A New Look at “Hot Drinks” and the Word of Wisdom

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Jayson S. Kunzler


A New Look at “Hot Drinks” and the Word of Wisdom

I stumbled across something in my studies last week that increased my understanding of the Lord’s warning against “hot drinks” in the Word of Wisdom. I’m sure we’ve all heard the questions, “Well what about hot cocoa? What about Postum? What about decaffeinated coffee? What about other “hotdrinks that don’t contain caffeine like Wheat Tea or Wassail?” The answer we’ve always given or heard is, “The Church does not have a position on this”, or “They aren’t specifically mentioned in the Word of Wisdom.”

On the flip side of the coin, and even more frequently, we hear questions like this one published in the April 2008 New Era:

“Is there anything wrong with drinking sodas with caffeine in them? Is caffeine bad? The Word of Wisdom doesn’t mention it.”

The response in the same New Era to this question states:

Doctrine and Covenants 89:9 says we shouldn’t drink ‘hot drinks.’ The only official interpretation of this term is the statement made by early Church leaders that it means tea and coffee. Caffeine is not specifically mentioned as the reason not to drink these drinks.”

So regardless of the question asked (whether it is the caffeine in a drink that is bad, or whether it is the hot temperature of a drink that is bad), the answer is almost always the same…namely, “The Church does not have an official position” or “The Word of Wisdom does not specifically mention these things.”

We of course know that both Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and subsequent leaders of the Church, have interpreted “hot drinks” to mean “tea and coffee”. I have always held the view that the problem with “hot drinks” is the caffeine and other drugs in them, and that “hot drinks” were defined by Joseph and Hyrum in the early days of the Church as “tea and coffee” because they (tea and coffee) were essentially the only common drinks at the time that contained caffeine. The drinks of that time just happened to be ingested hot—so that is how the Lord referred to them. In other words, I’ve always thought that by using the term “hot”, the Lord was NOT warning against the physical property—i.e., the heat—of the drink. This is what I have always thought—until now.

It is evident that when the Lord warned against “hotdrinks, he was specifically warning against a physical property of a drink—i.e., its heat. However, as Elder John A. Widstoe explained:

“When the Word of Wisdom was first promulgated in 1833, the question was at once asked: What is the meaning of “hot drinks?” Was it an injunction against consuming beverages so hot as to burn the tongue or mouth? That did not seem reasonable.” (John A Widtsoe, Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, 85)

So, if Elder Widstoe is correct—and I believe he is on this matter—then what is wrong with a drink that is “hot”? This can perhaps be understood by referring to another warning in the word of wisdom—the warning to avoid “strong drinks”. What is meant by “strong”? Was the Lord suggesting that drinks are dangerous if you freeze them and they turn into a “strong” or “hard” solid? Was he simply warning against chomping on “strong” ice cubes? Although trying to drink something that is frozen solid may cause certain problems, it would be silly to suppose that in using the word “strong” the Lord is referring to physical hardness or softness of a liquid. We know from the Book of Mormon (and common sense) that the “strength” of a “strong drink” pertains to the chemical properties of one of its physical ingredients—alcohol (see Alma 55:13–16).

Similarly, the property of “heat” in a “hot drink” has nothing to do with the physical temperature (i.e., degrees Fahrenheit) of the drink. Instead, the “heat” of a “hot drink” is a reference to the chemical properties of some of its physical ingredients—that is, caffeine, theobromine, etc. With that in mind, take a look at these interesting definitions of the words “hot” and “heat” from the Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the dictionary in use at the same time the Lord gave the revelation to Joseph Smith as recorded in D&C 89:

Definition of “Hot” (Webster’s 1828) ·

  • Easily excited, eager ·
  • Animated, brisk ·
  • Stimulating

Definition of “Heat” (Webster’s 1828) ·

  • Animal excitement; violent action or agitation of the system [or] body ·
  • To excite; to rouse into action ·
  • Agitate the blood and spirits with action; to excite animal action ·
  • Ferment; [i.e.,] to set in motion; to excite internal motion; to heat; as in ferments the blood

It is evident from the above definitions that the word “hot” is probably a reference to the “stimulating” effects of the drugs found in drinks. Using that dictionary, the term “hotdrinks” could be re-written as “stimulating drinks” and have the same meaning. So, when Joseph and Hyrum Smith explained that “hot drinks” referred to “tea and coffee”, were they were simply clarifying that the word “hot” was a direct and specific reference to the “hot” stimulants found therein, and NOT the “hot” temperature of the drinks? I think so. Why have we not been taught this proper meaning of “hot”? I’m not sure; it is something of a mystery to me that we haven’t, because it seems to be so simple. Failure to do so has led to confusion, rationalization, and the loss of the Spirit for many. It is true that this was taught by Elder Widtsoe, but I have never heard or seen others quote what he said; and I have never heard anything like it from anyone else. Note what he said:

“Caffeine is not in any sense a food, but, as a stimulant, must be classed with tobacco, opium and other similar substances. Owing to its action on the heart and circulation, the body becomes heated, and in that sense a solution of caffeine is a ‘hot drink’.” (John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith as Scientist, 91-92)

Elder Widtsoe specifically mentions that caffeine is classed as “hot drink” because of its effects on the heart and body. Not only does this accord with the Webster’s 1828 definitions above, it also coincides with both the letter and the spirit of the Word of Wisdom.

So now a short quiz for you, to test your understanding 🙂

Question—Which of the following beverages is the hottest?

  1. Starbucks Double Shot Coffee (Superheated to critical pressure of 705° degrees F, and drunk in hell’s fiery furnace from a cup made of molten lava)
  2. Green Tea (Scalding hot at boiling temperature, about 212° F)
  3. Mountain Dew (room temperature)
  4. Iced Triple Latte Coffee (chilled with ice cubes to just above freezing temperature, about 32° F)
  5. Monster M3 energy drink (Frozen solid; combined with dry ice and dipped in liquid nitrogen; eaten in Antarctica by chewing/chomping using an ice pick and chisel)

The correct answer is “E”. All of these drinks are hot. But such a frozen Monster M3 energy drink, according to the definitions given in Websters 1828 dictionary and Elder Widtsoe above, is most definitely proven to be the “hottest” drink.

As an aside, it is my hope that one day members of the Church will more fully understand that most important side effects of all substances warned about in the Word of Wisdom are spiritual, not physical. I fear that many, perhaps most, do not understand that substances contained in the various drinks and foods prohibited in the Word of Wisdom directly interfere with the strivings of the Light of Christ and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. However, when asked what is wrong with smoking, the answer is either “it causes cancer”, or “it is addicting”. Rarely do you hear about the spiritual consequences of nicotine. What about Alcohol? “Well, it destroys your liver,” they say. But they say nothing about spiritual consequences. Tea and coffee? Something like, “Well, statistics show that Mormons live 10-15 years longer than the average American, etc. etc.” Every response seems to be of a temporal nature. But the effects that indulging in such substances can have on our ability to receive the Spirit of God is indeed the very “consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.” The specific blessings promised in D&C 89 are all spiritual. If the Lord were concerned about our mortal tabernacles only, he wouldn’t have “warned and forwarned” us. For he said:

14 ¶And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:

15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come [from within] him, those are they that defile the man.

16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught [i.e., the sewer], purging all meats?

20 And he said, That which cometh [from within] of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7:14–23)

Those verses in Mark contain the greatest discourse on the “Word of Wisdom” ever given…

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Joseph Smith Foundation

Joseph Smith Foundation is an organization focused on supporting and contributing to projects founded in the words of Jesus Christ. Our motto is “Vision in Light of the Restoration”. Joseph Smith advanced a literal interpretation of scripture and confirmation of the truths taught in the Bible. He taught that a restoration of the doctrine and Church established and led by Jesus Christ was necessary in the latter days as it was in the former ages of the earth. Revelation was the rock foundation of all lasting accomplishment. Currently, Joseph Smith Foundation is the umbrella for the following organizational divisions, each based on the above principles: Joseph Smith Academy, Joseph Smith Forum, ZionVision and LDS Answers.

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72 Responses

  1. Kate says:

    Maybe caffeine isn’t mentioned because it has legitimate medicinal value. If it was banned by the church, thousands (millions?) of headache and migraine sufferers would lose a valuable tool.

  2. Joel Forbes says:

    I disagree with the definition if hot here. I think it can be seen that alot of the definitiobs here are speaking of emotions (hot headed) also in some cases the reaction of heat. However it seems to me apparent that the definition still means heat as we see it. Yes heat does cause as we know a reaction (chemicals wise) or should I say a change in state and I think this is what these definitions are referring to. I think it would be wrong to say that hot in the word of wisdom is suggesting hot in a abstract sense. In the sense that they are full of chemicals. Although I do agree that drinks containing lots of chemicals are against the word of wisdom. However in the end we don’t need to be taught the specific answer because we will be accountable for the law as far as we understand it. As it says in the scriptures “it is not meet that you should be commanded in all things” paraphrasing. Meaning we don’t always need the answer but we have been given the tools to work some things out ourselves.

  3. Marie says:

    Why is there so much confusion about this? Because the WoW is man’s command, not God’s. Additionally, why did Joseph and the early church leaders approve of and consume beer,wine, and even whiskey?

  4. Natalie says:

    I loved this article! It’s very important to study prophecy and revelation in context with the time and culture it was written. We do need to rely on the Holy Ghost to confirm to us what is right. If we ponder and sincerely ask the Lord He will give us the correct principle. The Word of Wisdom is indeed both for our temporal and spiritual well being. As simple as disobeying a commandment causes the Holy Ghost to not dwell with us which is spiritual. Although I do believe it has deeper spiritual implications as well.

  5. Vaughn Hughes says:

    It’s been all over every news outlet in the world over the last couple of days, even finally showing up in the LDS Living newsletter this morning. After reviewing the findings of over 1000 studies, the UN World Health Organization has determined that coffee is NOT carcinogenic, but that *any* VERY hot drink IS. (defined as more than 65˚C/149˚F; see http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2016/pdfs/pr244_E.pdf) That means if you regularly drink *very* hot chocolate, it is carcinogenic. Or Mate. Or anything. Temperature determines whether cancer will be caused.

    In the category of irony: what if the Lord really only meant *exactly* what he plainly said in the WoW? No interpretation by anyone required–hot is simply temperature. Applies to very hot drinks, whether coffee, tea, cocoa, or milk. I.e., if the Lord never meant anything about merely warm drinks, whether coffee, tea, cocoa, or milk. All the speculation and interpretation and direction since then trying to tie it to *substances* in the “hot” drink has been exactly that–adding to, altering, and taking away from what the Lord simply and plainly stated in a revelation–something *spoken* by Him in His own words, where He meant only exactly what He said.

    In Joseph’s day the only real drinks that people regularly drank fell in that could fall into that category were coffee and tea, which were *sometimes* that very hot, but not always. As anyone familiar with our pioneer history knows, all the pioneers were expected to have space on their wagons and even *handcarts* for tea and coffee to be brought along–for their own consumption. Can you imagine Brigham directing all the saints to carry something that heavy on a *handcart* that the Lord had said was contrary to His commandments? This was thirteen years after D&C 89 was given. Long after it had been discussed and taught by Joseph, our dispensation head. I believe they understood the principle well enough in their day.

  6. Kelly says:

    I stumbled across this article on CNN and thought it was a nice fit for this article.
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/15/health/coffee-tea-hot-drinks-cancer-risk/

  7. R Wilson says:

    I believe that this article has a good intent but it is dangerous to put your own spin on things when it is clearly explained by Church Leaders. This is from the LDS.org website.
    In the Word of Wisdom, the Lord commands us not to take the following substances into our bodies:

    Alcoholic drinks (see D&C 89:5–7).
    Tobacco (see D&C 89:8).
    Tea and coffee (see D&C 89:9; latter-day prophets have taught that the term “hot drinks” refers to tea and coffee).
    Anything harmful that people purposefully take into their bodies is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. This is especially true of illegal drugs, which can destroy those who become addicted to them. Stay entirely away from them. Do not experiment with them. The abuse of prescription drugs also leads to destructive addiction.

    If we teach anything that is not found on LDS.org then we are in danger of teaching false doctrine and things of our own understanding. This has the potential to lead people astray.
    Keep to the true doctrine and let you decide what you put in your own body, and let others decide and use their agency to do the same.

    • Jane Guthrie says:

      The test the Lord gave is that “whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (D&C 68:4)

      Anyone who knows anything about the Gospel knows that not everything on LDS.org is true doctrine since only what is spoken “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture . . . the will . . . mind . . . word . . . [or] voice of the Lord.” Not everything General Authorities or members of the Quorum of the Twelve say can be considered the will and mind of the Lord at all times. I would direct you to this talk by J. Reuben Clark Jr. titled “When Are the Writings and Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Being Scripture?” http://scottwoodward.org/Talks/html/Clark,%20J.%20Reuben/ReubenJR_WhenAreWritingsAndSermonsOfChurchLeadersScripture.html

    • Ju says:

      Sugar is worse than coffee or tea!

      • R Wilson says:

        What sugar are you talking about? Sugar is found naturally in fruit, vegetables and other food items. We can not avoid sugar at all, but we can avoid refined sugars or at least limit them. You don’t need and should not need the church to make a list of what you can and can not eat. That just becomes the Law of Moses, and we know how that went with the people. Use your agency and knowledge to make informed decisions for yourself and others should do the same

  8. Kelly says:

    Last year while and attending Education Week I heard this great statement in regards to the Word of Wisdom: “We no longer live the law of Moses, which was a strict guide on almost every facet of life. Today we have the fullness of the Gospel and no longer need to be commanded in ‘all things’.”

    The Word of Wisdom doesn’t spell out every little thing for the same reason we no longer live the Law of Moses. I think everybody knows whats healthy and unhealthy, whats right and what is wrong… and there will always be those who need to justify their actions. In my opinion its simply a matter of spiritual maturity.

  9. As a relatively new convert, I have to say that one of the wonderful aspects of this church is the emphasis on one’s agency. You know in your heart if what you are consuming is good or bad…if you find yourself justifying your actions with your mind while your heart is whispering “do you really think that’s okay?”, then perhaps you need to alter your behavior. We are a world of addicts…alcohol, drugs, coffee, soda, shopping, texting…if you can’t stop the behavior easily for extended periods of time, then you’re not using your agency to make choices. Not a healthy way to live — irregardless of which religion you practice! Just a thought…not a judgment.

  10. Ed Wilson says:

    A higher order principle that must be considered is the gift of our Free Agency. Without this most important gift, personal progression would not be possible. The prophet Joseph Smith repeatedly told the saints to fast and pray about a problem or a decision to receive their personal answer from our Heavenly Father.

    If we are so worthy, we can receive answers to questions like these, so that we might progress as per Heavenly Fathers plan, with respect to our individual circumstances. It may seem easier to just wait for a more clarifying revelation, but is that just personal weakness, and possibly a subtle feeling or a personal knowledge that we have some work to do to be able to stand in a more clarifying light?

    We must also understand, and guard against, the darkness of undue dominion, which robs us of our gift of free agency. Our prophets speak for our Heavenly Father, with the hope that we will work to understand, and with faith and free will, hold tight to the iron rod of those revealed truths, as essential stepping stones of our spiritual progress. While we will not all understand a verse of scripture, or a revelation the same way, we can all pray for clarity and understanding relative to our personal circumstances. The promptings and understandings that we receive in response to our prayers will be like a heavenly rain that will sprout and grow our understanding.

    I know that if we do all that we can do to magnify the light of Christ in our lives, starting with daily prayer, scripture study, charity for others, and a deep understanding of the gift of our free agency, which is to be able to act and not be acted upon, that these questions will be answered respectively, and we will feel their truth.

  11. Todd says:

    I don’t think the leaders of the Church will ever put out any kind of a list of “don’t drink any of the following…” We’re not supposed to be commanded in all things, but we are given correct principles, and then we make our own choices. In saying that, the focus of using our agency should not be in choosing right over wrong (or wrong over right), but in choosing right without being compelled, commanded or forced. That is when blessings from our Heavenly Father will truly flow, instead of the trickle that most of us allow.

  12. Darington says:

    Not that I don’t agree that energy drinks and soda are bad, the brethren have already said D&C 89 is just about tea and coffee.

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-news–getting-it-right-august-29

  13. Mike says:

    I appreciate reading the older dictionary to gain context on some of the wording. I agree it sheds further light on the subject. I think it gets us closer to understanding of the writer.

    As you bring some words into context though, you start taking other things way out of context.

    Now there is a lot about this article I have a hard time with. I will just mention one that has not already been mentioned, from what I can tell.

    Quote from the writer:
    “As an aside, it is my hope that one day members of the Church will more fully understand that most important side effects of all substances warned about in the Word of Wisdom are spiritual, not physical.”

    Quote from the Word of Wisdom:
    “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-”

    it seems to me that is all about the temporal salvation of all saints, not about sensitivity to the Holy Ghost. Even the blessings promised are wisdom, knowledge, run and not be weary, walk and not faint, all physical things. No where does it mention that we are going to be more sensitive to the spirit.

    For further information on the path to understanding the Word of Wisdom and what it means to you, you might try a few of the many documentaries on Netfix, about our food supply here in America.

    King Corn
    Forks of Knives
    Food, Inc.
    Supersize me

    In fact, just search Netflix and Food documentaries and there is an article on the 10 most popular.

    You start to see and understand the conspiring men. The reason the Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom. You also start to see the rest of the versus like eating meat sparingly. Things like caffeine becomes less of a focal point but one of many points we should all be working on.

    • Brent says:

      Great comment, Mike. I arrived at many of the same conclusions as you (undestanding the conspiring men, eating meat sparingly being much more important than is currently emphasized, the WoW being temporal, the documentaries on Netflix)

      Why is it that these things have not been clarified? What is the point of the original revelation at all if not to communicate something valuable to man. And then afterward when man becomes confused on the topic, there is no clarity??? This seems off to me.

    • Kelvin says:

      While I agree that the article has flaws (what writing from a human being doesn’t?), I think it’s important that if you’re going to worry about context, then it all needs to be considered in light of all modern revelation, not just the scriptures. With the consideration of modern revelation, it is indeed revealed that obeying the word of wisdom had spiritual impacts. Also, the scriptures make it clear that all commandments have temporal AND spiritual consequences. But aside from all that, I can attest with full experience and knowledge that yes, things like this do have an impact on being able to feel the Holy Ghost. There are a million things that anyone could site that talk about the spirit being a still small voice. Now, think about how sometimes I might be difficult to notice the spirit, for each of us. Now, add other things into the equations. Distractions, being busy, substances or even something as simple as being tired can make it more easy to miss something that can already be difficult to recognize in our day to day life.

  14. Joe says:

    Really…what about moderation in all things. I can’t believe how over-weight people are becoming. It is like people are concerned about the “don’ts” of the Word of Wisdom but don’t care about the “do’s”–especially like eating healthy (grains, and fruits), and moderation in all things. I can’t believe how many overweight people I see at the store (many are my good friends) are loading up on chips, cakes and junk foods, and no fruits or vegetables. I’m even starting to fall in this category somewhat and am correcting myself. Too many people over stuff them selves, eat 2nd and 3rd helpings, go to all you can eat buffets or binges, and afterwards feel miserable and complain about how they feel or about being overweight. At the same time they don’t drink tea, alcohol, or use tobacco, (or even caffeinated drinks) and feel they are fully living the Word of Wisdom.

    I really get the feeling the author really missed the point on about caffeine. He, and others should write more about the overlooked do’s that most people really do not do… I ALMOST feel the author wrote this just be “published” somewhere so he can put it on his annual review at BYU. Concentrating on the overlooked do’s, or finding something better to write about such as the blessings of home teaching, being morally clean, attending church, and the blessing you receive would be much more important.

  15. B Singer says:

    Full disclosure: I don’t even drink soda because I just don’t like it. Okay now that that’s out of the way… The church has already stated what “hot drinks” means and it’s dangerous to suppose otherwise. If you feel inspired to take it further personally, knock yourself out, but when you encourage others to do the same and do so with the logic that it’s the only way to be obedient, that’s a problem. Or when you look down on others who drink caffeinated beverages, but keep the law of no tea and coffee, that’s a problem. I get so frustrated with members of the church one-upping the commandments. “Oh the prophet said to not watch R-rated movies, well I don’t watch PG-13.” “The prophet said no tea and coffee, but I don’t drink any caffeinated soda or hot chocolate either.” That’s great if you feel that’s what’s right for you, but when you then look down at others who are only FOLLOWING the commandment and not your personal standard that’s a problem. And I see it all the time. I’m a very obedient person. I don’t subscribe to the idea that obedience to the commandments is like ordering food off a menu and I can pick and choose which ones work for me. I try really hard to keep them all. I want the Lord to know how much I love Him and I truly have had my change of heart and have “no more disposition to do evil, but good continually.” Although I am far from perfect (so very very far) I try so hard and I have on a couple occasions been judged by these one-uppers. I once heard a one-upper say, “I don’t know why some members are content to do the bare minimum.” Gah! It’s not the bare minimum if you are KEEPING the commandment. Paying 10% tithing is a full tithe and no less acceptable than a 20% tithe. The law is 10. If you have the desire and ability to pay more that’s beautiful, but you are no more righteous or obedient than the individual who does what you consider the “bare minimum.” Let’s not look beyond the mark, my friends.

  16. Scott says:

    Why oh why is there someone always wanting to clarify the word of the Lord?
    Line item living is not the Lord’s plan it is Satan’s.
    Why does it bother people so much that the church has never taken a stance on specific chemicals? Sure caffeine may hurt the body or even kill it but why stop there? How about salt or water or oxygen they will also kill you if you misuse them. Many people die every year of toxic levels of these “chemicals” every year. It is much more difficult to find injuries or death related to caffeine toxicity.
    Go live your life. No one is promised tomorrow. Stop worrying about the little things that may kill or damage you. Your death is guaranteed your life is not.

  17. s says:

    We may receive revelations from God for ourselves and our own callings, but never for the Church or its leaders. It is contrary to the order of heaven for a person to receive revelation for someone over whom he or she does not preside.

  18. Claire says:

    Wow you would think we were debating abortion or something. I think that the article gives you something to ponder and pray about. There is much of drinks that have been corrupted by man that it almost has to go beyond tea and coffee. I don’t remember which general authority said it but the “recommended” that we not drink caffinated drinks beca use it was stimulating or addicting to the body. Others have argued many things but it all comes down to are we just justifying the use of all these things because we want to continue to do as we please or are we going to study it out in our minds and pray to the Lord to see what is right. It seems that in some cases the guilty take the truth to be hard. Kind of like in Book of Mormon times when the people didn’t want to be told they were si,nets and needed to repent. They did horrible things to those who were sent by God to teach repentance. We could debate this to death as well. I ound this very interesting and want to ask the Lord myself. Whoever wrote this is entitled to his opinion and appreciate them sharing what they found. It’s not like he is overstepping the Prophet and bringing forth revelation that must be followed. Just insight as to what was discovered. Take it for it is worth. If you are getting this bent out of shape maybe you should search for yourself what Jesus would have us put in our bodies and how society has twisted what goes in our bodies that is not healthy. The word of wisdom is a guideline to health bodies and spirits! As with anything in the church we have agency! Choose wisely and be willing to accept the consiquences if you choose poorly!

    • Luis says:

      President Gordon B. Hinckly

    • Ruth says:

      Amen! My thoughts exactly! Thats why there are “hidden treasures of knowledge” do be found! They don’t have to spell everything out for us, if we really want to know in our hearts we can study and pray and find the hidden truths! I love the gospel and all its mysteries and how it causes me to grow by working to know things instead of all things just being given.

  19. Joe says:

    Here is a great article on foods that contain caffeine: http://magazine.foxnews.com/food-wellness/12-surprising-sources-caffeine

    In the article: Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has a whopping 31 milligrams, almost as much as a can of Coke!

    (Comparatively speaking, A Diet Pepsi has 27-37 milligrams of caffeine.)

    Maybe that is why I love the giant chocolate brownies at BYU! The awesome German Chocolate cake they sometimes have in the cafeteria probably has more caffeine. I also sure loved the chocolate deserts at the MTC.

    Looks like BYU better start banning chocolate!!!!!!!!!

    Honestly?!?! Moderation in all things!

  20. Brock says:

    If this actually is the word of God, wouldn’t he say it in a way that’s not confusing in the first place?

  21. S. Johnston says:

    This article presents some points to ponder on. It never claims to be prophetic. The anger in many of these comments is evidence to me that the Spirit is lost when these types of products are ingested and defended.

  22. Jennifer says:

    There was an article in the ensign not too long ago warning about energy drinks!

  23. Tracker says:

    Wow. There were good things about this article, but it was a seriously long pole vault to some of the conclusions. I’m not a negative person, but it does seem a bit nit-picky. The sad part is that some people will read this piece, and use it as justification to feel superior, judgmental, and self-righteous toward their peers.
    While I do believe in following The Word of Wisdom, I also believe that interpretation is up to our prophets, and each person, according to his/her conscience.♡

  24. Binny says:

    ….. So, we also know in the BoM that “the Lord gave us all plants and herbs for the healing of our sickness and diseases”……,so what is the best way to obtain the properties from plants? By pouring boiling water over the leaves, or the roots or the bark – and then drinking the water, not necessarily when it’s very hot. Do you think the Nephites just gnawed on some bark? Do you think the American Indian gnawed on bark? No, read up on some of their remedies! To say that all “tea” is bad is a gross misstatement, a naïveté, a lack of understanding, a misinterpretation. There’s Mint tea, camomile tea, rose hip tea, ginger tea, rosemary tea ( most of you probably eat some Rosemary from time to time. There’s fennel tea, elderberry tea, echinacea tea…., you get the picture. These are an herbal or root “tea” and very good for you – and no you do not need to drink them hot hot! I’m sorry but we are to use plants and herbs for our healing and pouring boiling water over them is the best way to extract the healing properties……. So maybe we should come up with another name for them besides “tea”.

    • Joshua says:

      There is another name for them – tisanes. This is the proper name. They are referred to as “teas” because of the method of brewing (i.e. steeping) being identical to that used to make traditional tea. All true teas, whether they be black, green, oolong, white, etc. come from the same plant – camellia sinensis, the evergreen shrub native to Asia.

  25. Sarah says:

    I think the article’s not telling us to accept this as Gospel truth but that it’s just something to think about. As for me, I have to keep my sugar and caffeine intake at a minimum. I have anxiety disorder so those things agitate me even more. Some prescription and even OTC drugs I have to avoid as well. I think what’s most important is to turn to the Lord for guidance and do what you think is healthiest for your body.

    • Katie says:

      Your statement is interesting to me because I have an anxiety disorder and caffeine (not too much) seems to help me feel normal. Although I’m sure it is terrible for blood pressure.

      • Sarah says:

        “Your statement is interesting to me because I have an anxiety disorder and caffeine (not too much) seems to help me feel normal. Although I’m sure it is terrible for blood pressure.”

        That is interesting Katie. It’s fascinating how different things work for different people. 🙂

        • Lynette says:

          I was concerned my son had ADHD and our Ped. Told me I could try giving him caffeine with no sugar (he recommended v8 energy drinks). He said caffeine has a calming effect on those with ADHD. I haven’t tried it yet. But it does make sense since many of the RX are stimulants. Interesting stuff for sure.

  26. cindy says:

    Wow, I’m really surprised by some of the comments on this post! Looks like the author found some interesting thoughts in his studies and wanted to share. The number of fangs and claws that showed up were astounding to me.

  27. Dan Reyes says:

    We walk a fine line when we try to add our own interpretations to the counsel of the prophets and apostles. The Word of Wisdom, aside from being a dietary code, is also a commandment given – like all commandments – to test our willingness to obey our Heavenly Father. The interpretation of “hot drinks” as given by those in authority to interpret the meaning of the Lord’s commandments, is coffee and tea. There were no methamphetamines when the Word of Wisdom was given, but our leaders have counseled us on the dangers of such drugs which fall under the proscription of the Word of Wisdom. Such has not been the case with other caffeine containing substances which leads one to deduce that the reasons for forbidding coffee and tea are for are something other than their caffeine content.

  28. Taylor crane says:

    You know our prophet came out and said he drinks Pepsi? I would think if we were to be warned about adding caffeine to the list of the word of wisdom, we would know by now.

  29. Sean says:

    This doesn’t clarify anything but what this individual thinks.

  30. Candice hunter says:

    Interesting makes so much sense, dawn you right on the tannic acid. And as a natural health practitioner and clinical nutritionist it’s funny as prior to my conversion I had been instilling the same principles in my patients without even knowing haha. Xxx

  31. Cherie Johnson says:

    Well written. I learned something new. Will you do another on eating meat?

  32. Cj says:

    Well if i remember correctly there was a artical published in church news called mormons drink up where church officals stated that caffeine is not against the word of wisdom. That we could drink soda.

  33. Ryan says:

    We focus so much on coffee and smoking that we forget the other verses that are about eating healthy. I will give up coffee when the rest of the word of wisdom is included in the conversation and temple recommend questions.

  34. hanksbamokey says:

    Man, Mormons worry about a lot of nonsense! (and I am one). Google The New England Journal of Medicine & other QUALIFIED medical journals and learn of the measured health benefits of Coffee.

    Geez…get a life!

  35. This is absolutely fantastic and clarifies so much I already knew, but now simplifies the whole “caffeine” debate so precisely. wow.

    Thank you Jayson!

  36. Jo says:

    Very good research. I think you are right. I have often felt that those who accredit caffeine of some sort with their ability to awake, deal calmly and appropriately with others and to have energy, and who wrongly turn away from their own internal fortitude and responsibilities regarding the development of character in those matters, are greatly mistaken

  37. Jose Suarez says:

    This is silly and potentially dangerous. We do actually know the meaning of the phrase hot drinks and you stated it near the beginning of your article, “tea and coffee” and that “The Church does not have a position on this.” So why take it a step further and claim that you know that it actually means “stimulating” which has a direct reference to caffeine? I agree that we should take care of our bodies as best we can, but we should also take care of our relationships, perhaps even more so. If we accept this bizarre mentality that caffeine will lead to a loss of spirit I have a feeling we will be stepping a little closer to the side of those pharisees and hypocrites that Christ was always quick to point out. We forget about the people around us and worry more about bizarre rules that ultimately have no grounding in the gospel.

  38. ConcernedCitizen says:

    Or Joseph Smith made it all up and you’re trying to make sense of his random blurbs presented as godly truths.

  39. Ruth says:

    Who wrote this article? I can’t find a name.

  40. Cam says:

    For some reason people cannot let the whole traditions of their fathers go. Sorry, but this grasp at a rather weak arguments leads to more justification and excuses than it solves. You are not better or more worthy because you don’t partake of Diet Coke . The officials clarified the whole caffeine thing, so why do you have to one up SLC?

  41. Nancy says:

    Great article, this is how I have always viewed the word of wisdom. I believe the reason it was given was so that we could increase our ability to always have the Holy Ghost with us. The desire to have the spirit with us should be so strong as to drive us to want to keep our body and mind clean and clear so that we can always hear, and feel the promptings that protect us.

  42. Vaughn Hughes says:

    Funny, but in your reference to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary definition of hot, you left out the first definition, which includes a type of drink. In fact, a type of drink is only mentioned once. And it doesn’t have a thing to do with caffeine, tea, or coffee:

    HOT, adjective
    1. Having sensible heat; opposed to cold; as a hot stove or fire; a hot cloth; hot liquors. hot expresses more than warm.

    Liquors. I.e., distilled alcohol. LDS Mormons have no idea what this means because the majority have never had liquor touch their lips in their entire lives. I can tell you it comes across as palpably hot. And strong.

    Contrast that with the “mild” type of drink discussed in verse 17, which is derived from barley or other grains. LDS Mormons today have no idea what this means, but if you ask any non-Mormon drinker, they can tell you: beer. Not rocket science. Ironically, Joseph Smith not only consumed wine outside of the sacrament (as anti-Mormons love to deride, for example, on the night before his martyrdom in Carthage), but also occasionally enjoyed a beer with friends. The DHC used to have a clear reference to an example of this on June 1st, 1844, where Joseph recorded: “Drank a glass of beer at Moesser’s.” It was deemed unseemly by some future Church historian and removed from more recent editions. Unfortunate, but part of our evolution of the Word of Wisdom. The reality is that the forbidding of alcohol began under President Grant during prohibition. Prior to that the consumption of beer and wine (including the many Church vineyards in Southern Utah that produced alcoholic wine for use in sacrament throughout Idaho, Utah, and Arizona) was normal, accepted, and never considered contrary to the Word of Wisdom.

    • Vaughn Hughes says:

      This whole subject is a fascinating case study in how the traditions of men have superseded a revelation from God through Joseph. For example, there has never been some “revelation update” given by God to the Word of Wisdom changing it from something expressly laid out by the Lord as “not by constraint” into a required commandment which a person must obey in order to attend the temple or even be baptized. (which modern LDS baptismal tradition contradicts the commandments of the Lord in 3 Nephi 11) I believe it is enormously naive & utter folly to suppose that any Church leader can alter, change, add to, or take away from what the Lord gave us through Joseph, our dispensation head. (see D&C 5:10 for the Lord’s assertion of his primacy for us) As you are certainly aware, revelations from God have not been claimed to have been received & presented to the church for a vote of inclusion in the scriptures in about 150 years. (just the two O.D. press releases) Pres. Hinckley wasn’t kidding when he shared his opinion with the news reporter that “we don’t need much revelation anymore”. We now do as the Pharisees have for thousands of years and allow oral traditions & imaginings of men to trump the revealed word of God we once received. This is clearly taught in our temple endowment when the adversary looks into the eyes of the audience and states that these philosophies of men–mingled with a little scripture (to taste)–is now received very well by the patrons. Terrible irony. During his mortal ministry, Christ summarized our modern habits in Matt. 15:9: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The Word of Wisdom is a prime example in every way of our teaching “commandments of men” as though they are from God. God’s language was plain at the time, and we have wrested it severely since then.

  43. Ryan says:

    Wow, you should let President Monson know that you figured it out and now the Church can be taught properly.

  44. Dawn says:

    Interesting that you do not mention, even in passing, the tannic acids which are contained in both coffee and black (fermented) tea. Studies show that repeated exposure to truly hot drinks increases the likelihood of oral, throat and stomach cancers. Tannic acid, as I am sure you know, are used in tanning skins into leather. Neither healthy nor appetizing. There are, as you say, many aspects to be considered when studying the Word of Wisdom.

  45. Paul says:

    I work overnights. I work with other members of the church. They’re always getting those energy drinks, which in my opinion, have more caffeine then just a normal cup of coffee. Yes I do drink coffee from time to time and get a bunch of crap from the members for doing so. To my response I ask them, “so do you think your energy drink has less caffeine than a cup of coffee?”. My opinion is drinking 3 or 4 energy drinks a night how much does a lot more damage than a small cup of coffee.

  46. Sam says:

    Your logic in your article seems sound and, actually, it makes a lot of sense. As you mentioned several times that nowhere in official church doctrine is caffeine forbidden. It would make it easier, as you say, if it were. We also know that “it is not meet that man should be commanded in all things.” Perhaps (this is only supposition) we are left to make those choices on our own to show our faith to the extent that we are willing to go beyond that which is required officially in the Word of Wisdom.

    • Earle Waters says:

      Sam, You are so right in all that you say. my mother and father told me many years ago, that if I desired the right answer about something I should pray and fast about it! What has been reviled to me has made me a lot healthier. I partake of noting that has caffeine. No alcohol including cold medicines. I drink no so called energy drinks. now I’m working on the hard one! Sugar, the one that breaks down our immune system . If anyone disagrees with the facts that are made known to us, are just fooling themselves! Please pray about this subject before casting stones and justifying you weaknesses.

  47. Brad says:

    Interesting observations. Now that you are seeing that things are not always interpreted as the Lord has said them, I’m wondering why you say that drinking alcohol is forbidden by the word of wisdom. The Lord specifically reserves wine (in the category of strong drinks for anyone who would suppose that He is just talking about grape juice) for the sacrament. There is purpose in this that is probably only discovered when using wine as the Lord directs. There is also the recommendation of “mild drinks” made of barley or other grains. A mild drink made from grain opposed to strong drinks… well you figure it out. As you have pointed out, men take the words of the Lord and twist and change them to fit and suit their own purposes, rather than doing exactly what He has said. I’m not sure that I agree that there is a loss of the light of Christ or the influence of the Holy Ghost when one does not follow the WoW, as this is only given as a principle with a promise, and the promise is to discover wisdom and hidden knowledge. A simple test is when you do not follow the other things mentioned such as eating meat sparingly – only in times of famine, cold or excess of hunger, eating fruits and vegetables in season, do you feel a loss of light or influence of the Holy Ghost?

  48. Matt says:

    Interesting that you would suggest that those who do not drink caffeinated beverages are more spiritual than those who do when you say that the lack of clarification “has led to confusion, rationalization, and the loss of the Spirit for many.” If anything, I think our culture of assessing whether others within our church live up to our personal idea of standards does more for “the loss of the spirit” than a caffeinated drink does. If people spent more time trying to align their lives to what the Spirit would have them do and less time trying to define what others should be doing, we as a church would be a lot closer to the only way we can be saved – by becoming more like Jesus – rather than continuously aligning ourselves with the Saducees and Pharisees of old who were like white sepulchers – only full of dead men’s bones.

  49. Lori says:

    If you are focusing on caffeine…cocoa/chocolate does not naturally contain caffeine. Chocolate does not have the same side effects as coffee or caffeine. so it should not even be considered in this article. If you want to know the differences and benefits of chocolate to the body please check out this link. http://www.xocoatl.org/caffeine.htm

    Also please note that Caffeine will not keep you out of the Temple thus will not keep you out of the Celestial Kingdom. (personally I avoid caffeinated drinks when I can because it is not healthy and upsets my stomach.) The Lord instructed Joseph Hot Drinks which was determined to be Tea and Coffee…This through revelation…are you claiming that revelation is lacking or incomplete? Are you claiming your studies should supercede a prophets guidance? Your article is over worked. Sometimes the Lord gives us commandmants to see if we can follow them…and for no other reason than just that…to teach obedience. No indepth over worked explaination is needed.

    • Jan says:

      Amen to your comment. The first thing I thought was that if the Lord felt WoW needed better clarification, He would give it.

  50. Shanna Koyle says:

    Thank you for this article. As my husband and I read this, we now have a desire to find an old Webster dictionary to help give greater clarification ti other passages of scripture. The promise in the Word of Wisdom to receive hidden treasures of knowledge is true. As you strive to live it physically you receive countless blessings spiritually and physically.

  51. Concerned says:

    Here’s the conference talk about hot chocolate being against the word of wisdom in 1868. It was given by one of the quorum of the twelve apostles of the time.
    “We are told, and very plainly too, that hot drinks—tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa and all drinks of this kind are not good for man. We are also told that alcoholic drinks are not good, and that tobacco when either smoked or chewed is an evil. We are told that swine’s flesh is not good, and that we should dispense with it; and we are told that flesh of any kind is not suitable to man in the summer time, and ought to be eaten sparingly in the winter.”

    https://journalofdiscourses.com/12/47

  52. CJacobson says:

    OK, Mormons, drink up — Coke and Pepsi are OK
    By Peggy Fletcher Stack The Salt Lake Tribune

    Published September 5, 2012 9:32 am
    Maybe now, reporters, bloggers, outsiders and even many Mormons will accept that the Utah-based LDS Church does not forbid cola drinking.

    On Wednesday, the LDS Church posted a statement on its website saying that “the church does not prohibit the use of caffeine” and that the faith’s health-code reference to “hot drinks” “does not go beyond [tea and coffee].”

    A day later, the website wording was slightly softened, saying only that “the church revelation spelling out health practices … does not mention the use of caffeine.”

    Same goes for the church’s two-volume handbook, which stake presidents, bishops and other LDS leaders use to guide their congregations. It says plainly that “the only official interpretation of ‘hot drinks’ (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early church leaders that the term ‘hot drinks’ means tea and coffee.”

  53. Lynne L. Hindman says:

    I understand that the mugs that were used at that time contained high amounts of lead. There is an increased leaching of lead when the drink is hot (i.e. hot temperature) (Hindman, 2016).

  54. G Gauthier says:

    Didn’t know that God had called a new Prophet? I beleive that is how the Apostacy happen, someone trying to explain what The Lord meant when He spoke to a Prophet. Don’t you think that God didn’t know about caffeine so that is why He said hot drink instead?

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