Up In Smoke: A Response to the Tanners’ Criticism of the Word of Wisdom
Chapter twenty-six of Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? is devoted to impugning Doctrine and Covenants 89–the Word of Wisdom. Not surprisingly, the Tanners claim that Joseph did not receive the Word of Wisdom by divine revelation and that, although others were excommunicated for nonobservance, he (and apparently Brigham Young) flaunted the fact that they didn’t observe it. According to the Tanners Church leaders were also guilty of violating the Word of Wisdom by not only condoning the sale of proscribed items–primarily alcohol–but by producing and selling them as well. Although the Tanners charge Joseph with hypocrisy, and imply that Brigham was a hypocrite as well, they never reveal why they believe that Joseph and Brigham would casually indulge in publicly consuming alcohol. Their actions appear very little like hypocrisy, but rather suggest that they had a different understanding of Word of Wisdom observance than we do today.
While the Tanners make several charges against the Word of Wisdom and against Latter-day Saints for accepting the Word of Wisdom as revelation, the bulk of their charges can be divided into two primary concerns:
1) The Tanners claim that the Word of Wisdom was not revealed by God but was “obviously the product of the thinking of Joseph Smith’s times.”1
2) The Tanners charge that Joseph and other leaders were hypocritical in their preaching of the Word of Wisdom compared to their personal observance of the principal.2
Part I: The Origin of the Word of Wisdom
Early in their attack, the Tanners attempt to demonstrate that Joseph Smith contrived the Word of Wisdom by borrowing from the philosophies of the temperance movements of his day. That there was a temperance movement in Joseph’s day is not a matter of dispute: in the early 1820’s a number of Americans began crusading for temperance, or sobriety. This movement gained momentum until an organized Temperance Society–originally called, in contempt, the “Cold Water Society”–formed in 1826.3 By 1830 there was a Temperance Society in Kirtland, Ohio, and three years later (about a month before Joseph received his revelation on the Word of Wisdom) the temperance movement helped shut down the fourteen-yearold Kirtland distillery.4 By the following year the “American Temperance Society had grown to well over a million members.”5
Among the list of early members we find names such as “George Smith, several Morleys, a Wells, a Coe, and a Lyman.”6 As Arrington notes, these “names [are] all associated with the history of Mormonism, and it is not improbable, though not known as certain, that these temperance workers had relatives among the Saints, even if they themselves were not Mormons.”7 Although we can only conjecture as to what influence the temperance movement had on Joseph Smith, it seems improbable that he would have been unaware of it.8
Temperance Societies, however, were primarily concerned with the prohibition of alcohol. There were “no influential organizations comparable to temperance societies” combating the use of tobacco, but “there were indications of reform on the local level, some of which could have conceivably had some influence on Joseph Smith.”9 Nineteenth century America saw other local reform campaigns such as the religious fervor of the health reform movements that were concerned with the effects of various substances upon the human body.10 This campaign was spearheaded by Sylvester Graham (of graham cracker fame11), who was a former agent of the Pennsylvania Temperance Society. Advocating abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea and other “stimulants”12 (as will be discussed shortly), Graham “recommended his program to upstate New Yorkers in the 1830’s.” 13 Graham’s views grew in popularity, reaching its zenith after the Word of Wisdom had been promulgated.14
Lastly, we have the possible influence of contemporary medical wisdom of the day. Many early nineteenth-century physicians believed that there was only one basic disease state, and that what we now know to be different disease were merely different symptoms of this same basic disease. The underlying condition of this single disease state was believed to be an imbalance in the vital nervous energy that determined an individual’s health. When someone showed symptoms of this disease (which could be manifest as nearly any disease) it was believed that the person “needed a reduction in stimulation through dietary adjustment.”15 It was also reasoned that healthy people could prevent this disease by reducing their consumption of stimulants.
There is little doubt that Joseph would have been at least somewhat familiar with the prevailing health attitudes of his day. This might have included some knowledge of the temperance movement, Grahamism, and the notions of the medical community. There is even more reason to believe (as will be demonstrated shortly) that Latter-day Saints interpreted the Word of Wisdom in light of this cultural knowledge on health just as they do according to today’s medical information.16 It was within this cultural context that Joseph received his revelation. Brigham Young, although not present at the event he describes, explained that Joseph and the School of the Prophets used to meet in a small room over the Prophet’s kitchen. When they met together many of the brethren would light their pipes, and spit their chewing tobacco all over the room. Often the prophet would deliver instructions in a smoke-filled room. This, and the complaints of his wife (who had to clean the filthy floor), made the prophet think about the matter and inquire of the Lord concerning the brethren’s use of tobacco: the Word of Wisdom was the answer to this inquiry.17
The Tanners suggest that the Word of Wisdom came from less-than-divine means by quoting David Whitmer (who, like Brigham, was not present during the above-noted episode):
Quite a little party of the brethren and sisters being assembled in the Smith’s house. Some of the men were excessive chewers of the filthy weed, and their disgusting slobbering and spitting caused Mrs. Smith…to make the ironical remark that “It would be a good thing if a revelation could be had declaring the use of tobacco a sin, and commanding its suppression.” The matter was taken up and joked about, one of the brethren suggest that the revelation should also provide for a total abstinence form tea and coffee drinking, intending this as a counter dig at the sisters. Sure enough the subject was afterward taken up in dead earnest, and the ‘Word of Wisdom’ was the result.18
Although Whitmer’s description of the event came nearly fifty years after he had apostatized and at a time when he did not accept that the Word of Wisdom or many other later revelations as inspired, his impression that the Word of Wisdom was the result of pressures from Emma and the use of chewing tobacco by the brethren agrees with the account given by Brigham.19
Recognizing the fact that to some degree Joseph would have known about–and/or been influenced by–the prevailing cultural views concerning health, it is appropriate to ask a few questions:
1) Does the Gospel change as new issues arise?
2) Is it unusual to adopt pre-revelatory cultural views as guidance because of a revelation or increased knowledge of a particular topic?
3) To what degree did the Word of Wisdom incorporate the prevailing views of Joseph’s culture?
1) Does the Gospel change as new issues arise?
Just within the framework of Mormonism we can see that many revelations have come as a result of Joseph Smith petitioning the Lord with questions about the Gospel or concerns over pressing issues. Mormonism began when Joseph Smith became concerned because of the confusion and “war of words” among the Christian churches of his day.20 Joseph’s prophesy on the Civil War was inaugurated by the events transpiring in South Carolina.21 Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants (which is a revelation concerning the resurrection of mankind and the Degrees of Glory) was revealed to Joseph because of his concern over John 5:29 as he was involved with his translation of the Bible.22 The brother of Jared’s luminous stones were the product of his concern for light in the Jaredite barges.23 We need not look past the New Testament, however, for the example of a changing gospel. Circumcision–the “everlasting covenant”24–was abandoned in the later Christian Church due to concerns of members who were uncircumcised.25. Christ originally taught the Gospel only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel26 and forbade his apostles from going to the Gentiles,27 but later, after Christ’s death, Peter was commanded by an angel to take the Gospel to all people.28 It was often because of pressing issues that the windows of Heaven were opened to the pleas of God’s agents as they petitioned Him with their concerns.
2) Is it unusual to adopt pre-revelatory cultural views as guidance because of a revelation or increased knowledge of a particular topic?
Latter-day Saints recognize that they don’t have a monopoly on truth. Joseph Smith once said:
Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.”29
Joseph F. Smith echoed this position when he said:
We believe in righteousness. We believe in all truth, no matter to what subject it may refer. No sect or religious denomination in the world possesses a single principle of truth that we do not accept or that we will reject. We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come.30
Charles Penrose probably explained it the best by noting:
We recognize the truth that exists everywhere. That which is true is part of our religion; for it embraces all truth. Our Church is truth’s magnet; truth from anywhere and everywhere is attracted by it, comes to it, assimilates with it, has an affinity with it. Truth from every source is recognized by our Church… If Catholicism has any truth that we have not, we will be glad to have it. If Protestantism had any truth that we have not, we welcome it. If Mohammedanism has any truth that we have not yet learned, we will be pleased to get it. If truth should come from any part of the world that we have not yet obtained, we will receive it and rejoice in it.31
Sometimes truths are expressed with the symbols or thoughts of a prevailing culture. “Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.”32 The design of Solomon’s temple, for instance “drew heavily upon Phoenician skill” in design and construction. The temple was “characteristically Phoenician” and similar structures have been unearthed in northern Syria. Likewise “the Mosaic tabernacle was ‘very close in most essentials’ to various pagan Egyptian portable structures, including Egyptian ‘Tent Purification’… And yet, according to Exodus 25-30, it was Yahweh Himself who instructed the Israelites on how to build the tabernacle.”33 Henry Chadwick notes that the “Good Shepherd carrying his sheep was a conventional pagan symbol of humanitarian concern, philanthropia. The Christians were taking a common type and investing it with a new meaning possibly with reference to Christ the good shepherd of his sheep.”34 Even the Christian doctrines of the sacrament and rebirth by baptism had pagan counterparts.35
In the Old Testament, Joseph had a silver cup with which he divined36–a practice known as hydromancy that was employed by surrounding pagans.37 When the Apostles chose a new Apostle by casting lots they were practicing what the pagans new as sortilege.38,39 Even some of Christ’s miracles had pagan counterparts: Jesus’ healing of the deaf man by putting his fingers in his ears40 and His healing of the blind man by touching his eyes with spittle and clay41 were commonly practiced by the pagans of Jesus’ day.42 Jesus Christ, as the “Light of the World,”43 represented the universal aspects of Logos exactly as did the Greek names of Apollo, Hermes, Abraxas, and Mithras.44 Christ’s association with the Alpha and Omega was also reminiscent of the same association with the Greek god Apollo. And Christ’s association with the term “the Way”45 was similar to the characteristics of Hermes.46 The point to be noted is that Joseph Smith cannot be faulted for borrowing from his environment to convey revelations anymore than Biblical and post-Biblical believers can be faulted for doing the same thing.
3) To what degree did the Word of Wisdom adopt the prevailing views of Joseph Smith’s culture?
Having noted that Joseph Smith most likely would have been aware of the prevailing health issues of his day, to what degree he was influenced by them shall now be examined.
The Tanners’ argument of a non-revelatory Word of Wisdom relies primarily on the similarities of the Temperance Society’s prohibitions against the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea.47 But, as already noted, the temperance movement was primarily engaged in the abstinence of alcohol: although some members within the temperance movement discouraged the use of tobacco (as well as coffee and tea), there were “no influential organizations comparable to temperance societies established to combat its [tobacco's] use.”48 As Paul Peterson, one of the foremost researchers on this subject, notes: “It would be less safe…to assert that Joseph was influenced by movements that opposed the use of tobacco, tea, and coffee.”49 Closely related to the temperance movement were other health reform campaigns, which did recommend abstinence from tobacco, coffee and tea; but some of these same health reformers also recommended abstinence from pepper, mustard,50 white bread, salt, ultimately all condiments, and even sex.51 Calomel (a colorless, tasteless, white or brown purgative and insecticide) was taken for a variety of ailments.52 In fact Joseph’s older brother, Alvin, was given calomel for a severe stomach ailment. When he died the Smiths blamed their doctor’s lack of experience and an overdose of calomel. Scholars now suspect that Alvin actually died of a ruptured appendix.53 It should be noted that some of these supposed stimulants were not considered to have negative health effects by the medical community. Many physicians also considered people like Sylvester Graham (reformer and, as noted earlier, temperance movement leader) a charlatan.54 Nevertheless, as will be demonstrated later, early Latter-day Saints seemed to have adopted some of Graham’s positions in their personal health codes. All of these more radical elements, however, are conspicuously absent from the Word of Wisdom.
What about dependence on the orthodox medical views of Joseph’s day? Around 1830, some health reformers aligned with respected orthodox physicians and botanists to discourage the use of tobacco.55 And, as noted earlier, the medical community condemned the use of several stimulants, among which was alcohol. The problem is that this same medical community believed in varying degrees of “stimulation associated with such items as ardent spirits, wine, beer, coffee, tea, meat, mustard, pepper, and other spices”56–some of the same elements which the reformers suggested were harmful, and all of which were not included in the Word of Wisdom’s list of proscribed stimulants. Orthodox nineteenth century medicine, like the Word of Wisdom, discouraged the excessive consumption of meat, but also advised against eating unripe fruits. In 1832, for example, due to threats of cholera, the Special Medical Council of New York printed warnings against the consumption of “crude vegetables and fruits.” 57 Some medical authorities believed that “a pineapple or watermelon” could be a “death warrant.”58
The cure for an overload of these stimulants was not only achieved by their reduction through dietary adjustment but also by “such relaxing or energy dissipating measures as massive blood-letting, purging with large doses of mercury, and blistering–all to relieve excessive internal pressures.”59 All of which (although perhaps practiced by early Latter-day Saints along with their contemporaries) are nowhere to be found in the Word of Wisdom.
While orthodox medical views in Joseph’s day discouraged the use of alcohol, there was disagreement as to which alcoholic beverages qualified as detrimental stimulants. This presented a problem for the early Saints in Word of Wisdom interpretation. According to several medical authorities, “fermented (as distinguished from distilled) drinks such as cider, beer (especially ‘small beer,’ which contained only about 1 percent alcohol), malt liquor, and wine long had been recommended by physicians as a benign alternative to hard liquor.”60 Although most physicians didn’t believe such drinks were “required” they generally believed that they could be consumed without risk. Some physicians even believed that wine contained no alcohol and could be consumed in moderation daily by healthy people to ward of diseases. Some medical experts still maintain that moderate wine consumption is beneficial to health.
Most physicians in Joseph’s day believed tobacco to be poisonous in concentrated form, and while it was losing its status as a panacea (often seen in the use of “smoke enemas”) many physicians believed that it did not “pose the same acute risk as ardent spirits or possibly very cold water.”
Moreover, although critics including some physicians had condemned the recreational use of “the weed” for nearly two centuries, tobacco’s medicinal properties had been extolled even longer. One student of this subject has listed over 250 different maladies–from abdominal pain and snake bite, to madness, piles, scurvy, and yaws–allegedly treatable with tobacco, which was applied onto or injected into literally every surface or orifice of the human body… Tobacco smoke was thought to protect against the black death in the seventeenth century, and some still recommended cigars to ward off cholera in the nineteenth.61
In extreme cases infusions of a preparation of the tobacco leaf were still recommended for hernial strangulation. As Lester Bush notes:
The popular use of tobacco was viewed by the collected medical establishment in a mixed light somewhere between ardent spirits and coffee or tea. There appears to have been more vigorous opposition to the use of tobacco (varying with whether it was snuffed, chewed, or smoked in cigars or pipes) than to the latter, but then tobacco still had acknowledged value as a therapeutic agent beyond that usually accorded the mild stimulants. This, once again, made sense in the nineteenth-century context. The more powerful agents were the most useful therapeutically–and most risky socially.62
Early nineteenth century physicians were more ambivalent on the topic of coffee and tea, and some felt that a healthy person could “‘indulge in their use without risk or injury.'”63 More concern seemed to be placed on temperature than substance. It was commonly believed that consumables should be near blood temperature and possibly adjusted up in the winter and down in the summer. Some physicians believed that it was hot water that should be avoided. One such physician claimed that hot tea was less injurious “because its tonic properties partially counteracted the debilitating effects”64 of the hot water. Nevertheless, he recommended that any hot liquids (including soup) be avoided at high temperatures. Extreme temperatures were considered by some to be injurious. One early nineteenth century doctor reported “that a copious draught of cold water, taken in a state of perspiration and fatigue, is often instantly fatal.”65 Bush notes that “in a single week, eight such deaths were reported from Philadelphia alone,”66 and that one respected physician complained that folks in New Orleans were, with apparent impunity, drinking water “cooled down to fifty degrees, a temperature which frequently proves fatal in the higher lattitudes [sic].” This physician concluded that these folks must have been mixing their water “with ardent spirit or wine…which corrects the effects of a low temperature.”67
Other physicians believed that for many people coffee had a “more or less wholesome effect”68 depending on the person’s age and other individual peculiarities. It was believed that climate also affected one’s reaction to coffee. It was not as “useful in warm, as in cold and temperate climates.”69 As Bush explains, “some authorities might have condemned the Mormon standard, therefore, not because it denounced hot drinks but because it failed to warn against cold ones as well.”70 Because the early Saints interpreted the Word of Wisdom in light of their medical understanding as well as cultural background, it’s easy to see how they could have understood observance differently than Saints do today. The amazing thing, however, is that the Word of Wisdom got the right things right. This lends credibility to the claim that the counsel was received by inspiration rather than environment.
Part II: Charges of Hypocrisy
The Tanners accuse Joseph, Brigham, and other early leaders of being hypocritical in their observance of the Word of Wisdom. In order to support their charge they imply that the Word of Wisdom was interpreted the same in Joseph’s day as in ours. They write:
The Word of Wisdom is considered to be one of the most important revelations in the Mormon Church. A Mormon who continues to break the Word of Wisdom is considered to be weak in the faith. Breaking the Word of Wisdom is considered a sin which can bar a person from the Temple. In order to get a Temple Recommend a person is required to answer this question: “4. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?” (Temple Recommend Book)71
To sustain this view they quote Joseph Fielding Smith who claimed that drinking tea can “bar” a person from the “celestial kingdom of God”:
Salvation and a cup of tea…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? … There is not anything that is little in this world in the aggregate. One cup of tea, then it is another cup of tea and another cup of tea, and when you get them all together, they are not so little.72
The Tanners go on to claim:
Although most members of the Church feel that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, “carefully observed the Word of Wisdom,” research reveals just the opposite. In fact, Joseph Smith, the man who introduced the Temple Ceremony into the Mormon Church, would not be able to go through the Temple if he were living today because of his frequent use of alcoholic beverages.73
Excommunication or Withdrawal of Membership
To further bolster their charge of hypocrisy the Tanners point out that in 1834, the High Council (presided over by Joseph Smith) discussed the issue whether disobedience to the Word of Wisdom was a transgression sufficient to deprive an official member from holding office in the Church. Following the discussion, Joseph concluded:
That no official member in this church is worthy to hold an office, after having the words of wisdom properly taught to him, and he the official member neglecting to comply with or obey them.74
The High Council voted to support this decision. The Tanners accuse Joseph with hypocrisy not only because on occasion he continued to consume alcohol, but also because “when a member of the Church did not observe the Word of Wisdom, this was sometimes used against him if he was tried for his fellowship.”75 They quote Leonard J. Arrington who wrote:
Moreover, when a council at Far West tried a high church official (David Whitmer) for his fellowship, the first of the five charges against him was that he did not observe the Word of Wisdom.76
The minutes at Far West indicate that not only was David Whitmer charged with nonobservance of the Word of Wisdom,77 but in the preliminary proceedings, W.W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer were also charged with not observing the Word of Wisdom.78 The preliminary Word of Wisdom charges against Cowdery, Phelps, and John Whitmer were supposedly based on their consumption of coffee and tea,79 whereas the charge of breaking the Word of Wisdom against David Whitmer apparently included not only coffee and tea but also the use of tobacco.80 Although nonobservance of the Word of Wisdom was among David Whitmer’s five official and final charges, the nine official and final charges against Cowdery made no mention of breaking the Word of Wisdom.81
It’s obvious from reading the minutes, however, that at least some Far West council members were overly concerned with relatively minor infractions. Elder James Emmet, for example, objected to making George Hinkle a High Counselor “because he was to [sic] noisy.”82 Early Latter-day Saints frequently charged other members with odd or humorous offenses including things such as “murmuring” and “joining with the world in dance.”83 We also read about members in the Salt Lake Valley being charged with “excommunicable offenses” such as “refusing to accept ZCMI scrip as wages, subscribing to the Salt Lake Tribune, and buying from Gentile establishments.” 84 Generally, members were rarely excommunicated for such odd offenses. In “the majority of cases…it seems that the attitude of the defendant [would] determined whether he was excommunicated (or disfellowshipped) more than the offense per se.”85 Nevertheless, sometimes Saints were excommunicated for minor infractions. As historian Richard D. Poll has observed, for instance, under the leadership of “Joseph Smith and Brigham Young some Mormons were excommunicated for attending non-Mormon dances, failing to accept mission calls, using tobacco and intoxicants, gossiping, failing to tithe, Sabbath-breaking, patronizing non-Mormon businesses, and failing to follow counsel.”86 Excommunication, however, did not always entail the same penalization that it carries today. In many early cases, once “an offender [had] manifested proper repentance, there was no longer any reason for ecclesiastical sanctions. Hence, initially recalcitrant members were often cut off and then reinstated in a relatively short time–as little as a few days or weeks.” Other times the repentant member was simply rebaptized without ever being cut off in the first place.87 Understanding this different view of excommunication and disfellowshipment among the early Saints sheds light on the minor importance of the Word of Wisdom-related charges against the Missouri presidency.
In the case of the Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, we find that among the official charges were included “neglecting to attend meetings…[and] neglecting the duties of his calling.”88 Concerning the charges of failure to observe the Word of Wisdom, Cowdery said “he had drank tea three times this winter on account of his ill health” and the Whitmers said “they did use tea and coffee but they did not consider them to come under the head of hot drinks.”89 That these leaders did not agree on the interpretation of the Word of Wisdom and that Cowdery believed that drinking tea for medicinal purposes was not in violation of the Word of Wisdom is significant in understanding the early Latter-day Saint perspective and later evolution of interpreting the Word of Wisdom– which will be discussed shortly.
For now, however, it is important to understand that although these leaders were charged with not observing the Word of Wisdom, such charges were secondary to the other, more serious charges leveled against the Missouri presidency (Cowdery, Phelps, and Whitmer). In fact, Elder Lyman Wight, of the High Council, “stated that he considered that all other accusations were of minor importance compared to their [the Missouri presidency] selling their lands in Jackson County.”90 Likewise, Paul H. Peterson notes:
In all cases where membership or fellowship was taken away, there were other accusations that were directed at the offender. In many cases the Word of Wisdom violation appeared to have been considered less important than the other infractions. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that Mormons were not expelled solely for violations of the Word of Wisdom except in the case of extreme drunkenness.91
Joseph Smith & Saints interpreted Word of Wisdom differently
Was Joseph hypocritical in his observance of the Word of Wisdom, or did he simply interpret the Word of Wisdom differently than Latter-day Saints do today?
Early records suggest that “adherence to at least some portions of the revelation was mandatory and necessary for Church fellowship” but there “was no consistent pattern or interpretation or application of the Word of Wisdom between the time it was given and the middle 1840’s.”92 How did the early Saints interpret the Word of Wisdom? Why would their interpretation differ from ours today?
A few years earlier, on August 7, 1831, Joseph received what is now Section Fifty-nine of the Doctrine and Covenants. In this section the Lord revealed that “all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion”93 When these verses are applied to the Word of Wisdom, they suggest moderation rather than abstinence.
The Word of Wisdom, which was initially printed as a separate tract94, was included in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. With this printing, Joseph added an inspired introduction and description of the revelation (which he did to a number of other revelations) wherein he informed the members that this instruction was “sent greeting; not by commandment, or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints… Given for a principle with promise.”95 This introduction was included as the first three verses “of the revelation itself when the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published and thus was part of the revelatory text canonized in 1880.”96
The inclusion of this provision and the fact that the principal was still in its infancy practically guaranteed a fluid interpretation. As Peterson notes:
Many Saints probably felt the Word of Wisdom was an important principle but one that should not result in self condemnation–and discouragement if a high level of obedience was not immediately reached. After all, the Saints had fallen short in other areas of Christian living. They had been less than successful in living the Law of Consecration, they were not always diplomatic and prudent in their relationships with others, and they occasionally bickered among themselves. With these admitted shortcomings, would God not, then, be just as patient with their weaknesses in this area?97
This fluid interpretation can be seen in the comments of early leaders. Hyrum Smith, for example, possibly concerned over the rigors associated with the trip to Missouri, told the members of the Kirtland Camp “not to be particular regarding the Word of Wisdom.”98 In June 1843, Apostle Heber C. Kimball advised the members of the Lima Branch to not “nip and tuck at the Word of Wisdom, but stress the integrity of one’s heart.”99 Even the prophet Joseph Smith, who in 1838 urged Word of Wisdom observance,100 “never interpreted the revelation as demanding total abstinence, but stressed moderation and self-control.”101 Peterson observes:
Joseph’s approach to the Word of Wisdom, when viewed in historical perspective, seems sensible and rational. In the late 1830’s, the Kirtland Stake had dissolved due to apostasy, the Missouri Saints were being driven from the State with accompanying hardships, and Joseph himself was imprisoned. At a time when the Church was struggling for mere existence, it would seem small and petty to quibble about a drink of tea or coffee. Similarly, after a comparatively comfortable initial existence in Nauvoo, Mormon society was torn apart by internal dissension and by the controversy and persecution which resulted from the promulgation and practice of peculiar religious doctrines. Emphasis on a rigid interpretation of a health code during such a period of turmoil would seem ill-timed and inappropriate. Moreover, there is some evidence that Joseph sought to avoid needless dissension among the Saints by urging moderation and charity. It would appear that some Mormons had been influenced by the fanaticism that characterized sermons of some of the radical temperance reformers, and tended to be intolerant of those with professed Word of Wisdom weaknesses. The Prophet, recognizing that the revelation must be seen in perspective with other matters and doctrines pertaining to the growth of the “Kingdom,” urged them to be slow to judge or condemn others. Joseph’s rather curt reaction to a talk advocating “temperance in the extreme” was illustrative of his desire to teach the Saints to be charitable and merciful, rather than vindictive and unforgiving.102
Early LDS Medical Views and the Word of Wisdom
It general it appears that, to the early Saints, Word of Wisdom observance was recommended with the perception that observance meant moderation103 guided by prevailing medical beliefs.104 The Latter-day Saints of the 1830’s, like the Latter-day Saints in every decade since, have attempted to interpret the Word of Wisdom according to insights of conventional medical knowledge. In Joseph’s day there were a variety of differing medical systems, each with its own popularity and none with the allegiance of the majority. Herbal medicine was very popular among the Saints, whereas homeopathic medicine (which amounted to little more than dispensing sugar pills and colored water) was just gaining a foothold.105 The Saints, like their contemporaries, practiced many of these systems to various degrees. The Word of Wisdom was not received in a cultural or medical vacuum.106
Earlier it was noted that according to the opinions of the reform movement and the nineteenth-century medical community, many items or spices that are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom were also considered to be harmful. Reading through the statements of early Latter-day Saints we see that some members interpreted the revelation to include these more radical items, although they were never made an official part of the Word of Wisdom. Some of the more radical interpretations continued well into the twentieth century. David O. McKay, for instance, in 1926 advised the youth to “refrain from the use of tobacco” as well as “too much meat and from the use of strong spices, cocoa, tea and coffee.”107
Among the items which Grahamism recommended avoiding were white bread and flour, and refined sugar. Many early Saints (and no doubt some now) saw this as good advice in context of the Word of Wisdom’s recommended use of grain. It is therefore interesting to read that Rulon S. Howell, the Brazilian Mission president between 1949 and 1953, encouraged the members in Brazil to use unrefined sugar and avoid white flour. Missionaries who were sent to teach the Brazilian women in Relief Society also discouraged the use of white flour and refined sugar.108
David A. Smith, speaking in the April 1930 Conference encouraged members to substitute white flour for wheat.109 He also believed–and as previously noted this was one of the beliefs of early physicians–that pepper, spices, and mustard should be avoided.110
In subsequent years, however, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ began to teach that while it was possible there were health benefits to avoiding such items, consuming them was not in violation of the Word of Wisdom. Mark E. Peterson, for example, said in April 1953 Conference:
I do not believe we should try to establish our personal fads as Church doctrine. I do not believe my eternal salvation will be affected in any way if I eat white bread or white sugar. I do not believe the doctrines of the Church are in any way involved in whether my whole wheat is stone ground or steel-cut.111
Likewise, Joseph Fielding Smith, in his Answers to Gospel Questions, wrote that the “Lord has not condemned the use of white flour, nor white granulated sugar.”112 The fact that he would note this suggests that some Saints still believed that these items were in violation of the Word of Wisdom.
Thus we see that the Saints, in all ages, have been influenced in the interpretation of the Word of Wisdom by the findings of the medical community. Medical sentiments of the 1830’s suggested that each of the four proscribed Word of Wisdom stimulants (alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea) offered some redeeming therapeutic value. That is not to say that the belief in medicinal value was the only reason the Saints consumed these stimulants. Sometimes they were consumed for the relief of stress, mental anguish, or simply to liven the spirits. For many of the early Saints these circumstances presented justifiable grounds for non-observance or fell within the tolerances of moderation.113
Despite the Word of Wisdom’s discouragement against the drinking of wine (except for sacramental purposes) evidence suggests that many Church Authorities did not consider moderate wine drinking in the same category as the use of strong drinks114–which mirrored contemporary medical views. And like some of the orthodox physicians of the day, many Latter-day Saints believed that there were medical benefits for the consumption of alcohol, such as tonic or restorative properties115 as well as relief from fatigue and sore throats.116 At other times, alcohol was consumed to lift their spirits in times of turmoil.117 The Saints didn’t believe that ingestion under these conditions was in violation of the Word of Wisdom.118 In the final days of Brigham Young’s illness in 1877, he received regular doses of brandy–the single most widely used drug of that time119
The perspective of moderated observance gave rise not only to ambiguous compliance but sometimes to vacillating attitudes toward liquor laws. Nauvoo, for instance, initially prohibited liquor. Due to the urging of Saints who believed in tolerance and moderation rather than abstinence, as well as the growing Gentile element, and–in all likelihood–the fact that Nauvoo could see an economic benefit to their collapsing economy, the Nauvoo City Council repealed their prohibition on liquor in 1841. Both Saints and Gentiles were free to sell alcohol and Joseph even attempted to open a bar, until he abandoned the idea due to the protests of his wife.120
It should be noted, however, that even with the relaxed liquor laws, alcohol was not overly easy to procure, drunks were virtually unseen, and, as a whole, the Mormon town was more temperate than other contemporary frontier cities.121
The Tanners charge Joseph and Brigham with hypocrisy because they drank alcohol.122 But what the Tanners fail to recognize, or explain, is that these leaders did not view the Word of Wisdom in the same perspective and light as Latter-day Saints do today. Observance meant moderation. It doesn’t matter that Joseph drank on occasion: he lived the Word of Wisdom according to his understanding of the revelation based on the newness of the concept and his cultural understanding of health and medicine.
The early LDS approach to tobacco was similar to that of their attitude to alcohol: it was avoided, but it was also believed–based on contemporary medical advice–to offer medicinal aid for things such as toothaches (as used by Brigham Young123), and relief of fatigue, stress, and headaches. James Talmage was counseled by the First Presidency “‘to try the effect of moderate smoking'” for his nervous disorder. Talmage wrote in his journal that “‘a good cigar produced a marvelous quieting of my over-wrought nerves.'”124 While Joseph Smith apparently had no objection to the use of tobacco for medicinal purposes,125 he apparently almost never used it himself. The one most notable exception was when he tried the faith of the Saints by riding through Nauvoo smoking a cigar just after having preached a discourse on the Word of Wisdom.126 Brigham Young counseled moderation in the use of tobacco and in a sermon in 1860 chastised the brethren for their tobacco chewing because it was uncouth, filthy, and offensive, not because it violated the Word of Wisdom.127
Coffee and Tea
Previously it was pointed out that Cowdery, Phelps, and the Whitmers were charged with violating the Word of Wisdom because they consumed coffee and tea. They argued that they did not consider coffee and tea “to come under the head of hot drinks” and, in the case of Cowdery, tea was taken on account of ill health.128 Those who charged these three with Word of Wisdom violations obviously believed that coffee and tea were the “hot drinks” of the Word of Wisdom. Some Saints apparently heard Joseph make this definition as early as 1833.129 It is unknown if these three men were unfamiliar with the statements made by Joseph and Hyrum, or if they simply disagreed with that interpretation, or if, as stated by Oliver, they believed that there were circumstances when drinking coffee and tea was permissible. Whatever the case we do know that, as with the other elements of the Word of Wisdom, there was apparently some confusion among the Saints as to what was encompassed or excluded by “hot drinks,” as well as differing opinions whether “hot drinks” could be taken in moderation or if they should be abstained from all together. The Tanners claim:
Even though the revelation used only the words “hot drinks” the Mormon Church today interprets this to mean drinks that contain caffeine. In other words, the emphasis is no longer on whether the drink is hot or cold, but rather on how much caffeine it contains.130
Their charge actually has two parts. Did the early Church interpret the Word of Wisdom’s “hot drinks” to mean temperature? and does it now base its interpretation on the amount of caffeine? To bolster their position on the first question they note that George Q. Cannon in 1868 stated:
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 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.131
The Tanners are correct that despite Joseph’s and Hyrum’s statements defining “hot drinks” as tea and coffee, some early Saints, following the lead of prevailing medical opinion, believed that it was the temperature (primarily too hot) rather than the substance of the liquid that was detrimental to one’s health. Part of the confusion apparently arose from acceptance of the orthodox medicine of the day. It has already been noted that some medical practitioners believed that the temperature of the liquid was the evil culprit. Some early Church leaders believed this as well. In addition to George Q. Cannon (noted above), Brigham Young claimed that “hot drinks are not good. We will use cold drinks to allay thirst and warm drinks for medicine.”132 Even into the twentieth century, the temperature of the liquid appeared to be of concern to some LDS leaders. Elder David Smith, for instance, observed in 1930, that according to then-current medical knowledge “‘extremes of cold and heat produce gastric catarrh.’ ‘Piping hot broth or coffee is grateful on a cold day, so is ice-cream on a hot day, but extreme hot temperatures in the stomach are detrimental. Food repeatedly taken too hot or too cold may give rise to disturbances. Too hot food may be the cause of stomach disease. Note the frequency of ulcers among cooks. This may be due to the fact that they are constantly tasting hot things which they are cooking.'”133 Even as late as 1945, Elder Joseph Merrill claimed that medical research indicated that “any drinks at high temperatures, such as hot water and soups, are harmful.”134
The Tanners are not completely forthright, however, in claiming that current Word of Wisdom interpretation emphasizes “how much caffeine” a drink has. Just as in the days of Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints today often interpret the Word of Wisdom according to orthodox medical knowledge. To consume chemicals that are harmful to the body violates the intent of the Word of Wisdom. For instance, it is a violation of the Word of Wisdom to use marijuana, heroin, or LSD. We also know now about the harmful effects of caffeine, and Church leaders have recommended its avoidance. While decaffeinated coffee135 and herbal tea136 do not violate the Word of Wisdom, drinking caffeinated colas–while discouraged–does not constitute nonobservance. The Church “has never included Cola drinks within the actual prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom”137 and drinking colas does not prevent a member from entering the Temple.
Early Mormons did not always avoid coffee and tea. As with alcohol and tobacco, coffee and tea were believed to offer medicinal benefits. As Peterson notes:
While the Saints opposed the common use of tea and coffee, it would appear that they had little objection to its occasional use for medicinal purposes. In an age when these items were frequently used as a relief for a wide variety of ailments, it would have been imprudent to have entirely forbidden their use.138
Tea was used to treat various kinds of maladies, including fevers, smallpox, and measles. Both coffee and tea were believed to relieve fatigue.139 Joseph’s wife, Emma, for example, offered a cup of coffee or tea to one sister who had arrived “after a long arduous journey.”140
The Church’s increased emphasis on Word of Wisdom observance
For most of Latter-day Saint history, the Word of Wisdom was viewed with some laxity and most certainly with more moderation than abstinence. Wilford Woodruff, for instance, “concluded that it was wisdom to deal with all such matters according to the wisdom which God gave; that a forced abstinence was not making us free, but should [put us] under bondage with a yoke upon our necks.”141 Orson Pratt, and probably other members, felt that Word of Wisdom infractions were not as serious as disobedience to more fundamental Gospel principles.142 Despite the fact that the Word of Wisdom was not lived to the degree that it is today, non-Latter-day Saint visitors to both Nauvoo and Salt Lake City observed that the Saints were more moderate in their consumption of those elements proscribed by the Word of Wisdom than their contemporaries.143
Initially, Brigham Young, like Joseph Smith, took a tolerant rather than a vigilant attitude to Word of Wisdom observance. Nels Anderson wrote, “‘For him the test of a man’s faith was his integrity to an assignment given by the church. Could a man take a company of Saints to a desert and hold them to the task of building a community; then it didn’t matter much to Brother Brigham if he was a user of whiskey and tobacco. Those “Word of Wisdom” virtues were precious to him but secondary.'”144
As gospel knowledge grew Church leaders began to recognize the wisdom of D&C 89 and efforts appeared periodically to commit to greater adherence. “Additional evidence of serious concern,” notes Peterson, “is seen in the fact that in December, 1850, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, and other Church [leaders] met in Young’s ‘upper room’ to pray. Here they concluded to ‘renew the Word of Wisdom.'”145 By 1862 Brigham Young had curbed his own habits and encouraged the members to curb their bad Word of Wisdom habits as well. Then by 1867 Brigham Young began campaigning for a stronger emphasis on the Word of Wisdom. The Women’s Relief Society and the men’s School of the Prophets were both organized in each Mormon community and adopted rules requiring Word of Wisdom observance. At that time the primary reason for the increased stress on the Word of Wisdom was economic:146 it had become necessary for Latter-day Saints to develop and maintain a self-sufficient economy. This required not only developing their own resources (which included providing jobs for the hundreds of new converts arriving regularly) but also controlling their cash outflow which was needed for the home economy as well as the gathering of Saints into the Valley–which required large sums of cash. The Saintscould not afford to waste their liquid assets on imports such as alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. There would have been no problem producing these products locally for their own consumption, but “something more permanent and productive than tea, coffee, and tobacco was wanted for the building of the Kingdom, in view of the limited funds at the disposal of the Saints.”147
In the 1860’s Brigham Young suggested that the Saints in St. George manufacture their own wine to provide for the sacrament as well as to help their economic situation (which was destitute at that time).148 The need for economic independence fueled the Saints’ desire to break their bad Word of Wisdom habits, and little by little the Church saw an increase in observance. Peterson, however, explains that
while the economic motive was the major factor in bringing about an increased stress on Word of Wisdom observance, Brigham Young also stressed the spiritual side… Moreover, one can sense after reading various conference addresses in 1867 that the Authorities were becoming preoccupied with the idea of more strict observance of the Word of Wisdom, rather than the notion of producing these products locally.149
“The spirit whispers to me,” said Young in 1867, “to call upon the Latter-day Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, to let tea, coffee, and tobacco alone, and to abstain from drinking spirituous drinks.”150 In this same year, Brigham Young referred to the Word of Wisdom as “the word of the Lord,” and explained to the members that although they had a great many privileges, indulgence in liquor and other injurious substances was not one of them.151
Although Church leaders urged greater observance and more dedicated commitment, members were slow in following the counsel. Many members had become addicted to these stimulants. Showing compassion for those who were addicted–especially the older members who had been addicted for years–efforts were concentrated on the younger generation.152
By the late 1800’s, despite the high production of wine in southern Utah, the Church became convinced that the promotion of this industry was a mistake due (in part) to the degradation of individual Saints. More of the home-grown wine was consumed in the Mormon settlements than Church officials had hoped, and in 1900 Church members were counseled to dig up their vineyards.153
John Taylor, Brigham Young’s successor, took leadership of the Church in 1880, and two years later, according to one researcher, received a revelation designating the Word of Wisdom as a commandment.154 By the following year (1883) the Church saw the commencement of a “Second Reformation” which stressed, among other things, greater observance of the Word of Wisdom. In fact, the Quorum of the Twelve pledged themselves to observe the principals of the Word of Wisdom.155 Peterson notes that this stress on the Word of Wisdom “was strictly moralistic as Church members were urged to heed the revelation because God desired it and not because of economic pressure or health considerations.”156
The renewed emphasis on Word of Wisdom compliance began to see fruition. Observance by way of abstinence was being preached vigorously throughout the Church until the polygamy persecutions caused a shift of focus and a minor slump in observance.157 By 1894 Wilford Woodruff became President of the Church and spoke forcefully to the members about Word of Wisdom compliance.158 With the increasing concern over observance, some leaders began to question whether those who did not fully follow the Word of Wisdom should be allowed to attend the Temple. In the early 1900’s bishops were asked to consider each situation on its own merits since there was no rigid rule for each case.159 Recognizing that it would be a hardship for the older men–who had become addicted–to abstain from tobacco in order to enter the Temple, the First Presidency decided in 1902 that such members “should at least be willing to curtail themselves as much as they possibly can, and promise to cleanse themselves from the tobacco odor and not to use it at all the days they do work in the temple.”160
Just as the Israelites wandered for forty years raising a new generation before their arrival to the promised land, so the Lord, in his wisdom, allowed the Word of Wisdom to develop slowly so that the revelation might be “adapted to the weakest of the Saints” (D&C 89:3). Joseph F. Smith, fifth President of the Church, felt “the reason…why the Word of Wisdom was given not by commandment or constraint was that at that time…it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation.”161 He reasoned that a merciful God would give individuals a chance to overcome undesirable habits before bringing them under law. Nevertheless, Joseph F. Smith felt that it was time for stricter observance. In 1902 he “urged stake presidents and others to refuse recommends to flagrant violators but to be somewhat liberal with old men who used tobacco and old ladies who drank tea. Habitual drunkards, however, were to be denied temple recommends.”162 As demands for observance increased bishops were advised to no “‘longer tolerate men in presiding positions who would not keep the Word of Wisdom.'” By 1906, in keeping with the increased emphasis on abstinence, the First Presidency and Twelve substituted water for wine in the sacrament in their temple meetings.163 Seven years later, the First Presidency instructed the President of the Salt Lake Stake, not to call or recommend missionaries who did not observe the Word of Wisdom.164 Five years later Heber J. Grant became Church President, and in 1921 adherence to the Word of Wisdom was made a requirement for admission to the Temple.165
Final Question: Why Would God Change Moderation to Abstinence?
The question might be answered that God did not change Word of Wisdom observance from moderation to abstinence, but rather that the Latter-day Saints eventually came to recognize what God knew all along–that abstinence was preferred to ineffectual self-policed moderation. In verse four of the D&C 89–which originally was the first verse–the Lord explains that this revelation was given “in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.”166 The revelation begins not by condemning the stimulants it later suggests avoiding but rather warns that it is due to the evil of conspiring men that the revelation was given. In our day we see the enticing alcohol and tobacco advertisements designed to lure young men and women into partaking of these vices. We read of the on-going lawsuits with the tobacco industry and the claims that they were aware of the link with cancer years ago. Addiction to these harmful stimulants drives billion-dollar businesses.
While it is possible that in a perfect world moderation might be sufficient, even a cursory investigation of the ills caused by tobacco and alcohol alone should demonstrate that mankind is generally incapable of such moderation. Alcoholism, drunk drivers, date rape, and a variety of other maladies can be traced to the over-indulgence of alcohol. Sometimes critics cite studies that indicate that the consumption of small quantities of alcoholic can be healthy. While there may be some truth to this, the problem, as one researcher has noted, is that “moderate drinking can easily turn heavier, increasing the drinker’s risk of other diseases. Besides…any protection from alcohol is far less than a person gets from more traditional practices like exercise, proper diet and avoiding tobacco.”167 Other researchers are not so sure about the conclusiveness of studies that claim alcohol is good for the health. “‘A protective effect'” of the moderate consumption of alcohol, notes Dr. Arthur Klatsky, “‘is not really proven'”168 and some research indicates that the same preventive benefits can be obtained from drinking grape or apple juice.169
As for tobacco, Dr. James Mason, director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta wrote:
The Surgeon General of the United States has identified cigarette smoking as the single most important cause of disease and premature death. Tobacco kills thirteen times as many Americans as hard drugs do, and eight times as many as automobile accidents.170
One report has established that “smoking and smokeless tobacco kill more adults than any other preventable cause of death, including war, famine and terrorist attacks.”171 In 1985, The Chicago Tribune observed that “drug abuse, including cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, has become the No. 1 cause of death in America, accounting for nearly one out of three deaths, according to a federal study.”172
There appears to be at least three reasons why Word of Wisdom emphasis went from moderation to abstinence.
1) Line upon Line
It is important to understand that not every Gospel Principal was, or is, revealed in its complete form all at once. Joseph Smith once said: “It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it.”173 As new truths are revealed, previous revelations are modified to accommodate additional light. “But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little.”174 “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”175 It is not strange that many truths are revealed in stages or degrees. Brigham Young said:
I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, groveling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities.176
Although the righteous will be prompted in correct directions by the Spirit, I believe that the Saints, including the Prophets, are often expected to figure things out first. And thanks to continuing, modern revelation we have the blessing of hearing the Lord’s word on the subject as the work progresses.
The Church has seen a variety of changes and improvements as Gospel knowledge has increased. The garment, for example, has undergone a series of changes, including changes of length. Early LDS garments extended to the wrists and ankles177 and were (until 1979) always one-piece.178 Rebaptisms were not uncommon in early LDS history- especially during the Salt Valley “Reformation” of 1856-1857.179 Even the Temple admission standards and questions have undergone changes.180
Early Mormons understood things differently than we do today. Just as Biblical figures had strange view about the shape of the earth181, the motion of the planets182, and animal husbandry183, so likewise some early Church leaders had odd views about the habitation of the sun, treasure-digging, and a variety of other topics. Not only did they have their own cultural views, but the views of the Saints and their leaders did not always harmonize with the views of Joseph Smith. The early members of the Church, for example, voted to retain Sidney Rigdon as a counselor in the First Presidency despite the protests of Joseph.184
Considering the fact that there are other examples of partial understanding developing into advanced understanding as prophets and Saints became more spiritually mature, it is entirely possible that the early Saints simply did not fully comprehend the significance and scope of the Word of Wisdom. It’s entirely possible that we still don’t fully understand the depth of the principals that the Lord revealed.
2) Economic concerns and the Gathering of Israel
As pointed out earlier, economic factors played a major, if not sole, role in the increased Word of Wisdom observance in the 1860’s and 1870’s. There are some who suggest that the early Saints never took the Word of Wisdom seriously until Brigham Young used the revelation as the perfect tool to enlist the assistance of Saints in supporting the emigration efforts. The Word of Wisdom would thus have been revealed for this later purpose of addressing the cash leak problem, which would have hindered the gathering of Saints in the Salt Lake Valley. Since the Word of Wisdom tells us that it was revealed for the “temporal” salvation of the Saints, it is significant to recall that the gathering of Saints formed the foundation of their temporal salvation.185 Even later prophets have noted the financial stress put upon those who refuse to observance the Word of Wisdom. In 1944, for example, Heber J. Grant said:
In thinking seriously of the economic condition of the world, I am convinced without doubt, that a revelation in the book of D&C, known as the Word of Wisdom, given by the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, to the Prophet Joseph Smith over 100 years ago, would solve the economic problems not only of our country but of every other country, if it were obeyed by the people of the world.186
3) The Lord’s timetable for the fruition of Word of Wisdom blessings required an intermediate generation
When the Word of Wisdom was first revealed, the health benefits that could have been attained from strict observance were minimal. Life expectancy was thirty-five years and by 1900 was still less than fifty years–less than that of underdeveloped countries today.187 Whereas the Word of Wisdom would have extended the lives of adult Latter=day Saints, most Saints (and non-members) died in either infancy or before they would have reached an age when the Word of Wisdom’s preventive effects (cancer, heart disease, etc.) would have any real impact.188 The Lord, of course, knew that the time would come when adherence to the Word of Wisdom would impact the life expectancy and health of the Saints. Considering the length of time it took for the Saints to comprehend the significance of the Word of Wisdom and wean themselves from the addictive elements that it proscribed, it’s interesting that by the time this realization was made the health value of the revelation was real. As Lester Bush wrote:
Whatever merit or function the Word of Wisdom had for the nineteenth-century Mormons, in retrospect we know that circumstances changed around the turn of the century in such a way that its guidelines would unquestionably promote better physical health (i.e., there was more cigarette smoking and less serious infectious disease). That this development- the implications of which were not apparent to the medical scientists for decades– coincided with a decision by the church leadership to require firm adherence to the Word of Wisdom is quite remarkable. It may well represent their most demonstrably prescient insight to date in helping assure that the “destroying angel” of disease will “pass us by.”189
The health benefits of the Word of Wisdom have been extolled by many researchers–and for good reason.
There may be other reasons for the change in Word of Wisdom observance and perspective, but the foregoing reasons fit comfortably into a framework of logic and the historical record. If we think in terms of the distinction between “rules” and “laws,” as J. Reuben Clark outlines below, we need not worry about why the status of the Word of Wisdom changed.
My brothers and sisters, my young people, the Church cannot change the laws of God. They stand immutable. We may change the rules; we may say that a drunkard may go into the temple; we may say that a blasphemer may go into the temple; we may say that he who drinks tea and coffee may go into the temple. These rules we may change. But we cannot change the biological law that he who uses narcotics must pay the penalty somehow, somewhere, sometime–he himself or his children or his children’s children. And this is the tragedy and the curse of disobeying nature’s laws and God’s laws.190
Summary and Conclusion
The Tanners make two primary charges against Joseph Smith and the Word of Wisdom.
1) The Tanners claim that the Word of Wisdom was not revealed by God, but was “obviously the product of the thinking of Joseph Smith’s times.” 191
As demonstrated in this paper, while Joseph was most likely aware of the prevailing health movements of his day, the Word of Wisdom–though similar to some health reform suggestions–included only those things which we now know negatively impacts our health. While the medical community and health reform movements added some proscribed substances that they (and admittedly some early Saints) believed were harmful, the Word of Wisdom ignores these elements. Joseph Smith, under the direction of the Lord, got the right things right.
2) The Tanners charge that Joseph and other Mormon leaders were hypocritical in their preaching the Word of Wisdom compared to their personal observance of the principal.192
While the Tanners are correct that Joseph and other early LDS leaders partook of things that are proscribed by the Word of Wisdom, the Tanners fail to grasp that the early LDS view of the Word of Wisdom is not the same as it is today. Although taught by angels and heavenly messengers, Joseph had to learn line upon line as all other prophets before him. His spiritual education was received within the limitations of his understanding, expectations, familiarity, and cultural atmosphere.
The evidence suggests that the Word of Wisdom was not merely the product of Joseph Smith’s environment, and neither he, nor Brigham Young, were hypocritical about their observance. Instead we find that God works through living prophets and directs the affairs of His Church in His own manner and according to His own timetable. This evidence suggests that the Tanners’ charges have gone up in smoke.193
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Tanner, Jerald and Sandra Tanner. Mormonism–Shadow or Reality?, Fifth Edition. Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987.
Times and Seasons 6 vols. (Independence: Independence Press).
Van Wagoner, Richard S. and Steven C. Walker. A Book of Mormons. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1982.
Vogel, Dan. Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988.
Watson, Elden J. ed. “Memoirs of George Albert Smith.” Manuscript History of Brigham Young 1801-1844. Salt Lake City: Utah Secretarial Service, 1968.
1 Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism-Shadow or Reality?, Fifth Edition (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), 413; italics added.
2 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 406-413.
3 Leonard J. Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation of the ‘Word of Wisdom'” BYU Studies 1:1 (Winter 1959):39.
4 Paul H. Peterson, “An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom,” M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972, p. 13; Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,” 40.
5 Lester E. Bush, Jr., “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” Dialogue 9:3 (Fall, 1981): 51.
6 Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,” 39.
8 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 14.
9 Ibid., 16.
10 Ibid., 14-15.
11 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 52.
12 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 14-15; Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 52.
13 Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 235.
14 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 19.
15 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 48-49.
16 For current LDS interpretation of the Word of Wisdom based on medical insights, see Theodore M. Burton, “The Word of Wisdom,” Ensign 6:5 (May 1976): 28; Dr. Charles R. Smart, “Observing the Word of Wisdom Can Aid Cancer Prevention,” Tambuli 10 (October 1983): 18; Roger R. Williams, “Tobacco and Alcohol,” Ensign 7:4 (April 1977): 57; Paul S. Bergeson, “Infants and the Word of Wisdom,” Ensign 7:4 (April 1977): 54; and many others.
17 Brigham Young, “School of the Prophets, Etc.” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 8 February 1868, Vol. 12 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1869), 157-158.
18 Des Moines Daily News (Des Moines, Iowa), October 16, 1886, quoted by Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 20-21, and quoted in Tanner, Shadow and Reality?, 406.
19 While Whitmer intimates that tobacco was a problem confined to the men, studies demonstrate that although the use tobacco “was almost universal among men” in Ohio, its use was “not uncommon among women. The ‘weaker sex’ smoked cigars and pipes as well as engaging in the art of snuff chewing.” Carlyle R. Buley, “Glimpses of Pioneer Mid-West Social and Cultural History,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 23 (March 1937): 492, quoted in Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 17.
20 JS History 1:6-14.
21 D&C 87; See also Dan Vogel, Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988), 189.
22 See heading to D&C 76.
23 Ether 2:22-3:6.
24 Genesis 17:13.
25 Acts 15:24-28.
26 Matthew 15:24.
27 Matthew 10:5-6.
28 Acts 10, 11; Matthew 28:19.
29 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1938), 316.
30 Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1919), 1.
31 Brain Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 5 (January 16, 1898): 365.
32 D&C 1:24.
33 Kenneth A. Kitchen, “Some Egyptian Background to the Old Testament,” The Tyndale House Bulletin, Numbers 5 and 6 (1960): 9-13; G.A Reisner and W.S. Smith, A History of the Giza Necropolis, Vol. 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955), 13-17; both cited in Michael T. Griffith, A Ready Reply: Answering Challenging Questions About the Gospel (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1994), 14.
34 Henry Chadwick, The Early Church, (New York: Viking Penguin, 1967), 278.
35 See Milton Hunter, Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1958), 217-218; 235-238.
36 See Genesis 44:2, 5.
37 D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987), 3.
38 Acts 1:26.
39 Quinn, Early Mormonism, 3.
40 Mark 7:33-35
41 John 9:6.
42 Quinn, Early Mormonism, 4.
43 John 8:12, 9:5.
44 David Fideler, Jesus Christ Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism (Wheaton: Quest Books, 1993), 264; thanks to Kerry Shirts for providing me with these quotes.
45 John 14:6.
46 Fideler, Jesus Christ Sun of God, 272, 228.
47 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 406.
48 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 16.
49 Ibid., 19.
50 Ibid., 14-15.
51 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 52.
52 Madge E. Pickard and R. Carlyle Buley, The Midwest Pioneer-His Ills, Cures, and Doctors (New York: Henry Schuman, 1946), 92.
53 Richard L. Anderson, “The Alvin Smith Story: Fact & Fiction,” Ensign 17:8 (August 1987): 69.
54 Stephen Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America: Sylvester Graham and Health Reform (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1980), 14.
55 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 56.
56 Ibid., 49; Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America, 86-104.
57 Charles E. Rosenberg, The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849 and 1866 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962), 30, 42.
59 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 49.
60 Ibid., 50-51.
61 Ibid., 56.
62 Bush, 56-57.
63 Caleb Ticknor, MD, The Philosophy of Living; or, The Way to Enjoy Life and Its Comforts (New York:**no publisher listed in the Bush’s article**, 1836), 106, quoted in Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 55; see also Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 54.
64 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 55.
65 Andrew Combe, MD, The Physiology of Digestion Considered with Relation to the Principles of Dietetics (New York:**the publisher is not given in Bush’s citation** 1836), 273, quoted in Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 55.
66 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 55.
67 Daniel Drake, MD, A Systematic Treatise, Historical, Etiological and Practical, on the Principle Disease of the Interior Valley of North AmericaÖ, Vol. 1 (Cincinnati, Ohio: No Publisher Available, 1850), 662, quoted in Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 64, n. 37.
68 John Redman Coxe, in The American Dispensatory, Eight Edition, (Philadelphia: No Publisher Available, 1830), 216, quoted in Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 63, n. 34.
69 John Redman Coxe, in The American Dispensatory, Eight Edition, (Philadelphia: No Publisher Available, 1830), 216, quoted in Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 63, n. 34.
70 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 55.
71 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 406.
72 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 2:16.
73 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 406.
74 Orson Hyde and Oliver Cowdery, “History of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons 16:6 (January 15, 1845 -February 6), November 1, 1845: 1022; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1950), 142, as quoted by Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 412.
75 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 412.
76 Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,” 40.
77 Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844, eds., Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1983), 176-177.
78 Ibid., 136.
80 Ibid., 138.
81 Ibid., 162-163.
82 Ibid., 123.
83 Lester E. Bush, Jr., “Excommunication: Church Courts in Mormon History,” Sunstone 8:4 (July 1983): 27.
85 Ibid.; italics added.
86 Richard D. Poll, History and Faith: Reflections of a Mormon Historian (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1983), 83.
87 Bush, “Excommunication,” 27.
88 Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 177; see also 163.
89 Ibid., 136.
90 Ibid., 138.
91 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 30-31.
92 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 22.
93 D&C 59:18-20.
94 Robert J. Matthews, “The New Publications of the Standard Works-1979, 1981,” Brigham Young University Studies 22:4 (Fall, 1982): 411.
95 D&C 89:2-3.
96 Robert J. McCue, “Did the Word of Wisdom Become A Commandment in 1851?” Dialogue 4:3 (Autumn 1981): 66-67; Matthews, “The New Publications of the Standard Works,” 411.
97 Peterson, “A Historical Analysis,” 30-31.
98 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 3 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 95.
99 “Conference Minutes and Re-organization,” Times and Seasons 4:20 (November 1842-November 1843), September 1, 1843, 316.
100 History of the Church, 3:15.
101 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 39-40.
102 Ibid.; see also History of the Church, 4:445.
103 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 27.
104 Bush , “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 57.
105 Ibid., 48.
106 Thomas G. Alexander, “The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement,” Dialogue 14:3 (Fall 1981): 87.
107 David O. McKay, Conference Report (October 1926), 114.
108 Mark L. Grover, “Relief Society and Church Welfare: The Brazilian Experience,” Dialogue 27:4 (Winter 1994): 35.
109 Elder David A. Smith, Conference Report (April 1930), 86.
111 Mark E. Petersen, Conference Report (April 1953), 84
112 Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 1 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1957), 201.
113 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 24.
114 Ibid., 26; 104-105.
115 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 51.
116 Pickard and Buley, The Midwest Pioneer, 92.
117 History of the Church 7:101.
118 “Memoirs of George Albert Smith,” entry under 1834, and Elden J. Watson, (ed.), Manuscript History of Brigham Young 1801-1844 (Salt Lake City: Utah Secretarial Service, 1968) 50-52.
119 Lester E. Bush, “Brigham Young in Life and Death: A Medical Overview,” Journal of Mormon History 5 (May, 1978): 97-98; Bush , “The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” 58.
120 The Saints Herald, 22 January 1935, 110.
121 Charles Mackay, The Religious, Social, and Political History of the Mormons (New York: Miller, Orton, and Mulligan, 1856), 155.
122 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 406-13.
123 Bush , The Word of Wisdom in Nineteenth-Century Perspective, 56-57.
124 Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker. A Book of Mormons. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1982), 344-345.
125 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 38-39.
126 Diary Excerpts of Abraham Cannon, Vol. 19, October 1, 1895, in New Mormon Studies CD-ROM: A Comprehensive Resource Library (Smith Research Associates, 1998).
127 Brigham Young, “Confession of Faults,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 10 March 1860, Vol. 8 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1861), 361.
128 Cannon, Far West Record, 136.
129 Joe Johnson wrote: “I was with Joseph Smith, the Prophet, when the Word of Wisdom was given by revelation from the Lord [D&C 89], February 27, 1833, and, I think, I am the only man now living who was presentÖ On a Sabbath day, in the July following the giving of the revelation, when both Joseph and Hyrum Smith were in the stand, the Prophet said to the Saints: ‘I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said “hot drinks” in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. The Lord was showing us what was good for man to eat and drink. Now, what do we drink when we take our meals? Tea and coffee. Is it not? Yes; tea and coffee. Then, they are what the Lord meant when He said “hot drinks.”‘ Brother Hyrum Smith spoke to the same effect” (Joe Hills Johnson, “Voice From the Mountains, Being a Testimony of the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Revealed by the Lord to Joseph Smith, Jr.” Juvenile Instructor (1881): 12).
130 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 405.
131 George Q. Cannon, “Word of Wisdom, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 7 April 1868, Vol. 12 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1869), 221, 223. Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 405.
132 George Q. Cannon, “Word of Wisdom, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 7 April 1868, Vol. 12 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1869), 209.
133 David Smith, Conference Report (April 1930), 85.
134 Joseph F. Merrill, Conference Report (October 1945), 136.
135 Joseph L. Anderson, 8 January 1965, Secretary to the First Presidency wrote to one member (as directed by President David O. McKay), “I am directed to tell you that the drinking of a beverage made from the coffee bean, from which all caffeine and deleterious drugs have been removed, is not regarded as a violation of the Word of Wisdom.” (“Decaffeinated Coffee Does Not Violate Word Of Wisdom” Revelations in Addition to Those Found in the LDS Edition of the D&C [New Mormon Studies CD].)
136 Joseph Lynn Lyon, “Tea,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), 4:1441.
137 Letter from Mark E. Peterson to a Brother Lloyd, March 22, 1911, LDS Church Historical Department; The Improvement Era, LXVIII, (September 1963), 759; The New Era, II (May, 1972), 50 cited in Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 101.
138 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 23-24.
139 Ibid., 42.
140 “Memoirs of George Albert Smith,” entry under 1833, LDS Church Historical Department, quoted in Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 22-23.
141 Wilford Woodruff Journal, 7 November 1841, quoted in Gary Bergera, “Has The Word Of Wisdom Changed Since 1833?” Sunstone 10:7 (July 1985): 32.
142 Orson Pratt, “Trials of the Saints, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 20 May 1855, Vol. 3 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1856), 18.
143 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis, “ 47-48; Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,“ 42.
144 Nels Anderson, Desert Saints: The Mormon Frontier in Utah (Chicago: No Publisher Noted, 1942), 439, quoted in Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,,”41.
145 Journal History, December 27, 1847, LDS Church Historical Department, cited in Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,“ 44.
146 Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,“ 43.
147 Ibid., 44.
148 Ibid., 46; Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,“ 64.
149 Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 58.
150 Brigham Young, “The Word of Wisdom, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 17 August 1867, Vol. 12 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1869), 118.
151 Brigham Young, “The Word of Wisdom,” Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 7 April 1867, Vol. 12 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1869), 29.
152 Heber C. Kimball, “Union of the Saints, Etc.,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 13 August 1853, Vol. 2 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1855), 111.
153 Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation,“ 46.
154 Andrew Karl Larson, I was Called to Dixie (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1961), 607 cited in Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 69-70.
155 Peterson, “An HistoricalAnalysis,” 71.
157 Ibid., 76-77.
159 Bergera, “Has the Word of Wisdom Changed?” 32.
160 First Presidency to John W. Hess, 31 October 1902, Church Archives, quoted in Bergera, “Has the Word of Wisdom Changed?”, 32.
161 Conference Reports (October, 1913), 14.
162 Alexander , “The Word of Wisdom,“ 79.
163 John Henry Smith Journal, 5 July 1906, University of Utah, cited in Bergera, “Has the Word of Wisdom Changed?,“ 32; see also Alexander , “The Word of Wisdom,“ 79; Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition, 261.
164 James R. Clark (ed.), Messages of the First Presidency, 6 volumes (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965), 4:283.
165 Alexander (1981), “The Word of Wisdom,“ 82; Peterson, “An Historical Analysis ,“ 90.
166 The Lord was also obviously concerned that enemies might try to poison the Saints as evidenced in verse six, which recommends that the Saints make their own wine. See also, Clyde Ford, “The Origin of the Word of Wisdom.” Journal of Mormon History 24:2 (Fall, 1998): 134-135.
167 Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, May 14, 1984, B8.
169 Ogden Standard Examiner, May 17, 1992, A14.
170 Dr. James Mason, “I Have a Question,” Ensign (September, 1986), 59-61.
171 Deseret News, January 12, 1986, B11.
172 Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, March 3, 1985, C17.
173 Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City; Deseret Book Company, 1976), 297.
174 Isaiah 28:13; D&C 98:12.
175 D&C 50:23-24.
176 Brigham Young, “The Kingdom of God,” Journal of Discourses, reported by G.D. Watt 8 July 1855, Vol. 2 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1855), 314.
177 Melvin J. Ballard to Mr. Lloyd J. Ririe, December 1, 1933 in “Research Notes on LDS Temples-Temple Clothes Letter,” New Mormon Studies CD (Smith Research Associates, 1993); David John Buerger, “The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony,” Dialogue 20:4 (Winter 1987), 55; Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1890-1930 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 301.
178 Buerger, “The Development of the Endowment Ceremony,” 56.
179 Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988), 181-184; Robert R. King and Kay Atkinson King, “The Effect of Mormon Organizational Boundaries on Group Cohesion,” Dialogue 17:1 (Spring 1984), 63; D. Michael Quinn, “The Practice of Rebaptism at Nauvoo,” Brigham Young University Studies 18 (Winter 1978): 226-232.
180 Edward L. Kimball, “The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards,” Journal of Mormon History 24:1 (Spring 1998), 135-176.
181 Isaiah 11:12.
182 Joshua 10:6.
183 Genesis 30:33-39.
184 B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter?day Saints, 6 Vols. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter?day Saints, 1930), 2:242-243.
185 Thanks to Andrew Piereder for pointing out this perspective on LDS-Hist e-mail list, July 28, 2000.
186 Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, (April 1936), 48.
187 Bush, “The Word of Wisdom,“ 59.
190 J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report (October 1935), 92.
191 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 413; italics added.
192 Tanner, Shadow or Reality?, 406-413.
193 Special thanks to Russell Anderson for his helpful comments and suggestions.