Question: Was failure to keep the Word of Wisdom grounds for a disciplinary council in the 19th century Church?

Table of Contents

Question: Was failure to keep the Word of Wisdom grounds for a disciplinary council in the 19th century Church?

In all cases where membership in the Church was taken away due to the Word of Wisdom, there were other accusations that were directed at the offender

Some have used the fact that early Church disciplinary councils would include the charge of failure to keep the Word of Wisdom as evidence against Joseph or other Saints. As Paul Peterson notes:

In all cases where membership or fellowship was taken away [partly on the grounds that the member did not observe the Word of Wisdom], 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 tha the other infractions. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that Mormonss were not expelled solely for violations of the Word of Wisdom except in the case of extreme drunkenness....In addition to this, the Word of Wisdom was somewhat unique in that it was a revelation that was given "not by way of commandment," [D&C 89:2] allowing a good deal of subjectivity for individual interpretation.[1]:30

The complete prohibition of alcoholic drinks of any kind, and a strict enforcement of the Word of Wisdom's other prohibitions, only became part of the Word of Wisdom following the temperance movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Presidents Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant supported the movement and Grant made complete abstention from alcohol in any form a requirement for a temple recommend in the early 1920s.

Notes

  1. ↑ Paul H. Peterson, "An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom," Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972. Page numbers cited within text.