We lived in heaven a long time ago with our Heavenly Father and learned of our Father’s plan of happiness for His children. Part of that plan was coming to earth to receive a physical body because we needed bodies in order to become like our Father. Our physical bodies are great and important blessings, and the Lord calls them temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:17).
Our bodies are holy and important to the plan of God. Our Father in Heaven commands us to take good care of our bodies in a pleasing manner before Him. He knows that we will be happier and better people if we are healthy. The Spirit of God can be with us if our bodies are clean.
Our Father knows that we face many temptations with regard to our bodies; we are tempted to do things to our bodies and to take harmful substances into our bodies. To help us keep our bodies healthy, He told us which things are good for our health and which things should be avoided. Much of this information concerning good health is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89, which is known as the Word of Wisdom or the Lord’s law of health. If we do not live the Word of Wisdom, we lose two great blessings – (1) The Lord’s Spirit cannot dwell with us and (2) we cannot enter the temple.
In the Word of Wisdom the Lord commands us to avoid wine and strong drinks – meaning drinks that contain alcohol. President Heber J. Grant taught that strong drink brings serious problems into the home; these problems include cruelty, poverty, disease, plague, dishonesty, loss of chastity, and loss of good judgment (see “Message of the First Presidency,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, p. 686, as quoted in Gospel Principles, pp. 138-139). Expectant mothers are counseled strongly to avoid alcohol because physical and mental damage to their children. Many car accidents are caused by people who drink alcohol and then drive.
The Lord also commands us to avoid the use of tobacco because it is harmful to our bodies and spirits. We should not smoke cigarettes or cigars or use chewing tobacco. Scientists have proven that tobacco use causes cancer and other diseases.
The Lord also commands us to avoid the use of “hot drinks.” Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said this means coffee and tea. Coffee and tea contain harmful drugs and should be avoided. We should also avoid all drinks that contain harmful drugs.
Through modern prophets the Lord has commanded us to avoid all drugs except those necessary as medicine. President Spencer W. Kimball warned that the drug habit is often more harmful than the use of alcohol. He said that people who misuse drugs – including legal, prescribed drugs – should repent of this habit.
In fact, we should avoid the use of anything that is harmful to our bodies or substances that are habit forming. The Word of Wisdom does not tell us all things to avoid, but it gives us guidelines to follow. The Word of Wisdom is both a valuable temporal law and a great spiritual law. We can become stronger spiritually by obedience to the Word of Wisdom because our bodies are purified when the Spirit of the Lord dwells in us.
The Word of Wisdom also tells us that certain things are good for our bodies. It lists fruits, vegetables, and wholesome herbs as being good for us as we use them with wisdom and thanksgiving. The flesh of birds and animals is also provided for us to eat “sparingly” (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:12 and 49:18) and fish is good for man. Grains are good for us, particularly wheat, and can be used to make mild drinks.
The Word of Wisdom does not contain all the counsel of the Lord that helps us to be healthy. Other scriptures tell us 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 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 (see Doctrine and Covenants 10:4).
President Joseph F. Smith told us that we “should learn to keep their bodies healthy by right living…, by inhaling pure air, taking plenty of exercise, and bathing … often in fresh water” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 241, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 140).
God gave us laws concerning our physical health to teach us how to take good care of our bodies. His scriptures tell us, “No temporal commandment gave I … for my commandments are spiritual” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:35). This means that all scriptures concerning our physical bodies are for our spiritual good.
The Lord blesses us physically and spiritually when we keep His law of health and obey all His commandments. He promises us good physical health and the ability to “run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18, 20). This is truly a great blessing, but spiritual blessings are even greater.
The Lord promises us that we “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19) and taught important truths by the Holy Ghost through revelation. Another blessing of obeying the Word of Wisdom is the promise that the destroying angel shall pass us by. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that this means that we will be saved from spiritual death: “For observing the Word of Wisdom the reward is life, not only prolonged mortal life but life eternal” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 211, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 141).