Along with drinking alcohol, Joseph Smith sold, at the formerly Mormon-owned store called Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile, tea, coffee, and tobacco–all forbidden under the Word of Wisdom. On December 22, 1841, eight years after the Word of Wisdom was put in place, Joseph records that 13 wagons of groceries arrived at the new store, delivering, among other things, tea and coffee (History of the Church, 4:483). Also George Albert Smith remarked, “We are doing a great business in tea, coffee and tobacco in the Co-operative Store” (October 7, 1873, Journal of Discourses 16:238).
The following quotes come directly from Joseph Smith’s original journal without the convenient edits from official church historians:
“We then took some refreshment and our hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine.” (January 14, 1836) (HC V.2:369. Incident date: January 1836; Also c. in Tanner 1987:407).
Elder O. Hyde, Elder L. Johnson, and Elder W. Parrish who served on the occasion then presented the Presidency with three Servers filled with glasses of wine to bless. It fell to my lot to attend to this duty, which I cheerfully discharged. It was then passed round in order, then the cake in the same order. Suffice it to say our hearts were made cheerful and glad, while partaking of the bounty of the earth which was presented until we had taken our fill.” (January 20, 1833)
Here Joseph Smith is presented with wine which he not only drinks but blesses first. If the word of wisdom were a commandment would this not be mocking that commandment?
“Met the several quorums in the room under the printing office. After organizing and opening by prayer, called upon the High Council of Kirtland to proceed and confess their sins as they might be directed by the spirit. They occupied the first part of the day and confessed and exhorted as the spirit led. P.M attended again and saw the Bread and wine administered to the quorums and brethren who were present.” (January 24, 1836)
“The Bishops and their councils were then washed, after which we partook of the bread and wine.” (March 29, 1836)
“I ascended the pulpit and remarked to the congregation that we had passed through many trials and afflictions since the organization of this Church and that this is a year of jubilee to us and a time of rejoicing, and that it was expedient for us to prepare bread and wine sufficient to make our hearts glad, as we should not probably leave this house until morning. To this end we should call on the brethren to make a contribution; the stewards passed round and took up a liberal contribution and messengers were dispatched for bread and wine. (March 30, 1836)
“The bread and wine was then brought in and I observed that we had fasted all the day, and lest we faint as the Saviour did so shall we do on this occasion. We shall bless the bread and give it to the 12 and they to the multitude, after which we shall bless the wine and do likewise.” (March 30, 1836)
“Elder Hyde told of the excellent white wine he drank in the east. Joseph prophesied in the name of the Lord that he would drink wine with him in that country.” (January 20, 1843).
“Drank a glass of wine with Sister Richards of her mother’s make in England”
(May 3, 1843) (HC V.5:380.)
“Drank a glass of beer at Moessers....” (June 1, 1844, two weeks before Smith’s death.)
If you don’t trust my research then you can do your own, search Joseph Smith’s diary under these dates but remember the Church™ has deleted all these references from modern church histories. It is best to look for photographic evidences of the journal entries or older church history publications. Older church history publications do have them.
January 14, 1836
January 20, 1836
January 24, 1836
March 29, 1836
March 30, 1836
January 20, 1843
March 7, 1843
March 10, 1843
April 13, 1843
May 3, 1843
June 1, 1844
The church forbids the use of tea, but according to Joseph Smith's Diary, March 11, 1843, he was quite fond of strong tea, least with breakfast: “…in the office Joseph said he had tea with his breakfast. his wife asked him if [it] was good. He said if it was a little stronger he should like it better, when Mother Granger remarked, ‘It is so strong, and good, I should think it would answer Both for drink, and food.’” This was eventually completely removed from the official History of the Church (see Vol. 5, page 302).
John Taylor once said this:
“Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us. I think it was Captain Jones who went after it, but they would not suffer him to return. I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards.” (John Taylor). (HC V.7:101).
It is interesting to note that the Apostle John Taylor continued to use alcoholic beverages for many years following Joseph Smith’s death neither departing from church traditions of the time nor inventing our modern ones himself at least according to the testimony of Hosea Stout. Hosea Stout recorded the following entry in his diary on June 3, 1847: “While I was explaining this prests O. Hyde P. P. Pratt and John Taylor also came in so I stoped saying I had been catched twice.Elder Taylor replied to go on and not stop for them. I told him it was nothing but a police meeting and not interesting to them. ‘Never mind says he we are police men too.’ Says I. ‘I hope you will all conform to the rules of the police then.’ ‘Certainly’ says Taylor ‘Bring on the jug’ says I at which they were presented with a large jug of whiskey. This was such an unexpected turn that it was only answered by a peal of laughter & they all paid due respect to the jug... After drinking says Parley ‘I have traveled these streets all times of the night & never before have I saw a police man but now I know where to find them hereafter’ alluding to the jug. ‘Parley’ says I ‘do you not know that some things in this kingdom are only spiritually discerned & so with the police.’” (Tanner 1987:407 c: On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, V.1:259. For more references, see Tanner 1987: Ch 26).
And then we have this from the journal of discourses:
…we must feed our children properly.... We must not permit them to drink liquor or hot drinks, or hot soups or to use tobacco or other articles that are injurious.” (JD. V.12:221&223. George Q. Cannon 7 Apr 1868).
I find it very interesting that we see that swine’s flesh and hot cocoa are also considered forbidden and that meat of any kind is only ok during the winter and even then only sparingly. Whereas today pork and hot cocoa are ok when in the past they were not, though this statement also shows that suddenly the modern word of wisdom understanding is taking shape as opposed to the days when Joseph Smith would bless wine before he and the brethren drank it.
“I was quite restless all night. Felt chilly. Took a little Brandy sling and a cup of coffee, and slept some before daylight and until 9 am…” (Wilford Woodruff Journal, 9 Jun 1897).
Woodruff was the Prophet of the Church (from 1889 to 1898) when he wrote that note in his journal.
In 1867, Brigham Young noted that most Bishops did not obey the Word of Wisdom: “You go through the wards in the city, and then through the wards in the country, and ask the Bishops--'Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?' The reply will be 'Yes; no, not exactly.' 'Do you drink tea?' 'No.' 'Coffee?' 'No.' 'Do you drink whisky?' 'No.' Well, then, why do you not observe the Word of Wisdom?' 'Well, this tobacco, I cannot give it up.' And in this he sets an example to every man, and to every boy over ten years of age, in his ward, to nibble at and chew tobacco. You go to another ward, and perhaps the Bishop does not chew tobacco, nor drink tea nor coffee, but once in a while he takes a little spirits, and keeps whiskey in his house, in which he will occasionally indulge-- Go to another ward, and perhaps the Bishop does not drink whisky nor chew tobacco, but he 'cannot give up his tea and coffee.' And so it goes through the whole church. Not every Bishop indulges in one or more of these habits, but most of them do. I recollect being at a trial not long since where quite a number of Bishops had been called in as witnesses, but I could not learn that there was one who did not drink whiskey, and I think that most of them drank tea and coffee. I think that we have some bishops in this city who do not chew tobacco, nor drink liquor nor tea nor coffee to excess.... If a person is weary, worn out, cast down, fainting, or dying, a brandy sling, a little wine, or a cup of tea is good to revive them. Do not throw these things away, and say they must never be used; they are good to be used with judgment, prudence, and discretion. Ask our bishops if they drink tea every day, and in most cases they will tell you they do if they can get it.” (Tanner 1987:410 c: JD. V.12:402-403).
Heber C. Kimball, of the First Presidency, once said “virtuous Saints,... will not sell whiskey, and stick up groceries, and establish distilleries,...” (JD. V.2:161) This statement is at odds with the information that Joseph Smith sold whiskey in Nauvoo and owned a fully stocked bar in his mansion house there as well, and that Brigham Young built a distillery and sold alcoholic beverages in Utah which is how he could afford to live in a mansion much less provide for 56 children and his many wives. Even the Church owned Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) sold the items forbidden by the Word of Wisdom. Again I remind you that on Oct. 7, 1873, George A. Smith, said this: “We are doing a great business in tea, coffee, and tobacco in the Cooperative Store.” (JD. V.16:238). (Tanner 1987:412).
Again you may discover these things from the LDS sources I cited but you would have to go through older editions to find them all since the Church™ has deleted this information because it proves that the revelation given to Joseph Smith “not by commandment or constraint” morphed into dietary doctrine because our church has once again put policy above doctrine.
I could be wrong, if I were another prophet would have to have had a divine revelation to ‘modify’ or ‘command’ that the word of wisdom hence forth be a commandment. I am aware of no such revelation given to or claimed by any church president.
If you know of that revelation then let me know and post it in the comment section below so as to educate me along with any other doubters.
See the way our church works is by divine revelations AND scripture. In order to turn a divine revelation given to Joseph Smith “not by commandment or constraint” and then to turn that into an actual commandment would then require another divine revelation. That’s the way Joseph Smith set it up per instruction from the Lord.
You may argue that that has happened in that many in the church leadership including prophets have confirmed that the word of wisdom is a commandment and that according to Ezra Taft Benson’s talk 14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet that a prophet need not say ‘Thus Saith The Lord’ to be giving a revelation; as in any utterance of the prophet is now the word of the Lord. I assure you it is not and that as Joseph Smith said “I am only a prophet when speaking as a prophet.”
Also dear brother Benson was taken to task by the prophet of the time of that particular talk, Spencer W. Kimball, whose son Edward said he didn’t want anyone espousing a blind follow the leader mentality. And Benson never revisited that topic upon becoming prophet himself. Perhaps having the keys of prophet, seer and revelator he better understood that particular issue.
Since the opening lines of the word of wisdom revelation say it was given by the Lord “Not by commandment or constraint” let’s make a comparison to a teaching given by Jesus in a similar way that caused heated debate in early Christianity and also led to an evolving church principle.
It is the law of abstinence. Jesus says:
“For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Matthew 19:12)
What our Savior seems to be saying is that some people give up sexuality and even break the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” for the sake of serving God and his will. Now he gives this not as a commandment but as a teaching to call anyone who can accept that life to accept that life. Likewise it is with the word of wisdom, it is “A Word of Wisdom” not “The Word of Wisdom” to be accepted “not by commandment or constraint” but willingly by those who can for the betterment of their health and all the blessings that naturally follow.
Now let’s take Jesus as an example he followed kosher law but not the word of wisdom. But the most famous example is the sacrament which Jesus commanded us to do in remembrance of him. So let’s look at that blessing “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (D&C 20:79).
Staying true to the manner in which our Savior and Redeemer arranged the first sacrament during the Passover meal which was his last supper Joseph Smith writes in the official blessing that you have in your scriptures now wine, not water.
Since I was curious about this too, as I’m sure you are now let’s take a look at the word of wisdom in it’s entirety now:
1 A aWord of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—
2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the aword of wisdom, showing forth the order and bwill of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—
3 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the bweak and the weakest of all csaints, who are or can be called saints.
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of aevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of bconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
5 That inasmuch as any man adrinketh bwine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
Note that wine is mentioned as acceptable as a sacrament.
6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, apure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7 And, again, astrong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
8 And again, tobacco is not for the abody, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
Any hot drink except for hot chocolate, right?
10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome aherbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with aprudence and bthanksgiving.
12 Yea, aflesh also of bbeasts 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 csparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be aused, only in times of winter, or of cold, or bfamine.
14 All agrain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And athese hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
16 All grain is good for the afood of man; as also the bfruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
I can point you to a piece at pure Mormonism about how this may refer to beer since we know Joseph Smith drank a glass two weeks before he was killed. Some insist that it instead refers to barley water but I cannot cite a single source as to any of the early church leaders drinking that but I can refer you to Joseph Smith’s journal where he talks of drinking a glass of beer at Moessers.
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, ashall receive bhealth in their navel and marrow to their bones;
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the adestroying angel shall bpass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
Now back to Jesus, he did drink wine but not to excess. Also he did not smoke. Now I know you’re thinkin’, you’re thinkin’ it was ancient times in Judea and he had no access to tobacco or cigarettes. And this is true. But he was the son of God, he walked on water, raised the dead, came back from the dead and cured the blind and the lepers, I’m pretty sure he could’ve conjured up a smoke had he really wanted to.
But he did not therefore it is not very Jesusy to have a smoke; you can’t argue that it is. But again the word of wisdom is a word of wisdom for the health and betterment of the people and it is only to be accepted willingly “not by commandment or constraint” and certainly not used as a favorite weapon of judgment.
Even if breaking this were a sin, you should not judge those who simply sin differently than you. Jesus did in fact command us not to judge one another but rather to love one another. And I have heard it said that love is the absence of judgment.
Now since the word of wisdom speaks to medicinal herbs let’s revisit that for a moment.
“Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with aprudence and bthanksgiving.”
Now if you live in Utah you wil be familiar with what became known in the ‘90s as Sandy candy. That’s what Prozac became known as because so many people in Utah-Sandy, Utah were on it.
Now there are reasons we may need medications, even narcotics. However natural herbs are best as recognized in the medical community as well as the scientific and according to the word of wisdom.
So doesn’t that mean Marijuana may be used medicinally?
Now I understand most would give an eyeroll to that thinking that anyone who would seek out a prescription for it are doing so only for kicks. Every rational adult knows using meds for kicks is a bad idea and sometimes leads to legal troubles as well. But Marijuana has been used medicinally since the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
There were various concoctions all referring to the medicinal Cannabis element in their potions and elixirs. That is until William Randolph Hearst began his evil Marijuana demon weed media campaign. That all ended rather quickly as a result of his work.
Speaking of positive benefits of supposedly evil and morally reprehensible substances there is good evidence that moderate wine and beer drinkers have improved health due to certain nutrients inherent in beer and wine.
Now I would ask that if these two things are truly banned by the word of wisdom even though Joseph Smith blessed and drank wine, ordered some for his fellow inmates before he was killed to liven spirits and even though he drank beer according to his own journal entry, why would these evil substances promote health and wellness if we were not to have them because they are "poisonous" and "morally reprehensible"?
My opinion is because if you look at what the word of wisdom promotes, above all else, it promotes moderation in all things.
It is up to us to define what that means, it is up to us to make sense of and accept the word of wisdom if we can. We should not be judged if we cannot and we certainly should not judge others if we can but they cannot. Because we are in no position to judge those who simply sin differently than we do.
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
(Matthew 7:1-2) “Judge not, that ye be not bjudged. For with what ajudgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what bmeasure ye mete, it shall be cmeasured to you again.”
And I do realize I may be wrong in my take on this issue, if any of you who do disagree have sources that point to a revelation on the word of wisdom received by another prophet after Joseph Smith turning into a commandment then by all means let me know of it. And even if that is not what you know any good information to inform me would be appreciated. I am familiar with the typical talking points the Church gives but beyond that any sources leading the way to solidifying that opinion into doctrine would be of great use.