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Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Don't Mormons Drink Coffee?

Welcome friends to the first ever post in my new weekend series, Ask a Mormon. I'm excited to be starting this series that attempts to answer the questions that people often ask about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or as we're often called, Mormons.

As we begin this series it is important for me to say that the posts on my blog are my own opinions and I do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any other group in any capacity.

This week's question is really the one that started this series.

Photo courtesy of David Robert Wright, Some Rights Reserved

"Why do Mormons not drink coffee?"

and closely related to that question are the questions

"Why do Mormons not drink alcohol?"


"Are Mormons allowed to drink soda?"

These are questions I am asked literally all. the. time.

So here's the answer:

We do not drink coffee, tea, or use tobacco because God said so. The End.

I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, but really, to us Mormons, it's that simple. It's not because of caffeine, or tannic acid, or any other reason. When you ask a Mormon why he or she doesn't drink those things, or doesn't chew tobacco or smoke cigarettes, you are really asking about a revelation that we call the Word of Wisdom. I would invite you to read the entire word of wisdom by clicking here.

But basically, the Word of Wisdom is a revelation that Joseph Smith, the first prophet and president of the LDS Church received from Heavenly Father.

This revelation outlined several things that we are counseled not to partake of:
  • alcohol
  • tobacco
  • illicit drugs (conforms with spirit of the law, but enumerated later)
  • hot drinks (later prophets define this to mean tea and coffee)

No where is it stated, nor has any church leader since said, why coffee and tea are not to be drank. I CAN tell you that it is NOT because of caffeine. While there are members who choose not to drink caffeine, it is not a doctrine of the Church.

So when you see your LDS friend grabbing a Mt. Dew at the corner store, no, he is not going against the teachings of his church.

I've always looked at it as substances that are addicting take away our ability to make choices and thus our ability to fully serve God. An addiction places that substance before all else in your life, including God. So following this principle, if I become addicted to Mt. Dew, it would probably be best if I abstain from drinking it.

Does that make sense?

Substances that are addicting and mind-altering also hinder our ability to hear and listen to the Spirit speaking to us. If I was to guess, I'd say this is probably a significant reason why we are asked to abstain from these substances as well.

But when it comes right down to it, the answer is really because we believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he received divine revelations from God and that one of those revelations counsels us to not partake of certain things. Just like with our kids, sometimes "Because I said so" is reason enough to do, or not do, something!

The Word of Wisdom also counsels is to eat healthy foods In moderation and outlines specific blessings for following this counsel.

Now you know why I respectfully declined the delicious (so I'm told) Dillanos that Mr. Chris LoCurto offered me!

I hope this has answered some questions for you and look forward to answering more questions from you, the readers!

If you have a question about Mormon doctrines, practices, or culture, visit the Ask a Mormon page of this blog and post it in the comments and I'll do my best I answer it!

Thanks for reading and please share this with all your friends and family!

Twitter: @Skropp2


  1. I am curious to know (after having read the WoW as you linked it), why then are not Mormons vegetarians(except in times of winter and famine)? Why are not corn and oats restricted to cattle and horses (except in times of famine)? These words are just as clearly written as those against "strong drink", tobacco and "hot drinks", and yet they seem to be considered irrelevant. If the answer is "because God said so", then why only part of it? Did God not say all of it? And why was "hot drinks" changed to specifically coffee and tea? I'm not tring to be obstinate, I am just having a hard time understanding.

    1. I'll be honest, I appreciate you reading, but by you posting anonymously I'm less inclined to answer your questions :)
      Nevertheless, as far as your question of why we arent vegetarians, verse 12 says that meat is "for the use of man" and to be used sparingly (not avoided at all times). I read that to mean that I should have balanced meals, I should have more than just a steak, maybe some vegetables with it, perhaps green beans and potatoes. Perhaps I should eat a salad at times, or pasta, rather than just ONLY meat for my meals.
      Why are not corn and oats restricted to cattle and horses? vs. 14. "All grain is...for the use of man and of beasts"
      We can go back and forth and argue about why some things are included and others arent. We could argue about why God chose to command ancient Israel to not eat pigs (Lev. 11:7). But the bottom line is I believe the Word of Wisdom to be inspired instructions from God through His prophet. Therefore I obey. Do I know why corn isnt restricted to cattle? Nope. I dont know specifically why coffee is counseled against and nothing is said of Mt. Dew, M&M's, or cheesecake. I DO know that the last 4 verses (vs. 18-21) contain some amazing promises to those who live the Word of Wisdom. I live the Word of Wisdom #1 Out of sheer obedience and #2 Because I want the blessings promised for doing so.

      Im sure this doesnt answer all your questions, but it is the best answer I can give you. One of our past prophets said once, "Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand." (Pres. Ezra Taft Benson). So this is my answer, and I take the rest on faith.