The Mormon Beliefs Regarding Alcohol & Caffeine

In addition to prohibiting alcohol and tobacco, the LDS Word of Wisdom also discourages consumption of hot beverages, interpreted by the church as coffee and tea.
... Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also called the Mormon or LDS Church, is a Christian sect established in the 19th-century United States. Many beliefs and practices of the LDS Church set it apart from other Christian sects, including Mormons' non-biblical scriptures, absence of clergy and intense focus on family life. LDS scripture provides church members with instructions on the healthiest way to live one's life, both physically and spiritually. Included in these instructions is a prohibition on using alcohol and "hot drinks."

1 Word of Wisdom

The Doctrine and Covenants, one of the four holy scriptures of the LDS Church, contains a section called the Word of Wisdom, which instructs church members on food and beverages they should and should not consume. An account by an early church leader describes Mormon prophet Joseph Smith's growing concern with the consumption of alcohol and tobacco in his community. Smith consulted God about his concerns, and he presented God's response, the Word of Wisdom, in a meeting of church leaders in 1833.

2 Wine and "Strong Drinks"

According to the Word of Wisdom, "That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good." The term "strong drink" is interpreted by the church as alcohol. Although Smith declared the necessity of church leaders abiding by the Word of Wisdom, abstinence from alcohol quickly became more of a suggestion than a requirement when church leaders did not fully embrace this idea. Prohibition of alcohol gained popularity in the 1880s, and in the 1930s the church put its foot down. The LDS Church now prohibits any consumption of alcohol.

3 Caffeine: Yea or Nay?

It is a common misconception that the LDS church prohibits consumption of caffeine, as it does discourage drinking coffee and tea (called "hot drinks" in the Word of Wisdom). This was a point of confusion for many years until the church issued a statement in 2012 clarifying that caffeinated beverages are not included in its scriptural prohibitions. The church certainly does not endorse the consumption of caffeine, though, as Mormons stress healthy dietary choices and avoid using any substance that can create addiction.

4 The Body as a Temple

Mormons teachings emphasize the holiness of the body, a gift from God, and the responsibility of individuals to keep it healthy and strong. The LDS prohibitions on alcohol and other harmful substances are not simply a test of one's resolve, but also a way to achieve spiritual elevation through increasing one's bodily health. The Word of Wisdom states that those who follow the recommendations "shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge." The Mormon community also claims better than average physical health, affirming the lifestyle choices they have committed themselves to following.

Amy Wilde has worked as a grant developer, copy editor, writing tutor and writer. Based in Portland, Ore., she covers topics related to society, religion and culture. Wilde holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and classical civilization from the University of Toronto.