Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Honestly I’m not very “into” this particular holiday. I’m not Irish and I don’t drink. From what I’ve observed, those are the two main reasons why this day is observed. I like green I suppose, though I’ll admit I’m not wearing a green tie right now. Hope no one pinches me. (Does anyone else think that’s kinda dumb…?)
Well anyway, since a lot of people typically take this day as an excuse to get hammered, I thought I might explain a little about why we, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, don’t do that… among other things that we do not participate in.
If you have Mormon friends, you’re probably aware of the fact that they abstain from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, coffee, tea, and heck, maybe even Coke and Pepsi if they’re really straight edge. The reason for this is something that we refer to as the Word of Wisdom, a revelation given from the Lord through the prophet Joseph Smith in 1833. You can find this revelation in the 89th section of scripture we call the Doctrine and Covenants.
In this revelation, the saints are counseled to refrain from the use of strong drinks (alcohol), tobacco, and hot drinks, which prophets later revealed means coffee and tea. The Lord specifies that alcohol is for washing and cleansing and tobacco is for bruises of sick animals.
However, the Word of Wisdom isn’t just a list of “don’ts”, but also lists things that are good for us. The Lord tells us that grains are the staff of life and good for the use of man, and also that barley and other grains may be used for “mild” drinks (not very tasty though…). The flesh of beasts is also good to consume, but should be done so sparingly.
Perhaps you’ve been confused about the caffeine thing. Here it is, plain and simple. Mormons are allowed to drink caffeine.But, here is a verse from the 58th section of the Doctrine and Covenants,
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
The ultimate idea behind the Word of Wisdom is that any substance someone may put into their body, deliberately, that harms their body is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. And any substance that becomes addictive is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. For some, caffeine is an addiction. They should no consume it because it takes possession of their agency. They become dependent upon it to function, just as many become subjected to a need for coffee in the morning. Others, however, do not have that physical weakness. They can drink caffeine and be just fine.
The Lord, however, has set specific boundaries. Alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea, have had a law, a fence if you will, built around them. We are no to indulge in them at all. Other things, there are gray areas. But as the Lord said, it is not necessary for Him to command us in all things. We should use wisdom and also the brains that God gave us. Be healthy, use good judgment, do not allow a substance to take presidence over the Lord.
It’s not something temporary, but spiritual. All of God’s commandments are spiritual. I obey the Word of Wisdom because I know that by taking care of my body, I’m also taking care of my spirit. And after all, it’s not really my body. We have been bought with a price, as Paul the Apostle stated. Our bodies are temples, and they belong to God. He has given them to us, so we should do our best to take care of them.
Oh, and I’ll admit, the Chicago river dyed green? That’s awesome.