Question: Did Heber J. Grant include a strict observance of the Word of Wisdom in the temple recommend interview because of the repeal of prohibition?

Table of Contents

Question: Did Heber J. Grant include a strict observance of the Word of Wisdom in the temple recommend interview because of the repeal of prohibition?

The Word of Wisdom requirement in the temple recommend interview was in place for many years before Prohibition was repealed

The temple recommend requirement was in place by 1919. Prohibition wasn't repealed until 1933.

A 1919 letter, Instructions to mission presidents, date October 8, 1919 clearly shows the Word of Wisdom requirement being in place at that time:

Temple Recommends

Presidents of Missions are not authorized to give temple recommends; these are issued by the President of the Church for mission members; upon obtaining suitable letters of recommendation from Mission Presidents for such members. Letters of recommendation should be given only to those who have been members of the Church at least a year, and in good standing for one year prior to giving the recommend. It must be known that they keep the Word of Wisdom, pay their tithing and otherwise are good members. Each letter of recommendation should specify what particular blessing the person is recommended to receive. [First Presidency: Heber J. Grant, Anthon H. Lund and Charles W. Penrose] [1]

The notion that President Grant could, unilaterally, institute such a change also goes against all established Church procedure and the scriptural mandate in D&C 107:27.

The church had been emphasizing the importance of living the Word of Wisdom from a very early time

The church had been emphasizing the importance of living the Word of Wisdom from a very early time. Clearly there were always many who refused to go along with it. Even Brigham Young had difficulty giving up coffee and tobacco until his later years. So, the Church kept emphasizing it.

  • 1841 At a conference of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, held in Zarahemla, Iowa, commencing on Saturday August 7th, 1841 Times and Seasons, 2. 548

Resolved, That this church will not fellowship any person or persons who are in the habit of drinking ardent spirits, or keeping tipling shops, and we will use our best endeavors to suppress it.

  • 1850 Millennial Star 12.3 (February 1, 1850): 42.

ORDINATIONS.--…. If he be guilty of drinking ardent spirits, instead of being ordained to the priesthood, he should be admonished; and if he should in any case, carry it to drunkenness, he should be strictly dealt with; and if he repent not, he should be excommunicated (42).

  • 1851: Wilford Woodruff.

President Young ... made many interesting remarks. He spoke upon the word of wisdom, of its origin &c. Said it was well kept when it was first given.[2]

  • 1925: Heber J. Grant (April 1925):

President Wilford Woodruff from this stand, many years ago, called upon every man holding the Priesthood and occupying any office in this Church, to obey the Word of Wisdom or to resign and step aside. I reiterate that men who do not obey the Word of Wisdom are not worthy to stand as examples before the people, to be invited into private priesthood meetings and to discuss matters for the welfare of the Church of God. Their disobedience shows a lack of faith in the work of God. I shall not take your time to read all of the Word of Wisdom, but I shall take time to read the words of the living God that must be acknowledged by every Latter-day Saint to be the word of God, or he or she is not entitled to be a member of this Church. After telling us what is good for us, the Lord makes a promise that is one of the most marvelous, one of the most uplifting and inspiring promises that could possibly be made to mortal man.[3]

Notes

  1. Instructions to mission presidents, October 8, 1919 Original circular letter. Church Historian's Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 5, p.163.
  2. 17 January 1851, Salt Lake City, Wilford Woodruff Journal Mss (BYA 2.40)
  3. Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1925, p.9