Word of Wisdom

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    The Word of Wisdom

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.

The people there are living in the United Order, as also in Brigham City and St. Joseph, and while I was in those settlements I never heard an oath, I never saw a quarrel, I never saw any man or boy smoke a cigarette, or use an ounce of tobacco, or drink whiskey, or drink a cup of coffee or tea, except what I drank myself. The idea of drinking coffee where nobody else was drinking it was a very poor example, I thought, for an Apostle; I therefore took, instead of coffee, water and milk, and have felt a great deal better. The promise is that those who keep the Word of Wisdom "shall run and not be weary, shall walk and not faint," and I can say I have enjoyed much better health than before.
Wilford Woodruff, Conference Report 1880, 11. off-site


Is it true that Joseph Smith and other early Latter-day Saints didn't follow the Word of Wisdom? There are accounts in the Church's own printed history where Joseph drank wine and beer, and Brigham Young admitted drinking coffee regularly.

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions

"Selected Church Policies and Guidelines 21.3.11," Handbook 2: Administering the Church—2010 (Intellectual Reserve, 2010).

The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee. Members should not use any substance that contains illegal drugs. Nor should members use harmful or habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician.


The Word of Wisdom is "a principle with promise," initially given "not by commandment or constraint" (D&C 89:2–3). Today's Latter-day Saints are required to observe it more rigorously than those who came before them.


  • History and implementation of the Word of Wisdom
    Brief Summary: Observance of the Word of Wisdom has changed over time, due to on-going revelation from modern-day prophets, who put greater emphasis on certain elements of the revelation originally given to Joseph Smith. Early Latter-day Saints were not under the same requirements as today's Saints are. (Click here for full article)
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  • Water instead of wine for the Sacrament
    Brief Summary: Why does the LDS Church use water instead of wine for its sacrament services? The Doctrine and Covenants even allows for wine to be used, despite the Word of Wisdom's prohibitions on alcohol. (Click here for full article)
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Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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