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Dear Gramps,

One of the questions you answered today dealt with the reason for not drinking tea. The person that wrote you asked if it was because of the tannin in the tea. Your answer was that the Word of Wisdom forbids it. That is not correct, as you know. The Word of Wisdom forbids hot drinks, and it has been arbitrarily decided that tea and coffee are “hot drinks”, as are (strangely enough) colas. However, cocoa is not a “hot drink”. I agree completely with the parts of the Word of Wisdom that are understandable, such as the ban on tobacco and alcohol. I also eschew coffee and tea, partially because I do not wish to create contention or division within the church. However, I have yet to see compelling evidence that the Word of Wisdom actually forbids tea, coffe and coca-cola. Although this may seem like an argumentative note, I do respect your wide store of knowledge and enjoy reading your explanations. I just have a weak testimony of the belief that the Word of Wisdom proscribes the use of tea and coffee.





Dear Don,

My question to you is do you have a strong testimony that the First Presidency of the Mormon Church, and the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are indeed prophets, seers and revelators, that they speak the Word of God to the members of his Church, and that we are duty bound, as members of the Church to take heed of and abide by their counsel and instructions? If you do, your problem is solved! Here are the words of the First Presidency and the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve on the subject in question—

“In what way, you ask? There are many ways, but I have time to mention only three or four. When I think of the more obvious matters, I think of what we call the Word of Wisdom. This is a divine code of health received through revelation in 1833, 157 years ago. It proscribes alcohol and tobacco, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the use of fruit and grains. This Word of Wisdom came to us from the Father of us all, the God of heaven, for our blessing and the blessing of all who would observe it.”(President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Mormon Should Mean More Good,” Ensign, November 1990, p.51)


“Hard drugs, wrongful use of prescription drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco products destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Any form of alcohol, including beer, is harmful to your spirit and your body. Tobacco can enslave you, weaken your lungs, and shorten your life.”  (President Thomas S. Monson, “That We May Touch Heaven,” Ensign, November 1990, p.45)


“When I was young, the health benefits of the Word of Wisdom, including abstinence from tobacco, alcoholic drinks, tea, and coffee, were not as well established as they are today. However, the spiritual benefits have long been validated. The Word of Wisdom promises that those who remember to keep this counsel and walk in obedience to the commandments shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones. (D&89:18.)” (Elder James E. Faust, “Spiritual Healing”, Ensign, May 1992, p.6)


“The habit-forming substances prohibited by that revelation tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco interfere with the delicate feelings of spiritual communication, just as other addictive drugs will do. (President Boyd K. Packer, “Personal Revelation:The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, November 1994, p.59)

Now here is a cogent comment by President Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church, who, as you undoubtedly know, was a close associate of the Prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the Word of Wisdom was given by revelation from God.

“We can enjoy the blessings of heaven, or we can deprive ourselves of that enjoyment. Intelligent beings have the power to exercise their free will and choice in doing good, equally as much as in doing evil. All have the privilege of doing evil if they are disposed so to do, but they will always find that the wages of sin is death. The Latter-day Saints, by their righteousness, can enjoy all the blessings which the Lord has promised to bestow upon His people, and they can, by their unrighteousness, deprive themselves of the enjoyment of those blessings. We, for instance, exhort the Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, that they may, through its observance, enjoy the promised blessing. Many try to excuse themselves because tea and coffee are not mentioned, arguing that it refers to hot drinks only. What did we drink hot when that Word of Wisdom was given? Tea and coffee. It definitely refers to that which we drink with our food. I said to the Saints at our last annual Conference, the Spirit whispers to me to call upon the Latter-day Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, to let tea, coffee, and tobacco alone, and to abstain from drinking spirituous drinks. This is what the Spirit signifies through me. If the Spirit of God whispers this to His people through their leader, and they will not listen nor obey, what will be the consequence of their disobedience? Darkness and blindness of mind with regard to the things of God will be their lot; they will cease to have the spirit of prayer, and the spirit of the world will increase in them in proportion to their disobedience until they apostatize entirely from God and His ways.” (Journal of Discourses, 12:, .37,118)

Now we all know that the Word of Wisdom was given not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days (D&C 89:2) However, in the General Conference of the Mormon Church in 1851 President Brigham Young proposed to the general conference of the Church that all Saints formally covenant to keep the Word of Wisdom. This proposal was unanimously upheld by the membership of the Church. Since that day, the revelation has been a binding commandment on all Church members.






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