We received this question from one of our readers:

I am a Mormon woman with three kids and my husband is not a member of the Church. I get sidetracked a lot; I love coffee and I used to smoke. What advice do you have for me?

We actually want to turn this question over to all of you to help us answer.  There are many things that can be addressed here — having a strong marriage when you and your spouse have different religious beliefs; overcoming habits and caring for your body; and being able to stay on track with goals and/or standards even when those around you might be making different choices.

But first, we thought it would be helpful to explain a little more about the reason Mormons don’t drink coffee, tea, or alcohol — more about our health code, called the Word of Wisdom. So we will address the following question for those who have wondered about this part of Mormon belief.

I’ve heard that Mormons don’t drink coffee or tea. Is that true? Why? Also, I hear about a “health code” that you follow, what is it?

Answer by Amanda**

You heard right – LDS people (Mormons) don’t drink coffee of tea. We believe in what is called the Word of Wisdom, and this is the “health code” that you have heard about.

Revelation was given through the Lord to Joseph Smith in early 1833 concerning the care of our bodies. The revelation, known as the Word of Wisdom, was made a commandment in 1851. Joseph Smith had been pondering the use of tobacco by brethren in their meetings and decided to go to the Lord, and the Lord responded with the revelation which is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 89.
The Word of Wisdom is a guide for how we treat out bodies – including counsel about foods that are good for our bodies, and about substances that we should avoid.

Specifically we do not drink alcohol, coffee, or tea. We don’t use tobacco or drugs. We are encouraged to eat meat sparingly and to use fruits and vegetables in season, and are told that grains are the staff of life.

The Word of Wisdom is a gift to the Lord’s children because it provides physical and spiritual benefits for us.

We are promised that if we do these things, we

“shall receive health in the navel and marrow in the bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and walk and not be faint.” [D&C 89:18-20]

In modern terms, we are promised health, wisdom, and protection. We are promised knowledge, safety, and strength.  Some of this comes from building healthy habits for our bodies. And some of it comes as we obey out of obedience. Following the Word of Wisdom is also one of the things we have to do to be able to go to the temple, which for us is a place of power and peace where our spiritual knowledge can increase.

We are also counseled by church leaders to exercise our bodies, and get enough rest. We are told to get fresh air and to eat properly.

I have a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I know that when I am eating correctly, and exercising I feel better. I feel stronger and less tired. I have more energy to do the things that I need to do. I know that I am more able to hear the still small voice of the Holy Ghost. I made myself a promise a long time ago that I would not use tobacco or drugs, and though I have had these things offered to me, I have not tried them. I know that I have been blessed for these things – that I am stronger because of them. I know that I am able to have a clear mind and quick reflexes because I avoid things that can cause me to be slower to react.

Now, please help us respond to the first question (and answers can come from friends not of our faith as well — again, there are several topics that people can discuss here in this question that are not specific only to Mormonism):

I am a Mormon woman with three kids and my husband is not a member of the Church. I get sidetracked a lot; I love coffee and I used to smoke. What advice do you have for me?

**Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” and (other content on this site) reflect the thoughts and perspectives of the administrators at Mormon Women. Although we strive to have our content consistent with the Church’s doctrine and teachings, we do not speak officially for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For official information about or from the Church, please visit www.mormon.org or www.lds.org.

For more Ask a Mormon Woman questions/answers, please click here.

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