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I've noticed on this site there are many Questions regarding the 'Word of Wisdom' but i'm going to be a little more specific and ask if the natural man made "kava" in the Pacific Islands is against the word of wisdom, it has been a very long debatable issue for many years within the church, amongst the Pacific People because some don't classify it under alcohol, therefore its another natural god created substance where it doesn't go against the WOW.please if you can help me with this important issue.
Marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are also not classified under alcohol and are not mentioned at all in the word of wisdom scripture (D&C 89), but they certainly qualify as being against the spirit of the Word of Wisdom commandment, which promises "health in their navel and marrow to their bones;" and that we shall "run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint". When something is not specifically mentioned in the word of wisdom, there are a few other criteria that have been suggested by church leaders and scriptures.
First of all a statement from the First Presidency:
"the leaders of the Church have advised, and do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in the
acquiring of the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients that would be harmful to the body should be avoided.
(A Letter on Cola Drinks (1971)Elder Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency)
Studies have shown that people taking certain kava-based drugs and other products have suffered liver damage or liver failure as a result of hepatotoxicity.[Teschke, R (2010). "Kava hepatotoxicity—a clinical review". Annals of hepatology 9 (3): 251–65]. Because of this, kava is regulated in a number of countries.
Medical literature sometimes claims kava has a "potential for addiction" because "it produces mild euphoria and relaxation".["National Drug Strategy - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Complementary Action Plan 2003–2009 - Background Paper". Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, Commonwealth of Australia, May 2006]
Add to this information another teaching from the scriptures:
"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)
The Word of Wisdom is one of those things where(except for a few things) God has not specified every little thing we should or should not use. Much of it is left up to the individual. Therefore people will have different opinions on things like kava. There is no church-wide "official" restriction on the consumption of Kava, although some church leaders have advised against it. Given the information above, in my opinion, I would avoid taking kava into my body on a regular basis. But that would be a decision that I would make for myself and not impose such a restriction on anyone else, nor pass judgment on them if they believe otherwise.
For example, I know that Kava's use and the ritual that surrounds it is an essential part of traditional Tongan cultural ceremonies, so perhaps the occaisional partaking of it under such circumstances would not be in violation. However the partaking of it at so-called kava parties might be considered crossing the line.
Vai Sikahema writing for the Deseret News said the following:
"For centuries, kava was an integral part of Polynesian life, but today, kava is the bane of our culture. The kava plant is pounded into powder, mixed with water and used as a ceremonial drink. Anciently, chiefs counseled together over a bowl of kava, and the kava plant was used in the marriage ceremony. The Tongan word for "covenant" is "fua kava," which literally means "first fruit of kava." Today, the once-sacred kava ceremony has evolved into kava parties, where men drink kava for hours and sometimes days. Kava is often the culprit in unemployment, financial hardship, broken marriages, infidelity and occasionally, untimely death. Church leaders once tiptoed around kava, careful not to offend cultural mores, but today, they've simply counseled us, "STOP."
(Vai's View: Polynesian culture offers barriers, blessings)
The drink is also banned by the BYU-Hawaii honor code as stated below:
"Over the years we have observed an increase in problems resulting from the misuse of kava (awa, yaqona) for social clubbing or party drinking. There has been chronic absenteeism from classes and work, with decreased church activity and marital infidelity, thus causing students to drop out of school. We are especially grieved when men neglect their families causing undue stress and unhappiness in the homes. In light of all these concerns, kava clubbing or party drinking is now a violation of the university honor code."
(BYU-Hawaii honor code)
Members in Polynesians islands are asked about the recreational use of kava in temple recommend interviews. These members might want to follow the counsel of church leaders regarding this, including this counsel from Elder Boyd K. Packer from a 1996 conference talk:
"Everything harmful is not specifically listed [in the Word of Wisdom]; arsenic, for instance is certainly bad, but not habit forming! 'He who must be commanded in all things,' the Lord said, 'is a slothful and not a wise servant.' (D&C 58:26) In some cultures, native drinks (eg Kava) are claimed to be harmless because they are not specifically mentioned in the revelation. Yet they draw members, particularly men, from their families to parties which certainly offend the principle. Promises made in the revelation will be denied to the careless or the reckless." (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Conference talk. April, 1996)