What’s With the Word of Wisdom and Science?

Earlier this week social media had a viral moment with something to the tune of: “Coffee might help you live longer two new studies say…” Here’s an example of one of the articles. These news flashes are the kinds of things that can make those faithful to the Word of Wisdom a bit uncomfortable, and those that mock Mormons ready to pounce on this teaching in an instant.

Upon hearing the headlines, knee-jerk comments between my wife and I were probably typical of most others:

  • Science changes daily. How long will this study even hold up?”
  • “There are probably already 10 contradicting studies already out there. Just Google it. Frankly, I still haven’t figured out if avocados are good or bad for you… I think they’re good for you again. Didn’t they take the place of grains on the food pyramid? What? We don’t do the food pyramid anymore? Is Pluto a planet?”
  • “Is this study even real? Have they studied the study? What if it’s like that fakeĀ study about chocolate?”
  • … and so on.

The point of the post here is not to dispute the study, plenty of that will happen in social media. In fact, for the sake of making a point, let’s say that the study is is 100% irrefutably true. Gee wiz, let’s take it one step further and even definitively state “People who drink coffee live longer, happier lives.” So where does that leave the inspired Word of Wisdom? Don’t worry, it is still inspired.

You see, we don’t keep the Sabbath day holy because science said so. We don’t keep any of the commandments because of science. We do it because…faith. I mean, that is the first principle of the gospel, right? Having faith.

So, yes, on the surface the Word of Wisdom is about health. But in the face of facts, alternate facts, popular opinions, or whatever you want to call whatever you have heard about the Word of Wisdom, it will always be a commandment like any other that takes faith to follow, and faith to receive the blessings. It is a law of health that has some amazing promises. Perhaps it is because of news such as this, or such as the news that will probably come about other off-limits substances that President Monson, with prophetic foresight and the small bit of energy he had in October 2016 General Conference, delivered a short message about this more-relevant-than-ever commandment.

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