Coffee is a staple part of the day for many people. Some people love coffee and can’t go without their morning cup. They sip it slowly, enjoying the rich flavor of whatever they order. Some people cannot stand the taste of it. They compare the taste of it to water mixed with dirt and turn their nose up at the sight of it. Whatever your stance on it, I could only take your word for what coffee is like. That’s because in my 18 years of life, I have never once drunk a cup of coffee.
You’re probably wondering what’s stopping me from just going out and buying a cup right now instead of writing this article? The simple answer- religious obligations, but the whole story is a lot more complicated than that.
I was born and raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or the Mormon Church). There are many standards and traditions that some outside of the church would find strange, but are completely normal within Mormon communities. Some of these standards are very similar to other Christian denominations. It’s taboo to have sexual relations before marriage, stealing is bad, murder is evil. Your average Christian values.
Then there are the things that when you share, people raise an eyebrow. For one, members are forbidden from drinking any sort of alcohol or substance that can impair the mind or body (like tobacco). Then when it comes to relationships, passionate kissing is also something that is condemned outside of marriage in addition to sex. Then there is the fact that on Sunday it’s typically frowned upon to go out and do things unless absolutely necessary. Going for a walk and other solitary exercises are exceptions, but going out and spending money, hanging out with friends, or working on the sabbath is something leaders ask members to steer away from.
One of the other big things the church asks its members to refrain from is partaking of “hot drinks.” That phrase can be a little confusing to some. This doesn’t mean I can’t have a hot cup of something, but refers to a group drinks that encircles things such as green tea/matcha, black tea, iced tea, and of course, coffee.
Growing up, I never found it hard to follow any of these rules. It was how I was raised, and I knew little else outside of my family life and school. But as I got older, I began to see just how different my life is to some of my peers. It baffles me that people actually go to the counter and can order coffee without feeling they’re breaking some sort of rule, after all I’d been raised to believe that coffee and tea were things to never be ingested.
Sometimes, the rules make me feel disconnected from my friends. I’ve lost count of the times I was unable to do something like attend a birthday party or play outside with my friends because it was a Sunday, or the times I’ve had to vote against where my friends want to go because I wouldn’t be able to have anything on the menu. On one hand, it solidifies my ties with my family and their beliefs, but on the other hand, it alienates me in a way from those my age.
Sometimes I’m tempted to make my friends take me to Starbucks and let me order the most coffee-like drink they have, but I have never had the resolve to do so.
To others, drinking coffee is something that’s commonplace and not worthy of any note whatsoever. But to me, it’s like a point of no return. I know I’m not allowed to, and to do it anyway would be betrayal of all the things that had been taught to me since birth. The issue is, I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.