Is eating foods that trigger allergies breaking the Word of Wisdom?

Is eating foods that trigger allergies breaking the Word of Wisdom?

Question

 

Hi Gramps,

This may seem like a petty question, but it’s something that’s been bothering me. I have a number of (non fatal) food allergies, involving items not referred to in D&C 89 (eg dairy products). I know the Word of Wisdom’s intention is to help us stay healthy. So… If I were to willingly choose to have something which I know will make me ill (e.g. a milkshake), would I be breaking the Word of Wisdom if I chose this over something I could safely have?  Thanks in advance.
Theresa

 

Answer

 

Theresa,

When the Lord gives guidance, directions, and commandments to a large group of people He will generally outline the the ideas and the goals and what He wants.  He might also give some detailed instruction, but generally he gives us the principle of the matter and then allows us to govern ourselves.

The Word of Wisdom is a perfect example of this. We are expected to study it out and then apply it to our lives.  We are to use the Spirit to refine and adapt the generalized counsel to our circumstance.  So when you ask if you are breaking the Word of Wisdom by partaking of something that triggers your food allergies, you are asking a question that I cannot answer for you.  Because I do not know what the Lord had told you on this matter.

I can say with confidence that you will not be subject to Church discipline for triggering your food allergies.  And I can be reasonably sure that the Lord is not happy when you choose to do something that you know will harm yourself (if even for just a short while).  But I cannot judge the seriousness of such action in the eyes of the Lord because I do not know what he has revealed to you personally.

I would advise you, however, to stop doing things if you know that they are harmful for you.  I understand that it can be very hard to give up something we like, but the ability to avoid the illness and focus more on the Lord I think would make up for that.

 

Gramps

 

 

Is is okay to use marijuana as a medical alternative?

Is is okay to use marijuana as a medical alternative?

Question

 

Hello Gramps,

I have 3 major medical issues that cause me serve pain and have a mental health disorder. One is a gene mutation and the others I could not have prevented. I am in my mid 30’s and have been deemed disabled. I take many RX meds and I have always requested not to be put on opiate pain meds, I eat as healthy as I can.  I am always working with my physical therapist to get in modified exercise. If I used medical Cannabis instead, would I be sinning?

Angela

 

Answer

 

Dear Angela,

This is a complex question, and I can’t simply offer a yes or no answer.  As you know, this is a relatively new issue and we don’t have direction from our leaders.  We know, of course, that we should not take any addiction forming substances.  Marijuana is potentially habit forming.  And yet, so are some of the pain relievers that your doctor might prescribe, thus they are carefully controlled.

Further we don’t always know all the reasons the Lord prohibits something.  For example, coffee–we tend to think that the caffeine is the reason, but the leaders have recently clarified that caffeine is not the issue.  Mormonism in the News: Getting it Right

Matters of health (physical and mental) can be very complicated, and very personal.  I would advise you to counsel with your Bishop.

I wish you the best.

 

Gramps

 

 

Is it okay to use supplements that contain green tea?

Is it okay to use supplements that contain green tea?

Question

 

Gramps,

I know that green tea is against the Word of Wisdom. It seems like there are so many supplements with green tea in it. I know it is wrong to drink green tea but I was wondering what your thoughts are about Indian green tea in a supplement. I am finding it in so many things.  Thank you!

Lori

 

Answer

 

Lori,

The usage of green teas as to the Word of Wisdom is somewhat controversial in my experience. I know those who argue fervently that it is not included therein, and others who firmly believe it is. The only standard given by the church is “tea”. To some that clearly includes green tea because it is the same plant, leaf, etc., as black tea, but a younger version of it that is processed differently.

I, admittedly, fall on the side of those who stay away from it. But my opinion does not dictate truth. And in this case, whereas the church has not given specific details in this regard, it falls to each of us to make these decisions through prayer, thought, and listening closely to the spirit.

I would quote the following from the church, however, from a talk by Boyd K. Packer:

“Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It’s well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail. Rather, we teach the principle together with the promised blessings. There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.

 

“Everything harmful is not specifically listed; arsenic, for instance—certainly bad, but not habit-forming! He who must be commanded in all things, the Lord said, “is a slothful and not a wise servant” (D&C 58:26).”

My thinking is that if we consider the addictive nature of these sorts of things in general, we would be wise to avoid use of it that would lead to addiction. Using a supplement of some sort on a daily basis that contains addictive substances doesn’t seem like an ideal way to follow this counsel.

Based on these two ideas: 1. I feel that green tea is “tea”, and 2. It’s addictive even if not in drink form — I choose to avoid it.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

Why does the LDS Church pick and choose the parts of the Word of Wisdom to follow?

Why does the LDS Church pick and choose the parts of the Word of Wisdom to follow?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

I have a question about the Word of Wisdom. My question is, why does the LDS Church pick and choose which parts of the Word of Wisdom is to be obeyed and which is not?  For example meat is supposed to be consumed sparingly and only in times of famine.  Yet this is not something they enforce like they do the other 3 alcohol, tobacco and coffee. Why?  If the Word of Wisdom is law, then eating meat when you don’t have to is also breaking the law.  Why do meat eaters get a free pass?

Regina

 

Answer

 

Regina,

President Ezra Taft Benson said this about eating meat in the April 1983 Conference talk titled “A Principle with a Promise”

In this revelation the Lord counsels us to use meat sparingly. I have often felt that the Lord is further counseling us in this revelation against indiscriminately killing animals, for He has said elsewhere in scripture, “Wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”

Elder Boyd K Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following in the April 1996 Conference talk titled “The Word of Wisdom; The Principle and the Promises”

The Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.

Then later on in that same talk, he explains further,

 …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.

For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly (see D&C 89:12). Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that “whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God” (D&C 49:18).

Before I get into the matter myself, let me explain to you the importance of the organization of the Church. When this revelation was given, it was not a commandment. Now it is. When this revelation was given, the prophet asked a question of the Lord, and this was His answer. Later prophets have made it clear that we are now expected to be able to live up to the principle He gave us.

Now consider the saints as they crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. How were they to avoid eating meat? There is also a danger in your question of thinking that eating meat is wrong, and it is clear from the scriptures that this is not the case. What I think is the key that you’re missing is just one word, Moderation. Eat too much meat, and yes, it is quite harmful. However there are nutrients that we need that are best found in the flesh of the animals God has given us stewardship over. Meat is far more available and safe to eat than it was when this revelation was given. As such, the prophets and apostles of the Church have counseled us, as quoted above. I would encourage you to read both talks as you consider my words.

Finally, it is unwise to cast judgment upon others in matters such as this. A recent post I saw online sums it up nicely; Don’t hate me because I sin differently than you. We all have shortcomings and challenges to our faith and obedience to God. You might as well be angry at your neighbor for buying the ‘wrong’ car for all the good it will do you. Do not despair at or look down upon others for their sins. They are just as likely to be on the same path to Christ that you are walking, only at a different spot along the way, and at their own pace.  Seek first to strengthen yourself and your testimony. Then you can lift others up in humility and love to where you are, just as Christ seeks to do for all of us. May God be with you always.

 

Gramps

 

 

Is incense against the Word of Wisdom?

Is incense against the Word of Wisdom?

Question

Gramps,

I was wondering if the use of incense sticks is considered smoking and therefore against the Word of Wisdom?

Julia

 

Answer

Julia,

This is an interesting question.

Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It’s well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail. Rather, we teach the principle together with the promised blessings. There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.”  The Word of Wisdom: The Principles and the Promises

So for baptism, or attending the temple when you are asked if you are living the Word of Wisdom it means, “Do you avoid tea, coffee, liquor and tobacco?”

However, Elder Packer also stated, “Everything harmful is not specifically listed; arsenic, for instance—certainly bad, but not habit-forming! He who must be commanded in all things, the Lord said, “is a slothful and not a wise servant” (D&C 58:26).”

So the question then should be is incense harmful?  At first I thought it was just like burning a candle, but I looked into it, and new research suggests that it may be unhealthy.

Incense Smoke As Bad as Cigarette Smoke? New Study Warns of Potential Health Risks 

So while incense is not specifically prohibited, we should avoid things we know to be harmful so we can be wise servants.

 

Gramps

Is chai tea against the Word of Wisdom?

Is chai tea against the Word of Wisdom?

Question

Dearest Gramps,

Is partaking of chai tea against the Word of Wisdom?

Lisa

 

Answer

Hi Lisa,

According to this Wikipedia article, chai tea is made by putting various herbs and spices in black tea. It’s therefore just a type of regular tea-leaf tea, and thus is prohibited by the Word of Wisdom.

 

Gramps

Will the church rescind the ban on coffee due to Alzheimers studies?

Will the church rescind the ban on coffee due to Alzheimers studies?

Question

Gramps,

I am a member and wonder why the church does not rescind the ban on coffee when scientific studies over the past 20 years have shown that drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of Alzheimers by 65%. So in order for me to reduce my risk of the ravages of the disease I have to commit a sin everyday.  One of the studies is referenced in the August issue of “Real Simple” magazine on page 116.  Do you think the Church will ever rescind the ban?

Jordan

 

Answer

Dear Jordan,

I was unfamiliar with the scientific literature over the past two decades regarding coffee and Alzheimer’s. I read the latest study, High Blood Caffeine Levels in MCI Linked to Lack of Progression to Dementia (from Feb 2012) and found it impressive. This was the first study actually performed on humans relying on physical evidence (instead of surveys) to gather data on coffee consumption and the onset of dementia (the MCI in the title refers to the sample set of people with mild cognitive impairment). The study confirmed in humans what has been evident in mice, that high levels of coffee intake can delay or prevent the onset of dementia. Prior studies on mice were able to control for the effects of caffeine only (which proved insufficient), and decaf coffee (which was also insufficient). Only caffeinated coffee did the trick.

Another study came out about 18 months later delineating some tragic side effects of this preventative medicine. Association of Coffee Consumption With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality links the same high-level of coffee consumption to early deaths. Unfortunately, this study is less compelling, as it didn’t control for additional causations in the correlations (for instance, are high-coffee consumers sleep-deprived? Is sleep deprivation the real cause of early death or heart disease?). Be aware that you risk an early death in an effort to hold off Alzheimer’s.

I don’t foresee The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lifting the blanket prohibition on coffee for the sake of Alzheimer’s delay. The Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom to “forewarn” us of the “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of men” (D&C 89:4). He’s proven to be spot-on with tobacco, and I have faith that He’s correct about coffee as well.

Gramps

Why isn’t coffee allowed but energy drinks are?

Why isn’t coffee allowed but energy drinks are?

Question

Gramps,

I have a hard time understanding the reasoning behind coffee and tea not being allowed. I have a friend who left the church because of this. I just don’t get how coffee isn’t allowed but energy drinks and other things are.

Sam

 

Answer

Sam,

This may sound a bit harsh, but your friend did not leave the church over not being able to understand why coffee is included in the Word of Wisdom. Your question is really about obedience and why do we need to obey things we don’t understand. An unwillingness to obey is probably the prime reason many leave the church.

But let’s look at coffee and tea objectively.

Is coffee (and tea) harmful? The answer is undoubtedly yes. A quick search on the internet easily reveals some of its issues: Insomnia, headaches, heartburn, gout attacks, osteoporosis, incontinence, ulcers, reduction in fertility, forceful heart contractions, hallucinations, tremors, stress, high blood-pressure, etc., etc… Yes, most of these come from caffeine, something you also get from energy drinks and the like. But it can hardly be argued that coffee usage is beneficial to our health.

So, really, what are we asking? That we ought to be allowed to consume whatever we want to without any restrictions, in spite of the harm? Is the fact that one can get a temple recommend using energy drinks proof-positive that coffee and tea should be removed from the Word of Wisdom? Or, perhaps, should we be reconsidering our usage of energy drinks?

Regardless, it does not really matter. We cannot understand all the reasons the Lord gives every command. That is why we have the law of obedience, which includes the idea that we do as the Lord asks us to even if we do not understand. Coffee and tea usage being unhealthy does not seem particularly difficult to understand however. But even with some of the proposals that limited usage of some things included in the Word of Wisdom may be healthy (some suggest limited use of coffee can be healthy, and anti-oxidants in wine have been thought to be beneficial), the Lord’s commandments are His to give according to His will and understanding, not according to our wills and understanding.

Remember, this life is a test. What is that test? Will we obey? It’s a simple as that.

The Word of Wisdom can also be understood as a lesser law. We read in D&C 89:3, that it was, “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” (emphasis mine). Ideally we should look to live the purest and highest form of the law, not the least and lowest form. The higher-law version of the Word of Wisdom may well ban energy drinks, or at the very least, those living it would abstain from any addictive substances. And who knows, perhaps obedience to the fullest principles of the Word of Wisdom during the Millennium will be a great part of what will enable us to live “to the age of a tree.”

What has been revealed of the Lord’s health code is, as taught in vs. 3 of Section 89, an adaptation for the weakest of all saints. But if one feels like there’s more – live it! Enjoy the health and good life it brings. As a general principle, abstaining from coffee and tea are minimum requirements for temple admittance (and to receive saving ordinances). There is no law that says one can’t abstain from energy drinks, caffeinated beverages, lemonades, juices, or ice water. Feel free to do so (though I would not recommend abstaining from the water part of ice-water). Just don’t act like your personal Word of Wisdom scaffolding is the foundation for everyone else. REMEMBER HIRAM PAGE!!

Interesting to note (if you have tastes similar to mine), this is not a new practice. Elder Widtsoe, in writing about the Word of Wisdom, included a section on the evils of refined (white) flour (the GMO’s of his day I guess). Later, Elder McConkie corrected this thinking in his book, Mormon Doctrine:

“Some unstable people become cranks with reference to this law of health. It should be understood that the Word of Wisdom is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the Word of Wisdom. As Paul said, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 14:17.)

There is no prohibition in Section 89, for instance, as to the eating of white bread, using white flour, white sugar, cocoa, chocolate, eggs, milk, meat, or anything else, except items classified under the headings, tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor. As a matter of fact those who command that men should not eat meat, are not ordained of God, such counsel being listed by Paul as an evidence of apostasy. God has created “meats,” he says, “to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Tim. 4:3.) If some particular food or drink disagrees with an individual, then that person should act accordingly without reference to the prohibitions in this particular law of health.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook also taught:

“Certain members have wanted to add substantially to various doctrines. An example might be when one advocates additions to the Word of Wisdom that are not authorized by the Brethren and proselytes others to adopt these interpretations. If we turn a health law or any other principle into a form of religious fanaticism, we are looking beyond the mark”.

In the same article he helps us to understand what the mark is:

“The “Mark” Is Christ”

And Christ taught us the means whereby we hit the mark:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Gramps

Are those who sell products against the WoW eligible for a temple recommend?

Are those who sell products against the WoW eligible for a temple recommend?

Question

Gramps,

I just want to know your side about members who are selling products against the WOW like tobacco, alcohol, etc. Are they entitled to have a temple recommend?  How about a farmer planting tobacco as means of income? Any enlightenment is greatly appreciated.

dreb

 

Answer

Dreb,

The decision as to whether a person is worthy to hold a temple recommend is between that member, their local priesthood authority and the Lord. Anyone else who thinks they can judge the worthiness of another needs to look to the beam in their own eye and not the mote in another (Luke 6:42)

Now let’s take some hypothetical examples. Let’s say we have those who are doing their best to make ends meet. They have a job as a clerk, or a cashier or a waitress, and as part of their job they have to sell to the customers products that will break the Word of Wisdom. While it is true we do get to choose what job we will take, for many that can be a choice between a job we don’t like, and an even worse or no job at all. For those in this situation it seems clear to me that denying them a temple recommend based solely on their job is not the response of a follower of Christ but more an action of a modern day Pharisee.

The next hypothetical situation is the business owner. He makes the call on what to sell (or plant in the case of the farmer). The sad reality in these cases is that the products that violate the Word of Wisdom seem to be very profitable. The owner/farmer often has a very tough choice. He can carry a product he doesn’t like but represents a better chance of turning a profit, or do something else that carries a greater risk and likelihood of failure and going under.

Some may choose not to sell such things. Others may sell them for awhile and then choose to stop. Still others may choose to carry them always. If we don’t agree with those choices, we have the choice to spend our money elsewhere. That is a judgment we can and should make, but we don’t have any authority to go beyond that.

When we are in a place that doesn’t require us to make such choices, it is easy for us to declare what we would  never do. But to judge and ‘throw stones’ at those who have to, and who make different choices than we think we would, only reveals our own sins and shortcomings.

 

Gramps

 

Why didn’t early church leaders follow the Word of Wisdom?

Why didn’t early church leaders follow the Word of Wisdom?

Question

Gramps,

I was preparing a talk on the prophet Joseph Smith and ran into things that I found disturbing. Maybe you can clear it up. Both Presidents  Smith and Young were involved in word of wisdom violations.   President  Smith never stopped drinking tea, sold alcohol and President Young ordered large quantities of alcohol and had a brewery. At first I thought this was anti Mormon lies, but the source material was church documents.   I asked the good folks at FAIR and their explanation was that he word of wisdom was not as heavily emphasized then and wasn’t a part of the temple worthiness process until much later. The Lord spoke directly to Joseph.  How did he not take every word as important?

Investigation (more…)

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