The Word of Wisdom is the Lord's law for having good health. The entire law is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, and it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, on February 27, 1833. The Prophet was pondering about the practice of some of the early brethren's use of tobacco in their meetings, and he inquired of the Lord what he should do. This revelation was the result of his prayers. The Word of Wisdom was given as a protection from wicked men who sell products to make money without concern for the health of their customers. Since the time the Word of Wisdom was given, science has discovered the evils that are involved in using tobacco of any kind, abuse of legal or illegal drugs, and drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol beverages.
When the Word of Wisdom was first given, it was given as counsel for the benefit of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not as commandment or constraint. It was given for a "principle with promise" and was "adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all…." A few years later, obedience to the Word of Wisdom became a requirement for being baptized, holding Church offices and entering the temple.
One of the purposes for coming to earth is to receive physical bodies to house our spirits. A physical body is one of the greatest blessings we have because we must have a physical body to become like our Heavenly Father. The Lord places so much importance on physical bodies that He calls them temples (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20). He considers our bodies as being holy, and He wants us to treat them as holy.
Because of the importance of our bodies, Heavenly Father wants us to take good care of them. He wants us to be happy and knows that healthy bodies bring more happiness. He also wants us to stay worthy to receive the Holy Ghost by keeping our bodies and minds clean. He knew that we would be tempted to treat our bodies unwisely or to partake of harmful things; therefore, He told us which things are good for our bodies and which are bad for them. This information concerning good health is contained in the Word of Wisdom.
Obedience to the Word of Wisdom helps us to stay worthy to enter the Lord's temple and to enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost. Disobedience to this law causes the Lord's Spirit to withdraw from us and causes damage to ourselves physically and spiritually.
The Lord revealed that there are certain things that we should not take into our bodies. He commanded us to not use wine or strong drinks (drinks containing alcohol). The use of strong drinks often causes cruelty, poverty, and disease to enter our homes. It often is the cause of dishonesty, loss of chastity, and loss of good judgment and is always a curse to those who drink it. Use of alcohol by expectant mothers can cause physical and mental damage to their unborn children. Drivers under the influence of alcohol cause many automobile accidents each year.
The Lord also revealed that "tobacco is not for the body" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:8) because it is harmful to our bodies and our spirits. Scientists have shown that tobacco causes many diseases and can harm unborn children. We should not smoke cigarette or cigars, or use chewing tobacco. Any form of tobacco taken into our bodies is harmful. Even being around those who smoke tobacco can cause health problems for non-users.
The Lord counsels us against the use of "hot drinks" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:9), meaning coffee and tea, which contain harmful substances. Wisdom requires us to avoid all drinks that contain harmful substances.
Wisdom dictates that we should not use drugs except when they are medically necessary. Some drugs are even more destructive than alcohol and tobacco, which are also drugs. Anyone who misuses drugs should seek help, pray for strength, and counsel with their bishop in order to fully repent and become clean.
In the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, we should avoid anything that we know is harmful to our bodies. We should not use any substance that is habit forming. We should avoid overeating and any foods that cause allergic reactions. The Word of Wisdom gives us guidelines, but it does not tell us everything to avoid or consume. It is a law that is valuable physically but also spiritually. By obedience to the Word of Wisdom, we become stronger spiritually. This law helps us to purify our bodies in order to have the Spirit of the Lord dwell with us.
The Lord also revealed that there are certain things that are good for us. These foods include fruits, vegetables and wholesome herbs, which should be used with wisdom and thanksgiving. The Lord has said that the flesh of birds and animals is provided for our food but should be eaten sparingly. Fish is also good for us. Grains, especially wheat, are good for us.
The Lord has revealed other ways to keep our bodies healthy. We are taught to "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" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:124). We are also told, "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work" (Exodus 20:9) and to not labor more than we have strength (Doctrine and Covenants 10:4).
President Thomas S. Monson told us that we should keep our bodies healthy. He said, "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" (Ensign, November 1990, p. 46).
When the Lord revealed the Word of Wisdom to teach us how to care for our bodies, He also promised blessings for doing so. He said, "No temporal commandment gave I …, for my commandments are spiritual" (Doctrine and Covenants 29:35), meaning that His commandments concerning our physical bodies are for our spiritual good. Keeping the Lord's law of health and obeying His other commandments brings promised blessings physically and spiritually.
We are promised good health physically, which helps us to "run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:20). Physical health is a great blessing, but the promised spiritual blessings are even greater.
God promises us that we "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19), meaning that we will be taught important truths through revelation by the Holy Ghost. 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" (Ensign, November 1989, p. 14).
The Lord also promises that the destroying angel will pass by us. 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 , p. 192).
I know that living the Word of Wisdom brings blessings to us. I know that avoiding harmful substances, including too much food, makes my body healthier. I know that too little sleep makes me tired and too much sleep makes me groggy. I know that I enjoy more closeness to God because I keep my mind and body clean.