Words of Wisdom to an Apostate

Josh Tenes
4 min readMay 25, 2020

I like to reach out with love to ex Mormons.

In an effort to help explain the doctrines they may have misunderstood.

And so I thought I’d share a text exchange I recently had with an ‘apostate’. He (or she) had some questions about The Word of Wisdom that I happily cleared up.

I’ll refer to him/her as ‘EX’. And use my initials ‘JT’.

Let’s jump in mid way…

JT: The thing about the Word of Wisdom is it was so ahead of its time. Incredible foresight from Joseph. 🙏🏻

EX: Didn’t the Temperance movement in America begin around 1820? 🤔

JT: Maybe but how on earth would he have known about tobacco tea and coffee too? 🤷🏻‍♂️🔥

EX: Well there was that well known Journal of Health in 1830, advising against spirits, alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee.

JT: Pff like Joseph would have had that! Guy could barely read anyway.

EX: Wasn’t his whole first vision triggered by the reading of a biblical verse? 🧐

JT: Stop changing the subject.

EX: The Kirtland Temperance Society also opposed alcohol around 1830, a group largely made up of non Mormons.

JT: Sorry not heard of Mormons. Are you referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? 😏

EX: What’s the deal with alcohol? Is the odd glass really that bad? Didn’t Jesus’s first miracle involve turning water into wine? 🍷🍷

JT: Yes it is bad. Of the devil. And that was fermented grape juice duh!

EX: Huh, so if it was that dangerous or ungodly, why did Joseph drink beer and wine up until the day of his death? 🍻

JT: As if.

EX: And why did he build his own bar in the Nauvoo Mansion?

JT: I don’t know about this anti stuff but I do know that the revelation came from above.

EX: Right, so why did Bishops & Apostles continue to drink alcohol for years after the revelation?

JT: Give me a break. Name one active Mormon leader who did.

EX: Ok. Wilford Woodruff the Prophet, drinking brandy and coffee 7 years into his Presidency of the church? ☕️

JT: Ha yeah right according to who?

EX: According to his own journal. 😬

JT: Been on Google have we?

EX: Yes.

JT: Ok big deal, one example that may or not be true.

EX: Well Brigham Young owned a huge distillery and encouraged members to drink tea, wine and brandy when weary. So there was that.

JT: Let’s move on ok. Any other questions?

EX: Well, there was the wine used for LDS sacrament meetings and the Temple washing ceremonies with whisky but sure we can move on…

…I’ve always found the hot drinks thing confusing. Everyone seems to have a different view of what is and isn’t allowed. You’d think a commandment would have more clarity perhaps?

JT: No Tea or Coffee. That’s simple buddy. ☕️🚫

EX: But what about fruit and herbal teas, and de caffeinated coffees? The original list included hot cocoa and soups as well.

JT: I don’t think members have ever been confused. They just make excuses.

EX: Well I guess they were confused in the 1830s. Because many took it literally, didn’t boil water and died needlessly of dysentery. Not great. Couldn’t Joseph (or God) have clarified to save lives? ⚰️

JT: Who do you think they are? Miracle makers.

EX: Ok so just to be clear, decaf is ok?

JT: Sometimes the appearance of sin is just as bad as the sin but I suppose yes it’s the caffeine that’s addictive.

EX: Right but the church’s university sell caffeinated drinks on campus. And chocolate?

JT: Well actually caffeine is not officially prohibited. That was clarified.

EX: Right.

JT: Anyway let’s not just focus on the prohibited list, what about all the things we are encouraged to do.

Like eating meat sparingly.

EX: Doesn’t the church own the biggest cattle ranch in the USA?

JT: Who knows?

EX: Me. 🙋🏻

JT: Well let’s not get lost in the insignificant details. The Word of Wisdom is all about treating our bodies well, being healthy and fit.

EX: Pretty sure millions of Mormons eat meat excessively, don’t exercise, and overdo it on the sugar though. Ever been to a pot luck? Or munch and mingle? 🐂🍪🍩🍰🧁🌭🥩🍖🍗

Why is it they are deemed worthy of entering the Temple?

JT: Because they keep the other rules.

EX: So you’re saying that someone who eats in season, grows their own food, is vegetarian, exercises and stays off the donuts but has a sip of antioxidant filled wine will not meet the conditions of worthiness and potentially be publicly shamed and made to sit outside of the Mormon Temple for a family wedding, while someone who abstains from alcohol but stuffs their face with sweets, ice cream, donuts, burgers all year round, and doesn’t exercise will meet the standards and walk in to the Temple with their head held high?

That makes perfect sense!

JT: Correct and yes you’re right on it making sense. I’m glad we agree on that. Progress.

EX: *Sigh* hey Josh, has anyone figured out what on earth Joseph was talking about when he suggested tobacco be used for sick cattle yet? It’s been a few hundred years. 🤷🏻‍♂️🐂🚬

JT: Not important.

EX: Well thanks for chatting, I’m off for a drink with friends.

JT: Non alcoholic I hope! Have an OJ, much better for you (fruit). Personally I get drunk myself every night…

EX: ?!

JT: Drunk with the spirit.