It has long be debated within the church whether Coke and other Cola drinks are against the word of wisdom. The oft noted reasons is that because they contain caffeine like tea and coffee that clearly they are against the word of wisdom. Others have stated that it is only coffee and tea as they are hot beverages. Personally I don’t drink hot chocolate or any other hot beverages, not even soup because the word of wisdom tells us in the 89th section of the doctrine and covenants verse 9 “And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.” While I understand this has since been clarified to mean coffee and tea I have made the personal choice to avoid all hot beverages of any kind. This way I can be sure I do not violate this commandment with regard to hot drinks.
When I think about Coke and caffeinated beverages in general I can’t help but wonder if caffeine is the problem then why is chocolate permitted. It is a well-known fact that chocolate has caffeine in it. There is also coffee flavored ice creams and candies. There are many varieties of food that have caffeine in them. Despite this we only say no coffee and tea because of caffeine.
I have asked bishops and other church leaders about the use of caffeinated beverages and whether they were in fact a word of wisdom violation or not. Often the answers I received are it’s a personal choice, or well it’s not good for you so you should not have it but it does not violate the word of wisdom. I have also heard as long as it does not become an addiction then it’s not a problem.
Doing a search of the churches website there does not seem to be much from church leadership or magazines speaking directly on this issues but some good information can be found.
From Clifford J Stratton
“With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.”
When considering the question of whether coke and other caffeinated drinks are in fact against the word of wisdom or not we can look at the council of Boyd k Packer
“The Word of Wisdom was ‘given for a principle with promise’ (D&C 89:3). … A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. … We teach the principle together with the promised blessings. There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation. … Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life” (“The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,” Ensign, May 1996, 17–18).”
Council from these 2 church leaders certainly puts this in a different light. I must confess at this point that I am in deed a coke addict. Given all this confusion and the council I have received from bishops in times past about its use, drinking cokes has never bothered me. As I contemplate the choices I have made as I look to renew my temple recommend my mind has been focused on things that I can’t help but ask if they will affect my worthiness for a temple recommend renewal. (as temple recommend for those that don’t know is a document signed by a bishop and stake president certifying worthiness to enter the temple)
When I look at those things that are part of my life I realized that I drink coke quite regularly. I have tried to quit in the past but have not had much success. I admit that while it does not happen often I have had cravings for a cold drink of coca-cola. My co-workers bug me about how much I drink and I have come to realize that I really do need to quit. Perhaps the spirit is guiding me in this decision.
When I am asked if I live the word of wisdom I find myself wondering if I can truly answer yes I do now that I can admit that I am addicted to Coke. Because of this I believe that I must make an effort to quit once again and as I finished up my last bottle of coke at work today I hope to re-frame from purchasing more. I have gone a few months before in the past but inevitably I buy a bottle and am hooked once again. I can honestly say that quitting smoking was easier that quitting Coke. Who knew that caffeine could be so addictive. Perhaps because smoking is so clearly taught to be against the word of wisdom knowing that made it easier. Sometimes I just wish the church would come out and give a definitive statement. You know what they say about that however. “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant” D and C 58:26
I wish to live a worthy life, however as long as I continue in my bad habit I don’t know that I can honestly say that I am. When we become addicted we lose a little bit of our agency. Addiction deprives us of the ability to make decisions and we lose the spirit as part of our lives. Addiction binds and chains you. I know that with coke it seems like such a small thing when there are worse things to be addicted to. But in the end when you consider everything we are told to avoid habit-forming substances. It was never an issue of degrees for the Lord it was always about not becoming addicted to begin with. Regardless of the substance the result is the same in the end. Our spirituality is effected and out ability to choose is lost.
I pray that I can quit for good this time and perhaps you can pray for me as well?