I had always read about people having this conversation, but it finally happened to me.
There was a co-worker visiting from the Washington DC area. He is a very intelligent engineer (is that redundant?) with several great accomplishments to his name in my field of work. He found out I was Mormon, and with a more than passing knowledge of Mormonism (he has read the BofM), he proceeded to question me.
He started out with asking me if I had been on a mission, where to, and if I liked it. He asked if I wore the “second skin”, and I said yes and showed him my undershirt. He asked if the church had the original hand written BofM from Joseph Smith. I said I didn’t think so. He was aware that the golden plates where taken back by an angel. While he didn’t say so out loud, but I could hear him thinking “how convenient”.
Then came the fun part.
Co-Worker: You don’t drink caffeine, correct?
Me: That’s not right, we can drink caffeinated soft drinks and energy drinks.
CW: Well I had a Mormon friend years ago and he never drank Coke or Pepsi.
M: Well, some Mormons choose not to drink it for personal reasons, but it is not against the church’s rules.
CW: But you don’t drink coffee?
M: That is correct, and no tea either
CW: What about green tea?
M: Nope, comes from same plant as black tea.
CW: So if it is not the caffeine, why can’t you drink coffee or tea?
M: Well, when the prohibition was given in the 1800’s, it said “no hot drinks”, which was coffee and tea at the time.
CW: Oh, so you don’t drink hot chocolate either?
M: Yes, we drink hot chocolate
CW: But it is a hot drink. What is it about tea and coffee that is bad that you can’t drink it. It doesn’t make sense.
M: The way I try to make sense of it is to liken it to the Jewish prohibition against pork. There is nothing wrong with pork, and it won’t make you sick, but practicing Jews don’t eat it because they think God told them not to. Same with Mormons. Some Mormon’s will try to come up with a health explanation for the coffee and tea prohibition, but they fall short, and in the end it is just a matter of faith that you believe God wants you to not drink it.
He started to loose interest at this time, and seemed to accept the Jewish comparison as a plausible explanation, and the subject was changed.
So have you ever had this conversation? How would have you answered his questions? Is there a better explanation for the Word of Wisdom that I could use with a very logical person that I’m missing?