It’s okay to drink wine


Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you:

In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—

that inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make. And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies. (D&C 89:4-7)

My current understanding of this passage of scripture is that the Lord wasn’t saying,

“Don’t drink wine except as sacramental wine for your sacrament meetings,”

but

“It is neither good nor expedient to drink wine or strong drink during your church meetings, except when you partake of the sacrament, in which case then it is both good and expedient to use it as sacramental wine, but you should use grape wine made by yourselves.

The revelation heading says, in part,

As a consequence of the early brethren using tobacco in their meetings, the Prophet was led to ponder upon the matter; consequently, he inquired of the Lord concerning it.

Also, verses 1-3 read,

A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—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—given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

The word of wisdom concerning wine, then, is regarding its use during church meetings, in which case it is wise to restrict its use to only the sacrament. Outside of church meetings, THERE IS NO RESTRICTION TO DRINKING WINE.

The word of wisdom concerning strong drinks is that they are not for the belly, at all, but for washing our bodies. In other words, they were never intended to be used as drinks (ingested).

It was never the intention of the Lord to take away one of life’s greatest pleasures from His saints, for all wine drinkers know that when wine and food is properly or perfectly paired, the experience is transcendent. Beer and food likewise make excellent pairs. Here are a couple of links explaining about this, along with an except of the second article:

Grape Versus Grain: Wine and Beer Styles

The Grape vs the Grain Pairing with Food

“…when I have had wine and food paired perfectly, the experience went beyond downright delicious. When all components on a plate come together with the wine’s body, tannin, flavor and acidity; the experience is magical. All of a sudden you begin to take smaller bites to savour the pairing as long as you can. Because there are so many more variables in wine and food pairing it is easier to go astray. However, when everything aligns it is pure magic.”

It is widely known that having a glass of wine each day is actually good for you. It is also widely known that beer is highly nutritious. Strong drinks, though, have no such healthful or nutritional values, except if you’ve got a tooth ache, in which case some brandy on the spot will numb the pain immediately. They are also good for washing the body and, with the right strong drinks, can make you smell divine.

The gospel principle, then, that applies to wine and beer–both of which are acceptable for use by the saints by the Word of Wisdom–

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—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 [beer], as also other grain. (D&C 89:16-17)

is to use moderation:

And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—verily I say,

that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.

And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. (D&C 59:15-20)

This is the reason why the Nephites drank wine.  This is the reason why the Jews drank wine.  This is the reason why Jesus turned water into wine (not grape juice as some silly Mormons like to think).  There is no conflict between the Word of Wisdom found in D&C section 89 and the other scriptures that speak of the ancients drinking wine.  The only conflict is with our own incorrect interpretations of section 89 and the refusal to let go of our dumb and inconsistent traditions.

When Jesus came among the people in the flesh, He did things that rubbed the people the wrong way, because He didn’t follow their traditions, but only followed the word of God.  The Pharisees didn’t like that He didn’t follow “the traditions of the elders,” and they rejected Him as a result.  If a “new guy” is sent from the Lord to stir things up, working mighty miracles, and drinking wine and beer, I wonder if the saints will follow the Pharisaical traditions and reject him, too?

Anyway, I don’t expect anyone to actually use this information, but I wanted to make note of my current understanding of this principle.

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12 Comments

  1. This accords with my understanding of the revelation in D&C 89 as well.

    To further expound — I take my understand of the counsel in the Word of Wisdom from Brigham Young’s logic regarding “hot drinks”:

    I have heard it argued that tea and coffee are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom; that is very true; but what were the people in the habit of taking as hot drinks when that revelation was given? Tea and coffee. We were not in the habit of drinking water very hot, but tea and coffee—the beverages in common use.

    I’ve always taken Joseph’s Word of Wisdom to be things that we ought not be in the habit of consuming — this idea that’s it’s a Kosher-like list of restricted things has never rang true to me.

  2. hot drinks may be explained in asian cultures or non western medicine and cultures. like here in our province we are ought to be taught not to take a bath right after we drink coffee or hot cocoa or else it will damage our liver or it will “cook” our liver, so that is the fear we believe and tried to avoid as best by taking a bath first before taking breakfast or drinking hot. my rule is if i took hot i should avoid drinking cold right after, but mellow it with cool water not cold, not right after but a little sooner or later, then later i can take cold drink or food. i can reverse it from cold to cool to hot but i can bypass it from cold to hot but not from hot to cold since i think it’s more stressful for the body system-as far as me(lol).now i can relate this idea when i learned a little about chinese medicine which includes the five elements theory where the liver function belong to the wood element!…now i don’t why joseph smith penned that revelation if it was related to hotness of the beverage in relation to the climate at the time, or to the beverage itself-that was tea and coffee.i am a coffee lover, though i drink one kind of coffee or two usually-instant coffee. but tea is a no-no because it’s not good for the stomach it makes me hungry and cause stomach camps tea is not good for those who suffered much hunger.as far as me , so they differ in value to individual preference.

  3. Another thing I forgot to mention — when I teach people about the Word of Wisdom I also bring up (in addition to the Brigham Young principle of it being about “what are you in the habit of doing”) the fact that, to the prophet who received the revelation in the first place, the Word of Wisdom never demanded total abstinence, but stressed moderation and not being “subjected” to the habitual use of substances. Joseph Smith was reporting as being “partial to a well-supplied table” and it was noted of him that “he did not always refuse the wine that maketh the heart glad.”

    Is the habitual use of a alcoholic substance like wine unhealthy? Sure — but the Word of Wisdom was not given as a manifesto for the teetotalers. My favorite story to bring-up as it relates to this topic is John Taylor’s recollection of the time in Carthage Jail:

    Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us. … I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards. We all of us felt unusually dull and languid, with a remarkable depression of spirits. In consonance with those feelings I sang a song, that had lately been introduced into Nauvoo, entitled, ‘A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief’

    D&C 89 is saying, “the habitual use of alcoholic drinks like wine may not be all that healthy for you” — but hey, if you’re feeling down in the dumps, there’s nothing sinful about knocking back a few alcoholic spirits to brighten up the mood.

  4. Justin, check out the hyper-link in the OP on the health benefits of wine to see the latest research on “regular moderate wine drinking.”

  5. I see your point but I think it is far fetched. I think it is clear that the Lord never intended for the saints to ban alcohol altogether (he’s recommending the saints to drink beer after all), and even if I don’t agree with your interpretation it is evident that the use of wine in moderation will not influence our everlasting standing with the Lord since the WoW is given for “the TEMPORAL welfare of the saints”.

  6. Zippy,

    Consider all the 70+ year old men and women who have been “regular, moderate wine drinkers” all their lives. Look at their aspect, their countenance. Notice that all these people look about 20 or more years younger than their contemporaries who have either not drunk wine in moderation, or did it irregularly or not at all.

  7. LDSA, so what do you suggest a person do, who wants to submit to the keys of the Church and yet his understanding of DC89 about drinking mild alcoholic is in line with this post.
    Especially in a situation where the pre-baptism interviewer knows in advance about the unorthodox views of the interviewee. The interviewer will invariably ask a pointed question “do you still believe that DC89 teaches that it is OK to drink wine?”. Replying “yes” to that will preclude the interviewee from getting baptized.

  8. jackdale76, Lol! There won’t be any such situation in which a person, wanting to join the church, has this understanding prior to getting baptized. Who teaches this stuff, besides me? And there won’t be any investigators first reading this blog before taking the missionary discussions.

    The only question asked is whether a person will obey the word of wisdom. Even if a person has the understanding given in this post, and the one giving the interview knows that the investigator has this view of the section, all they care about is whether the person will abstain from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. That is what is required to get baptized, and that is what a person should do. If that is the requirement, then do it.

    It’s all temporary, anyway. All of this current policy is going to change.

  9. There won’t be any such situation in which a person, wanting to join the church, has this understanding prior to getting baptized.

    I agree, but how about all those members who resigned from the Church and who now want to get back after reading your blog? (I, for one, am such a resigned former LDS)

    all they care about is whether the person will abstain from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes

    This is not what I experienced personally. In my interview with the mission president, I made it clear to him that while I personally would never use cannabis (because Im not into it and also because it is illegal and I dont want to get in trouble with the law), I still believed that it was OK if others used it. Holding this belief was enough for the mission pres. to label me as “not yet ready”.
    So, no, in my experience, he didnt want me just to abstain, he also wanted me to incorporate his interpretation of the doctrine into my belief system.

  10. Belief and action are two different things. If the church wants you to act a certain way, according to their keys, that’s one thing. Submitting to those keys and doing, or not doing, what they want you to do/not do, is acceptable. Belief, though, is different. If you believe one way, and the church wants you to believe another way, and you simply don’t see it that way, then that’s an impasse. You either have to somehow change your beliefs, or the leadership has to relax the guidelines, or remain at an impasse. Altering beliefs is not something everyone can do at the drop of the hat. As for cannabis, it is not illegal everywhere. There are medicinal marijuana laws that allow its usage. It may be that the mission president thought that you were condoning, or at least okay, with others breaking the law against marijuana usage (where those laws apply) and so he was using the Articles of Faith (or other scripture) as guidance concerning us believing in submitting to the laws of the land, etc. It is strange that he would draw a word of wisdom line in the sand, not concerning action, but concerning belief, so, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt, his reaction may not be a word of wisdom thing, at all, but a sustaining of the law thing.

  11. LDSA, I have a question not exactly apropos the WoW but apropos my previous comment.
    I have a situation where I have not been baptized by fire and yet the mission president encourages me to be baptized by water. He’s looked at all the key verses I showed him how BoF is supposed to preceed water baptism and he is not convinced.
    His position is – he holds the keys of determining the readiness for baptism, and so he says that even hypothetically if my understanding turns out to be correct, the Lord will not hold me guilty for being baptized in water too soon (or in other words unworthily), because the blame will be on the ones who hold the keys.

    The scriptures say

    See that ye are not baptized unworthily (Mormon 9:29)

    putting the burden of “seeing” (or making sure) on the baptizee.

    What would you suggest one do in this dilemma?

  12. He is correct. The blame will lie with the one who holds the keys (as long as he is aware of everything.) If you are holding something from him, hiding a sin or not having fully repented of something he is unaware of, then the blame shifts to you for covering up your sins to get baptized.


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