It appears that the generally accepted definition of "hot drinks" may
have been fairly broad for a period of time. A quote from Widtsoe's
1937 book on the Word of Wisdom--
Caffeine, the essential principle of tea and coffee, was discovered, as
a chemical substance, a few years before the Word of Wisdom was
received. This knowledge was, however, buried in scientific
publications. It is very unlikely that the Prophet Joseph Smith had
heard of it. It was many years after 1833 that the physiological effect
of caffeine was established by science. In the days of Joseph Smith, tea
and coffee did not come in for the disfavor shown by some towards
alcohol and tobacco. Indeed, people were often advised to use tea and
coffee as a means of conquering the liquor habit.
That the expression "hot drinks" was used in the Word of Wisdom rather
than "coffee and tea," is notable; for by so doing a host of other
injurious habit-forming beverages now used (or that may be used) become
subject to the Word of Wisdom.
( John A. Widtsoe and Leah D. Widtsoe, The Word of Wisdom: A Modern
Interpretation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1937], 99.)
I see several other quotes from Church authorities during the
mid-nineteen-hundreds that contain similar language with reference to
As far as I can recall, it was never interpreted thus during my
lifetime. Apparently the revision to more narrowly focus the Word of
Wisdom came about some time after the 1940's.
It would also seem more significant, I suppose, if we knew specifically
what the requirements for a temple recommend were based on. Again, my
experience over the last thirty years is that the temple recommend
interview only focused specifically on tea and coffee as "hot drinks".
No bishop has ever questioned me about using caffeine.
Jon Spencer wrote:
We talked about this issue today with a couple of sister customers in
our bookstore. They both recall that when they were married (many moons
ago), it was taught that caffeine was against the WoW. They said it was
in the lesson manuals (I'll take their word for it because I am just a
newbie - 9 years). They also knew that that had been retracted.
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