JOEL - Before the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89) came into full force Joseph and many other church leaders and Saints drank wine or beer on occasion. Even for some years after it was required of church leaders to comply to the doctrine, they did not consider wine strong enough to be considered a "strong drink". The revelation itself states that it was given "not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom." Therefore strict compliance to the doctrine was not practiced until many years later. It is even reported in a few historical documents that in the early days of the Church, Joseph actually kept spirits and other drinks at his home for the "comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time."(HC vol. 6, p. 111). Joseph Smith did not, however, have a drinking habit or an addiction to it as many church critics might claim.
Even after the Word of Wisdom was recorded, wine was still used instead of water for the sacrament ordinance. It wasn't until as late as 1930 that strict adherance to the Word of Wisdom was required for a Temple reccommend. President Joseph F. Smith taught that the Lord did not insist on strict compliance in the early years in order to allow a generation addicted to noxious substances some years to discard bad habits. Compliance to this revelation is more important to us in modern times since the concentration of alcohol in "strong drinks" has increased due to distillation.
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