The health doctrine that Mormons follow was set forth in the scriptures, mainly but not exclusively, in a book of modern scripture known as the Doctrine & Covenants. It is most well-known to prohibit Coffee, tea (from the tea plant), alcohol, and drug abuse. While these are the prohibited list, it also clarifies that the doctrine is more about keeping your body healthy.
This is in line with the belief that our body is a gift from God, so we should take great care of it and not abuse it. Further doctrine gives example of misuse in specific situations, like misusing caffeinated drinks, gluttony, etc., but there is an unfortunate myth out there that the official doctrine explicitly prohibits caffeine, chocolate, herbal tea, wine flavored products, and more. This just isn’t true. These are rumors and exaggerations of modern teachings. Church leaders have warned against misusing these items, but they, like so much else in life, are good, even useful, in moderation.
The official Doctrine is called the Word of Wisdom.
The Word of Wisdom is a law of health revealed by the Lord for the physical and spiritual benefit of His children. On February 27, 1833, as recorded in section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord revealed which foods are good for us to eat and which substances are not good for the human body. He also promised health, protection, knowledge, and wisdom to those who obey the Word of Wisdom.
In the Word of Wisdom, the Lord revealed that the following substances are harmful:
Alcoholic drinks (see D&C 89:5-7).
Tobacco (see D&C 89:8).
Tea and coffee (see D&C 89:9; latter-day prophets have taught that the term “hot drinks,” as written in this verse, refers to tea and coffee).
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.
The Lord also declared in the Word of Wisdom that the following foods are good:
Vegetables and fruits, which should be used “with prudence and thanksgiving” (see D&C 89:10-11).
The flesh “of beasts and of the fowls of the air,” which is “to be used sparingly” (see D&C 89:12-13).
Grains such as wheat, rice, and oats, which are “the staff of life” (see D&C 89:14-17).
To those who keep the Word of Wisdom, the Lord promised:
“All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:18-21).
The best course is to completely avoid the substances that the Lord prohibits in the Word of Wisdom. Those who have engaged in addictive behaviors can stop and become free from addiction. Through personal effort, strength from the Lord, help from family members and friends, and guidance from Church leaders, anyone can overcome addiction
For more information on this please see the following pages:
- Official Word of Wisdom Page
- Historical Explanation
- Food Definition Clarification (Tea/Caffeine/etc.)