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Did Joseph Smith Keep the Word of Wisdom?


Donna Morley



What is the Word of Wisdom? The Mormon scripture, Doctrine & Covenants (D&C 89) tells us that the Word of Wisdom is a revelation that Joseph Smith received from the Lord on February 27, 1833....” showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all the saints in the last days" (D&C 89:2.

The Word of Wisdom commands all Mormons to abstain from wine, strong drink, tobacco, and hot drinks... (Mormons believe the "hot drinks" refer to coffee and tea).


The question we can ask is, did Joseph Smith keep the Word of Wisdom?


Let the facts speak for themselves, simply by looking at unedited excerpts (which include his original misspellings, italics are mine) from Joseph Smith’s diary:



 

WINE:         “We then took some refreshment and our hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine.” (January 14, 1836—3 years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church.)

 

NOTE:         Joseph and several church leaders were at a wedding when their “hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine.” We might want to ask our Mormon friends, “Is it okay to drink wine at weddings? Does the Word of Wisdom make allowances for this?



 

WINE:         Elder O. Hyde, Eldr L. Johnson, and Eldr W. Parrish who served on the occasion then presented the Presidency with three Servers filled with glasses of wine to bless. It fell to my lot to attend to this duty, which I cheerfully discharged. It was then passed round in order, then the cake in the Same order. Suffise it to say our hearts were made cheerful and glad, while partaking of the bounty of the earth which was presented untill we had taken our fill.” (January 20, 1836—three years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church.)

 

NOTE:         “cheerful and” was written in, then crossed out. Here some Mormon elders presented Joseph Smith with wine. Joseph cheerfully blessed the wine, as well, he and the other elders had taken their fill.



 

 

WINE:         “Met the several quorems in the room under the printing office. After organizing and opning by prayer, called upon the High Council of Kirtland to proceede and confess their sins as thy might be directed by the spirit. They occupied the first part of the day and confessed and exhorted as the spirit led. P.M attended again and saw the Bread and wine administered to the quorems and brethren who were present.” (January 24, 1836—three years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church.)

 

NOTE:         We may ask our Mormon friends: Does the church allow the use of wine during communion?



 

WINE:         “The Bishops and their councils were then washed, after which we partook of the bread and wine.” (March 29, 1836—three years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church.)

 

NOTE:         This account also appears to be a communion service, for the Bishops and their council, again using wine.



 

WINE:         “I ascended the pulpit and remarked to the congregation that we had passed through many trials and afflictions since the organization of this Church and that this is a year of jubilee to us and a time of rejoicing, and that it was expedient for us to prepare bread and wine sufficient to make our hearts glad, as we should not probably leave this house until morning. To this end we should call on the brethren to make a contribution; the stewards passed round and took up a liberal contribution and messengers were dispatched for bread and wine. (March 30, 1836–three years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church.)

 

NOTE:          Here we see that wine wasn’t just distributed to leaders, but is given to the entire congregation, sufficient to make their hearts glad.



 

WINE:        The bread and wine was then brought in and I observed that we had fasted all the day, and lest we faint as the Saviour did so shall we do on this occasion. We shall bless the bread and give it to the 12 and they to the multitude, after which we shall bless the wine and do likewise.” (March 30, 1836–three years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church.)

 

NOTE:         Wine is being used for communion. Present were Joseph Smith and the 12 Apostles of the church.



 

WINE:         While waiting for the wine...” (March 30, 1836–three years after the Word fo Wisdom was commanded to the church)

 

NOTE:         Joseph Smith lined through the words, “waiting for the wine.”

 


 

WINE          Elder Hyde told of the excellent white wine he drank in the east. Joseph prophesied in the name of the Lord that he would drink wine with him in that country.” (January 20, 1843–ten years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church).

 

NOTE:         The “east” that Hyde referred to was Palestine. Despite the Word of Wisdom, Joseph Smith prophesies that he will drink wine with Hyde in that country. This prophecy never came true.

 


 

BREWERY:   “Reconed with Theodore Turly, who enquired what was wisdom concerning a brewery in this place? (March 7, 1843–ten years after the Word of Wisdom was commanded to the church)

 

NOTE:         Joseph Smith didn’t counsel Mormon Theodore Turly against the brewery, nor did he remind him of the Word of Wisdom.

We know Theodore Turley was a Mormon based upon Joseph Smith’s accounts in his diary referring Turley, as “Brother Turley” (July 28, 1838, July 18, 1839, June 16, 1839, January 3, 1843, July 23, 1843, December 7, 1843, ; ); also referred to as “one of the Seventies” (July 2, 1839)



 

BREWERY:   “Joseph decided that he had no objection to having a brewery put up by Theodore Turley.” (March 10, 1843–ten years after the Word of Wisdom was given to the church).

 

NOTE:         Here we find Joseph in agreement with the brewery despite the Word of Wisdom command.



 

BITTERS:     “....If you feel any inconvenience take some mild psysic 2 or 3 times and then some good bitters.” (April 13, 1843–ten years after the Word of Wisdom was given to the church)

 

NOTE:         The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary tells us that “bitters” is “a liquor in which herbs or roots are steeped; generally a spirituous liquor.” We can ask our Mormon friend: “Are you allowed to use liquor, when you are sick, in order to make you feel better?



 

WINE:        Drank a glass of wine with Sister Richards of her mother’s make in England” (May 3, 1843–ten years after the Word of Wisdom was given to the church.)

 

NOTE:       We can ask our Mormon friends, “Isn’t Joseph, the prophet, leading sister Roberts astray by drinking wine with her? Or, by not telling her that they would be disobeying the Word of Wisdom if they were to drink the wine?



 

TAVERN:     “About these days was moving into the new house on the Diagonal corner to commence keeping tavern” (August 31, 1843–ten years after the Word of Wisdom was given to the church.)

 

NOTE:         It is unclear here what Joseph was talking about.



 

BEER:         Drank a glass of beer at Moissers....” (June 1, 1844, 11 years after the Word of Wisdom was given to the church and two weeks before Smith’s death.)

 

NOTE:         Just week before Smith’s death, he is drinking beer. This account and the others show that Joseph Smith did not keep the Word of Wisdom.

 

To any Mormon who doesn’t trust what’s written in this article, we highly recommend that you search for yourself. It’s a noble thing to search truth for yourselves. All you need to do is refer to Joseph Smith’s diary, under the following dates:


January 14, 1836

January 20, 1836

January 24, 1836

March 29, 1836

March 30, 1836

January 20, 1843

March 7, 1843

March 10, 1843

April 13, 1843

May 3, 1843

June 1, 1844

 

Current day Mormons who have a difficult time abiding by the Word of Wisdom are asked to leave the church. I currently know of one woman who just couldn’t stop drinking coffee, so she was indeed asked to leave the Mormon church. If Joseph Smith were a member today in the Mormon church, would he be asked to leave? Or what about Emma Smith (Joseph’s wife)? She offered tea/coffee to a family after the Word of Wisdom was given. (Journal of Discourses2:214-215, 2:270. Also cited by Donna Morley in A Christian Woman’s Guide to Understanding Mormonism, 60).

 

Along with drinking alcohol, Joseph Smith sold, at the formerly Mormon-owned store called Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile, tea, coffee, and tobacco–all forbidden under the Word of Wisdom. On December 22, 1841, eight years after the Word of Wisdom was put in place, Joseph records that 13 wagons of groceries arrived at the new store, delivering, among other things, tea and coffee (History of the Church, 4:483). Also George Albert Smith remarked, “We are doing a great business in tea, coffee and tobacco in the Co-operative Store” (October 7, 1873, Journal of Discourses 16:238; also cited in Donna Morley’s, A Christian Woman’s Guide to Understanding Mormonism, p. 223, Note #13).



         If you would like to know more about Joseph’s Smith’s Journals and Diaries, feel free to contact: helpdesk@faithandreasonforum.com



Donna Morley © 2003