The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has clarified some modern questions revolving around the church’s Word of Wisdom doctrine.
In the August 2019 edition of New Era — the church magazine for its youth — a modern list of what not to ingest has been added or clarified as pertaining to the Word of Wisdom.
The magazine, approved by the First Presidency of the church, identifies vaping or e-cigarettes as against the Word of Wisdom.
“Electronic vaporizers or e-cigarettes are devices people use to inhale mist, usually with various flavors,” the magazine stated. “One study showed that nearly two-thirds of teen e-cigarette users thought that the pods they were vaping contained only flavoring. That’s way, way far from the truth. Most vaping pods contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and all of them contain harmful chemicals. Vaping is clearly against the Word of Wisdom.”
The topics page on the church’s resource link defines the Word of Wisdom as a pattern for a healthy lifestyle.
“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known for their healthy lifestyles. A health plan for the Church was first written down in 1833 by President Joseph Smith, and he presented it to early members specifically as a revelation from God,” the website said. “Today, Latter-day Saints refer to these health guidelines as ‘the Word of Wisdom’ (Doctrine and Covenants 89, approved modern scripture of the church).”
Among the provisions of the health code designated in the Word of Wisdom are no alcoholic drinks, no smoking or chewing of tobacco and no “hot drinks” — believed to refer specifically to tea and coffee.
So in addition to vaping or e-cigarettes, there are other modern and popular drinks that the church leadership says are enticing youth.
“The word coffee isn’t always in the name of coffee drinks. So, before you try what you think is just some new milkshake flavor, here are a couple of rules of thumb: (1) If you’re in a coffee shop (or any other shop that’s well-known for its coffee), the drink you’re ordering probably has coffee in it, so either never buy drinks at coffee shops or always ask if there’s coffee in it. (2) Drinks with names that include café or caffé, mocha, latte, espresso or anything ending in -ccino usually have coffee in them and are against the Word of Wisdom,” the Era said.
A clear definition of teas that should not be ingested was also included.
“Green tea and black tea are both made from the leaves of the exact same tea plant. The only difference is that the leaves in black tea are fermented and in green tea they’re not,” the magazine said. “They’re both tea and against the Word of Wisdom. Some drinks have tea in them but don’t advertise that fact, so always check the ingredients. Also, iced tea is still tea.”
The magazine did not discuss cola drinks, hot chocolate or sports drinks that have varying levels of caffeine, an addictive ingredient. Modern church members are left to judge for themselves on these drinks.
Brigham Young University this past year started allowing caffeinated drinks like Coca Cola to be sold on campus. Elder Dieter Uchtdorf, of the Quorum of the Twelve, in a recent General Conference address admitted he drinks cola drinks or “a drink that shall not be named.”
The New Era also clarified how marijuana and opioids should and should not be used.
“Marijuana may be legal for medicinal or even recreational use in a lot of places now, but that doesn’t mean that any use is suddenly not against the Word of Wisdom,” the magazine said. “Medical uses are being studied, but just like many pain medications such as opioids, marijuana is an addictive substance. Such habit-forming substances should be avoided except under the care of a competent physician, and then used only as prescribed.”
In his introductory article “Your Body a Magnificent Gift to Cherish” President Russell M. Nelson tells church youth about the purpose of the body, the miracle of the spiritual body and the physical body working together and that it should be cared for.
“The body renews its own outdated cells. The body can heal its cuts, bruises and broken bones. Its capacity for reproduction is another sacred gift from God,” Nelson stated.
“The body constantly regulates the levels of countless ingredients, such as salt, water, sugar, protein, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Regulatory controls are managed without our awareness of these amazing realities.”
Nelson adds, “Please note: A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. Great spiritual strength is often developed by those with physical challenges — precisely because they are challenged. Such individuals are entitled to all the blessings that God has in store for His faithful and obedient children.”
The magazine articles also addressed sexting, the Law of Chastity, body types and losing weight.