45 years ago today - 45 years ago - Dec 3, 1974-Tuesday

[Leonard Arrington]
Today we held the meeting of our executives ... The last item discussed was the letter of Elder Boyd Packer...

Brother Anderson then volunteered, not for the record but for our information, his own comments. His comments were made at extenso [[That is, at length.]] and Earl has agreed to save the tape of our meeting together to preserve these. First of all, Brother Anderson said he could hardly accept the two criticisms of Elder Packer, one criticizing Jack Adamson for using the term Brigham to refer to President Brigham Young. He said he had often referred to him as Brigham or Brother Brigham and the prophets and General Authorities he was associated with had done the same. The same with the Prophet Joseph [Smith]. In the second place the criticism of our inclusion of Brigham Young's advice to Brigham, Jr. to cease the use of tobacco while on his mission. Brother Anderson said he didn't see anything wrong with people knowing that and with Brigham Young, Jr.'s posterity knowing about that. People should understand that our emphasis on the Word of Wisdom today has not always applied. It is true that the Prophet Joseph Smith drank wine after he received the Word of Wisdom revelation. It is also true that Brigham Young used wine, even fermented wine, both at his table and in the Sacrament. I added that was true as late as Lorenzo Snow, who administered the Sacrament in the Salt Lake Temple with wine-and Brother Anderson added not just with a little glass cup but with large goblets so that the authorities drank more than just a swallow. Brother Anderson in regard to this pointed out a number of General Authorities who as late as his day were not as strict on the Word of Wisdom as we are today. He mentioned President [Charles W.] Penrose, one of the most beloved persons in Church history, who being English loved his ale and continued to use it more or less regularly to the end of his life and as I recall he died about 1923 or '24. He mentioned Patriarch John Smith, who continued to use tobacco and liquor and had certain problems with both to the end of his days, and yet he was patriarch to the Church. Brother Anderson mentioned President [Anthony W.] Ivins who used wine, having grown up with its use in Mexico and continued to use it at least many of the years in the 1920s.

Brother Anderson mentioned that the Word of Wisdom was not the only thing that we have changed our emphasis upon-other things as well. An example is birth control and contraceptives. As a secretary of the First Presidency he had been designated to respond to many of the questions that came into the First Presidency. On the matter of the use of birth control devices he had always responded that the Church had been opposed to the use of these devices except when the health of the mother was involved. That included both the physical health and mental health, and he always added a sentence at the end which said in the last analysis this is a matter for individual decision by the family involved. That is the way President [David O.] McKay had wanted the letter to read, but after his death, he was advised to leave out that last sentence by Joseph Fielding Smith, who tended to be the most strict-the most strict of all the brethren-and by President Harold B. Lee. In recent years there has been a tendency to announce the Church's opposition to birth control devices without adding the phrase "[with] the health of the mother" being a consideration. Brother Anderson said we have to use good judgment on these matters and if it comes down to an individual case, the authorities will almost always say this. ...

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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