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We all know that the Word Of Wisdom pertains to Hot Drinks and has been defined as tea and coffee. We all know that tea and coffee contain caffeine and the use of either would prevent receiving a Temple Recommend. I have two questions: 1. Could the use of decaf. coffee and herb tea be in violation of the Word of Wisdom? 2. If containing caffeine is the problem how about Cola drinks? There are many other things that contain caffeine, such as chocolate and many other soft drinks.

Bill, from Utah

Dear Bill,

First regarding decaf. coffee and Coke- Decaf. coffee evidently contains no caffeine, and therefore shouldn’t be habit forming. Coke is not formally against the Word of Wisdom since it is not mentioned in the scripture, although it is heavily loaded with caffeine. So, what’s the problem? There seems to me to be a very important reason to avoid both those drinks. Each of us as members of the Church has a responsibility to represent the Church in the best light possible. It is part of our responsibility of “Every member a missionary.” If someone not of our faith sees us drinking either coffee or Coke-and by the way, it would be rather difficult to carry around a big sign saying, “This is only Decaf.”-they could easily, and often do, make the judgement that “There goes another Mormon disobeying the tenants of his own religion!” It is highly appropriate that as members of the Church, we should avoid the very appearance of evil.

Now concerning herbal tea. Herbal teas are rather common drinks and not only contain no harmful substances, but in many cases have beneficial effects on the body. Many herbs and plants have been provided by the Lord to be used for restoring health. Both Frankincense and Myrrh, that were given by the Wise Men to Jesus at his birth, are oils distilled from herbs. At the time of General Moroni, about 72 B.C., the Book of Mormon account mentions the beneficial effects of plants and roots in controlling fevers-

And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land-but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate– (Alma 46:40).

Also, in the Doctrine & Covenants we are counseled to use herbs for medicinal purposes-

And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy (D&C 42:43.)

And the Lord states that herbs “are made for the benefit and use of man.”

Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; (D&C 59:17-18).

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart

It is well and appropriate to keep ourselves from the very appearance of evil. But, of course, partaking of the good things of the earth is not evil. Perhaps we could help others to see and rejoice in the goodness of God in providing for “the benefit of man” . . . “both to please the eye and to gladden the heart.”

If we were to have a cup of herbal tea in a public restaurant, where it would be served in a regular tea cup, it could be assumed by others that we were drinking conventional tea. In such a case it might be prudent to avoid drinking the herbal tea to prevent the possibility of giving others a wrong impression.

Concerning all the other foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, it is left for each individual to use his own judgement and common sense with respect to what he takes into his body. We should use wisdom in all things. Particularly in our diet, we should avoid becoming the slave of habit or addiction to any food or drink. Obesity, for instance, often results from our inability to control our appetite; and thus we impair our health. This is not against the Word of Wisdom, but it is certainly against the practice of wisdom.


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