I'll give you my responses, Bronco. I've researched this quite a bit myself over the years, so I think my comments are pretty accurate. Hopefully you'll find them helpful.
1. "Is the WoW a commandment?" -- In the beginning, no. But now yes. Although an argument could be made that it was the will of God that the Saints follow it even in the beginning, else why would it have been given? And what is a commandment other than an expression of the will of God for us to follow? Anyway, as you know it wasn't a requirement for church members to follow the WoW at first. Brigham Young in 1851 went a long ways towards changing that, (if I recall correctly) telling the Saints that it was now the will of God for it to be a full-fledged commandment rather than just a suggestion. The implementation of the commandment was still not complete for another 50-60 years after that, when eventually Pres. Grant made adherence to the prohibitions a standard for temple recommends. The Wikipedia article has some good info on the history of the WoW, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_of_Wisdom if you haven't read it yet. I've got another, more complete source I can email you (a master's thesis on the topic)--if you're interested, send me a PM.
My take is basically, if you support Brigham Young as prophet and president of the church, and subsequent church presidents, then you support their ability to clarify existing revelation, and/or to modify them as times & circumstances warrant--including in this case to change the WoW into a commandment.
2. "The membership seems to practice (and the authorities allow) selective obedience" -- Absolutely. But I disagree with your "So, essentially, if you cannot "run and not be weary", you aren't living the WoW correctly" sentence. What about paraplegics, for example? Are you going to say they don't live the WoW correctly? Other counter examples are easy to find. So the "run and not be weary" line doesn't mean that in a literal, absolute sense. I agree that we should be very nonjudgmental towards others--and in fact when my high priest's group was discussing this a couple of months ago, several of the members expressed similar sentiments. I think one of them said something along the lines that "tobacco is one of my very favorite smells at church, because that generally means someone is trying to return to the fold."
3. "Interpretation of the relative importance of the WoW has changed over the course of the history of the church." -- Sure, see my comments for item 1 above. In addition to the "make a profit from tobacco" stuff at the UTLM link, I also have a relative who worked for a while as a trucker for a beer company. I also knew a man in Wisconsin who worked for years at the local brewery after he joined the church. Heck, I even had a missionary companion who worked as a bartender to save money for his mission! :-) As near as I can tell, it's the church's policy that it's sinful for *church members* to partake of the prohibited substances, because we've made covenants not to, but not necessarily sinful for others to do so. I personally do not judge nonmembers at all for, for example, drinking beer*--but I'm grateful for the teachings of the church that have led me myself to never try it. My grandfather was an alcoholic, fortunately sober when I knew him, and who knows? I could easily have ended up one myself.
By the way, I've browsed the UTLM website a lot, and have looked up many of their references. Unfortunately I've discovered they *frequently* take quotes out of context, and so I've stopped trusting anything from there. At most I'll google a quote from their website to see if I can find it anywhere else with more context. I'm not saying that the quotes are wrong in this case, just that I've stopped trusting them in general.
4. "Beer." -- I've had non-alcoholic drinks from barley before. I had a member in Germany give me a nonalcoholic beer, for example. And it seems like when I was growing up, my mom stocked Postum in our cupboard, which if I recall correctly is a barley-containing drink as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postum. So "mild drinks from barley" makes perfect sense to me.
Final remarks: Something that I think goes largely unnoticed, is that the period of time when the WoW went from being a suggestion in the church to an enforced commandment, ~1860-1920, is exactly the time period when refrigeration became available, first on the commercial scale and then for individual households. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refrigeration and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refrigerator. Alcohol had substantial importance as a preservative in the time period when the WoW was given, but as electric refrigerators became more common, the need to rely on alcohol to preserve things was greatly reduced. I personally feel that's a large reason why the Lord saw fit to change the WoW into a more enforced commandment for the church during those years.
* but not to the extent of getting drunk
"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" --Micah 6:8
Thanks, colton. That is some material for me to digest. I appreciate the time you took to lay it out like that.
A couple of things, though...
Hopefully you give me enough credit to know that one's ability to "run and not be weary" will not always hinge on what one takes into one's body. I was referring, of course, to those who are just plain out of shape, due to bad diet and lack of exercise. I know plenty of mormons like this. But if you were to ask them if they live the word of wisdom, most would answer affirmatively, without hesitation. To me this is an issue. That certain aspects of the WoW don't carry the same weight as others (no pun intended...)
But I disagree with your "So, essentially, if you cannot "run and not be weary", you aren't living the WoW correctly" sentence. What about paraplegics, for example? Are you going to say they don't live the WoW correctly? Other counter examples are easy to find. So the "run and not be weary" line doesn't mean that in a literal, absolute sense.
As far as barley drinks go, on my mission we were instructed to drink a common barley tea (a hot drink, frequently), in lieu of water, so I am aware of barley based drinks that exist, but I have been unable to find evidence of common beverages that would have been made by the people of that time and place other than "beer" and "small beer" (a beer with around 1% alcohol). And while I understand that alcohol may have been needed for preservative purposes, if distillation technology was there, why not just produce potable water?
Lastly, and this is my biggest hangup, is that all my life I have been taught that God is unchanging - the same yesterday, today, and forever. But the WoW doesn't reflect this. I understand that as mankind and society expand and evolve, some things need to accommodate. The Law of Moses, for example. But to me, the WoW seems like it should be straight forward, and that there is no need for it to apply differently to various generations of the church. From the get go, God could say "Don't consume this, and this, and this..." But perhaps I'm looking at this too simplistically.
Again, I do appreciate the input from everyone.
Please note I'm not trying to be a smartass when I say this, but that wouldn't work. How would Joseph Smith have known what the heck God was saying if He'd said "Don't smoke ganja, heroin, or crack. Don't snort cocaine. Don't abuse oxycodone or percocet."
Originally Posted by Bronco70
Personally, I've always found it amusing when people are so black and white with most of the Gospel "laws". I think we all do the best we can with the limited knowledge and understanding we have and God sorts it out in the end. Personally, I choose not to drink. I tried it in high school and didn't like it, that's the reason I choose not to. Not because some Seminary teacher told me not to.
Gobert or go home
As someone who has known him almost 20 years, this is spot on. And is the reason he is about the only person from the church who still calls me a friend (and i him) after me not attending for 15+ years. My brother Eric is the same way, live your life the way you see best, and cast no judgement on others for doing it differently. I drink quite often, and i smoke. Because of that most of the people i grew up with in the church have chosen to not have a relationship with me in any form. Even my LDS neighbors won't let their children be friends with my children because choices me and my wife make that do not align with what they believe. It's hard for me to understand how people can let personal moral choices define every aspect of their lives so significantly.
Originally Posted by PKM
I'm plenty buzzed right now so take this for what it's worth...
Originally Posted by Bronco70
My view on this is God (Jesus) has a Work of perfecting humanity and that takes incremental steps. Was Eve to be born with all knowing knowledge? If so then what is the point of continual advancement over time? IMO, if there is a God then nursing humanity along is logical PROGRESSION.
Look, if we're going the "God is unchanging" route then there really is no need for neandertha man, Noah's water conquest, kingdom fighting conquests, or any African racism angle. God could have started humanity with every single piece of knowledge possible and we'd be fighting the good vs. evil battle until every last soul has taken a body.
Put some respeck in my paycheck
Originally Posted by franklin
i rarely agree with anyone completely, but.... this ^
Not 100% related but I watched the documentary Beehive Spirits on KUED and it was pretty interesting and good. Just talking of liqueur history in Utah. I would recommend it to LDS and non LDS, just cool state history stuff.
? Is LSD ok?
Originally Posted by Stoked
The difference between animals and humans is our sapience, why would you do something that alters it?
Introspection, therapy, fun.
Originally Posted by The Black Swordsman
This is one of the issues I had with the church.
Originally Posted by Bronco70
In general these types of thought provoking questions weren't favorably looked upon. I commend you for being honest, and willing to speak out about it.
I believe that the truth can, and should be looked at from all sides. Truth has nothing to hide. If we have honest questions we are not trying to
destroy truth. It is natural, and ok to question things. Isn't that why we are on earth? To find the answers, and always be growing?
Moderation just makes sense. When we pray, and think about this many of us come to this belief. Being hung up on one
or two things doesn't really make good sense.
"les grandes défaites forgent les grands hommes" - Rudy Gobert
- Total Rep Points
- Rep Adjustment Power
I was born and raised in Montreal, and I was friends with a few mormons here and there (one of which is on a mission right now).
I found that differing people have varying perspectives on what "everything in moderation" means to them.
Of course, as a God, if you want your people to avoid a habit, it is much more effective to say "avoid at ALLL costs" as opposed to "avoid getting drunk". as is in catholic doctrine if I am not mistaken.
Conversely, maybe this avoidance is a test of strength and character, and less of a lifestyle suggestion. In that case, maybe it IS best to just avoid it at all costs.
In the end of the day, Chris's friend Zulu seems to have pegged it right. Believe what you want to believe, and don't judge others for what they want to do with their lives.
I've tried to befriend moderation but it wants nothing to do with me.
I can see that.
Originally Posted by Wes Mantooth
Moderation and Gluttony are mortal enemies.
Moderation is easy for us Buffet Bulimics.
Put some respeck in my paycheck