Did Joseph Smith Keep the Word of Wisdom?
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna Morley © 2003