Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Word Of Wisdom

I've recently had cause to reflect on the nature of the commandments. Its been a while since I've thought deeply on the challenge I got so often in high school - that my beliefs and the standards associated with living an active, faithful Latter Day Saint lifestyle are constrictive. That some of the "mandates" are just that - mandates. In essence - that obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel cramps my style and limits my personal liberty.

I can tell you here and now that I don't feel that way at all. I feel in my little Ami heart of hearts that the "commandments" are just simple loving advice, from a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me, on how to be happy. If you want to be happy, here is how to live and you will be happy. I see it as the directions. If you want to make a cake, you can't follow the recipe for lasagna. Likewise if you want a happy life, you can't follow the directions to misery.

I think the set of laws/doctrines that most often gets a bad rap is probably the set known in Mormonland as "The Word of Wisdom". For those not fluent in Mormonese that would be the Lord's law of health as set forth in the book The Doctrine and Covenants section 89. (Mormon moment: D&C is a book of scripture written by Joseph Smith that basically contains the bulk of the revelations and directions given to him by the Lord).

The Word of Wisdom has the bad rap b/c its the law that disses the "fun" stuff. Like, alcohol, tobacco and coffee. But its so much more than that. I used to describe it to people, when I was a missionary, as the Users Manual for your body. The Lord made your body and so it stands to reason that the Great Creator would know best how to care for the thing.

I've also selected this law because I think studying it is one of the best ways to focus on the fact that there are no "physical" commandments. They are all ultimately spiritual in nature.

Lemme dissect the thing for you:

The first half of the chapter contains the "Don'ts" and they are namely: Alcohol, coffee, black tea, tobacco and illegal drugs. If you need me to elaborate on why illegal drugs are bad for your body, go find a DARE officer of whatever they're calling them now days. For tobacco I refer you to The Truth ( and I'd like to note that this revelation was given roughly 100 years before the rest of us caught on that tobacco kills people).

Coffee and tea, I believe, are there principally for their addictive qualities, although I'm sure that the tannins (read: stuff you use to tan leather) can't be good for the stomach either. But I think it has to do with spiritual sensitivity and communication. The Lord needs you to be able to hear and respond to him, regardless of if you've had your morning cup of Joe yet and I know LOTS of people that can't see straight, and can barely breathe on their own with out at least 2 cups of coffee. How can you possibly hear the still small voice of the Spirit when you can't see past your own nose because your body is so enslaved to these chemicals?

And lastly, alcohol. Such a double edged sword. There are those who argue its benefits - improved heart health, a non-habit forming (in SMALL doses) relaxant at the end of a long day. But I would think on this: the Law of Chastity (NO sexual relations except with your husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded) and how the Lord is deadly serious about it being followed. I am not even going to touch right now on all the reasons why THAT'S a good thing b/c it would be a book. But I can tell you for dang sure that I know that if I EVER touched alcohol as a teen and young adult I would NEVER have made it to my wedding day a virgin.

I had to white knuckle hold the reins on my hormones enough times that I know that if I had had the least encouragement to let go of my inhibitions I would never, ever have managed to obey the law of chastity.

Now I'm sure that there are other people who are FAR far better than me who could manage both with ease. I'm not one of them. And I'm sure that there are others like me and so the Lord gave me this law (the Word of Wisdom) knowing that I needed it. Knowing that in order for me to keep this far more important law (law of chastity), I NEEDED to obey this one first (no booze).

The second section of the Word of Wisdom is the "Do's" namely - do eat fruits, vegetables and herbs, eat meat sparingly and make whole grains the base of your diet. It advocates moderation in all things. Sounds remarkably like what most nutritionists would tell you to do.

The final section of the law is the promised blessings. The Lord doesn't give any commandment except he tells you WHY you should do this thing. In fact He goes so far elsewhere in scripture as to state that all blessings are based on obedience to the law upon which they are predicated. So here are the blessings that the Lord sets out for obedience to this law: that you shall have health, and endurance. That you shall have wisdom and knowledge and that you will be protected from harm.

For those who don't think "health and endurance" sounds spiritual, you've never had to try to maintain your patience with a toddler all day long. If Mommy isn't feeling good, if she's tired and crabby, I quickly become far less than the loving, patient, caring Mommy I should be. And I believe that love, compassion and patience are all very, very much spiritual gifts.

So thats my two cents (okay probably slightly more than 2 cents worth. Shut up) on the subject.

1 comment:

  1. Side note. Did you know that the exact wording for the tea and coffee part is actually HOT drink(vs 9). If you then do your research on the arrangement of your insides you will know that you esophagus zips right past your heart with practically no insulation between the two. Hot drink is extremely difficult on the heart since it can't sweat and beats harder trying to cool itself off by bringing it cooler blood from your arms and legs. I did an extensive study on section 89 because I couldn't walk and not be weary. Tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. I finally learned that it was lack of sleep.