially when younger). Also, I had knew people whose lives had become poor and miserable because of their addition to alcohol etc. As far as the “grey areas” they have confused me sometimes also as far as what is acceptable or not. That’s what led me to this blog because of a question I recently had concerning the W.o.w. but not just looking to the internet but to the Lord and priesthood leaders and the scriptures and prayer. But we are also told to “study it out” when we are looking for an answer. (check out the May outline for Come follow me LDS website talks about how to receive personal revelation from the Lord) Anyway when I joined the Church i did stop drinking iced tea by faith and obedience to the testimony i had received from the Lord that the Church/missionaries/Book of Mormon etc was from Him. I figured I would rather error on the side of missing out on a little of something I wanted instead of risking compromising my faith/religion.
Interestingly, I have found out according to some rumors (by non members of the Church) that drinking a lot of iced tea causes kidney stones. But regardless of that I choose to follow the Wow not just for intellectual reasons but by faith.
After I had joined the Church, one time my Mom made what had been a favorite cake of mine for the dessert of a family birthday meal celebration she invited me to. But as she served it to me in front of my family, I remembered that the cake used coffee in the recipe, which I questioned and realized that I didn’t want to eat it anymore if that was the case. I think that was a very awkward moment for all of us. But not the end of the world. We all still love each other and respect each others beliefs and choices. As a matter of fact, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that the word of wisdom provides an opportunity to be different from the world and even from many other Christians everyday habits, which can lead to great everyday opportunities to share my faith in the restored Gospel with others. It can be an ice breaker and excuse to open my mouth and talk about my faith, as otherwise I may never had said anything because of my tendency to be shy.
For example, one time a co worker bought me a drink that was made with tea as one of its ingredients. I said thanks so much for thinking of me and getting that treat for me, but I’m sorry, I can’t drink anything with tea in it because of my religion. Again, a little akward at first, but to this day we are good friends, and it opened up an opportunity for further questions from my friend to learn more about the Church. I find most people are respectful of my choice to follow the word of wisdom. It helps if you are confident and have your mind made up.
Interestingly, another time after I had joined the Church, I was at a Non-Mormon Bible study, and the Leader challenged the group, would you be willing to give up anything for the Lord, and he used coffee as an example! “if the Lord wanted you to give up coffee would you do it?” He was just using an example, as many Christians even provide coffee at their Churches. I don’t think he was aware of or referring to the word of wisdom on purpose. Unfortanulty I was too shy that time to speak up about it, it could have been an opportunity to share about what we believe as “Mormons”.

Anonymous said...

As far as the appearance of evil, although there is a time to not worry about what others think, and generally following Christ means not pleasing other people, but i think this is something to take into consideration, especially considering that in Romans 14 it talks about the importance and blessing it brings to others when we consider what impact our actions may have on newer believers who are struggling with grey areas. Its not just about the gossiping ladies, that’s their problem, its about the newer believer who is struggling with these issues and the impact for good or bad you can have on him. Everyone is at different places in life and in their faith and maturity. As a matter of fact, as I’ve grown closer to the Lord over the years, I find my focus has shifted from not only on my individual relationship with Him but also a desire of how the Lord can use me to be a blessing to other people all around me each day.
Some think the Wow is man made rules - “legalism” - but I have a testimony its wisdom inspired by God for our good. I noticed ever since I discovered the Church that many of the members look happy and healthy compared to the general population, at least from what I’ve experienced. Wisdom is proved by the results it produces. Also, intellectual arguments one way or the other won’t always show the complete picture, for example when God told Moses to tell the people to look at the snake to be healed, it was a spiritual reason beyond our limited human intellectual ability. or when a prophet told a Leper to simply dip in the water to be healed. Sometimes the Lord just wants childlike obedience i believe and will bless those who are diligent. although at the same time i shouldn't judge those who are less strict and feel comfortable getting closer to the line. Though I’m still a little confused about a few things if they do or don’t qualify for the Word of Wisdom, Overall I’m very thankful for the Church and the blessings it brings into my life seen, and unseen. I’d rather error on staying a safe distance from the cliff than seeing how close I can get.

Anonymous said...

also i believe there was a recent conference talk that talked about the use of all kinds of medicine is ok when approved by a competent medical professional to you for your specefic situation.

Kate H said...
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Kate H said...
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Kate H said...

I was curious about if green tea is ok. The church only has stated "black tea". Green tea is insanely healthy and can cure some inflammatory conditions (at least get rid of the symptoms of it). So i researched further. What coffee and black tea have in common is fermentation. Green tea is pure,fresh tea leaf. I had someone say "but it is still from the same plant so it doesn't matter." To which I say, wine is fermented grapes, same plant, so therefore you cannot eat grapes because it is from the same plant as how we get wine.
When the tea leaf is fermented, it loses the powerful health benefit that the white or green tea leaf have. Caffeine IS NOT against the WoW.the prophet even drinks Dr Pepper.