21 August 2009

Thoughts on the Word of Wisdom

I had a very engaging conversation about the Word of Wisdom with someone yesterday. He was very adamant that we, as Latter-day Saints, focus too much on the "don'ts" of the Word of Wisdom--not partaking of coffee, alcohol, tobacco, tea--but that we don't focus enough on the rest of the commandment, of what we should be doing--i.e. eating meat sparingly (v. 12), eating "wholesome herbs" (v. 10), etc.

Obeying this commandment is such a personal matter; I do not feel comfortable to judge how others interpret what is best for them. For me, however, I can see areas that I need to improve.

In this light, I've collected some quotes about the Word of Wisdom -- food for thought.

You can go straight to the source and read the entire 89th section of the Doctrine & Covenants here.

Some recent General Conference addresses:

From President Brigham Young:

The constitution that a person has should be nourished and cherished; and whenever we take anything into the system to force and stimulate it beyond its natural capacity, it shortens life. I am physician enough to know that. … If you will follow this counsel, you will be full of life and health, and you will increase your intelligence, your joy, and comfort (DBY, 183)….

The Americans, as a nation, are killing themselves with their vices and high living. As much as a man ought to eat in half an hour they swallow in three minutes, gulping down their food like the [dog] under the table, which, when a chunk of meat is thrown down to it, swallows it before you can say “twice.” If you want a reform, carry out the advice I have just given you. Dispense with your multitudinous dishes, and, depend upon it, you will do much towards preserving your families from sickness, disease and death (DBY, 189).

Do you know that it is your privilege so to live that your minds may all the time be perfectly within your control? Study to preserve your bodies in life and health, and you will be able to control your minds (DBY, 190)….

It is a piece of good counsel which the Lord desires his people to observe, that they may live on the earth until the measure of their creation is full. This is the object the Lord had in view in giving that Word of Wisdom. To those who observe it he will give great wisdom and understanding, increasing their health, giving strength and endurance to the faculties of their bodies and minds until they shall be full of years upon the earth. This will be their blessing if they will observe his word with a good and willing heart and in faithfulness before the Lord (DBY, 184).

Chapter 29: Living the Word of Wisdom,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 211.

From President David O. McKay:

The Church urges men to have self-mastery to control their appetites, their tempers, and their speech. A man is not at his best when he is a slave to some habit. A man is not his best who lives merely to gratify his passions. That is one reason why the Lord has given the Church the revelation of the Word of Wisdom so that, even from boyhood and girlhood, young men and young women may learn to control themselves. That is not always easy. The youth today face enemies—false ideologies and immoral practices. … Sound preparation is necessary to meet and conquer these enemies….

Neither the Church nor the world at large can hear too much about the Word of Wisdom. It is a doctrine given to man for man’s happiness and benefit. It is part of the philosophy of living. … He who fails to live it robs himself of strength of body and strength of character to which he is entitled. Truth is loyalty to the right as we see it; it is courageous living of our lives in harmony with our ideals; it is always power.

Chapter 11: Living the Word of Wisdom,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 103.

From President Joseph F. Smith:

Now, I do wish with all my heart—not because I say it, but because it is written in the word of the Lord—that you would give heed to this Word of Wisdom. It was given unto us … for our guidance, for our happiness and advancement in every principle that pertains to the kingdom of God, in time and throughout eternity, and I pray you to observe it. It will do you good; it will ennoble your souls; it will free your thoughts and your hearts from the spirit of destruction; it will make you feel like God, who sustains even the sparrow, that it does not fall to the ground without his notice; it will bring you nearer to the similitude of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, who healed the sick, who made the lame to leap for joy, who restored hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind, who distributed peace, joy, and comfort to all with whom he came in contact.

Chapter 36: The Word of Wisdom: A Law for the Physical and Spiritual Health of the Saints,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 323.

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