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ANON - Why has the church modified it's position on the word of wisdom by allowing members to drinks caffienated soft drinks?
Why wasn't a clarification, about tea and coffee announced long ago?
I was an active member for many decades, yet I never was taught it only meant tea and coffee. I'm sure few devout members know about it. Just a couple of weeks ago, a former bishop corrected me when I said herbal teas were allowed. He was critical and disdainful of bishops and stake presidents that gave temple recommends to herbal tea drinkers. Why would church leaders not correct this prevalent misunderstanding? I know members who wouldn't even drink hot cocoa.
How did our latter-day prophets determine what we should avoid in order to be temple worthy, is that policy or prophecy or do you know?
JOEL - A clarification was announced long ago:
"Joel H. Johnson, with whose family the Prophet Joseph Smith was intimate, relates that on a Sabbath day in July (1833) following the giving of the "Word of Wisdom," 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. Tea and coffee are what the Lord meant when he said 'hot drinks.'(Johnson, J. H., A Voice from the Mountains, p. 12)
Anything besides coffee and tea has, throughout the years, been a matter of opinion among members and even church leaders.
That's amazing about the herbal tea drinking. That former Bishop may have personally believed that, but was wrong to judge others about that and I would say he is among a very small minority who think that. When I was on my mission in Austria in the early 70's we drank herbal teas all the time and I have ever since then.
Besides the 4 main things, coffee, tea, alcohol and tobbaco, members can live the Word of Wisdom as they choose and include things or not include things, but they should not judge others for not living it exactly the way they do.
A 1968 letter from the first presidency regarding caffienated soft drinks said:
"the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided." (Letter from D. O. McKay, H. B. Brown, N. E. Tanner, The First Presidency, 1968)
This advice might apply in different ways to different members according to their own personal inspiration and physiological make-up.
We have more recently been advised about other harmful things. The church website on this topic says:
"When people purposefully take anything harmful into their bodies, they are not living in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. Illegal drugs can especially destroy those who use them. The abuse of prescription drugs is also destructive spiritually and physically." (Gospel Topics: Word of Wisdom)
I think it's pretty obvious that things like these should also be avoided. Of course the act of taking illegal drugs would prevent us from being temple worthy anyway, since we are breaking the law.
As for the four main things, those are what our latter-day prophets have determined, as inspired by God, are what we should avoid in order to be temple worthy. It is also a test of our level of obedience to what God tells us through His prophets. As for everything else, you might have noticed that in the temple recommend interview we are only asked if we live the Word of wisdom. The question does not specify anything. It allows us to respond according to how we have personally chosen to live it.