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Five Things about Word of Wisdom You Might Have Overlooked

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Some of my non-LDS sisters-in-law are veterans in the professional fitness field. Their (non-LDS) husbands and partners of past and present come from a wide range of fitness buffs: bodybuilders, athletes, yoga gurus, gym owners, physicians, and endurance race participants. Being physically active and health conscious, these non-LDS family members take food choice extremely seriously. They consume only organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If a medical research result discovered that mercury was the new quinoa, it’d be included in their diet that very same day. Their dedication and commitment to maintain optimal physical health make them seem healthier than the rest of the family who keeps the Word of Wisdom. 

The Word of Wisdom is a God-given health code. It’s one of the things that differentiates the LDS Church from the others. Those who keep the Word of Wisdom faithfully are promised great blessings found in D&C 89. However, there’re some things about the Word of Wisdom that are commonly misunderstood/overlooked:

1. D&C 89:9 reads: “ drinks are not for the body or belly.” Here, hot drinks have nothing to do with temperature. They indicate those drinks with harmful drugs or addictive ingredients in them.

2. In 1833 when the Word of Wisdom was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, in D&C 89:13 the comma after the word “used” wasn't there. So that particular verse read: “And it is pleasing unto me that they (meat) should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Notice the change of meaning a comma makes?

3. In D&C 89:18 there are two things that need to emphasized to help us understand who qualifies for the promised blessings of the Word of Wisdom:
              a. “all saints”: they must be baptized saints;
              b. they must walk in obedience to the commandments.

This verse explains that ONLY the baptized LDS members are entitled to the blessings that follow the observation of Word of Wisdom, which are “health in their navel (source of life and energy) and marrow to their bones (healthy blood and immune system); and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasure (Word of Wisdom is spiritual laws).

4. D&C 89:20 reads: “...shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.” Compare this with Isaiah 40:28-31 where it reads: “...the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary...Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength...they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ” Baptized Latter-day Saints who obey the Word of Wisdom and wait upon the Lord will have their strength renewed. They shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint––just like the everlasting God.

5. Finally, D&C 89: 21 highlights the most important concept of Word of Wisdom where it reads: “...the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them...” This has references back in Exodus. The children of Israel were “members,” and the Egyptians were “non-members.” When the destroying angel came, he passed by all the Israelites––the covenant people who were members of God’s Church. He didn't pass by the Egyptians for the obvious reason.

The Word of Wisdom is a principle of promise much more than it’s a health code. We all know that regular exercise and eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help us to be healthy. It’s true to everyone––LDS or not. It’s called “taking good care of our bodies.” However, when Word of Wisdom is faithfully obeyed, the promised blessings––both secular (physical health) and spiritual (protection against destroying angel)––are ONLY available to baptized LDS members.

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Allison is a mother of three boys. She's currently working on her memoir. You can find her at: Allison Merrill

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