Just one more question: What about something like Coke? (Which the Mormon Church has never formally come out against, as I understand it). I agree with your “rule of thumb” that you don’t need to check the caffeine content not to drink coffee. Do I detect a “double standard” when it comes to soft drinks? (I know of some members who refuse to drink hot chocolate because the D&C said “hot drinks are not for the stomach.”) Thanks for your consideration. Regards,
One more time! The Word of Wisdom is an official document of the Mormon Church, part of the canon of scripture to which we pledge adherence when we are baptized. At baptism we make a sacred covenant to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ. The Word of Wisdom was accepted by a general conference of the Church shortly after the Saints moved west, as binding upon the members of the Church. In particular, tobacco, alcohol and “hot drinks” are to be avoided. The Church has defined “hot drinks” as used in the revelation as tea and coffee. Tea is defined as the regular tea that was in use at the time, not teas made from beneficial herbs. Since that is a canon of the Church anyone who does not adhere to those restrictions is in direct violation of the commandments, and normally would not be issued a temple recommend or advanced in the priesthood.
Now let’s talk about something else-the use of the principle of wisdom with regard to our physical health. We have been encouraged by the general authorities to take care of our bodies and do what we can to ensure our good health. Since the peoples of the world have moved into the drug culture, and since the recreational and hard drugs are so deleterious to the body, there has been strict counsel to completely avoid all contact with such debilitating, habit forming substances. There has also been counsel against using soft drinks containing caffeine. It is not true, as you suggest, that the Church has never formally come out against Coke. Certainly they have not attempted to equate it with the formal Word of Wisdom, but they have counseled Mormons it leave it and other habit-forming drinks alone. Here are a few examples of the counsel given to church members on the subject-
Wisdom goes beyond the letter of the law. Generally when we speak of the Word of Wisdom, we are talking about tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor, and all of the fringe things even though they might be detrimental are not included in the technical interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would. However, they are not included in the Word of Wisdom in its technical application. I quote from a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, ‘But the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by the drinking or eating of anything that contained a habit-forming drug.’ With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this but I personally do not put them in the class as with the tea and coffee because the Lord specifically mentioned them [the hot drinks] (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.202).
Obviously the standard of judgment must be uniform throughout the Church, and local officers are not at liberty to add other items to this list. However, there are many other substances which have a harmful effect on the human body, though such particular things are not specifically prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. Certainly the partaking of cola drinks, though not included within the measuring standard here set out, is in violation of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. Harmful drugs of any sort are in a like category” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.845).
Now, if you mean it — I am not going to give any command, but I will ask it as a personal, individual favor to me, to let coca-cola alone. There are plenty of other things you can get at the soda fountains without drinking that which is injurious. The Lord does not want you to use any drug that creates an appetite for itself” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1922).
Speaking of those who rationalize the church’s stand on cola drinks, Bishop Featherstone said, ‘We can find loopholes in a lot of things if we want to bend the rules of the church’” (The Church News, Conference Issues 1970-1987, p.10).