The debates rage, citing scientific studies and researched evidence with views swinging wide like a pendulum, regarding the health benefits, or lack thereof, of coffee, tea, and wine. In a Google instant, I can find evidence supporting either argument. But, regardless of those arguments, I can boil my decision to abstain from the beverages down to two reasons.
1-I Believe that Through a Prophet, God Commanded Me to Abstain from Coffee, Tea, and Wine
I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or mouthpiece, of God. In that prophetic calling, I believe that God revealed the Word of Wisdom to Joseph Smith in 1833. The Word of Wisdom is a simple code of health—eat grains and vegetables, take care of your body, avoid alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and harmful drugs—with physical and spiritual promises.
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21).
Initially introduced as a cautionary statement or principle with a promise, the Word of Wisdom was later ratified as a commandment in 1851 under the second president of the Church, Brigham Young. The Word of Wisdom has been canonized and is included in the Doctrine and Covenants. Isn’t the Lord merciful? He gave church members sufficient time to change and adapt to the commandment. I love this verse: “Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints”(Doctrine and Covenants 89:3). The Lord believes we are all capable of obeying this commandment.
2-I Want to Attend the Temple
Mormons consider temples to be holy houses of God where we make covenants—specific commitments and promises–with Him. A temple recommend is required to enter the temple. To receive a temple recommend, a person must answer a series of qualifying questions pertaining to personal worthiness and cleanliness. “Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost?” Other questions include being honest, living chaste lives, paying tithing, dealing kindly with family members, repenting of past sins, attending church meetings and serving in the church, upholding church doctrines, and abiding by the Word of Wisdom.
By divine decree, in order to attend the temple where I feel spiritually renewed and re-focused, I avoid coffee, tea, and wine. Any health benefits available in coffee, tea, and wine are available through other foods or beverages, so I’m not missing out on health opportunities. But really, it simply boils down to my faith–do I believe it’s a commandment of God through His prophets or not? And the answer is, yes, I absolutely do.