First off, I would like to respectfully request that this thread doesn't derail/devolve into an argument about the truthfulness or accuracy of the LDS faith, God, or organized religion in general. That has been discussed ad nauseum in multiple other threads. My intent is not to question the validity of the church, but rather to gain some specific insight from other perspectives.
So you understand, I'm happy in the church. I fulfill my calling, pay my tithing, do my home teaching, etc. This works for me, and my family, and I don't have any qualms with the basic doctrine, either. I have several minor issues with the culture that has evolved within the membership, particularly in Utah, but this is generally of little consequence in regard to my faith. I also have major questions about blacks and the priesthood, but have already pursued that to a dead end. I don't believe I will ever find a satisfying answer in this life. As it was "corrected", I'm willing (begrudgingly) to let it be, for now.
The Word of Wisdom, however, has me more than a little baffled. Basically, my concerns are related to interpretation of the WoW, and how it has evolved.
1. Is the WoW a commandment? It's taught as a commandment, and adherence to it is required to gain admission into an LDS temple. But verse 2 reads:
That seems pretty clear cut to me. What am I missing?...To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days...
2. The membership seems to practice (and the authorities allow) selective obedience. Within the WoW, there are several items which are obeyed with militant zeal, while others are acknowledged, but largely disregarded. I find it funny, in a sad way, that some are willing (eager) to thrust judgement and derision on someone who would, say, start his/her morning with a cup of coffee, then discuss (read: gossip) the matter of the sinner's damnation with other pious souls over a double cheeseburger and triple thick Oreo shake. Hypocrisy, really. The Wow promises:
So, essentially, if you cannot "run and not be weary", you aren't living the WoW correctly.18 And 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;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
3. Interpretation of the relative importance of the WoW has changed over the course of the history of the church. There is plenty of documentation that the WoW was initially observed casually, not only by the membership, but by church authorities, including the prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. B.Y. encouraged the membership, if they were going to break the WoW, they should at least profit in it also.
Also, I have read (I don't have any links to back this, nor do I know it to be 100% accurate) that the supplies "punch list" that was given to members preparing to trek across the plains included coffee.
I apologize of I'm overlooking something, but exactly what "mild drink", made from barley, are we talking about here? I know that mormons owned and operated breweries and wineries in the early history of SLC (well after the WoW was received). And that, historically, beer is considered a mild drink. Perhaps, I'm totally in left field with this one, so any insight is appreciated.16 All grain is good for the afood of man; as also the bfruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
For the record, I have not taken my concerns directly to my bishop. He is truly a nice guy, very understanding and compassionate, but I feel like I already know what he's going to tell me. I have, however, taken the matter to God. I have been praying about it, with real intent, that I would understand and/or be able to see some sense and consistency in it. So far, I haven't. But I plan on staying with that tactic for a while.
Like I said, my overall faith is not going to be shattered over this. And there are other questions which may be even more important. But this is what is nagging at me right now. TIA.