“Is it against Church standards to drink cola beverages or any other beverage containing caffeine?” New Era, Oct. 1975, 36–37
Answer/Bishop H. Burke Peterson
This is a very perplexing question to many. Maybe we should lead into its answer by first recounting a true story. Many years ago the ruler of Babylon was King Nebuchadnezzar. There was a war going on between Babylon and Judah. During the war King Nebuchadnezzar’s army was laying siege to Jerusalem. After capturing the city, the king, knowing of the fine quality of the Judean young people, instructed his leaders to capture certain of these young men of Israel who had royal blood in their veins. They were known to be strong of body and of mind and skillful in all wisdom. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to raise them in his court that they might be a strength to his own people. The king set up a program where they would be given a daily provision of meat and wine—the same quality that he ate and drank. His plan was to have them thus fed and taught for three years and then to have them brought before him to be observed and tested with the thought in mind of then using the best of them as some of his country’s leaders.
Among those captured was a young man named Daniel and his three friends. When Daniel was told what he was to eat and drink, he was disturbed. He did not wish to eat the king’s food nor drink his wine for he knew it would be damaging to his body and mind. Now the Lord had made it possible for Daniel to become a good friend to the king’s chief servant. Daniel asked the chief servant if he could eat and drink something different that he might not defile his body. Daniel told the servant that he knew he and his friends would be stronger and wiser than all the other captured young men if he would allow them to eat proper foods. The servant was afraid the king would take his head if he disobeyed. However, Daniel talked the servant into letting him eat another kind of food and drink only water for just ten days. This was to be a test to see if there wasn’t a difference between him and his friends and all the others. The chief servant consented, and at the end of the ten days Daniel said the servant looked upon them and “their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”
After seeing the results, the chief servant then allowed these four to continue eating and drinking the good food they wished. The scripture says, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Dan. 1:17.)
At the end of the three years King Nebuchadnezzar had them all brought before him to be questioned and tested. The record says that among them all, none was found like Daniel and his friends. In all matters of wisdom and understanding the king found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in his kingdom. What a tribute and blessing to four courageous young men who would not defile their bodies with food and drink that was not good for them! Even then Daniel understood the Lord’s law of health.
The Word of Wisdom is a guide to strengthening the body and mind and keeping them healthy so the spirit of the individual can function without impairment. If we understand the Word of Wisdom properly, we will do all things necessary to avoid weakening the marvelous temple the Lord has given us to house our spirit.
The revelation in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants says:
“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man.” (D&C 89:10.)
We should notice the word wholesome and always consider the things that we take into our body as to whether they are wholesome or not. The scripture continues, “All these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.” (D&C 89:11.) Consider the word prudence. Would eating a whole apple pie or a cake or watermelon at one sitting be prudent? It is contrary to the principles embodied in the Word of Wisdom to take an excess of anything into our bodies.
Two of the tests we can employ as we question the use of any food or beverage are: Is it wholesome? Is it prudent? As we know, some of us need more rest than others. These same principles imply that we should not tax our bodies beyond good judgment. Finally, remember that the Lord has counseled:
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (D&C 58:26.)
We know that cola drinks contain the drug caffeine. We know caffeine is not wholesome nor prudent for the use of our bodies. It is only sound judgment to conclude that cola drinks and any others that contain caffeine or other harmful ingredients should not be used.
For those who are willing to exhibit the same courage and good judgment as the boy Daniel:
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” (D&C 89:18–21.)