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Citations from LDS Church Leaders and Resources concerning the Word of Wisdom

The following citations are documented in Bill McKeever’s book In Their Own Words concerning the Word of Wisdom.

Prophets/Presidents

Joseph Smith:

“No official member in this Church is worthy to hold an office after having the Word of Wisdom properly taught him; and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with and obey it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 117).

Brigham Young:

“This Word of Wisdom prohibits the use of hot drinks and tobacco. I have heard it argued that tea and coffee are not mentioned therein; that is very true; but what were the people in the habit of taking as hot drinks when that revelation was given? Tea and coffee. We were not in the habit of drinking water very hot, but tea and coffee—the beverages in common use” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, p. 212).

Joseph F. Smith: 

“But says one, ‘If I am offered a cup of tea or a cup of coffee I cannot refuse it.’ Then, according to the word of the Lord, you are too weak to be a Latter-day Saint” (Conference Reports, April 1880, p. 36).

Heber J. Grant:

“THE ROAD TO APOSTASY. I have seen men in high places start in by drinking tea and coffee, saying, ‘That doesn’t amount to anything,’ then next using liquor, then next finding fault with the authorities of the Church, and the first think I knew they left the Church. But I have never known a person, man or woman, who attended his meetings, and partook of the spirit and inspiration that are present in the meetings of true, faithful Latter-day Saints, who has ever apostasized.—CS, April 10, 1937:1” (Gospel Standards, p. 42).

“ON ‘TEAS.’ I want to announce that I shall be glad if we will quit giving notices to the papers of what is termed ‘teas’ that are being held in our homes. I read of a ‘tea’ being given in the home of President Hebert J. Grant, and of the ‘tea’ table’s being decorated. There is no tea table in the home of President Heber J. Grant. I would like us to change that name in our newspapers, at least so far as Latter-day Saints are concerned, and have it a ‘social gathering,’ or a lunch, or anything you have a mind to call it, and quit calling it a ‘tea’ when every Latter-day Saint is asked by the Lord to leave tea, coffee, and tobacco alone.—CR, April, 1926:8” (Gospel Standards, p. 43).

George Albert Smith

“The Lord says that we should not use hot or strong drinks. He tells us that tobacco is not good for us. He advises us against the using of these things, and tells us that we should use grain for food and even tells us the kind of grain that is best for us. He tells us that there are some things that are better than others. He tells us to use meat only sparingly, and he gives us the privilege of having all wholesome herbs and fruits as part of our diet and promises us, with the use of these things, happiness. He warns us against the use of strong drinks and tobacco. Last year, this state that we live in, violated that commandment of God to the extent of over $22,000,000. Yet, we, many of us, belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I want to say that not one penny of that $22,000,000 that was used for these things that our Heavenly Father has said are not good for us, has produced any happiness. On the contrary it has produced misery, and sorrow, and the unfortunate part of it is that it not only applies to us in mortality, but also it will mean sorrow in many cases throughout the ages of eternity” (Conference Reports, April 1944, p. 30).

Joseph Fielding Smith

“SALVATION AND A CUP OF TEA. You cannot neglect little things. ‘Oh, a cup of tea is such a little thing. It is so little; surely it doesn’t amount to much; surely the Lord will forgive me if I drink a cup of tea. Yes, he will forgive you, because he is going to forgive every man who repents; but, my brethren, if you drink coffee or tea, or take tobacco, are you letting a cup of tea or a little tobacco stand in the road and bar you from the celestial kingdom of God, where you might otherwise have received a fulness of glory?” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:16).

Spencer W. Kimball

“The Word of Wisdom is a commandment. In 1851 President Brigham Young gave to this Church the Word of Wisdom as a final and definite commandment. From the time it was given to the Prophet Joseph until 1851 it was considered as a matter of preference or suggestions to the people, a word of advice and counsel. From 1851 until this day it is a commandment to all the members of the Church of Jesus Christ” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 201).

Howard W. Hunter

Live the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. We complicate the simplicity of the Word of Wisdom. The Lord said don’t drink tea, coffee, or use tobacco or liquor and that admonition is simple. But we confuse it by asking if cola drinks are against the Word of Wisdom. The 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants doesn’t say anything about cola drinks, but we ask questions that go beyond the simplicity of the lesson that has been taught. We know that caffeine is taken out of coffee and used as an ingredient of cola drinks. It seems to me that if we probably want to live the spirit of the law we probably wouldn’t partake of that which had been taken from what we were told not to drink” (“Marriage is Forever,” Australia Area Conference, Women’s Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, November 28, 1979. Cited in The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, pp. 104-105. Bold in original).

First Presidency

“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” (George Q. Cannon, April 7, 1868, Journal of Discourses 12:221).

“We must not permit them to drink liquor or hot drinks, or hot soups or to use tobacco or other articles that are injurious” (George Q. Cannon, April 7, 1868, Journal of Discourses 12:223).

“I know persons who apostatized because they supposed they had reasons; for instance, a certain family, after having travelled a long journey, arrived in Kirtland, and the Prophet asked them to stop with him until they could find a place. Sister Emma, in the mean time, asked the old lady if she would have a cup of tea to refresh her after the fatigues of the journey, or a cup of coffee. This whole family apostatized because they were invited to take a cup of tea or coffee, after the Word of Wisdom was given” (George A. Smith, March 18, 1855, Journal of Discourses 2:214).

Apostles

“A man may keep the Word of Wisdom so far as tea, coffee, and tobacco are concerned, and still come very short. If he wishes and intends to be right, he must obey this, together with all the commandments and Words of Wisdom. We must regulate our thoughts, our comings in, our goings out, and all our doings and our minds by the Spirit of the Lord, and by the counsels of His servants” (Orson Pratt, May 20, 1855, Journal of Discourses 3:19).

“I believe there are no people in the world who have mastered and overcome mortal weaknesses quite so well as we have. But, I want to see that mastery more complete. I want to see the children of those who have forsaken the sins of the world, who have left off the use of tea, tobacco, coffee, and liquor, take advantage of the example of the fathers and mothers, thus each generation shall become more perfect, until we shall attain unto that which God has designed we should” (Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Reports, October 1912, p. 109).

“The Word of Wisdom put restrictions on members of the Church. To this day those regulations apply to every member and to everyone who seeks to join the Church. They are so compelling that no one is to be baptized into the Church without first agreeing to live by them. No one will be called to teach or to lead unless they accept them. When you want to go to the temple, you will be asked if you keep the Word of Wisdom. If you do not, you cannot go to the house of the Lord until you are fully worthy” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Word of Wisdom: The Principles and the Promise,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1996, p. 17).

Church Manuals (part of the correlated curriculum produced officially by the LDS Church)

“We must obey the Word of Wisdom to be worthy to enter the temple. If we do not obey the Word of Wisdom, the Lord’s Spirit withdraws from us” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p.167).

“The Lord also counsels us against the use of ‘hot drinks’ (D&C 89:9). Church leaders have said that this means coffee and tea, which contain harmful substances. We should avoid all drinks that contain harmful substances” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 169).

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