The Latest on Mormons and Coffee
Last week the LDS Church distributed another official statement about coffee. They reaffirmed the prohibition against drinking coffee and clarified that it prohibited all “coffee-based products”. It further stated that the prohibition against tobacco included vaping and e-cigarettes.
The original prohibition is part of their scriptures (D&C 89) and is called the “Word of Wisdom”. It is not only one of the things the LDS Church emphasizes, but also something many non-Mormons have heard about. A common question we hear is, why don’t Mormons drink coffee?
Keeping the Word of Wisdom is very important to most Mormons. Keeping it is one of the requirements which must be met before becoming worthy to enter the temple.
This makes the findings of a recent study noteworthy. In her well-researched book (The Next Mormons), Jana Riess reports that close to 40% of middle-age and younger Mormons don’t feel it necessary to keep all aspects of the Word of Wisdom. This might be one reason why the LDS Church felt compelled to issue another official statement.
This emphasis on the Word of Wisdom is a prominent example of how Mormonism is a religion of rules and works. It’s what they do, not what Jesus has done for them, that makes them worthy to be in God’s presence. Only people who keep certain laws can enter the temple. Only the most faithful Mormons will be worthy to live in Heavenly Father’s presence for all eternity.
Refraining from drinking coffee or tea (the official statement clarified this includes green tea) has no bearing on our worthiness. As Paul said, don’t let anybody judge you in regard to what you eat or drink (Colossians 2:16).
God wants us to focus on what Jesus did for us rather than on what we do. And the wonderful thing is that the more we focus on Jesus, the more we naturally will do God-pleasing things. “If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).
Mormonism’s prohibition against drinking coffee and tea is deadly – not because drinking coffee and tea is important – but because it cultivates the thought that we can do things to merit God’s favor. The more people think this, the more they will focus on themselves instead of Christ. Tragically, a focus on self is a sure way, not to be accepted by God, but be driven out of his presence. This is the sobering message Mormons need to hear.
And they also need to hear the exhilarating message that Jesus has already done everything to make them worthy before God.