Lesson 22: The Word of Wisdom: A Principle with Promise
1900: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets.
Lesson 206: Word of Wisdom
Revelation given through Joseph, the Seer, at Kirtland … [full text of Section 89]
Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fullness of the earth is yours: the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
Yea, and the herb, and the good things which cometh of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
Yes, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart:
Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made, to be used with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. (Doc. & Cov. sec. 59:16-20)
Laws of Health: It is not good to drink wine and strong drink, because they excite men unnaturally, inflame their stomachs, vitiate their appetites, and disorder their whole systems.
Hot drinks are not good, because they relax and weaken the stomach, and indeed the whole body.
Chewing and smoking should not be indulged in, because these habits are filthy, and tobacco is of a poisonous nature, and the use of it debases man.
Flesh is heating to the human system, therefore it is not good to eat it in summer; but God allows His people to eat it in winter, and in time of famine, because all animals suffer death naturally, if they do not by the hand of man.
Scarcely three years had passed from the time that the Church was organized when the Lord gave the revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith which is familiarly known to the Saints as the “Word of Wisdom.” It was given as a guide to the Saints, that they might be wise in knowing how to preserve their health. It is a revelation in clear and simple words, suited to the understanding of all and “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.” Our Creator sets forth what is good to sustain the bodies He has given us, and also what will weaken and injure them. Wine may be used in partaking of the Sacrament, and then only when it can be obtained pure and of our own make. Liquors are to be used for the washing of the body, and not as drinks. Tobacco is not for man at all, but grows as a medicine for sick cattle, and even for that purpose must be skillfully used. Hot drinks are injurious. Meat of all kinds should be eaten sparingly and only in cold weather and times of famine.
There are many things that God has ordained for man: all kinds of herbs, fruits and grains. nevertheless, prudence must be our guide in their use also. The revelation points out that wheat is especially for man, while corn, oats and rye are for the lower animals and fowls.
With this “Word of Wisdom” promises are given to those who live in accordance with it. As a natural consequence, health and strength follow a wise use of our bodies; but in addition, God has said that wisdom and great treasures of knowledge – even hidden treasures – shall be ours through obedience. And when disease is abroad in the land, the destroying angel shall pass by those who obey this counsel without slaying them, as he did the children of Israel when they dwelt in Egypt.
What We May Learn from This Lesson.
1. That the “Word of Wisdom” is given for our temporal salvation. 2. That strong and hot drinks, tobacco and much meat are not good for man. 3. That herbs, fruits and grains in their proper season are ordained for his use and benefit. 4. That the Lord has promised health, strength, wisdom and knowledge to those who live in accordance with the counsel given in the “Word of Wisdom.” 5. that the things God has ordained for our use must be taken with prudence and thanksgiving.
Questions on the Lesson.
1. When was the “Word of Wisdom” given to the Latter-day Saints? 2. Where were most of the people of the church living when it was given? 3. In what way did the Lord desire it to be received by the people? 4. To whom is it adapted? 5. What special reason did the Lord have in giving this revelation? 6. Name the things that are forbidden of the Lord for the use of man. 7. When can wine be used, and what must be its quality? 8. For what is tobacco to be used? 9. What are strong drinks good for? 10. When can meat be eaten? 11. Name some of the things that God has ordained for the use of man. 12. Name the special uses of different kinds of grain. 13. What promises are made to the Saints who keep the “Word of Wisdom”?
1917: Stepping Stones to Faith (YLMIA Lessons)
Lesson 10: The Word of Wisdom
Introduction. In all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has been seeking to establish His Truth and raise up a righteous people, He has instructed them in their manner of living. through Moses He gave the children of Israel specific laws as to what meat they could and could not eat and be clean before Him. (Lev. 11.) To Aaron the Lord said: “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations. And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean. And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” (Lev. 10:9-11.) Daniel and the three Hebrew children had learned to keep God’s law concerning the controlling of their appetites. They objected to eating the “king’s meat.” As a result the physical strength and beauty of both Daniel and his companions was manifest.
“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he request4ed of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Dan. 1:8.)
The Word of Wisdom in This Dispensation. The world had so far departed from hygienic and scientific living that in our day the Lord gave a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith known as “A Word of Wisdom.”
To be sent greeting – not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days. Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints. (Doc. and Cov., Section 89.)
Extracts from a Sermon by Patriarch Hyrum Smith delivered in Nauvoo October, 1842.
“‘Everything has become degenerated from what it was in its primitive state. God made man pure, but he has found out many inventions’; his vices have become innumerable, and his diseases multiplied; his taste has become vitiated, and his judgment impaired; he has fallen, fallen, fallen from that dignified state that he once occupied on the earth, and it needs a restorative that man has not in his possession – wisdom which is beyond the reach of human intellect – and power which human philosophy, talent, and ingenuity cannot control. * * * He knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to their pristine excellency, and primitive vigor and health; and He has appointed the word of wisdom as one of the engines to bring about this thing. * * *
“‘We are told, by some, that circumstances alter the revelations of God.
“‘Tell me what circumstance would alter the ten commandments – they were given by revelation – given as a law to the children of Israel? Who has a right to alter that law? Some think that they are too small for us to notice; they are not too small for God to notice: and have we got so high * * * * * that we cannot condescend to notice things that God has ordained for our benefit? or have we got so weak that we are not fit to be called Saints? for the word of wisdom is adapted to the capacity of all that ‘are or can be called Saints.’ Listen not to the teaching of any man, or any elder who says the word of wisdom is of no moment; for such a man will be eventually overthrown. These are principles that I have always acted upon – that I have always practiced; and they are what my family practices; they are what Brother Hyrum has always contended for, and what I now contend for; and I know that nothing but an unwavering course can save a man in the Kingdom of God.’ Speaking of the use of tobacco, he says:
“‘God will not prosper the man who uses it. And again, “Hot drinks are not for the body or belly”: there are many who wonder what this can mean, whether it refers to tea or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea and coffee. * * * Let these things be adhered to – let the Saints be wise – let us lay aside our folly and abide by the commandments of God, so shall we be blessed of the great Jehovah in time and in eternity; we shall be healthy, strong, and vigorous we shall be enabled to resist disease, and wisdom shall crown our councils, and our bodies will become strong and powerful; our progeny will become mighty, and will rise up and call us blessed; the daughters of Zion will be beautiful, and her sons the joy of the whole earth.’ Thus spake the man of God, fired with heavenly, holy zeal for the welfare of the Saints of the Most High who were assembled around him in breathless silence listening to the gracious words that fell from his lips.” (Millennial Star, Vol. 3, page 97.)
From a Sermon by President Young. “Many of our sisters think they cannot live without ea. I will tell you what we can do – I have frequently said it to my brethren and sisters – if they cannot live without tea, coffee, brandy, whiskey, wine, beer, tobacco, etc., they can die without them. This is beyond controversy. If we had the determination that we should have, we would live without them or die without them. Let the mother impregnate her system with these narcotic influences, when she is bringing forth a family on the earth, and what does she do? She lays the foundation of weakness, palpitation of the heart, nervous affections, and many other ills and diseases in the system of her offspring that will afflict them from the cradle to the grave. Is this righteous or unrighteous, good or evil? Let my sisters ask and answer the question for themselves, and the conclusion which each and every one of them may come to is this, ‘If I do any injury to my child, I sin.’” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, page 276.)
From an Editorial in the Millennial Star in 1854. “‘But,’ says one, ‘what can I do that would be well pleasing in the sight of God, that I am not commanded to do?’ We answer, Keep the word of Wisdom. It was given for this very purpose, not by commandment nor by constraint, but by revelation showing forth the will of God. It claims to be given ‘for a principle with promise.’ The principle in question is what the Saints should understand, and it amounts to this – will Saints do the will of God, when made known to them by revelation, without being commanded, or will they do nothing but what they feel compelled to do in order to escape the punishment of the law? this is a point upon which every Saint must be proven, and the Word of Wisdom is the test. * * * The Word of Wisdom claims to be the ‘will of God’ and if so no Saint can disregard it without feeling under a greater or less degree of condemnation. No Saint can pray for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and at the same time trample upon the Word of Wisdom, without mocking Him; for if such a glorious time ever comes, they must not only keep the Word of Wisdom, but every other expressed will of Heaven, whether by commandment or council. * * *
“Surely the Lord could have no other motive in revealing the Word of Wisdom than to bless, make happy, and exalt His Saints, and for them to despise such proffered blessings exhibits a degree of contempt for God’s ways, which can only be expected from those who are either corrupt at heart, or so unreasonably ignorant as to be incapacitated to guard their own happiness, much more to be intrusted with that of others.” (Millennial Star, Vol. 16, page 289.)
Financial Side. There is a financial side to the Word of Wisdom also. If we use our means on things to eat that are not good for the body, we have wasted it. President Brigham Young illustrates this. He says: “We were very urgent, a year or two ago, with regard to the Word of Wisdom, and the influence then raised made an impression on the people which caused them to forsake the use of these unnecessary articles for the time being. It was our wish then, and is still, that the money generally paid out for tea and coffee, liquor, tobacco, etc., be used to send for the poor Saints and bring them to a land where they can accumulate the common necessaries of life, instead of staying in their own land, and going down to an untimely grave for the want of food. I recollect one sister said to me, one day, ‘Brother Brigham, here is twenty dollars’ – I think that was the sum – ‘I give this into the poor fund. At such a time you advised us to let our tea and coffee alone and contribute the same amount that that we would expend for these articles in bringing the poor form the old country. It would have taken twenty dollars to supply me with these articles, to this time. I have saved the money, my health now is more than fifty per cent better than when I left off tea. I can now work ten, or perhaps twelve hours a day easier than I could two or three when I took these stimulants.’” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1__, page 277.)
“The Destroying Angel Shall Pass You By.” In the year, 1902, one of the missionaries to Germany was taken with a severe attack of appendicitis. Before leaving for the hospital he wrote, in a very trembling hand: “Mother, I am going to the hospital but the Lord can and will see me through.”
When the doctors operated they found the appendix broken and great quantities of pus in his body. They gave out the word that it was impossible for him to recover, but the young Elder never lost faith. He had kept the Word of Wisdom strictly. A special fast-meeting had been called and he knew that the Saints were praying for him.
It was three months before he was able to leave the hospital. When he was leaving the physicians said: “Young man, it was a higher power than ours that saved your life.”
In this day of scientific knowledge the word of Wisdom needs no argument to prove its virtue; the world is coming by leaps and bounds to accept its teachings. President Young declared that its observance was binding upon the people, that from henceforth it was given to them as a commandment.
Tthe Latter-day Saint girl should place herself in conformity with the word of the Lord through His servants “walking in obedience to the commandments,” then shall she “receive health in the navel and marrow in the 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,” says the Lord, “I give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.”
1. Tell the story of Daniel and the three Hebrew children as contained in the first Chapter of Daniel.
2. Read in class the revelation on the Word of Wisdom.
3. What did the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, say had happened to man since God first made him?
4. How may the race be brought back to its original vigor and pristine beauty?
5. Tell the story of the sister who took some money to President Young.
6. What is your personal opinion in regard to keeping the Word of Wisdom?
7. Do you want the destroying angel to pass you by as he did the children of Israel?
1940: Church History Sunday School Lessons
Lesson 20: The Lord’s Law of Health
One of the things that Joseph Smith did at Kirtland was to organize what was called the School of the Prophets. This consisted of classes in the doctrines of the Church, particularly designed to teach those who were called to go on missions. You see, in those days when men joined the Church, it was usually not long until they were ordained to the higher offices of the priesthood and were sent out to preach the gospel. In order that they might know the gospel in greater detail, this school was organized and taught by Joseph and others who were qualified to explain those things which distinguished Mormonism from the other religions of the world.
At this time the Prophet gave a special blessing to the brethren present, and told them of the importance of refraining from sin of all kinds, and the necessity for keeping their minds and bodies clean so that the spirit of the Lord might be with them in their labors. It was shortly after this that he announced to the Church that he had received a revelation which has come to be known to us as the Word of Wisdom.
The Will of God
You have heard of the Word of Wisdom often. You may, in fact, have dramatized in your class certain things regarding tobacco and alcohol, which are two of the things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. But there are other things mentioned, and we should know something of the entire revelation.
In the first place the revelation says that it is given for our benefit. In other words, the Lord had only one purpose in mind in giving this law of health to His people, and that was to help them. Some people would have us believe that the Word of Wisdom makes life more difficult to live. But here the Lord has said that it is for our good only.
Then again it says that it is given to show the will of God to his Saints. This is interesting since some people who break the Word of Wisdom say for an excuse that it was not given as a commandment. But what more could anyone want than a statement of the will of God? If it is God’s will that we do a thing, and we believe in God, then we should be happy to do it without bothering whether or not it is a commandment. If you know that your mother wants you to do something, you usually do it whether she commands you to or not, for you know very well that you should do it.
There is no need to worry, then, whether the Word of Wisdom is or is not a commandment. The fact that it represents the will of the Lord in regard to the welfare of His children should be enough to satisfy each of us.
Moreover, the Lord says that even the weakest of those who are worthy to be called Saints should be able to live by this law. This means that we cannot use as an excuse for breaking it the fact that we were tempted to smoke or drink and therefore did it. No! if we think we are worthy to be called saints, then we ought to cultivate strength enough to resist any temptation of this kind.
You have heard before of the phrase “conspiring men.” Do you know what it means? If you were to look at the word “conspire” in the dictionary you would find that it usually means to make a secret agreement or to secretly plot to do some evil or unlawful thing.
Now in giving the Word of Wisdom the Lord said that it should be a warning to the Saints against evils which will exist in the hearts of conspiring men. Coming as a warning from the Lord, that should mean a great deal, and the evidence points to the fact that those men who are seeking to get you and me to break the Word of Wisdom are conspiring against our welfare. Why are they doing it? Simply to make money for themselves at our expense, not only in money but in health and happiness as well.
Before ever we think of touching a cigaret or alcohol of any kind, we ought to think of that warning given by the Lord back in 1833, and realize that if we should take up the habit of smoking or drinking we are only making rich the men who are probably conspiring to get our money at the expense of our health. And how are they doing this? Through great signboards, through the radio, through magazine advertising and other means which would have us believe that these things will not harm us and might even do us some good. Beware of what they say and remember that the Lord has warned and forewarned His people against such things for more than a century now.
Things We Should Leave Alone
Now the Word of Wisdom speaks of two types of things – those we should leave alone and those that are good for us. The first thing against which we are warned is wine, and other strong drinks. Of these our Father in heaven has said that they are “not good.” He further says that it is not pleasing unto Him to have one of His children use them.
Likewise, He says that tobacco is not good for us. That ought to be plain eno