Word of Wisdom

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"Joseph Smith, the first leader and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons), gave to his followers as revelations from God, not only spiritual, but also temporal doctrines. Such is in keeping with his teaching that ‘the spirit and body are the soul of a man,’ implying that anything which degenerates the body retards progress of the soul. According to this doctrine, ‘temporal’ and ‘spiritual’ affairs assume equal importance; and all phases of life must be included in one’s religion" (From Medical Aspects of the Latter-Day Saints "Word of Wisdom" By L. Weston Oaks M.D.).The revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was received on February 27, 1833 while the prophet was living in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith was concerned about the use of chewing tobacco and asked the Lord about the matter. As an answer he received the revelation that can now be found in Doctrine and Covenants section 89. It has come to be known as the "Word of Wisdom" because of the opening lines of the revelation: "A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion." Keeping the Word of Wisdom is considered a commandment in Mormonism and obedience to it is one of the criteria to enter Mormon temples. The Word of Wisdom gives numerous items that should be avoided as well as items that are good to be used. The things that are to be avoided are strong drink (liquor), tobacco, and hot drinks (tea and coffee). Though not specifically mentioned at the time, use of illegal drugs and the misuse of other drugs are also considered violations of the Word of Wisdom. Though some Mormons choose not to drink caffeinated soft drinks, they do so as a matter of personal principle and such beverages are not generally considered violations. Mormons are also counseled that herbs and fruits should be used in their seasons, meat should be eaten sparingly, and that grain is the staff of life. The Promise Mormons believe that if they follow these instructions they are told that they will "receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen (D&C 89:18-21). Strong Drink D&C 89:7 "And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies." The First Presidency of the Church issued a statement in 1942 about this instruction: "Drink brings cruelty into the home; it walks arm in arm with poverty; its companions are disease and plague; it puts chastity to flight; it knows neither honesty nor fair dealing; it is a total stranger to truth; it drowns conscience; it is the bodyguard of evil; it curses all who touch it. Drink has brought more woe and misery, broken more hearts, wrecked more homes, committed more crimes, filled more coffins, than all the wars the world has suffered." Tobacco D&C 89:8 "And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill." Today the harmful effects of tobacco are well-known but at the time the revelation was given there was no such evidence. However, it is not just the harmful effects that tobacco has on the body that is a problem; it is also the fact that it is addictive. Latter-day Saints believe that anything that causes a person to lose control over their own choices should not be used. The addictive nature of such substances is why drugs and other such substances are condemned by the Word of Wisdom. Hot Drinks D&C 89:9 "And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly." Joseph Smith said, "there are many who wonder what this [hot drinks] can mean; whether it refers to tea or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea, and coffee." The reasons for not drinking tea and coffee are linked to the fact that the amount of caffeine can be addicting. Fruit and Herbs D&C 89:10-11 "And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man- Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving." Meat D&C 12 "Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." Grain D&C 89:14 "All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; … All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground." For More Information A Principle with a Promise FAIR Topical Guide: Word of Wisdom