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Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom is a revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith on February 27, 1833, and is found in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. (The Doctrine and Covenants is a book of Mormon scripture.)

The Word of Wisdom beings, "A Word of Wisdom for the benefit of the church" (D&C 89:1) and outlines health guidelines for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Originally given as advice it was later accepted as a commandment under the direction of Brigham Young.

Concerning the Word of Wisdom, Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie states, "As a revealed law of health dealing particularly with dietary matters it contains both positive and negative instructions. It's affirmative provision gives directions for the use of meat and grain by both man and animals; its prohibitions direct man to refrain from the use of certain specified harmful things."

What does the Word of Wisdom not allow?

The Word of Wisdom prohibits the use of tobacco, strong drinks, and hot drinks. According to the prophet Joseph Smith this means that the Mormons are asked to not partake of alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco. Although not specifically mentioned the use of illegal drugs is considered contrary to the Word of Wisdom, because of the harmful effects upon the body and addictive nature of drugs.

The Word of Wisdom does not prohibit cola drinks, but many members do not drink them, including the prophet. They feel that the high levels of caffeine are harmful to the body.

What does the Word of Wisdom allow?

The Word of Wisdom encourages the use of "every herb in the season thereof and every fruit in the season thereof." (D&C 89:11) Meat is to be used by man, but used sparingly. "All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beast, to be the staff of life." (D&C 89:14) The Word of Wisdom encourages man to make use of the bounties of the earth. It is similar to the food pyramid, widely accepted today, in that it mainly encourages the eating of grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Concerning the Word of Wisdom, Bruce R. McConkie writes, "There is no prohibition in section 89 for instance as the to eating of white bread, using white flour, white sugar, cocoa, chocolate, eggs, milk, meat, or anything else." Of course if some food or drink makes an individual sick, "then that person should act accordingly without reference to the prohibitions in this particular law of health."

What are the benefits of following the Word of Wisdom?

At the time the Word of Wisdom was given to the Mormon Church, few people realized the harmful effects of tobacco and alcohol. Now medical science has proven that the frequent use of tobacco, alcohol, and other harmful substances leads to a variety of health problems. Members who keep the Word of Wisdom are free from these health issues. They also retain their agency because they are not addicted to a substance.

More specifically, in Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21, God gives special promises to those who obey the Word of Wisdom such as: "health", "wisdom", the ability to "run and not be weary", "walk and not faint" and "that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them."

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