Word of Wisdom Development
The development of the Word of Wisdom as LDS Doctrine is certainly
interesting from my perspective.
I recall learning about Emma's complaint of tobacco smoke and
chewing tobacco that prompted the Word of Wisdom revelation.
While reading "Mormon Enigma; Emma Hale Smith", by Linda King
Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery I learned some additional
Here is an extract from the book (page 47):
I think we are probably all familiar with the above account. But
the following passage was a surprise to me.
- Thus Emma, faced almost daily with "having to clean so
filthy a floor" as was left by the men chewing tobacco, spoke
to Joseph about the matter. David Whitmer's account supports
Brigham Young's description. "Some of the men were excessive
chewers of the filthy weed, and their disgusting slobbering
and spitting cursed Mrs. Smith ... to make the ironical remark
that 'It would be a good thing if a revelation could be had
declaring the use of tobacco a sin, and commanding its
suppression.'" Emma had support among the women...
[A discussion of the events of this period is found in Paul H.
Peterson, "An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom" (Master's
thesis). The quotations from David Whitmer are from the Des Moines
Daily News, 16 October 1886, p. 20]
- Whitmer further reports, "The matter was taken up and joked about
one of the brethren suggested that the revelation should also
provide for a total abstinence from tea and coffee drinking,
intending this as a counter dig at the sisters." Joseph made the
issue the subject of prayer, and the "Word of Wisdom" was a
I am surprised to learn that the part of the Word of Wisdom
dealing with coffee and tea may have very well been a counter
attack on Emma and the other sisters that were against the men's
heavy tobacco smoking and drinking.
What I also find very interesting about the development of the
Word of Wisdom is that both Emma and Joseph Smith did not obey it.
Emma drank tea on occasion, while Joseph Smith drank alcohol.
Joseph Smith went to the extreme of owning a liquour license in
Nauvoo so he can sell or distribute alcohol to anyone he wished.
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