Friday, August 9, 2013

The Church, Caffeine & The Word of Wisdom

Yesterday I read an update from A Year of FHE entitled: Church News: Caffeinated soft drinks NOT in violation of Word of Wisdom. Of course it immediately caught my attention as caffeine is a confusing subject among members.

Here is what the Church said: "...the Church revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89) does not mention the use of caffeine...The Church’s health guidelines prohibits alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and 'hot drinks' — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee.'

At first I thought, "Ok cool. It's all cleared up"...until I read the full article here and read some of the hateful, nasty comments. It made me feel sick and really confused which is backwards. Wasn't this supposed to be a clarification?

Well, a hop, skip and a day later, I got my clarification:

The Church is NOT endorsing caffeine or caffeinated soft drinks


Take a second and read the Church's statement on caffeine. Do you see a thumbs up or endorsement of caffeine in that statement? What, you don't? Why not?


Because there isn't one!


All it says is that caffeine is not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and Church health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing tobacco and hot drinks which have been specified as coffee or tea. It's a simple as that.
But my brain train just keeps on going. There's more!

 Caffeine is the new homemade bread
This statement is not only aimed at Non-Members but (I think most importantly) Members of the Church as well. My mother told me that there was once a thought among certain members of the Church that you were somehow not a "good Mormon" if you didn't make homemade bread. It's completely ridiculous but some people honestly believed that it would keep you out of the Temple. I don't know if people still believe that but I do know it has been transferred to Caffeine consumption. The thinking is that if you drink caffeine you are not a good member and you shouldn't be allowed in the Temple. I'm being serious! There are some people out there who really think that. Sad, I know. And this thinking of theirs comes from personal choice, not Doctrine.

My husband on his mission had a companion who taught a family that they couldn't drink caffeinated drinks period. When asked about it later the Elder admitted that it is what his family's personal conviction and decision. It is not Church Doctrine and shouldn't be enforced or taught like it is one.

Hugh Nibley said this: "In 1867 Brigham Young said, "The situation is not good in the church." He reminds them that the Word of Wisdom is not a fetish. The Word of Wisdom is one thing, and ignorance, superstition or bigotry is another. Then again, he gives the story of an elder in Nauvoo who refused to administer to the sick when he saw a teapot in the house! (There was no tea in the teapot, only some herbs—they didn't have Brigham tea at that time.) We had a friend who refused to use Carnation milk because it was advertised to be used with coffee. That's being very puristic, isn't it?"
(More on Brigham Tea later!)

Clarification: Caffeine is not mentioned or covered in the Word of Wisdom and consuming a caffeinated drink will not keep you from the Temple. It's also inaccurate and rude to tell people that you won't be a good Mormon if you drink caffeine or if you don't make your own bread. Let's be nice! =)

 Word of Wisdom is a Law of Obedience
 As the Law of Moses is a Law of Obedience for the Jews, the Word of Wisdom is a Law of Obedience for Mormons. Back in the day when the Lord gave Moses the Law of Moses, He said: "You can eat this but not that. Do this, not that" because certain animals and practices were unclean but He didn't give in-depth details as to why and Moses didn't ask. Moses was obedient and knew that the Lord gave them all that Law for a reason and it was for their benefit that they obey. Who were they to doubt the Lord Omnipotent?
Elder Russell M. Nelson said: “One keeps the Word of Wisdom knowing that obedience will not only bring freedom from addiction, but it will also add blessings of wisdom and treasures of knowledge.”
Doctrine & Covenants 89: 18-21 expounds on blessings received from Obedience to the Law.
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, ashall receive bhealth in their navel and marrow to their bones;
 19 And shall afind bwisdom and great ctreasures of dknowledge, even hidden treasures;
 20 And shall arun and not be bweary, and shall walk and not faint.
 21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the adestroying angel shall bpass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
Members who practice and live the Word of Wisdom in their daily life are healthier, live longer and are all around better people. Isn't better health and a better life worth being obedient and not drinking coffee or smoking, etc? Let's focus on the Do's of the Word of Wisdom shall we and be happy!
Clarification: The Word of Wisdom is a law of Obedience and by our obedience the Lord blesses us with good health and knowledge.
What about Herbal Tea?
I grew up drinking herb tea with my Mom (never scalding hot, mind you) and was raised to understand that herbs as stated in Doctrine & Covenants 89 verses 10-11 could be drank in tea and used in food. But my husband says "Tea is tea." Or is it?

When it comes to clarification, this is the one big thing I needed clarified as it is a subject upon which my husband and I disagree.  Unfortunately, it is not clarified in the official statement but I did find some interesting information on it.
 Doctrine & Covenants 89:10 says: "And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome aherbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—" Herbs, according to Joseph Smith are: “plants of which the leaves or stem and leaves, are used for food or medicine, or in some way for their scent or flavor.” Going back to my upbringing, I was only allowed to drink herb tea like straight chamomile, peppermint, raspberry (etc) that contained nothing else and no caffeine. Herb tea are the leaves, stem and/or roots of a plant steeped in hot water and drank. Pure and simple, no nonsense! (I will say here, we avoid Green tea, black tea and teas of that sort.)
Remember the Brigham Tea mentioned earlier? Brigham Tea (or Mormon tea) was an herb tea that was drunk by early pioneers and even Brigham Young himself and has a wide range of medicinal benefits. Hmmm...interesting don't you think?

Keep in mind though that herbs, though they are good, when used improperly or over abundantly can do damage so study your herbs first and use sparingly and with care.
Clarification: Herbs are good for the belly for nutrition and medicinal purposes but should be treated with care and used sparingly. And if you choose to drink straight and plain herb tea, don't drink it hot, for the sake of your tongue!
Be Responsible and Use Good Judgment!
So that's it. The Church has stated that Caffeine is not covered in the Word of Wisdom but has not endorsed or necessarily approved of its consumption. Does that mean you should or have to drink caffeinated beverages or soft drinks?
Well, no to the "have to". As for the should you, that's up to you.
The Lord warns us all in Doctrine & Covenants 89:4: Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of aevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of bconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation— 
Take a moment and think about this. There are diet pills, fad diets, packages foods, sugars, energy drinks, and more and more and more things on the market every single day that are touted as healthy or "good for you" but logic (and the Word of Wisdom) tells us otherwise. Sure, the Church says Caffeine is not on the "No-No" list but does that mean you keep your cupboards stocked with it? Losing 30lbs in 2 weeks with a crash diet sounds great in theory but what would that do to your body? Just because someone says something is OK to eat or that it is healthy, is it actually "good" for you or are they playing a game?
An interesting arguement I read was the coffee and tea are natural so they are good for you, right? Well, arsenic is natural. Cocaine comes from the Coca Plant. Not all "natural things" are good for you and even natural things (like herbal tea) should be treated with caution.
Expounding on all this, Hugh Nibley said: We have been warned and forewarned against the evil designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men. Today this is recognized as the promotion of harmful products. But where do we draw the line of harmful products? And where do we strike a balance between harmful products and the money they bring in? Do you remember the time when all watches had luminescent dials on them? It was a great blessing to be able to see the time in the dark. But what did we ever do with luminous dials? We junked them, because the disadvantage of radioactivity was greater than the advantage of luminescence. People were saying we couldn't get along without it, but we have been getting along without it. It's the same with exhortations in the Word of Wisdom. How can we do without certain things?
When Heavenly Father sent us here, He gave us Agency to choose from major things to little things. He is a wise Father and he wouldn't leave us here without something to guide us like The Word of Wisdom. Heavenly Father gave us intelligence so that we might study, learn and choose for ourselves. He gave us the Word of Wisdom as a guiding star in these confusing times. He could tell us exactly and precisely what we can and cannot eat or do but that would take from us our agency and take away the experience of learning and choosing for ourselves. We just need never forget that we will be held accountable for our actions and how we treat our bodies.
Clarification: Study. Think. Learn for yourself. Pray! We have been given a stewardship over our bodies and agency to choose. Choose Wisely!
To start, you can have my sources, all are a must read, especially Hugh Nibley:

God bless you all!

Hannah Wetzel is the Wife to one Wonderful Man (her Marine), a Mother to 3 children  and an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She loves cooking, baking, writing, reading, embroidery and anything out of doors. One day she hopes to open her own little bakery and  have a little homestead (goats and all) with her family. Follow Hannah on Twitter and Pinterest.


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