Monday, October 26, 2009

“The Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.” ~Boyd K Packer (italics added by me)

My children have been coming home from church and Seminary with stories about instruction and conversations pertaining to the Word of Wisdom. Bill and I have always tried to follow all of the instruction we feel has come from Heavenly Father for the spiritual, physical, and emotional betterment of our lives as best as we can.
3 subjects pertaining to the Word of Wisdom tend to pop up repeatedly:

1~ Do Mormon’s drink caffeinated pop?

Well- yes - many of them do, and – no- many of them don’t. We do not drink coffee or tea with caffeine in them (that includes decaffeinated which is far from caffeine free), those infractions can keep us out of the Temple. But drinking a Mountain Dew or Diet Coke will not. In an interview with Mike Wallace I heard our Prophet state that we (the church) did not drink caffeinated pops.
“Mike Wallace: No alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee, no tea, not even caffeinated soft drinks...
Gordon B. Hinckley: Right.
Mike Wallace: ...eat meat sparingly, exercise...
Gordon B. Hinckley: Right.
Mike Wallace: ...get plenty of sleep.
Gordon B. Hinckley: Right. It's wonderful!”
That’s all Bill and I needed to make the decision to make sure we didn’t ‘partake’ anymore. But before this interview we had already decided that pop in general was unhealthy and had pretty much stopped drinking it, so it was an easy choice for us.
So drinking caffeinated pop has not been issued as a direct commandment to the Saints. I love this quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some people argue over whether it [the Word of Wisdom] is a commandment. I do not need to argue. As far as I am concerned, whether it is a commandment or counsel, that which the Lord counsels becomes a commandment to Gordon B. Hinckley. I hope it does to you. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 703.)”
As a rule we are taught to abstain from anything that can form addictions or habits that can harm the body. And yes – that can include chocolate! Although I like the word ‘moderation’ more than ‘abstain’ here….

2 ~ If it’s a commandment not to drink tea, why do you drink herbal tea?

“Tea” has a specific definition, “1 a : a shrub (Camellia sinensis of the family Theaceae, the tea family) cultivated especially in China, Japan, and the East Indies b : the leaves, leaf buds, and internodes of the tea plant prepared and cured for the market, classed according to method of manufacture into one set of types (as green tea, black tea, or oolong), and graded according to leaf size into another (as orange pekoe, pekoe, or souchong)”
Herbs are specifically mentioned in the scriptures:
Doctrine & Covenenants 89:10 all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the… use of man
“As accomplished as Western Medicine has become, the Lord has prepared many underutilized medicines in the herbs He created. Long before the medicinal value of plants and roots was understood by modern science, the Nephite and Lamanite “medicine men” made good use of the only pharmacy available to them. Mormon editorialized, “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.” (Alma 46:40) “ ~LDS.net
It just happens that the herbs are steeped in water – like tea- it’s actually called an infusion or tisane, but we call it herbal tea. For some members this drink is too closely associated with actual tea and they choose not to drink it. That’s fine.
We do enjoy herbal infusions; in fact I sip on one all day long as part of my program. I think it’s important that people in and out of the church understand the difference between herbal teas and the ‘hot drink’ tea Joseph Smith was referring to.

3~ What does ‘Eat meat sparingly’ mean?

Hmmm, to some it means once with every meal, to others it might mean one meal a day, to others it could mean something else.
To Bill and I it means, as the scripture says, Doctrine & Covenants 89: “12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."
When we eat out or at someone’s house we do eat meat occasionally. Tawny said that Americans on average eat 14 cows in total over their lifetime… (I wonder how many chickens they eat.)
Boyd K. Packer has said, “…learn to use moderation and common sense in matters of health and nutrition, and particularly in medication. Avoid being extreme or fanatical or becoming a faddist.
For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly . Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that “whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God” (D&C 49:18).
So just to make sure people know, we don’t forbid anyone in our house to eat meat!
I want to repeat the quote by Packer that I started this with:
“The Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.”

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