Monday, October 11, 2010

Darwin and cola drinks

I drink Pepsi.  I've done so for more than fifty years.  Yes, I know the Church frowns on it.  In my mind, I can still hear Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone's voice in the April 1975 general conference reminding us about the February 1972 Priesthood Bulletin that addresses cola drinks:

Cola Drinks and the Word of Wisdom. "The Word of Wisdom, section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 89], remains as to terms and specifications as found in that section.  There has been no official interpretation of the Word of Wisdom except that which was given by the Brethren in the very early days of the Church when it was declared that hot drinks meant tea and coffee.

"With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit.  Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided."—Priesthood Bulletin [February 1972]

This same warning is also found in the "Policies and Procedures" section of the May 1972 New Era (p. 50) and in other official Church media as well (see, for example, Lesson 38 in the current Young Women Manual 3).

On a number of occasions, I've visited the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, where four of my children went to school.  I've also visited BYU's Idaho and Hawaii campuses.  To my knowledge there are no caffeinated cola drinks sold anywhere on any of these campuses.  The same is true of vending machines in the Church administration building and in temple cafeterias world wide.

It's clear to me that when you drink cola you are out of sync with the Church.

But wait.  There's one more thing.  A January 1981 Ensign article quotes the Priesthood Bulletin on cola drinks and adds:

"There is no current Church policy that would preclude a bishop issuing a temple recommend to a person who consumes cola beverages."

This tells me that drinking cola is NOT a major transgression.

Darwinian evolution

Whenever they have talked about it in official Church media, the latter-day apostles — members of the First Presidency and Twelve — have all vigorously affirmed a paradisiacal creation with no death on this earth before the fall of Adam (all, that is, except two in the early 1900s).

Of the 97 latter-day apostles who've talked about it in official Church media, all have spoken against the idea that Darwinian evolution explains the origin of man.

It's clear to me that believing Darwin is out of sync with the Church.

But just like with cola, there is no Church policy against issuing temple recommends to members who believes Darwin.  In my opinion, believing Darwin is no more serious than drinking cola.


Please believe me when I say that I have no quarrel with individuals who believe that man came by evolution, preceded by millions of years of death on this earth.

I think paradisiacal creationists and Darwinian evolutionists should gladly sit together in Church.  We should home teach each other, go on ward temple trips together, and in all other ways enjoy full fellowship with each other in the gospel, just like cola drinkers and cola purists do.


Blogger Joseph Smidt said...

Ah, but do you have an official First Presidency declaration that the church has no policy on cola drinks? :)

"In my opinion, believing Darwin is no more serious than drinking cola."

I'm glad to know that R. Gary.

My view is that anyone who is worthy to hold a temple recommend and lives up to every covenant they have made is on the right path. And if cola drinks or belief in evolution is in violation of temple worthiness or covenants I'm sure the church would firmly let us know. (As they are so firm about things that do violate temple worthiness/covenants.)

10/11/2010 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Joseph Smidt, re official neutrality on cola drinks.

Yes, I noticed that but thought it would detract from the spirit of this post to mention it. I also agree with you that "the church would firmly let us know."

10/11/2010 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Nice to hear, R. Gary. I'm glad that cola drinkers, non-caffeinated cola drinkers, and complete abstainers can all sup at the same LDS table, as can pro-, non-, and anti-Darwinists.

10/11/2010 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike S said...

I follow the prophet.

In David O McKay's biography the story is given about when, at an event, someone apologized to him because the cup said "Coke" due to concession contracts. I don't have the book in front of me, but his response was essentially: "I don't care what it says on the cup, as long as there's Coke in the cup".

10/12/2010 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

Nice post, Gary.

(Dave steps on soap box.) I would like to extend the topic to include anything that may become a vice in our lives. According to the spirit of the WofW, we should avoid letting ourselves become overly attached to any substance that we consume. Moderation in all things means that we control our physical passions and subject them to the control of our spirits. If anyone needs a certain snack or certain drink (excluding water, of course) to "get them through the day", then that person should strive to overcome that reliance. I have dealt with this myself; we all have. This sort of reliance will not keep us from getting a temple recommend, but overcoming reliance to innocent physical pleasures is in harmony with the spirit of the WofW. (Dave steps of soap box)

10/12/2010 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Clean Cut said...

How would you feel about a blog that was named and set up for the sole reason to defend the use or non-use of cola drinks?

10/12/2010 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Q: "How do you tell the Mormons from the non-Mormons in Utah?"

A: "By the temperature of their caffeine".

When my father was a Stake President, he wrote to Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith and asked him about a woman in our stake seeking a temple recommend who drank Sanka (decaffeinated coffee). His reply (my father still has the letter): "I suppose that caffeine is the ingredient that is most harmful to the body. If you feel good about issuing a temple recommend president, so do I".

11/16/2010 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Rich: For the Sanka lady, that must have been the correct decision. But I'm not aware of any recent updates in official Church media regarding cola drinks.

11/17/2010 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

It's the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. Red Bull, Jolt -- none of these things are mentioned in the WoW either. Which then begs the question -- what's so special about coffee and tea? If pot should become legalized, will we need an "official statement" in order to exercise wisdom (regarding respecting the health and well-being of our body as a temple)? Or must we be commanded in all things?

11/17/2010 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Rich: Just give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles (D&C 1:14).

For example, "Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom.... There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.... arsenic, for instance — certainly bad, but not habit-forming!" (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1996, p.17.)

Here's another example: Once when President Joseph Fielding Smith was asked about cola drinks not being specifically mentioned, he reportedly answered: "It doesn't say anything about gasoline either — drink all you want."

I'd be interested to see an example of caffeinated cola drinks being advocated by an apostle in general conference. Has that ever happened? What about Darwinian evolution? The correct answer to both questions is, "No, that has never happened."

11/17/2010 08:43:00 AM  

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