What are “hot drinks” in terms of the “Word of Wisdom” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)? Are hot chocolate

What are “hot drinks” in terms of the “Word of Wisdom” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)? Are hot chocolate and herbal teas included? What about decaf coffee? What is the underlying reason?

You can check the answer of the people under the question at Quora “why is coffee against the word of wisdom

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  1. The Word of Wisdom (WoW) first began as advice, a suggestion. It wasn’t a commandment until later.
    Very few things are codified as illicit (alcohol, illegal drugs, coffee and tobacco) but I know many Mormons who partake in one or more of those things. I know many more Mormons who use other things that may go against the spirit of the WoW (for example, I drink an energy drink almost daily).
    Hot chocolate is not included, hot chocolate is a Mormon staple. The only teas that I have seen condemned are green and black tea, everything else is fair game.
    Decaff coffee? Sure. Although I’m pretty sure Mormons kept Postum in business for years.
    The underlying reason is health and obedience. Our body is a temple and should be treated like it.

  2. In any discussion about the underlying reason for the Word of Wisdom, it is important to consider the historical context in which the revelation was given — the spirit of the time. An excellent source for this is the 1972 masters thesis by Paul H. Peterson, written while he was a grad student at Brigham Young University. For the curious, here is a link: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6038&context=etd .
    He notes that the American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 to combat the evils of alcohol consumption and quickly went nationwide. By 1833, when the Word of Wisdom was given, there were 5000 local temperance organizations with a total membership of 1.25 million people. Peterson writes that, “Temperance agitation was apparently strong in the Mormon settlements of Kirtland and Mentor. On October 6, 1830, the Kirtland Temperance Society was organized. Andrew Crary, a resident of Kirtland in this era, stated that the society was both active and influential and prospered beyond the expectation of its most sanguine advocates. The Kirtland distillery which had existed since 1819 was closed for want of patronage by February 1, 1833, approximately four weeks before Smith announced the revelation.”
    Peterson opined that Joseph Smith was likely “sensitive to the prevailing temperance movement.” There can be little doubt that he was influenced by it.
    Alcohol consumption wasn’t the only concern at the time, of course. The idea was growing in the country that hot drinks, tobacco, and meats were unhealthy. In 1830 the Journal of Health, which was published in Philadelphia, featured a series of articles that argued strongly against the use of spirits, tea, coffee, and tobacco, and advocated vegetarianism.
    If you’re interested in delving further into the topic, two issues of the Journal of Health are available on books.google.com: https://books.google.com/books?id=OMgsAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:LXueTdBiKvMC&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiQ3oW37dXaAhWDTt8KHQMRAU8Q6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false and https://books.google.com/books?id=JtQsAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:LXueTdBiKvMC&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiQ3oW37dXaAhWDTt8KHQMRAU8Q6AEILjAB#v=onepage&q=coffee&f=false . There is no table of contents. I recommend searching inside the books using keywords like coffee, tea, and tobacco.
    The LDS story of the origin of the Word of Wisdom focuses on Smith’s wife, Emma. She reportedly objected to cleaning the filthy floor after meetings of the School of Prophets during which the men used tobacco and spit, leading to Smith praying for divine guidance and receiving the revelation now known as D&C 89. That may or may not have actually happened, but there was certainly more behind the revelation than Smith’s desire to keep Emma happy. The Word of Wisdom is fully consistent with contemporary ideas that were floating around in American society in the 1820s and 1830s.

  3. As the link points out, “hot drinks” are tea and coffee—the common hot drinks at the time of the revelation. Hot chocolate and herbal teas are not covered by this revelation, though I’ve tried herbal teas and I avoid them as well out of the general principle “Ugh! How can anyone drink this stuff?” But I digress.
    There’s been a lot of speculation over the years that the reason for this section of the Word of Wisdom had to do with caffeine and other chemicals, and thus decaf coffee would be okay. However, church leadership has come out and said it’s not about the caffeine, and so decaf is a no-go.
    The actual underlying reason is far simpler than some pre-scientific revelation on addictive chemicals. It comes down to basically the same dietary restrictions the Israelites dealt with anciently:
    “Don’t eat it because I said not to and this is simply a test of your obedience.”
    It is obedience to the law that gives us the promised blessings, not merely avoiding specific chemicals or drinks that may be one degree warmer than some arbitrary temperature.

  4. The Word of Wisdom was originally given as just that—a really smart thing to do. It was not given originally as a commandment.
    Here’s the primary text Doctrine and Covenants 89
    Verse 4 states: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
    We now realize how lifestyle advertising was used to addict millions of people to tobacco and how such advertising is used to make alcohol look attractive and essential. The Lord works in His own way to build His people—He takes us as the flawed mortals we are and understands perfectly that we respond best when we are given some time to think about something and appreciate the fundamental principles before the difficult rules are laid down.
    In the late 1800’s, Church leaders realized that more tobacco and alcohol was being imported into Utah each year than the entire annual tithing of the Church. Young Heber J. Grant gave plenty of fiery sermons about the dangers of sending all of our hard earned capital to the East to pay for bad habits. (At the time, most Mormons lived in Utah.)
    Not surprisingly, the Word of Wisdom was elevated to the status of a commandment in or about 1902 when it was added to the requirements of temple attendance—however, bishops were specifically advised to be tolerant of old folks who might be set in their ways and unable to comply. Great historical article here→ http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V14N03_80.pdf
    Today, the Word of Wisdom remains a requirement to obtain a temple recommend, but is interpreted as forbidding Illegal Drugs, Alcohol, Tea and Coffee. Herbal teas are OK—they aren’t really tea. Decaf coffee is not OK, it is really coffee. Intoxicants are bad even if they might be legal. The actual practice of the Word of Wisdom has evolved over time. Most recently, Elder Dieter Uchtdorf—bless him for it—threw the door wide open for Diet Coke with caffeine. It is a weakness, to be sure, but honestly life in the modern business world requires a little help sometimes.
    I never dealt with it directly, but if I had a member who was hitting the pain meds a bit too hard, I would have paid for them to meet with a medical doctor specializing in pain medication and would have paid (in the absence of existing insurance) for any treatments they might have needed to get off of prescription drugs. I understand that prescription drug abuse is a serious problem and, as a bishop, would immediately get an expert opinion if I thought a member had a problem with such drugs.
    Like every LDS ward, we have members addicted to this, that or the other who are trying to kick the habits—people generally know who is dealing with these problems and I think the membership does a great job of leaving judgment to the bishop.
    Hot Chocolate is a “hot drink” but is allowed. Go figure. I guess a loving Father in Heaven decided that cocoa was just one too many restrictions.
    The Word of Wisdom encourages healthy eating, but no bishop anywhere will inquire about your diet beyond the proscribed substances. Lots of Mormons have bad diets—forgive us, we need some vices. I probably eat way too much meat for my own good health.
    Bishops don’t inquire as to the positive aspects of Word of Wisdom observance unless someone brings it up—honestly, if I have a member whose only vice is donuts, I’ll buy them a dozen and wish them well.
    However, just tonight, I attended a meeting (as one of thousands) with our LDS Church President, Russell M. Nelson, a former heart surgeon/medical researcher, who took the time to remind everyone that our bodies are a sacred gift and should be treated as such. He didn’t feel the need to expound on healthy diets or exercise—but the message got across.
    There is no LDS Church discipline for violation of the Word of Wisdom other than the fact that you cannot qualify for temple attendance, which is pretty big all by itself. And, again, “violation” means only consumption of those forbidden items—it does not mean that you eat too much meat or consume way too much soda. There’s a ‘dirty soda’ war brewing in Utah as chains battle to become the Mormon Starbucks
    I agree with those who say that ultimately the Word of Wisdom is akin to kosher rules in that it helps give Mormons a unique identity but I do think it goes beyond that. Alcohol is something that many people handle just fine; but it can be terrible to those who have a certain propensity for addiction. So I agree with God that it would be best just to stay away altogether from the substance.
    I teach at BYU-Hawaii. I’m grateful that our young people are taught to avoid alcohol—frankly, I see nothing redeeming in the use of alcohol. I lost my own uncle to alcoholism; he was not a happy person, he was an unwilling slave to alcohol who just couldn’t muster the strength to deal with the problem. Because we have such a strong proscription against alcohol, I think we successfully teach our youth that they can have fun and enjoy social events without the need of alcoholic assistance. I think the ability to learn how to enjoy one’s life without the need of artificial mood-altering substances is really one of the key factors behind the Word of Wisdom.
    It is beyond argument that the proscription on tobacco was prophetic—the LDS knew long before the rest of the world, that tobacco was dangerous. We now know that Big Tobacco marketed to the young, took great pains to increase the nicotine content and generally acted to make their products as addictive as possible.
    I think I’ve written a Quora answer about marijuana in which I gave as my opinion the fact that I would withhold a temple recommend from someone claiming to use marijuana for headaches, but not from a person who was using marijuana to increase appetite during chemotherapy. The LDS are blessed to have “judges in Israel”, their bishops, who can give a binding opinion based on individual facts and circumstances. (Subject, of course, to higher authorities should such authorities wish to weigh in on the matter.)
    The closest thing we have to a catechism is a publication called “True to the Faith” This link goes to the discussion of the Word of Wisdom found therein: Word of Wisdom
    All in all, the Word of Wisdom is a fascinating subject that rewards deeper study.
    Sorry, regular coke, carbonated beverages, and all the similar soft drinks containing caffeine are not considered to be violations; energy drinks likewise. As long as coffee/tea is not involved, I think a bishop might discuss with a member whether caffeine is becoming a crutch, but wouldn’t withhold a temple recommend.
    Pain meds are perfectly OK—prescription or non-prescription. However, my point was that legal meds can become illegal simply by taking more than the doctor ordered. When that line is crossed, then the bishop is there to provide help. We do believe in following doctors’ orders. That line is getting muddied by doctors who are advocating wider availability of marijuana, but if you get your drug in an official, regulated pharmacy—that’s going to be OK.
    There is a Priesthood Directive, a local commandment if you will, applicable only in my Stake that might help in understanding the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, although I must note that the rule is not considered part of the Word of Wisdom, it has been given by the Stake President and is therefore just as binding as would be a traditional Word of Wisdom proscription. (A Stake President can’t direct the Church as a whole by amending the Word of Wisdom, but does speak for his Stake in the sense that he can give directions to his Stake.)
    In the island cultures there is a drink used on special occasions called kava. Our missionaries and even Presidents of the Church have been honored by kava ceremonies in which they have partaken of the drink. Here is a Samoan kava bowl that is 11 inches in diameter and about 2.5 inches deep.

    What are “hot drinks” in terms of the “Word of Wisdom” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)? Are hot chocolate

    However, here in Hawaii there is a problem with kava abuse. The practice is called “mixing” and you get men, usually just men but not always, who sit around a huge bucket of kava mixed so strong that it is almost wet sand, which they drink from all night long. Here’s a picture of what is aptly called the superbowl; it contains a lot of kava . This provides a perfect example of when an appropriate use becomes an inappropriate harmful practice.

    What are “hot drinks” in terms of the “Word of Wisdom” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)? Are hot chocolate

    Kava has an effect akin to alcohol. The local Stake Presidency saw many situations where kava use had hurt families—so they proscribed its use in the Laie Hawaii Stake. People actually complained to Salt Lake, but headquarters has honored and upheld the restriction imposed by local authority. Here’s a link to the actual letter, provided ironically by anti-Mormons, which you will find interesting—my concluding point is that commandments are given to help people come unto Christ. There will always be quibbles about how and where the lines are drawn, but there are lines.

    What are “hot drinks” in terms of the “Word of Wisdom” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)? Are hot chocolate

  5. wow. some long answers here! Let me boil it down.
    “Hot drinks” was interpreted as “tea” and “coffee.” Thats it!

    Additionally, there is some cultural baggage that comes with the WoW.
    Caffeine is not mentioned officially in any way – its a speculatory justification for banning tea and coffee. Mormons can drink caffeinated drinks to their hearts content and it will not affect their temple recommend (unless they really lose the game of bishop roulette).
    Therefore decaf coffee is also irrelevant. The fact they removed the caffeine doesn’t make it anything other than coffee, an officially prohibited drink.
    Tea is slightly more complicated. “Tea” has been interpreted as anything with a traditional “tea” leaf in it, not the generic hot leaf water that you can make from pretty much any herb. So black tea is out, green tea is debated but probably out. Any other herbal tea is fine.

  6. Hot drinks are more clearly defined lately. Really does have more to do with temperature than with caffeination other stimulation.
    Hot drinks are defined as anything usually served hot. Traditionally this covers coffee or tea, wheher hot or not, whether decaf or not.
    Hot cocoa, postum, flower teas, herb teas, ephedra tea(sometimes called Mormon tea) are all fine.
    Some LDS members avoid caffeinated soft drinks, though the church is ok with those. Many Church leaders advise members to avoid these.

    Victor Allen’s

  7. In early Mormonism, during the temperance movement, there was a popular belief that hot drinks were bad because they were hot. At that time, Mormons consumed coffee and alcohol. Originally, Joseph Smith proposed the revelation as a “word of wisdom” for thoughtful consideration and personal application rather than a requirement for full participation in the church. Brigham Young made it more of a big deal, eventually outlawing the usage of chewing tobacco in the tabernacle, among other things.
    The reason is “it’s a revelation”. There are myriad justifications for why it should be observed, but the evidence about harmful effects was never actually the impetus for the standard. At the time Joseph Smith had his revelation, nobody knew that tobacco caused oral cancer; we also didn’t know that coffee is preventive against cancer and diabetes. These rules persist as a way to set the Saints apart from the rest of the world, and the no coffee rule certainly does its job well. Some Mormons won’t even say “coffee table” and most think that one drop of alcohol will turn anyone into an alcoholic. While Mormonism preaches moderation in all things, it fails to achieve that same standard when applied to sugar and overeating. But practically 0% of Mormons die of lung cancer.

  8. In the 1800s USA the most common drinks served hot were coffee and tea. These are the 2 things included in “hot drinks”.
    Herbal teas are deemed okay. We are to avoid coffee and tea specifically.
    What is the underlying reason ?
    2 To be sent greeting; 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—
    3 Given for a principle with promise , adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
    We cannot control everything in our lives, but we can start with what we do with our own body.
    Personally, I feel this rule keeps us away from “other gods”. I don’t need a cup of coffee to be myself.

  9. The ‘hot drinks’ as testified of in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, have been laterally interpreted by the Prophets, to mean Tea and Coffee. Of the conventional sort.
    This does not extend to that of Herbal Teas, nor to that of Hot Chocolate. As to Decaffeinated Coffee; that is really up to the individual concerned.
    All have free rein over their life. If they so choose to indulge in actual Tea or Coffee, that is their own choice.
    As for myself: I happily indulge in Peppermint, Chamomile, and any other sort of Herbal Tea I fancy. Including Raspberry Leaf Tea.

  10. The term “hot drinks” in the Word of Wisdom was subsequently clarified to mean coffee and tea. “Tea” has been generally understood to refer to the classic pekoe tea that came from China and India, also known by various names such as black tea, Oolong, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, etc. I.e., if you went to England, to visit the Duchess, and she asked you if you would like a “cuppa”, its that kind of tea that Mormons don’t drink.
    As to all the other kinds of teas and drinks served hot, there is plenty of ambiguity to go around. My wife and I love a not-too-hot cup of Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger with sugar and lemon. We both love hot chocolate, though I find ordinary milk chocolate insipid and am very partial to the Aztec variety, dark and not very sweet with lots of cayenne pepper. We both drink caffeinated drinks from time to time, especially on long car trips.
    Some Mormons drink iced tea, some will drink green tea. I don’t judge anybody about these things – there is plenty of room for individual adaptation on this question. I’m a live-and-let-live sort of a person, anyway.
    Up until the administration of President Heber J. Grant, in the 1920s, the Word of Wisdom was considered very good counsel but not a commandment. Drinking coffee or tea was very common, and the occasional beer, wine, or chewing tobacco was not unusual. Brigham Young had a small winery on his property. Porter Rockwell ran a saloon. But public drunkenness was unusual. But since the Word of Wisdom was not a commandment, people who drank coffee, tea, wine, beer, etc., or who smoked or chewed tobacco could obtain a temple recommend. President Grant was inspired to make the Word of Wisdom a commandment. The Saints complied, but it was a great trial of their faith and was not without grumbling and backsliding.
    One of the richest mines of humor in LDS Church history is J. Golden Kimball. He was one of the many sons of Heber C. Kimball, a prominent polygamist and early church apostle. After his father passed away, J. Golden became a cowboy in the Bear Lake country in northern Utah, where he acquired an addiction to coffee, liquor, and swearing. At the same time, he was a devoted member of the church, and served a mission in the Southern States, where he tangled on multiple occasions with the Ku Klux Klan, who hated the Mormons. J. Golden Kimball later became a General Authority and was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy when President Grant made the Word of Wisdom a commandment. This put a terrific strain on J. Golden, but he bore up as best he could, struggling to put these habits behind him. He never quite got rid of all of his swear words, and many humorous stories still circulate about J. Golden Kimball swearing in General Conference. But the people loved him nonetheless, both Mormons and non-Mormons.
    Perhaps even more stories still circulate about his struggles with the Word of Wisdom:
    “He always liked to eat his lunches downtown in Salt Lake City at the Rotisserie. He liked to eat with a group of lawyers. An on this particular day he was seated at the head of the table. The waiter came to his end of the table to take Brother Golden’s order first, and the waiter wrote down the order and then said, “What will you drink?” Now a good member of the church was not supposed to drink tea or coffee, and so Brother Golden said “Water.” Someone next to him said to the waiter, “Oh, he likes coffee. Bring him coffee.” So the waiter put down coffee, and Brother Golden watched him and didn’t say a word until the waiter got to the other end of the table, and then he said, “The Lord heard me say water!” p. 78, Eliason, Eric A. “The J. Golden Kimball Stories”, University of Illinois Press, Urbana & Chicago 2007 ISBN 978-0-252-03196-0
    “When Heber J. Grant called for the church to live the Word of Wisdom more faithfully, J. Golden’s wife would no longer allow him to fix his coffee at home. J. Golden would sneak to downtown Salt Lake to a couple of different restaurants and have a cup of coffee. One time while he was sitting in a back booth near the restrooms, a lady spied him and confronted him, saying, “Is that you Elder Kimball drinking coffee?” J. Golden replied, “Ma’am, you are the third person today who has mistaken me for that old SOB!” p. 81, Eliason, ibid

  11. Caffeine is not the reason why coffee and tea are prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. By tea, it is meant liquid that is produced from the tea plant. Many hot drinks are produced by the same method, by running hot water through dry leaves, and it is called tea in the English language, but it is not what is prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. Coffee is all drinks that are produced from a coffee bean. Chocolate is produced by the same method as coffee, but comes from a different plant and is therefore not prohibited. Decaffeinated coffee comes from the same bean, and is prohibited.

    Eight O’Clock


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