While researching my post of a few weeks ago about the condensed version of the Articles of Faith found at the web site formerly known as Mormon.org, I came across the section on the Word of Wisdom. Since the WofW has been in the news lately and blogged about on W&T here and here, I thought I’d look at what the church’s official website for non-members and investigators said about it.
While many of us more nuanced members have moved the WofW from a health commandment to one of obedience and cultural “setting apart” (like Kosher is to our Jewish brothers and sisters), I found that mormon.org has doubled down on the health aspect of the WofW.
In the section on the first page called “Explore Healthy Living” is the story about the WofW. Then there is a slide show within this section that tells the “Do’s and Don’ts” of the WofW.
This is where the bait and switch happens. Put yourself in the shoes of a person that knows very little about our church. As you click through this list you find the following:
Do: Eat fruits & vegetables “Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanskgiving.” (D&C 89:11)
Don’t: Drink alochol “And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.” (D&C 89:7)
Do: Eat Meat Sparingly “Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly.” (D&C 89:12)
Don’t: Smoke or use tobacco “And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man.” (D&C 89:8)
Do: Exercise regularly“To care for your body, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.” (For the Strength of Youth)
Don’t: Drink coffee or tea “And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.” (D&C 89:9)
Do: Eat grains “All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life.” (D&C 89:14)
Don’t: Use illegal drugs or abuse medications “Anything harmful that people purposefully take into their bodies is not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. This is especially true of illegal drugs.” (True to the Faith)
Notice what they did here. All these are laid out like they have equal importance to members of the church. No where anyplace on the web site does it explain that we only enforce the “Don’ts”, and that the “Do’s” are rarely if even spoken about or taught in church.
So a very health conscious person will read this, maybe have some concerns about how tea could be considered bad, but puts it on her shelf and looks more into all these good things. Imagine her surprise when she is invited by the missionaries to a ward pot luck! No coffee, tea, alcohol or tobacco, but there is lots of meat, not a lot of grains, the main vegetable is potatoes in various forms, and fruit is scarce. But the dessert table is full and there is plenty of diet Coke!
Now, I’m being hyperbolic here to prove a point, and I’ve been to lots ward pot-lucks where there has been lots of healthy salads, and due to the cost of meat, it has been served sparingly in many meals I’ve attended. But if my hypothetical Pot-luck where to happen, nobody would bat an eye, it would be perfectly normal for an LDS setting.
So is the church selling one thing on its web site (healthy living in all aspects), only to change when it gets time for baptism and the missionaries explain that the “don’ts” are hard and fast to get baptized? Could you imagine if one had to do 20 sit-up and eat less than two serving of meat a week as part of the baptismal requirements?
The mormon.org page cites the 10 year old UCLA study that shows that Mormons that follow the word of wisdom live longer, but fail to mention the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda. They actually follow the do’s in their health code (which is very similar to ours) and is one of just a few “Blue Zones” where people live much longer than the normal person. Is it any surprise that Provo is NOT a Blue Zone?
What are your thoughts? Is the “Comeuntochrist.org” (AKA Mormpon.org) web site completely honest? Or is this just the polished front end of our church that we want the world to see.