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The ‘Word of Wisdom Exception’ Game

Rusty - October 6, 2006

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m bored. Let’s play a game.

If President Hinckley said, “My brothers and sisters, thus sayeth the Lord, ‘you may now partake of the forbidden substances outlined in the Word of Wisdom, however, you may only choose one form of each substance. Choose wisely’” what would you choose?

1) Cigarettes
2) Cigars
3) Pipes
4) Chewing tobacco

1) Beer
2) Wine
3) Hard liquor

1) Black coffee
2) Cappuccinos
3) Lattes
4) Espresso

1) Hot tea (green, black or otherwise)
2) Iced tea
3) Sweet tea

1) Cocaine/crack
2) Heroine
3) Marijuana
4) Acid
5) X
6) mushrooms

I think my choices would be pipes, wine, lattes, hot tea and pot (though the only ones I’m really interested in are pipe tobacco and wine).

What are yours?


  1. Quick! Find something for Rusty to design!

    Comment by Mark B. — October 6, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  2. One bourbon, one scotch, one beer.

    Comment by Lonesome George Thorogood — October 6, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  3. The only thing from any of those lists that I’d add is wine. We have mountains of scientific evidence of the dangers of tobacco products; I abstain from them because I believe in the Word of Wisdom but I would abstain in its abscence because they’re so patently dangerous. Alcohol I have a horror of– my family has been heavily scarred by it. A glass or two of wine can be enjoyed responsibly; anything else I have no interest in. Tea and coffee are off the list (though in my teens I did love chocolate covered espresso beans until my mom informed me that they counted as coffee) simply because I have no tolerance for the stuff and I like to get to sleep before midnight. Drugs are right out– I value my mind thank you and have no desire to mess with its delicate workings. That and I’m too much of a control freak. I like my agency; no way am I handing it over to a little pill.

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — October 6, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

  4. According to a past bishop, green tea is not against the word of wisdom.

    I say allow:
    coffe, tea, beer, and wine.

    Comment by Brett — October 6, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  5. I would choose fortified wine, crank, shredded bark, and being married to a dude. Or is that still not allowed?

    Comment by gst — October 6, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

  6. Ick. None of those are appealing. How about Rock Star?

    Comment by Susan M — October 6, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  7. Choose wisely?

    Comment by Bill — October 6, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

  8. According to a past bishop, green tea is not against the word of wisdom.

    I tell you, we would baptize a lot more in Japan if he would go be a bishop over there.

    Pipes, wine, black coffee and iced tea for me. My new-convert parents used to make a sun-brewed pitcher of iced tea every summer afternoon, and I still miss it.

    Comment by lief — October 6, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  9. Marijuana.

    And maybe an occasional wine.

    Comment by jjohnsen — October 6, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  10. I must’ve been indoctrinated well because none of those options are appealing.

    But you forgot the caffeine category: chocolate, soda, or No Doze. I would choose soda. I’m dying to know what Dr. Pepper tastes like.

    Comment by Tom — October 6, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  11. I’m allergic to tobacco, so that’s out. Otherwise, it’s wine, espresso (although so hard to choose!!!), indifferent on tea, and marijuana (although not too enthusiastic there, either).

    Comment by RT/JNS — October 6, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  12. Tom, just go drink Dr. Pepper. It’s not against the Word of Wisdom.

    Comment by RT/JNS — October 6, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  13. When I read the premise of the post I was thinking there would certainly be some that would be fun to try if there were no Word of Wisdom, but then when I read the list I couldn’t find anything I would want to try. I guess the only one I would try would be wine. I’m trying to be like Jesus and all of that.

    Comment by Jacob — October 6, 2006 @ 6:17 pm

  14. RT,
    I’m actually a Dr. Pepper enthusiast. With Mark IV’s third-wave patriarchy thing and this one, that makes twice that your humorometer has failed you today. Time to get it recalibrated.

    Although, in all fairness, it wasn’t too obvious that I was joking. I should’ve used an emoticon, but I’m allergic. Also, the third-wave patriarchy thing was a joke that you would’ve had to have read another thread to get. So I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and not conclude that you are entirely humor-impaired.

    Comment by Tom — October 6, 2006 @ 6:42 pm

  15. Rusty, the only reason you had those choices is so you can look cool and more sophisticated for your high society lifestyle.

    Comment by Bret — October 6, 2006 @ 9:05 pm

  16. This post is hilarious!

    Tobacco: absolutely no interest, but I guess I’d choose pipes (!) (Living in the middle east it always seemed interesting to try one of those hubbly bubbly/hookah pipes)
    Alcohol: wine — seems like a fun hobby (going up to the wine country and that whole thing)
    Coffee: lattes (is that like cafe au lait?) I’d love to try a cappuccino though.
    Tea: For sure a hot Earl Grey with milk.
    Drugs: Hmmm. I suppose it would be marijuana, because the others are too scary. I wouldn’t smoke it though (yuck), but I cold see myself whipping up some fabulous Alice B Toklas brownies or something.

    Comment by meems — October 6, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

  17. Never had any desire for tobacco, coffee, or drugs, but I’d start drinking some wine.

    And I’d add hot tea, since I’m often living in countries where hot tea is about the only thing to drink. It’s like explaining you don’t use the toilet when you try to tell people you don’t drink tea. Some of the Mormons I know in those countries drink a nasty (to me) mixture of hot water and milk as a replacement.

    Comment by Amira — October 7, 2006 @ 7:21 am

  18. what? no one chose crack??? i can’t believe it.

    my thoughts are that wine is over-rated. just tastes awful to me. my choices?

    tobacco: none, it’s just got no redeeming quality for humans (the smells, the stains, the cancer, THE CANCER!). but it makes a great herb for bruises and all sick cattle.

    alcohol: definitely beer. blows all of the other away.

    coffee: espresso

    tea: hot green tea is divine (and on my mission to korea it was okay, although i hear it was later moved to the taboo list), and iced thai-tea tastes like the best dish water you’ve ever had in your life.

    drugs: i’m kind of a stoner at heart, and know that if i hadn’t been raised mormon i would have probably co-starred in half-baked.

    Comment by mike d — October 7, 2006 @ 7:24 am

  19. One day, just one day, go into Starbucks and ask for a “Chai.” Get it all milked-up. Don’t worry about what’s in it. Blame it on me, if you like. But you’ve just go to have a Chai.

    Comment by Ronan — October 7, 2006 @ 8:44 am

  20. My husband used to make Indian chai on occasion, and when he did, the whole house smelled heavenly.

    And Amira, do you have choices like Elma çay like we had in Turkey? Not tea, but a hot drink that is just as prevalent.

    Comment by meems — October 7, 2006 @ 9:59 am

  21. Let’s see, as a wanna-be academic and a foodie, I’ve got to go with pipe smoke (it actually smells good, as opposed to every other tobacco product ever), and wine. Not so interested in coffee derivates. I hear it’s bitter, and I’m just not into bitter. Drugs hold no interest. But bring on the Riesling.

    Comment by Ben — October 7, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  22. Coffee is like chocolate; it’s bitter unless you sweeten and milk it up. Then it can be divine. Of course, it takes a LOT of milk and sugar. Next time you are in Starbucks, endulge in a Caramel Frappuccino. Only 460 calories and 16 grams of fat. You can always repent.

    Comment by Steven B — October 7, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

  23. Smoke: I would smoke Dublin Dr Pepper
    Drink: I would drink Dublin Dr Pepper
    Coffee: Who needs coffee if you’re drinking Dublin Dr Pepper?
    Tea: I would drink a tea made from crushed, dried prunes
    Drug: I would snort Dublin Dr Pepper

    Regular Dr Pepper is permissible in times of famine. Otherwise it is not for man, but to be used on sick cattle.

    Comment by a random John — October 7, 2006 @ 2:04 pm

  24. I should probably add that wine is not prohibited by Section 89. Neither is beer, which is actually encouraged if you read carefully. Strong drink is hard liquor. So port wine is probably out as is a hornet of Mickey’s. For whatever reason the Word of Wisdon is derived from Section 89 but it clearly isn’t Section 89.

    Comment by a random John — October 7, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  25. Meems, in Kyrgyzstan the choices were green tea or black tea. There were more options in the Middle East. Actually, some restaurants in Kyrgyzstan had more choices, but in people’s homes, black tea was about it.

    Comment by Amira — October 7, 2006 @ 9:25 pm

  26. ARJ,

    v. 5 “That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good…”

    Encouraged to drink alchohol? I wish!

    v. 17 (after naming all the good grains for man and beast) “…and for MILD drinks, as also other grain.”

    Seems pretty clear cut to me, however I’ve always wondered what my alchohol tolerence level is. I’d say I’d wait till after being resurrected to find out but somehow I doubt it would work then.

    Russ, I blame you for allowing people to tempt each other so much. You know someone here is on the road to apostasy because of this>:)

    More wine, anyone?

    Comment by Bret — October 7, 2006 @ 11:54 pm

  27. Amira: bummer!
    And as rude as it sounds, I sometimes took to carrying sachets of herbal tea or wheat tea when I lived in the middle east or Japan, so I could just ask for a cup of hot water. Sometimes I’d just drink the hot water plain… :-(

    Comment by meems — October 8, 2006 @ 12:12 am

  28. Bret,

    You are right about the wine. Not sure what I was thinking. I blame the Dublin Dr Pepper. Maybe I was thinking of Joseph Smith drinking wine in Carthage Jail, but obviously that has no bearing on the contents Section 89 since nobody worried much about it at the time.

    I’m not clear on what your point is about MILD drinks (as you put it) is. My understanding is that mild means that the alcohol hasn’t been concentrated by distilling. Not that it has no alcohol. I’ve always taken it to mean beer is a mild drink.

    Comment by a random John — October 8, 2006 @ 7:41 am

  29. You know, it would help me to read the thing immediately before commenting. And not just the selections Bret has made:

    5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
    6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
    7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

    So we see that wine is ok for the sacrament. Pure wine doesn’t mean grape juice, it means that you haven’t fortified it with distilled liquor. At least that is my take on it.

    Comment by a random John — October 8, 2006 @ 7:58 am

  30. ARJ,

    I skipped out on quoting all of it only because I’m an extremely lazy person:)

    Just one more testament to the need for modern prophets with continuing revelation; to interpret the scriptures for us so we don’t rely on our own speculations.

    I guess I’ve always read mild drinks as NON-alchoholic, but your comment could be right, too. Never thought of it that way. Thank you:)

    Comment by Bret — October 8, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  31. Bret,

    I know it isn’t canon, but the wikipedia entry on the WoW is informative. Note that the church has people that monitor LDS-related wikipedia entries and they quickly remove historical inaccuracies.

    I should also note that while I am “interpreting scripture” I’m certainly not advocating drinking wine for the sacrament or beer at BYU games. I’m just saying that Section 89 allows for those, not that the Word of Wisdom as we live it today does.

    Comment by a random John — October 8, 2006 @ 11:10 pm

  32. i know i’m late in getting here, but living in the South, the only two things i’d really have to start partaking of would be iced tea and coca cola.

    Comment by anonymous — October 9, 2006 @ 8:18 am

  33. anon,
    I drank more Coke on my mission than I ever did before or since.

    Comment by Rusty — October 9, 2006 @ 9:40 am

  34. I choose valium.

    Comment by annegb — October 9, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  35. Rusty,

    But that was probably Coke made with actual sugar and in glass bottles. What we have in the states is crap in a can.

    Comment by a random John — October 9, 2006 @ 10:31 am

  36. Since I’ve tried most of these products, the Word of Wisdom Backslider’s opinions are as follows:

    1.) Tobacco. Deep Six all tobacco products. Can’t imagine anyone choosing to partake of any of them, W.o.W. or no W.o.W. Turns out they all cause cancer. The “Backslider’s W.o.W” verdict: Abstinence.

    2.) Alcohol. Love them all, but beer is probably my favorite. Mixed drinks (hard liquor) are fun to drink at clubs and weddings. Wine is great on occaision with dinner (especially at a restaurant), and is very romantic. But if I’m kicking back, just give me a bottle of beer. The “Backslider’s W.o.W.” verdict: Moderation .

    3.) Coffee. It’s all good. Though for novices, the lattes, and other frou frou drinks are the way to start. The “Backslider’s W.o.W.” verdict: Moderation.

    4.) Tea. Iced Tea is great, especially if brewed fresh. Is Iced Tea against the W.o.W.? I know several good Mormons who drink it. Hot teas don’t do much for me. The “Backslider’s W.o.W.” verdict: Moderation.

    5.) Drugs. They’re illegal and expensive, and they’ve always scared me. I’ve maybe tried marijuana a half-dozen times, but didn’t like it. It either 1.) didn’t work, 2.) made me very, very tired, or 3.) made me paranoid. Other things I disliked about pot: I didn’t feel like I had as much control, whereas I’ve always felt under control drinking alcohol; I hate smoke; I’m not a fan of the stoner culture — drinking (think wine, martinis, nice microbrews) feels more sophisticated, getting high just seems juvenile and banal. The “Backslider’s W.o.W.” verdict: Abstinence.

    Comment by W.o.W. Backslider — October 9, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  37. Meems, that doesn’t sound rude to me at all. Sometimes I’d just ask for hot water and put honey in. Still, it didn’t avoid the explanations, which is always the worst part for me.

    Comment by Amira — October 9, 2006 @ 11:11 am

  38. Wow Backslider,
    How can you say no to tobacco smoke? I LOVE the smell of that stuff. And if you smoke it in moderation it can’t be any more cancer causing than suntanning can it? I like your thoughts about pot being juvenile though. I’ve never been interested in drugs, mostly because I don’t like the idea of losing control.

    Yeah, the explanations is truly the worst part. Much harder than actually turning down a beer.

    Comment by Rusty — October 9, 2006 @ 11:16 am

  39. I worked a Country Club in high school. All the members would come off the course smoking their cigars, and I grew accustomed to the smell. There were some that I rather enjoyed and some not so much.

    My wife loves walking down the coffee aisle in the supermarket because of the fragrance, but I can’t stand it.

    Comment by Tim — October 9, 2006 @ 11:43 am

  40. Rusty, to each his own. I love the smell of coffee, beer, and even pot smoke has a sweet aroma that reminds me of concerts. In general though, I have a very low tolerance for smoke. Even campfire smoke. I have a hard time not coughing when I’m within 15-20 feet of someone smoking.

    I don’t think smoking in moderation is all that common. Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” has a lot of interesting things to say about smoking. Turns out the “Stickiness Factor” for smoking is quite high (i.e. the liklihood of addiction). In comparison, alcohol and caffeine are far less “sticky,” and therefore easier to consume in moderation for most people. (Those for whom alcohol is “sticky” would probably be wise to choose abstinence over moderation.)

    Comment by W.o.W. Backslider — October 9, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

  41. Coffee (and chocolate) gives off an odor that triggers the pleasure center in the brain. It doesn’t actually smell good. It’s fooling you.

    Comment by Susan M — October 9, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

  42. Susan M,

    That sounds like the definition of “smells good” to me. Or are you saying that this is cheating on the part of chocolate and coffee?

    Comment by a random John — October 9, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

  43. I mean they actually do not smell good. They’re tricking you into thinking they do.

    Coke doesn’t taste good, either.

    Comment by Susan M — October 9, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

  44. Susan, I kind of agree that coffee can trick you. I used to looove the smell of coffee, and then during my second pregnancy, I could only detect this underlying acrid bitter smell that had been lurking there. To this day, I can detect this hidden stinky coffee smell.

    Chocolate on the other hand…. never smelled a chocolate I didn’t like.

    On a side note, when we lived in Japan, we’d occasionally get a can of root beer. When we would share it with the Japanese kids they’d positively get this horror look on their faces and yell, “Yuck! This stuff tastes like medicine!!” I think taste is just what you are culturally accustomed to (in reference of Cola tasting good or bad).

    Comment by meems — October 9, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  45. Here’s a few questions I have:

    So if Jesus drank wine, and we’re allowed to use it for “offering up our sacraments,” why do you think it’s “not meet for the body?” Besides the fact that we’re told so in the WOW.

    What is your opinion of non-alchoholic beer? (I love the taste of beer, and have missed it since joining the church.)

    Someone implied earlier that green tea was not allowed and was a deal-breaker for baptism is Japan. Who’s interpretation is this? I drink green and herbal tea often. I haven’t seen anything against it.

    Comment by Chris — October 10, 2006 @ 8:57 am

  46. Oh yeah, I forgot to add what I would choose.

    Cigars, Beer, Latte, and Mushrooms (the only drug that has limited harmful effects, unless you accidently eat the ones that kill you, and I don’t think it shows up on my work-related drug-tests)

    Comment by Chris — October 10, 2006 @ 9:00 am

  47. All of you who like the smell of pipe tobacco never spent six weeks teaching a Japanese man who wore the same tweed jacket the entire time, never sent it to the cleaners, and smoked his pipe almost incessantly.

    I can still remember the smell of that stale pipe tobacco in his jacket, and it still makes me sick.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 10, 2006 @ 11:03 am

  48. In order:


    Hmmm…I sense a pattern.

    Comment by Kim Siever — October 13, 2006 @ 10:06 am

  49. If alcoholic content is what makes a drink mild or strong, then beer at only 4–5% is by far a mild drink.

    Comment by Kim Siever — October 13, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  50. [...] In the comments of my Word of Wisdom Exception Game post Amira says that explaining the Word of Wisdom is the “worst part” for her. In other words she feels like having to explain to her friends/co-workers/non-member family why we have/live the Word of Wisdom is more difficult than actually living it. [...]

    Pingback by Nine Moons » Blog Archive : When Explaining It is More Difficult than Living It » When Explaining It is More Difficult than Living It — October 17, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

  51. Hello,
    I’m confused about chai tea? I’ve been in Iraq over the last year and have been served Chai tea the whole time I’ve been here. I served in Uruguay on my mission and the members always drank mate, however, as missionaries in Uruguay we weren’t allowed to drink it. I know missionaries from other missions who were allowed to drink it, on top of that almost all of the members seemed to drink it. I figured that chai tea was similar so I have been drinking it but wonder if it’s ok to drink chai tea. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on the subject, also, I’ve been sick and it has seemed to somewhat remedy my cold, I don’t know if that falls under the time and season part of the Word of Wisdom and I noticed that chai was not listed under the tea list, if I could get any kind of straight forward answer I would appreciate it. :)

    Comment by Whitney — February 6, 2009 @ 5:01 am

  52. Whitney, FWIW, it looks to me like chai is merely the hindi word for tea. Its base is black tea, just like any other tea derived from the normal tea plant. See here.

    Comment by MCQ — February 6, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

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