The Word of Wisdom (LDS food and drink taboos) always gets a lot of attention in the youth curriculum. So it’s no surprise that a short article pops up in the New Era this month, titled Vaping, Coffee, Tea, and Marijuana. It’s only five teen-sized paragraphs (short sentences, small words), so you should go read it right now. The tagline in the Table of Contents is “clearing up Word of Wisdom confusion,” so let’s see if it does that. I’m expecting readers who have taken a walk on the wild side to chime in with a few details I can’t bring to the table.

Vaping. I know it’s a thing, but not a thing I have ever done. Nor have I ever smoked, so I can’t really comment on the real thing or the electronic thing. But even though vaping is more or less just breathing, the article states, “Vaping is clearly against the Word of Wisdom.” No confusion there. To vape or not to vape, that is not the question.

Welcome to Starbucks. Have a hot chocolate. If Exmo boards are any indication, learning the new and expanded vocabulary of coffee is a real challenge for someone who grew up Mormon. The coffee paragraph in the article suggests just about anything to drink in a coffee shop, whatever it’s name, is verboten. Except of course hot chocolate. God is fine with vanilla beans and cocoa beans but is stoutly against coffee beans. But not caffeine, as long as it comes diluted in soda pop, not tea or coffee. Energy drinks can kill you, but they’re okay. Because the Word of Wisdom is about health, not boundary markers.

Green Tea. So I have never had a cup or can of green tea, but I know two things about it. First, it is a very healthy drink, probably healthier than anything I ever drink. Second, vending machines in Japan (one or two every block) offer about 40 options, and 35 of them are green tea. The article makes it clear regarding black tea and green tea that “they’re both tea and against the Word of Wisdom.” And iced tea is a hot drink. No wonder the kids are confused. No discussion of herbal teas, which are presumably allowed, because that’s just dried or crushed leaves dropped in hot water. What could be wrong with that?

Last Dance with Mary Jane. President Nelson has been changing a few things, but no change here: marijuana is still proscribed, herb or not. I have a great deal of sympathy for those who deal with chronic pain, and the good news for such sufferers is that marijuana, while habit-forming, “should be avoided except under the care of a competent physician, and then used only as prescribed.” So medically prescribed pot is not against the Word of Wisdom. I presume medically directed coffee or green tea is allowed as well. If your doc will write you a letter, you can have that morning cup of joe.