The Word of Wisdom: An LDS Guide to Health
…And also one of the hardest things accomplished this month.
In a nutshell, the Word of Wisdom is a health guide for members of the LDS church. The Word of Wisdom is found in The Doctrine and Covenants (one of the revealed scriptures of the LDS church), Section 89. Joseph Smith gleaned this revelation once he pondered the use of tobacco by the members of the church.
Therein we find that The Word of Wisdom, revealed by the Lord himself, is for
“the benefit of the…church, and also the saints in Zion.” Section 89: 1
The idea here is that our bodies, which provided a vehicle to gain experience in this mortal world in preparation for eternal life with Heavenly Father, is a temple for our spirit (see 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17). So we see that, just as we maintain our motor vehicles for effective transportation, we must do the same for ourselves. Seems like common sense, right?
Here are a few things we should abstain from according to the Word of Wisdom:
- Coffee and tea
- Illegal drugs
- Harmful or addictive substances
Whoa, did that just say tea?
I love me some green tea in the morning. In fact, green tea is considered a staple of health in the Far East. Why, oh why should I have to give it up?
There are many interpretations on the status of tea within the LDS church. Some say you may have decaffeinated tea, others say herbal teas are fine, and still others go hard-core, to the letter, no “hot drinks.” Let’s face it, caffeine is a recognized drug which is habit-forming. I can understand where Joseph Smith was coming from, but man, no tea? Okay, okay, I’ll give it up–but that doesn’t mean I have to like it…
A Healthy Diet:
The Word of Wisdom isn’t just a list of things you cannot have, it’s a formula for dietary health. Heavy emphasis is placed on consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Meat is taken sparingly, which works great for me because I’m now a vegetarian. Here are a few verses from the Words of Wisdom,
All wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man…
All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground…
As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat.” A healthy, moderate diet is essential to good health, and something our modern society has an issue with. Take a look at the ingredients in the packaged food you eat. What about the vegetables and fruits at the store? Do you know where that fruit comes from? Can you even pronounce some of the ingredients in your cereal? The Word of Wisdom (and common sense) asks us to eat fresh, whole foods which elevate our bodies. How can our spirits travel in this life without a sound vehicle?
The Word of Wisdom does not mention exercise, however given the agrarian culture of the early 1800′s, exercise was just a standard part of life. Regardless of the times however, sufficient exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle.
One excuse we often use to avoid exercise is a lack of time. We talked a little yesterday about how our modern life is nothing short of a rush to the next event or project. I am the same way with Project Conversion. There is little time for much else, but like our family, we must make time for exercise.
Before I gave up my life for a year, I loved jogging and I even bought the exercise program P90X. P90X is an extreme video fitness program that reminds me of Marine Corps boot camp. Naturally, I love it, but for the last couple of months, spending an hour a day for this 13-week program just didn’t work.
The Word of Wisdom prompted me to start again.
You want a better, healthier family? You want a healthier body? Time–dedicated time–is required for both. LDS doctrine maintains that we are spirit children of Heavenly Father, placed on this earth to gain real experience and wisdom, that we might return to him ready to reside in his kingdom. We can’t do that sitting around making excuses for ourselves. Even if you don’t have a specific religion, good eating and exercise habits are a must. Life is just more enjoyable that way.
The key with all things is moderation. If you’re new at eating healthy and exercise, remember that slow and steady wins the race. Jumping in balls to the walls without a plan will result in heart-breaking failure. Have a local gym? Join and talk to a personal trainer about your fitness goals. Having a buddy join you in your workout routine also works wonders for motivation. LDS members are also famous for growing their own veggie gardens. This can be an enjoyable activity for singles and families as you grow self-reliant on your food choices and you know exactly where your food comes from.
This is also about curbing addiction. When I gave up tea for the month, I understood the challenge. I was forced to consider why I wanted or even needed the tea. Was I addicted to the substance or the ritual of my pre-dawn drink? Either way, something is going wrong. As with eating well and exercise, handling addiction should be handled carefully and gradually. Speak with local health professionals in your area or support groups to help combat this issue.
So where are your health weaknesses? What excuses do you make to avoid eating right and exercise? We all make them, so you aren’t alone. The idea is to commit to change, not a program. Programs come and go like trends, but staying healthy never fades. I challenge you to start thinking of ways to implement this lifestyle today. The Word of Wisdom promises,
And all the saints who remember to keep and do these sayings…shall receive health in their naval and marrow to their bones.–Section 89: 18