Word of Wisdom, Backwards
From behavior and moods to energy and relationships, all of life
is tied to the health of our bodies. The basic "care and feeding
guide" for the human body is Doctrine & Covenants Section 89.
We are often so sure of what it says that when we read it we don't see
what is really there, so I suggest that new clarity might result from reading
it from end to beginning, starting with verse 21, then verse 20, etc.,
pondering as you go. Please do that first; don't deny yourself your
own connection to the Spirit. Then if you are interested in my testimony
and some quotes from LDS Church leaders, read on.
Joyce Kinmont, July 2002
Verse 21 promises that the destroying angel shall pass us by.
If he is not passing by the Saints -- and he is not -- why not? (See
D&C 130:20-21) Six years ago I felt that angel hovering ever
so close. At that time a kind friend taught me to live the Word of
Wisdom with exactness, and, thankfully, the destroyer moved on. My
desire is to bless my children by dying peacefully in my sleep in my old
Verse 20 promises that we will walk and run without fatigue.
I'm much better, but I have a long, long way to go!
Verse 19 promises us wisdom and great, even hidden treasures
of knowledge. I used to think that promise was available in the natural
course of gospel living and was superfluous in Section 89. I've since
learned that this promise is true.
Verse 18 promises us health. Are we healthy? We do
well on infant mortality and trauma treatment, the great killers of the
past, but how about diseases connected to diet -- diabetes, heart disease,
cancer, auto-immune diseases, and a host of others?
Verse 17 tells us that all grain, especially wheat, is for man.
I partake daily.
Verse 16 tells us that the "fruit of the vine" is for man.
Assuming this to be a metaphor for fruits and vegetables, I partake daily.
Verse 15 tells us that we may eat animals in times of famine
and excess hunger. For me, that condition does not exist at this
time. I do not partake.
Verse 14 (See also Genesis 1:29-30) tells us that all grain,
besides being for man, is ordained for the use of beasts, to be their staff
of life. Obviously not all beasts eat grain now, but apparently they
Isaiah gives us these poetically phrased particulars about
animal life during the Millennium, "The wolf and the lamb shall feed
together," he says, "and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock." Implicit
in this pronouncement is the fact that man and all forms of life will be
vegetarians in the coming day; the eating of meat will cease, because,
for one thing, death as we know it ceases.
- Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p. 658
That Millennial condition will come about not by pronouncement from the
pulpit, but as men become more peaceful and more kind to animals.
I learned this from Brigham Young in Relief Society. (See also JST
Genesis 9:21, page 797 in the back of the Bible)
Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will
be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God,
and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil
of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will
be meat for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife;
the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and
the savage nature of the brute creation vanish away. . . Let the whole
people . . . be possessed of that spirit and here is the Millennium, and
so will it spread over all the world. -
Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Brigham Young, p. 333
Verses 12-13 says we please the Lord when we eat animal flesh only
in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. Would we turn down an
opportunity to please our Shepherd?
Hyrum explained the "famine" part:
And why to be used in time of famine? Because all
domesticated animals would naturally die, and might as well be made use
of by man as not. - Hyrum Smith, Times
and Seasons, Vol. III., p. 799
Verse 11 tells us all vegetables and fruits, in season, are to be
used with prudence and thanksgiving.
Verse 10 tells us that all wholesome plants are ordained for
the constitution and nature of man. I'm comforted to know that the
Lord created food especially for my body's constitution, and I trust that
He put into it all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. that my constitution
requires. As for my nature -- I do want to protect my personal
hormonal balance from being influenced by the hormones of animals.
Verses 5-9 tell us not to use stimulants. Hot drinks are
prohibited, and we've been told those drinks are tea and coffee.
Caffeine drinks are not mentioned, though President Hinckley told the whole
world on the Larry King TV show that we don't use them. He also slipped
the "c" word into a conference address last April. We might avoid
caffeine simply to support our Prophet.
I personally choose not to drink the body fluids of animals, although
this preference stems more from Verses 4 and 19. I do not want
to burden my body with milk designed for the constitution of a cow, nor
do I want to partake of the viruses and bacteria or the added hormones,
antibiotics, vaccines, and other toxins that come with the cheese and ice
cream I used to love -- and still wear around my middle, stuck to me like
glue -- which it is, casein being the main ingredient in glue, as attested
to by the cow pictured on the bottle.
We are also told not to consume tobacco or alcohol. Not mentioned,
but worth considering, are street drugs and mind-altering prescription
drugs (Ritalin, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc.). They all destroy health
over time, most of them cut us off from the spirit, and we now know that
most of the anti-depressants cause violent killings and many times more
suicides than they prevent. (Never stop taking anti-depressants without
Verse 4 tells us that there are conspiring men in the last days.
I recognize them as the ones who sell us food and drugs that they know
full well are harmful for our bodies. Their advertising is persuasive
and deceptive; they work for a clever, ruthless devil.
Verse 3 tells us that the weakest of Saints can live by this
commandment. What, then, do we do to be among the strongest of Saints?
Perhaps we add a second meaning to the word sparingly: sparing the lives
of the animals by allowing the "dumb animals to live."
Verse 2 says this scripture is the order and will of God for
our temporal salvation in the last days. I want to be saved.
I also want to live by Alma 32:13-15 which tells us to humble ourselves
because of the word rather than waiting to be compelled by circumstances.
I indulged my cheese and ice cream addiction long after the spirit was
telling me to stop; I hope you'll be smarter than that!
Both D&C 49:21a and JST Genesis 9:11, p.797, tell me that when I
eat animal flesh and have no need, the blood of each dead beast will be
required at my hands. It may be that animals get their revenge by
passing disease to me. Unlike plants, animal flesh and fluids are
full of viruses and bacteria that are harmful to people. The plagues
of the last days may well be delivered by the animals. Those plagues
may already be here.
A quarter-century ago in a BYU Devotional President Ezra Taft Benson
called for a generation that eats like Daniel:
To a great extent we are physically what we eat. Most of
us are acquainted with some of the prohibitions, such as no tea, coffee,
tobacco, or alcohol. What needs additional emphasis are the positive
aspects--the need for vegetables, fruits, and grains, particularly wheat.
In most cases, the closer these can be, when eaten, to their natural state--without
over refinement and processing--the healthier we will be. To a significant
degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation digging an early grave
with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours because we overindulge
in junk foods. I am grateful to know that on the Brigham Young University
campus you can get apples from vending machines, that you have in your
student center a fine salad bar, and that you produce an excellent loaf
of natural whole-grain bread. Keep it up and keep progressing in that direction.
We need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy
manner than to fare on the "king's meat"--and whose countenances show it
(see Daniel 1). - Teachings of Ezra Taft
Benson, p. 476-7, from "In His Steps," BYU Devotional 1979
And how did Daniel eat?
Now Daniel and his kinsmen had resolved to use a severe
diet, and to abstain from those kinds of food which came from the king's
table, and entirely to forbear to eat of all living
creatures: so he came to Ashpenaz (and asked for) pulse and dates for their
food, and anything else, besides the flesh of living
creatures, that he pleased, for that their inclinations were to that sort
of food, and that they despised the other.
- Flavius Josephus
Today many people are feeling promptings of the Spirit to prepare for Zion
in heart and body. Here, in the words of those devoted, inseparable,
prophetic brothers, is the vision:
When God first made man upon the earth, he was a different
being entirely to what he now is; his body was strong, athletic, robust,
and healthy; his days were prolonged upon the earth; he lived nearly one
thousand years, his mind was vigorous and active, and his intellectual
faculties clear and comprehensive, but he has become degenerated. . . .
Man is not now that dignified, noble, majestic, honorable and mighty being
that he was when he first proceeded from the hands of his Maker. . . .
(the Lord) has appointed the word of wisdom as one of the engines to. .
. .remove the beastly appetites, the murderous disposition and the vitiated
taste of man; to restore his body to health, and vigour, promote peace
between him and the brute creation . . . ." - Hyrum Smith, Times and
Seasons, 6-1-1842, pp.799-800
By a proper observance of the Word of Wisdom, man may hope to regain
what he has lost by transgression and live to the age of a tree, that as
the sun's rays in springtime gladden all nature and awaken life and hope,
the Word of Wisdom given of God may remove the thorns and briers from our
pathway and strew the same with joy and peace. - Joseph Smith,
Joseph Smith as a Prophet, Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, Vol 1, p.118
© Joyce Kinmont 2002,
Latter Day Saint Home Education Assoc. & Home School Utah
(Note - Motivation for our expanded view, search, research, writing
on the Word of Wisdom as a
needed benefit for all my home education families
and their children, as well as my own, was inspired - or provoked
by my friend: Thomas L. Rodgers www.tomrodgers.org)
From the Prophets
Joseph Smith: In pitching my tent we found three massasaguas,
or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said,
"Let them alone--don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom,
while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to
make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation;
and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal
race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the suckling child
can play with the serpent in safety."
Brigham Young: When men live to the age of a tree,
their food will be fruit.
If the people were willing to receive the
true knowledge from heaven in regard to their diet they would cease eating
swine’s flesh. I know this as well as Moses knew it.
Apostle George Q. Cannon: We are told that flesh of
any kind is not suitable to man in the summer time, and ought to be eaten
sparingly in the winter.
Lorenzo Snow, 5th President: thought the time
was near at hand when the Latter-day Saints should be taught to refrain
from meat eating and the shedding of animal blood..
Joseph F. Smith, 6th President: I do not believe
any man should kill animals or birds unless he “needs” them for food....Love
of nature is akin to the love of God...
Heber J. Grant, 7th President: ...during the years we
have had a cafeteria in the Utah Hotel I have not, with the exception of
not more than a dozen times, ordered meat of any kind...I have endeavored
to live the Word of Wisdom and that, in my opinion, is one reason for my
George Albert Smith, 8th President: In the summer he
eats no meat, and even in the winter months he eats very little.
Let me plead with you, search the Word
of Wisdom prayerfully. Do not just read it, search it prayerfully. Discover
what our Heavenly Father gave it for. He gave it to us with a promise of
longer life and happiness, not if we fail to observe it, but if we observe
Apostle John A. Widtsoe:. . . plants contain all of the necessary
food substances: proteins, fats, starches, and other carbohydrates,
minerals and water [and vitamins]. The great Builder of the earth
provided well for the physical needs of His children. (Priesthood
Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President: My husband doesn’t
eat meat [but rather] lots of fruit and vegetables. (Jessie Evans
Small children do not need the flesh of
animals. May I add also that adults would be far better if they would refrain
from too much eating of meat. As far as I am concerned the eating of meat
should be very sparingly. In fact, I will be contented if the Millennium
was to be ushered in next week. When it is, we will learn that the eating
of meat is not good for us. Why do we feel that we do not have a square
meal unless it is based largely on meat? Let the dumb animals live.
They enjoy life as well as we do...Naturally, in times of famine the flesh
of animals was perhaps a necessity, but in my judgment when the Millennium
reaches us, we will live above the need of killing dumb innocent animals
and eating them. If we will take this stand in my judgment, we may live
Harold B. Lee, 11th President: The Lord's word
of wisdom . . . counsels the simple diet of fruits, grains and vegetables
in season, with meats used sparingly, has been given you as a revelation
of God's great law of health. . . . If by faith in this great law, you
refrain from the use of food and drink harmful to your bodies, you will
not become a ready prey to scourges that shall sweep the land, as in the
days of the people of Moses in Egypt, bringing death to every household
that has not heeded the commandments of God. - The
Teachings of HBL, p. 205-6
Spencer W. Kimball, 12th President, sang:
That the children may live long,
And be beautiful and strong,
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise,
Drink no liquor, and they eat
But a very little meat;
They are seeking to be great and good and wise.
(Hymn #307, In Our Lovely Deseret,
by Eliza R. Snow,wife of two Prophets, sister of a third)
I still don’t eat very much meat.
Gen. Conf., Priesthood Session, April &
Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President: We need a generation
of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare
on the “kings meat”—and whose countenances show it.
But what needs additional emphasis are
the positive aspects...the need for vegetables, fruits, and grain, particularly
wheat...We need a generation of people who eat in a healthier manner.
In general, the more food we eat in its
natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier
it will be for us.
Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President: It proscribes alcohol
and tobacco, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the use of fruit and grains.
This Word of Wisdom came to us from the God of Heaven, for our blessing.
I regret that we as a people do not observe it more faithfully.
- Conference, October 1990
I thank the Lord for a testimony of the
Word of Wisdom. I wish we lived it more fully, but even though we do not,
the Lord pours out his blessing on those who try. The promise
is before us that if we will do so, we shall 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 the destroying angel shall pass by us as the children of
Israel and not slay us. - Conference, October 1993
Elder Robert S. Wood of the Seventy: Today many people
manifest the desire for such a rescue in small and large ways: . . . the
individual who, having abused his or her body through lack of exercise
and violation of the Lord’s law of health, expects to be delivered, sometimes
through priesthood administration, from the ravages of self-induced ill
health. . . . - Ensign, March 2002