Word of Wisdom

by Pista Jan2012

Something just got me thinking about the word of wisdom, and I looked it up to refresh my memory on a point. Something I had forgotten about until I saw it again was the verse that reads, ". . .not by commandment or constraint. . ."

The revelation was explicitly given NOT as commandment, but now I hear people use the phrase, "word of wisdom problem" as though someone were eating babies. I remember hearing lots of old stories about people being much looser with the idea than they are now?

When did the WOW become a commandment? I have posted before that Mormons fixate on the WOW because it is concrete and therefore easier to judge and control.

Does anyone know about the history of how or when this change occurred?

Why does my uncle treat me like pariah if I cook with wine, while he weighs 300+ lbs from eating meat year round? I don't think the gobs of sugar he eats are doing much to help him "run and not be weary." The magic of snubbing smokers just doesn't seem to be helping him.

It was Brigham Young, 1850's and 1860's...
...prior to that it appears the WoW was considered optional/discretionary. The myth of the brethren giving up tobacco on the spot when Joseph Smith issued the revelation is just...a myth. Heck, he was drinking right before his martyrdom.


Re: Word of Wisdom
All depends on context

if you mention an obese bishop wolfing down pork at every sitting, then it's ". . .not by commandment or constraint. . ."

if you mention an member enjoying a cappuccino, then they are 'playing dice with their eternal salvation'

Re: Word of Wisdom
It was voted a commandment after Brigham was finally able to give up tobacco. If memory serves it was in the 1860's. Prior to that time the church provided spitoons in the tabernacle.

Just as a side story. Brigham sent farmers to Southern Utah (Dixie) to grow tobacco and grapes for wine. The problem was that all the hard money in the territory was going outsiders for the purchase of these commodities. Tobacco and Wine were accepted at the Bishops Storehouse as tithing until the 1930's (once again that date is from memory.

The wines of the Four Corners used to be available in the Utah state liquor stores. I've tasted some nice dessert whites.

I saw, a long time ago, a temperence pamplette that was circulating at the time that Emma joined the movement and irritated the prophet into receiving the word of wisdom. Plagerism was indeed Joseph's long suit.

SpongeBob SquareGarments
John Taylor said in 1886...
Not strict until 20th century:

The LDS Church didn‘t adopt a strict adherence to the Word of Wisdom until well into the 20th century. Consider this statement from John Taylor in 1886:

"The Word of Wisdom as originally given was sent not by commandment or constraint, but … for the temporal salvation of all Saints in these days‖ … [N]o rule has been formulated, nor law proclaimed, nor counsel given since that time which makes its strict observance necessary to receive ordinances … in the temples."‖(The Development of LDS Temple Worship, Devery Anderson, pg 61)

Check out this interesting essay by Jim Whitfield on the WOW:


Re: Word of Wisdom
Here's an interesting read from UTLM:

Richard the Bad
Re: Word of Wisdom
I haven't been to church in a long, long time. But even in the 1970's a lot of it depended where you lived. In the backwaters where I grew up, a long way from zion, it was overlooked to a large extent.

But then, if they had enforced it there wouldn't have been enough people in the little branch to take care of business.

Re: Word of Wisdom
In my opinion non of this matters.

The promise that is given if you live the wow is a lie.

i have known many who lived the principal all their lives. Only to have incurable chronic or fatal illness. No wow, no ph blessings, no amount of faith and temple visits made a difference.

In the end....the wow is outed by the real life evidence of thousands who suffer in spite of living the law.

Joe Laban
Re: Word of Wisdom
UT is the highest user of prozac and like drugs. Gordo said that caffienated drinks were against the WOW. Hell, the prophet does not know what the WOW is. Making it a commandment took the ability to have the members apply the WOW to other areas in there lives like the over use of prozac. Commandments are black and white, wisdom is universal. So it is better to drink diet Mountain Dew rather than a cup of tea or coffee. I can not have a beer but members can pop pills all day long. Fucking amazing.

Re: Word of Wisdom
Someone posted awhile back stating that they saw or knoew someone who was somewhat close to Monson and Monson loves his Pepsi...

So just the prophet before said no caffeine but now the current prohet likes caffeinated soda so it's ok as long as nothing is proclaimed?????

Maybe one of these future generations will have a prophet that likes coffee....

Re: Word of Wisdom
And the tens of millions who live to a healthy old age despite drinking and even smoking in moderation.

Stray Mutt
Insular groups need signs that you're one of them.
When I was growing up, the WoW was part of our identity -- particularly "out in the field." We were the people who didn't smoke or drink (or a lot of other things). So when they ask about your adherence to the WoW in priesthood interviews, it's only partly about whether you're pure enough to enter the temple, it's also about whether you're an authentic member of the tribe. If you smoke or drink the forbidden things, then your heart and mind aren't sufficiently devoted to being part of the tribe, so you don't get to participate in the tribe's rituals.

Former Good Girl
Re: Word of Wisdom
Basically, polygamy defined Mormons as different. When they had to give that up to gain statehood, they needed something else to make them unique or a "peculiar people." So, at that point they started to enforce the WOW as a commandment instead of a recommendation. As far as the fat stake president vs. the drunk inactive perspective, that evolution makes sense. Using something "sparingly" is open to interpretation, but all out avoidance like coffee, tea, and booze it not.

Oh well, I love coffee and it makes me feel good. So, no WOW for me.

That's my take too
with the end of polygamy, the church need something new to make them odd and the WoW filled the bill.

Both of my grandfathers drank coffee and thought nothing of it.

As to the over weight mormons, thy probably would be better if they ate a lot of meat, it fills you up more and faster for viewer calories. It's the carbs are what's making people fat. So yes, it is a good idea to lay off carbonated drinks, whither with caffine of not.

Re: Word of Wisdom
My paternal grandfather was approached by the local higher-ups in St. George, Utah, in 1956 and said he'd been selected to be his ward's new bishop.
He told them he would not give up his coffee, they said that'd be fine as long as he accepted the assignment, which he reluctantly did.
And kept his coffee till he died in 1968.
All accounts indicate he did an exemplary job & was particularly noted for his compassion.
I recall he & Grandma with their coffee from as far back into my childhood as I have memory.

That's my take as well.
The WoW may have begun as a health advisory, but now it's just a way to identify the true-believing members of the tribe.

Could you see the Mormon hierarchy updating the WoW? I can't. An update would indicate that it's really about furthering the health of the membership. However keeping the no tobacco, no alcohol, no coffee and no tea rule is just a way to tell who's in and who's out.

Re: That's my take as well.
That makes sense. They were offended that I cooked the chicken with wine. I was offended that they drowned the entire meal in butter and salt. Go figure.

Not inconsistent, is it?
The Word of Wisdom is revealed explicitly "NOT AS A COMMANDMENT". And then it becomes one in practice, keeping people from the 'blessings' of the temple.

Polygamy is a revealed doctrine from the Lord, per the scriptures they carry, but they don't follow it. And they claim that those who DO follow it are NOT MORMONS.

Talk about flip flops...

Re: Word of Wisdom
My dad once showed me a photo of the celestial room of the SL temple from like the early 1900s. It had spittoons in it.
Joe Laban
Re: Word of Wisdom

Joe Laban
Re: Word of Wisdom
I wonder how far they are from taking blood test2, skin test2 and having access to members electronic financial records instead of a regular temple interview? I told my TBM wife that the church already owns our home, furnishings, money, stuff, cars, they just have not collected yet. They also own our time and talents. She disagreed and I told her to listen in the temple more carefully.

Stray Mutt
Thus we see how policy can override scripture.
There's no canonized scripture changing the status of the WoW from recommendation to requirement. At least there's OD1 suspending the practice of plural marriage (while not repudiating the doctrine). And there's OD2 abandoning what was either a doctrine or "just a policy." But where's a similar thing for the WoW. It might be fun in a priesthood interview to ask the bishop or SP to cite the revelation.
Joe Laban
Re: Word of Wisdom
There is no wisdom in the WOW.

Re: Word of Wisdom
Every time Dr. Oz tells about the benifits of a glass of red wine on the heart and brain I say to my TBM mother see the WoW is't right about that. She just says oh he dosn't know everything.

Re: John Taylor said in 1886...
The Word of Wisdom is a simple promise for those that live on a "fruit and herb" garden diet - that they will have superior health, more energy, a better immune system, and diseases will pass them by. Wisdom and great treasures of knowledge are promised too. But the truth is, most of us people don't follow this advanced diet today. We love our meat, we love cheese, we love lots of sugary treats, we love our diet Coke and eat white flour promoted by big industry. We have gone after our "carnal tastes" instead of eating "fresh and living food" from the garden. Hence the promise is not ours.

This diet of D&C 89:10-11 was originally given in Genesis 1:29 and Abraham 4:29-30, and we're supposed to follow it using our agency - not by commandment.

Re: Word of Wisdom
My wife refuses to eat anything that is cooked with wine. When we are at a nice restaurant, she always has to ask "is this cooked with alchohol?" The waiter always replies "yes, but it is cooked out, etc.". To which she responds "oh no, I can still taste the alchohol...". Makes me feel like an idiot. But I guess it makes her feel good about herself, living a higher standard of the W of W...
Re: Word of Wisdom
Are you serious about tobacco being accepted as tithes?????? What a hoax??!!!!!!!
I worked at the Provo Chuck a Rama in the early 90s.
There were quite a few elderly people with visible garment lines that would drink coffee. Even though I was tbm at the time, I was impressed/amused that they did their own thing and ignored the church's rules. These were active members, a large group of them would come in after their once a week temple outing.

I don't think the over-emphasis on alcohol, coffee, etc. happened until maybe the 50s or 60s.

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"