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Mormon History Podcast: 010: Word of Wisdom

Today I talk about Historical events surrounding the current Section 89 in the Doctrine and Covenants called the Word of Wisdom.



Oliver Cowdery Journal: (Journal Page 5)

Chastised for not blessing: A President of the Elders’ Quorum, old father Baker, was called upon to visit a very sick woman, a sister in
the Church; they sent for him to lay hands upon her. It was a very sickly time, and there were scarcely a
person to attend upon the sick, for nearly all were afflicted. Father Baker was one of those tenacious, ignorant,
self-willed, over-righteous Elders, and when he went into the house he enquired what the woman wanted.
She told him that she wished him to lay hands upon her. Father Baker saw a tea-pot on the coals, and
supposed that there was tea in it, and immediately turned upon his heels, saying, “God don’t want me to lay
hands on those who do not keep the Word of Wisdom,” and he went out. He did not know whether the pot
contained catnip, penny-royal, or some other mild herb, and he did not wait for any one to tell him. That class
of people are ignorant and over-righteous, and they are not in the true line by any means.
JD 4:24, Brigham Young, August 17, 1856

Lobelia: If the Saints of God actually have the faith of the ancients, let them practise the doctrine in their works. A man
will tell me that he is a “Mormon,” that he believes in the faith of the ancients, when at the same time he
practises everything else but their religion. My rule is to practise our religion. If I want a drink of catnip tea, or
of composition, or of lobelia, it is all right, but I will first practise my religion. You know that it is hardly
allowable in Utah to drink any more than five gallons of lobelia at once, for the Assembly of Deseret once had
the matter under consideration.
JD 2:276, Jedediah M. Grant, March 11, 1855

Juvinile Instructor 1866 Tea/Coffee and Meat in Summer:

Poisoning: It may seem incredible especially to the young people of the Latter day Saints that men could be so wicked as to seek to destroy the Saints by poisoning them but such has been the case and but for the preserving care of God and their observance of the Word of Wisdom many would have died thus from poison placed by their enemies in tea coffee or other liquors which they were expected to drink The only absolute safety from such disaster is in entire abstinence from those things which our Heavenly Father declares are not good.

Beer (Mild Drinks): 

Prophet,   under   date   of  April   19,  1843, states: “Levi  Richards  is one of the best  physicians  anyone  was ever ac-quainted  with.”   On  December  15, 1843, the Prophet  journalized  as   follows:     “I  was  seized   with   dryness   of  mouth  and  throat,  sickness  of  stomach,  and vomited  freely;  my wife  waited  on me, assisted  by my scribe, Dr. Willard  Richards, and his brother  Levi,  who   administered   to  me  herbs  and  mild   drinks.     Revived  by  evening.  . .”



16 thoughts on “Mormon History Podcast: 010: Word of Wisdom”

  1. Focus on quality not quantity. Don’t bother producing weekly.
    I do appreciate you synthesizing information for the masses.

    I wish there was more info on this topic as I’m sure there are tons.
    Perhaps making a theme each month spending a whole time going deep on subjects that we would perhaps otherwise. Word of Wisdom is dear to the heart of all us church members.

  2. One more note…
    The church isn’t doing a good enough job giving things a positive spin. It seems more often than not that our prophets and apostles need all the help they can get.

    So balancing your own perspectives with positives will also be much appreciated.

    1. I think there are other podcasts out there that focus on the positive. What is maybe hard with mine is that I don’t really talk about what’s going on today but more historically.

      I like your idea with the monthly topic. I will see on how I can work that in.

      There are topics that I have been researching out for months and months now trying to break ground. I am restricted by either lack of digital public display, records or “closed to research” by the Church.

      Thanks David

  3. I am really enjoying your podcast. I agree with what was stated above about focusing on quality over quantity. I think releasing an episode every few weeks is great! As opposed to what was asked for above, I prefer a more critical view of the history. Keep up the good work!

    1. @Talia,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree with quality over quantity. I think the next ones will be a series. I don’t know how many parts it will end up being but it is going to be a mix of deep thought and history and there is going to be a lot of time and research put in to hopefully make it something worth listening to.

      Part of the reason I was aiming to do a weekly episode, was (2) fold. 1) Gain listener-ship and have something they look for on Tuesday. 2) Since I have so many subjects and ideas that come about, it is a way to clear it out of my head 🙂

      I am excited to get these next episodes out over the next Month or so and we will see if I can organize the 1st one by Tuesday 🙂

  4. I once googled ‘hot drinks stomach’ in reference to ‘hot drinks are not for the belly’ and discovered hot drinks are related to esophageal cancer.

    My opinion is the scripture refers specifically to temperature, not actual food/drink items.

    1. Kaylyn,
      While that is true, and while at times they have stated all hot drinks and hot soups, somewhere it shifted to imported types and not hot drinks in and of themselves.

  5. Thanks for the historical info, stories and quotes!
    I was writing a booklet on “The Wholesome Word of Wisdom” but stopped once I started researching history to add to the booklet to make it more faith promoting in supporting God’s wholesome herbs and foods for health and wisdom. I found a huge mess and battle in history over making Christ’s unconstrained WoW into a refined, constrained commandment, against the eternal wisdom of verse 2, which will never fail.

    I found an infighting mess steeped in trying to force goodness through contradictions which would later lead to adopting those warned of evils and designs. Those evils and designs are sadly being worshiped in the church today instead of being avoided, and they go far, far beyond 4 refined don’ts. I stopped writing the booklet because I thought I might get heavy ridicule and attack for exposing sacred Food and Drug Industry idols among saints and leaders. Well, I guess they would no longer crucify me for that, but many would certainly want to burn me at the stake (center). Matt 23 in our day? Maybe we should look at early leaders’ actions as an addition to their historical recorded word teachings on what the real Word of Wisdom meant back then and might just still possibly mean today?

    I’m an herbalist. Catnip and lobelia are both nervine herbs which calm and settle the nerves and the stomach. Very useful, non-toxic and far better than prescription and OTC drugs, part of what’s warned of in verse 4. Lobelia is particularly valuable since it has such a wide variety for calming and actual healing effects. It also synergizes the effect of other herbs for accelerated healing and rebuilding. No poisonous synthesized prescriptions or refined foods today can do that. They have zero capacity to rebuild, regenerate, “nourish and strengthen our bodies” to heal.

    Brigham tea is very valuable too (cheaper than non healing drugs) and is one of the few herbs which Brigham said would help save us from plagues of the last days. Drugs, vaccines and antibiotics can’t even compete with natural for this either. Why do the saints now worship the doctor, vaccines and poisonous meds and refined toxified foods warned against in verse 4? Why do the saints largely ignore the warnings of the early prophets and leaders on this too? Men in power naturally try to twist and change everything, to force goodness, including the WoW – D&C 121. By their fruits…

    Most leaders and people back then were not breaking the WoW by using coffee, tea, tobacco or alcohol. The WoW still had Christ’s original intent, and it’s still spelled out if you care to read section 89 again and pray about it. Please take off your 4-don’ts blinders first, if you will. Men twisting the WoW into a forbidden commandment, and highly refined to just 4 don’ts, defies Christ’s wholesome WoW (D&C 46:7). Why do you think all govts and churches failed in the BoM (no exceptions)?

    There was a 70 year battle against the 5 early prophets. Other leaders and members pressured them to make the WoW into a commandment contrary to verse 2. All 5 refused to make it a commandment, even with all the pressure. They warned that making it into a commandment would “become a stumbling bock to the saints,” as it surely has. We see saints sick all around us in church and some too sick and dying to make it out to church. Brigham and Joseph visited such sick saints and counselled them to use foods and herbs to heal and to stay away from the chemical doctors, even fofer priesthood blessings, and to avoid surgeons too. They are well know for saying that good foods and herbs make most surgeries unneeded. True today especially.

    I find it beyond strange that most of these sick and dying saints among us today are keeping the “WoW” religiously, so they believe, but are mysteriously not getting the wonderful health and wisdom promises of verses 18-21… Has God reneged on this principle with a promise for health and wisdom? Or has man?

    The sick and dying , and the rest of the sheeple, obediently keep following leaders and doctors, and following their warned of wares in D&C 89:4. They are self inflicting the very warned of evils and designs, poisoning by food and medicine. The latter killed Joseph’s brother Alvin. Today’s sick and dying saints “need” more more “medicine” and more surgeries, which they would not need if they could just see the real WoW, so they could then possibly choose by their own will to use the admonished foods and herbs to obtain those promises, by also avoiding the predators and their wares.

    Verse 2 is still to this very day telling us that the WoW can never be by commandment nor constrained. That means forced, coerced, shamed, guilted, punished, judged nor be guardian to all ordinances, and entry to the celestial kingdom, and fellowship in his kingdom on this earth. In the WoW’s currently worshipped, refined (toxic?) counterfeit form (the other brother’s plan…) it cannot be constrained or commanded in Christ’s own wholesome form of thosuands of Do’
    s and don’ts. It would still become a phariseical ever changing letter of the law growing huge list of do’s and don’ts).

    The WoW is for our temporal salvation, yet the meaning has been twisted by men and made into the very sentinel for our immortal spiritual salvation, the guardian of even entry to the church, a patriarchal blessing, all ordinances and also entry to the celestial kingdom itself and sealing to an eternal mate and family, etc… Alma 31, anyone?

    Is this blasphemy against Christ’s words to disregard his meaning of “greeting, love and warning” in favor the letter of the law commandments of men? Is this how Pharisees can call others blasphemers if they question their commandments of men?

    The refined 4 don’ts don’t compare to the damage of the Food & Drug Industrial Complex’s growing thousands of outright poison and synthetic medicines, foods and vaccines which Jesus really tried again and again to warn us of. Do we have eyes to see or ears to hear, Him, before leaders changing their minds ceaselessly, and His words?

    We’ve been robbed of the meaning of verse 4 by the distraction, or magician’s slight of hand, in presenting 4 distracting sacred don’ts which obscure the real warning. The WoW is and always will be about using God’s wholesome herbs and foods (verses 10,11 primarily) for health and wisdom, plus that central warning in verse 4 which we can’t see anymore for some strange reason. Or, can we now see verse 4 as a warning, just as Brigham and JS warned incessantly to stay away from unhealthy foods and esp the chemical doctors (who are “wiser than God”)?

    One common mistake we hear, passed down endlessly, is that the WoW was made a commandment in 1852 in conference by Brigham Young. False!

    That is based on half truths which were embellished, and was never put before the body of the church for vote by common consent, but only two small groups, one of men, one of women who seem to have wanted to commit to observing the 4 don’ts, which runs contrary to his later words on making it a commandment being a bad thing. Brigham still refused on many more occasions to make it a commandment, the last recorded refusal to make it a commandment a year before his death in 1877. His quotes on this are still there, proving it was not made a commandment by him, nor by the next 3 prophets. After 3 more prophets who refused the same as JS and BY to make it binding as a constrained commandment on the church, attrition took its toll, and in 1902 the new prophet JFS made it a commandment by dictate, but still attributing BY as having already made it a commandment 50 years earlier. The leaders and saints were still divided after that too.

    This refined (thus toxic) form of “WoW” was strengthened by the coming Prohibition Movement and in 1920 further made more strict and constrained. After some time the state congress of Utah recognized prohibition as being a mistake and pushed for repeal. The church however could not back themselves out of the corner they’d religiously painted themselves into “by commandment and constraint” when prohibition was repealed because it made for worse problems.

    The WoW just became more and more dictatorial as time went on, and we lost all sight of the real central warning’s wholesome meaning of “growing thousands of food and medicine don’ts” – counterfeit, toxic foods and medicines in the last days and the warned of evil, conspiring hearts of the purveyors (“thus saith the Lord”) which purveyors and their wares we now follow religiously and worship?

    Sadly this is that prophesied “stumbling block to the saints.”
    But this does not even mention the uber-judgmentalness in the church against those who do not worship the 4 don’ts alone, which has become another sickening co-stumbling block to the saints, and persecution of those who do not worship the doctors, their very toxic meds, vaccines and mostly unneeded surgeries.

    Have we become blinded to God’s vast forest of health and wisdom by 4 sacred trees?

    1. @Tom,
      Amen and Amen. I am sure you could sense my not so hidden sarcasm when it comes to Soda vs Coffee and Tea. I find it so interesting that members focus on the check boxes of the “avoid” while they load up their shopping carts with gallons upon gallons of Mountain Dew.

      I still think you should write the booklet!

    1. On 9 September 1851, Brigham Young had a Church Conference covenant to accept and obey the Word of Wisdom as a commandment (and also to accept excommunication for non-payment of tithing). (Quinn 1997:749). It does not appear to have been enforced.

      The concept of the Word of Wisdom, as it applied in the mid eighteen hundreds, is evidence of yet another evolving, rather than specific, principle which is here expressed differently to that which is accepted today. Early saints considered hot chocolate, cocoa, hot soup and pig’s meat included in the list of proscribed items. Nothing anywhere explains why they are now acceptable.

      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…

      …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).

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