It’s been TOO long, but I’m so excited and grateful to be sitting here typing again. The kids are kind of settled in school, we are pretty much moved in, and it’s as quiet as it’s going to be so I’m seizing the moment and writing! 🙂
Today, as far as health, I thought I’d address a topic a little closer to home for me. Usually, I keep this blog pretty religion-neutral, but today I am going to share something about my personal beliefs. Maybe it’s because of the terrible assasination of Malala Yousufzai who was shot and killed for sharing her views. I can so easily share mine and rarely do. Maybe it’s because I registered to vote for the first time yesterday (I know, it’s embarassing- I’m almost 30 and never have before!) Or maybe it’s because of everything on the news as another debate approaches and one of the presidential candidates is Mormon, or a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint. Probably, it’s because I “happen” to be teaching the lesson in church this Sunday and was assigned the topic of “Temporal and Spiritual Blessings of the Word of Wisdom.” So I thought I would take the time to answer the question “Why Do Mormons Not Drink or Smoke?”
Well, there are a lot of reasons and at the same time, just one. The chapter called The Lord’s Law of Health in the LDS Church Gospel Principles Manual explains it this way:
“One of the great blessings we received when we came to earth was a physical body. We need a physical body to become like our Heavenly Father. Our bodies are so important that the Lord calls them temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19–20). Our bodies are holy.
“Because our bodies are important, our Father in Heaven wants us to take good care of them. He knows that we can be happier, better people if we are healthy. The Holy Ghost can be with us if our bodies and minds are clean. Our Father knows that we face temptations to treat our bodies unwisely or to take harmful things into them. For this reason He has told us which things are good for our health and which things are bad. Much of the information God has given us concerning good health is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89. This revelation is called the Word of Wisdom.”
One of the big differences between my beliefs and those of other Christians is that Mormons believe God still talks to prophets, just like he did in times of the Old Testament and times of Christ. I know that might sound crazy at first, but I find it logical and comforting. If I believe in a God, a Father in heaven that loves me, wouldn’t it makes sense that he still talks to prophets and tells us how we can live a happy life and be closer to Him?
The Word of Wisdom
is a revelation that was given to the Prophet, Jospeh Smith, on February 27th 1833. At the time, the brethren were using tobacco during their meetings. Both he and his wife Emma, who was cleaning the room afterwards, wondered if it was good for them to smoke and use tobacco. Joseph prayed about it and received the Word of Wisdom. Here is a link
to a 2 minute video about this and what the Word of Wisdom is…basically it’s a code of what is good and not good for our bodies.
Here is an explanation of what we do and don’t do to stay healthy, again from our Gospel Principles Manual. Please keep in mind that the exact revelation of the Word of Wisdom (in which we were taught not to drink alcohol, coffee, smoke, or use tobacco) came in 1833, WAY before any scientific evidence of these substances harms to the brain, a fetus, our lungs, etc.
“The Lord commands us not to use wine and strong drinks, meaning drinks containing alcohol. The First Presidency has taught that strong drink often brings cruelty, poverty, disease, and plague into the home. It often is a cause of dishonesty, loss of chastity, and loss of good judgment. It is a curse to all who drink it. (See “Message of the First Presidency,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, 686.) Expectant mothers who drink can cause physical and mental damage to their children. Many automobile accidents are caused each year by people who drink alcohol.
“The Lord has also told us that “tobacco is not for the body” (D&C 89:8). It is harmful to our bodies and our spirits. We should not smoke cigarettes or cigars or use chewing tobacco. Scientists have shown that tobacco causes many diseases and can harm unborn children.
“The Lord also counsels us against the use of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9). Church leaders have said that this means coffee and tea, which contain harmful substances. We should avoid all drinks that contain harmful substances.
“We should not use drugs except when they are necessary as medicine. Some drugs are even more harmful than alcohol and tobacco (which are also drugs). Those who misuse drugs need to seek help, pray for strength, and counsel with their bishop so they can fully repent and become clean.
“We should avoid anything that we know is harmful to our bodies. We should not use any substance that is habit forming. We should also avoid overeating. The Word of Wisdom does not tell us everything to avoid or consume, but it does give us guidelines. It is a valuable temporal law. It is also a great spiritual law. By living the Word of Wisdom, we become stronger spiritually. We purify our bodies so the Spirit of the Lord can dwell with us.
“Fruits, vegetables, and wholesome herbs are good for us. We should use them with wisdom and thanksgiving. The flesh of birds and animals is also provided for our food. However, we should eat meat sparingly (see D&C 49:18; 89:12). Fish is also good for us to eat. Grains are good for us. Wheat is especially good for us.
“In addition to Doctrine and Covenants 89, other scriptures tell us how to be healthy. They tell us that we should “cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; … cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C 88:124). We are also told, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9). The Lord counsels us not to labor more than we have strength for (see D&C 10:4).
“A latter-day prophet has told us that we should keep our bodies healthy. He counseled, “Nutritious meals, regular exercise, and appropriate sleep are necessary for a strong body, just as consistent scripture study and prayer strengthen the mind and spirit” (Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 46).
“Our Heavenly Father has given us health laws to teach us how to care for our bodies. The scriptures tell us about God’s laws: “No temporal commandment gave I … , for my commandments are spiritual” (D&C 29:35). This means that His commandments concerning our physical state are for our spiritual good.
“When we keep the Lord’s law of health and obey His other commandments, the Lord promises to bless us physically and spiritually. Physically we have been promised good health. As a result of this good health we “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:20). This is a great blessing, but the spiritual blessings He has promised us are even greater than the physical ones.
The Lord promises us that we “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19). We will be taught important truths by the Holy Ghost through revelation.
“President Boyd K. Packer taught: “Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication. The Word of Wisdom is a key to individual revelation” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14).
“The Lord also promises that the destroying angel shall pass us by. President Heber J. Grant said, “If you and I desire the blessings of life, of health, of vigor of body and mind; if we desire the destroying angel to pass us by, as he did in the days of the children of Israel, we must obey the Word of Wisdom; then God is bound, and the blessing shall come to us” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant , 192).”
I have lived by the Word of Wisdom my entire life. It was a great comfort to know that when I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant, that I had not consumed anything that could hurt my baby. It’s incredible to have a marriage and relationship with my parents that isn’t marred by the effects of alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse is a painful thing that affects every family, including mine through extended family. When you can live day to day without relying on the caffeine in coffee or without being burdened by needing to take a smoke break you are more free to live your life. When we exercise regularly, get sleep, and eat healthy foods our bodies can function at their best and WE can BE AT OUR BEST! 🙂
Of course, not all my friends are LDS. I’ve been to events and will all my life, where there is responsible drinking and smoking. As a Mormon, I want you to know that I don’t judge you. Our entire religion is based on the freedom everyone has to make their own choices. I’m just grateful that I choose to live the Word of Wisdom because of the blessings of physical health it’s given me. Every choice has a consequence and I love the consequences I’ve had of living the Word of Wisdom.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!! Thank you so much for reading. Next time, some yummy and healthy recipe replacements for Artichoke Spinach Dip and Pizza! Mmmmmmm…. 🙂