Friday, September 14, 2012

Obey the Word of Wisdom

In 1833 Joseph Smith was involved in teaching a group of brethren about the doctrines of Christ's gospel.  It was the common practice of these brethren to chew and to smoke tobacco.  The haze of smoke in the room and the mess from the spitting raised concerns in Joseph and Emma Smith's minds.  Joseph inquired of the Lord concerning these unclean practices.

The response was a revelation concerning what is now known as the Lord's law of health: the Word of Wisdom.  In it certain practices and substances are prohibited while healthful practices are encouraged and upheld by the Lord.

The principle behind this revelation is "the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days." (Doctrine and Covenants 89:2)  The Lord warns of "evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men." (D&C 89:4)  The Word of Wisdom shows us how to maintain the health of our bodies and be free from the addictions and chains promoted by "conspiring men."  We learn that our bodies are to be respected and cared for.  This is just the same as what Paul taught the saints in his day "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)  Continued reading brings us to verse 19 where Paul states "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."

So, what exactly does the Word of Wisdom teach us?

First, we learn that alcohol, tobacco, "hot drinks" (tea and coffee), and the misuse of drugs--whether legal or illegal--are all detrimental to our health and well-being. (see D&C 89:5-9)

Secondly, we are taught that eating healthy foods is important.  We are taught that "wholesome herbs" and fruits are "to be used with prudence and thanksgiving." Also, meat is for our use "with thanksgiving; nevertheless [it is] to be used sparingly." Grains are also mentioned as good for all creatures and that it is to be "the staff of life." (D&C 89:10-17)

Finally, we learn the blessings of following this Word of Wisdom.  One is health.  We "shall receive health" and we "shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint." (D&C 89:18,20) The other blessing is that we "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures." (D&C 89:19)

One way that these blessings come is through the presence of the Spirit.  As we keep ourselves free from the addictive urges and chemical imbalances that come from partaking in harmful substances, we will be able to recognize and understand the still voice of perfect mildness. (Helaman 5:30)  This is the voice that the Spirit uses to communicate with us.  Just as the prophet Elijah learned, the Lord did not speak in the wind, earthquake, or fire but rather in a still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-13)  If we are not in full control of our senses or mind, how can we hope to hear and understand such a voice and receive the Spirit's guidance?

The Lord does care about our lives.  He gives us commandments and principles that improve our lives and bring us closer to Him.  The Word of Wisdom is one of those principles.  You can know the truth of the Word of Wisdom if you will live it and sincerely seek to know that it is true.  Just as Christ taught "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.  If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:16-17)