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“The Word of Wisdom”  — Section 14

Doctrine and Covenants section 89

Representative of a Christian church:
Sir, I think it would be appropriate at this time to bring out an interesting difference between the many different Christian churches represented here and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the year 1833, Joseph Smith claimed to have a revelation which Latter-day Saint members know as the Word of Wisdom.  As an interpretation of this revelation, Latter-day Saints members now abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea.  I would like to ask these missionaries to show us in the scriptures where these things were prohibited to the followers of Christ in the Bible.  These things were allowed, but partakers were advised to use them in moderation.  I would like to point out three passages in the scriptures that will add light to this subject.  Paul, writing to Timothy, states in 1 Timothy 5:23: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”  In Matthew 15:11, we find another interesting scripture from the words of Christ.  Speaking to those hypocrites whom we know as scribes and Pharisees, he stated: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth.”  Then we read in Genesis 6:9 that Noah “…was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.”  Then in Genesis 9:20-21 we read that “Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard and he drank of the wine and was drunken, and he was uncovered within his tent”.  Missionaries, in light of these scriptures, will you please point to any scripture where these things, not taken in excess, are forbidden?

Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 
Judge and gentlemen, I have a deep and abiding testimony of the Word of Wisdom.  By living its principles, I know that I have received great blessings from the Lord.  As this trial began, you stated that there were three qualifications for revelation:  1) needful  2) progressive  3) harmonious.  The Word of Wisdom fulfilled all three of these requirements.  It was needful because coffee, tobacco, and tea were not in existence in Biblical times, and in 1833 were not known to be harmful to the body.  It is progressive, because it shows that God gave great commandments to assist the people in maintaining their health and keeping their bodies as “the temples of God”.  We will now establish that this revelation was harmonious with the Holy Scriptures.  1 Timothy 5:23 speaks of using wine instead of water for our stomach’s sake.  I have here the original Greek text of the Hebrew scriptures, which gives us an interesting insight into the term “wine”.  You will notice that Romans 14:21 says wine is absolutely forbidden and in 1 Timothy 8:23 it is recommended and yet it is the same apostle writing both epistles.  That would be contradictory, if it were not for the fact that the translators, in the translation, made the term “wine” to mean everything from grape juice to fermented wine.  The wine used in the Lord’s Super was nothing more than grape juice, or as the scripture states, “fruit of the vine”.  This is all that 1 Timothy 5:23 is pointing out, that grape juice can be used instead of water.  Also, Proverbs 20:1 states that, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosever is deceived thereby is not wise.”  We would then refer back to Matthew 15:11, quoted earlier.  A reading of the entire chapter of Matthew 15 is necessary for a complete understanding of verse 11.  Jewish custom taught that man was supposed to cleanse his hands before eating or he was unclean.  Christ, to show that this doctrine was man-made, partook of the food without washing his hands.  Those present became very excited, so he told them that the food he took in would not defile him, but the thoughts which came from men defiled them.  Read verse 20 carefully, and you will find that point clearly defined.  Next, the question of Noah’s drunkenness is an interesting one.  It is true that Noah was intoxicated, and that it was fermented wine that he drank.  However, in light of other teachings, it is quite probable that Noah repented.  The Lord tells us that He will forgive and forget our past mistakes if we repent.  If Noah had continued to drink alcohol, we can guess what his fate would have been.  Galatians 5:19-21 states, “Now the woks of the flesh are made manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, DRUNKENNESS, revelings and such like, of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”  We believe that the words “…of such like…” would include light drinking, which leads to heavy drinking.   The course of Noah’s life is evidence that he repented, was forgiven, and conducted his life appropriately.

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