One of the principles that defines Mormonism to those outside it is the Word of Wisdom. It has been interpreted in many ways, some of which are incorrect. The Word of Wisdom is not difficult by any means—it is a simple, straightforward law given to members of the Mormon Church for their benefit.


Heavenly Father gave us mortal bodies for a divine purpose. For us to have bodies is necessary for His plan and for our eternal progression. Because of the importance of the mortal body, Heavenly Father has given us stewardship over it. He gave us the Word of Wisdom to guide us in knowing what we should and should not do with our bodies. The Word of Wisdom is not to inhibit us, but to bless us and help us care for ourselves the way the Lord would have us do. The scriptures compare our bodies to temples. The Lord explains that we should keep them pure because they are the dwelling places for the Spirit of God. Respecting our bodies as temples of God is evidence of our testimony that we are His children.1


It is our responsibility to abide by these principles, which shows our love for Him and expresses our gratitude for the body in which we have been blessed with.


Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed the Word of Wisdom, the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. One must keep in mind that this section was revealed in 1833, and long before any scientific studies discovered the harmful effects of tobacco, for example. This revelation came long before the current epidemic of substance abuse. It forewarns and protects us against precise problems of our modern day.2  It warns us against the use of alcohol, of tobacco, of coffee and tea.  It counsels us not to eat to much meat, but to focus on grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Mormon Church leaders have counseled that if the Word of Wisdom is "…sincerely followed with the aid of the Spirit of the Lord…we will know what is good and what is bad for the body."3


Along with any commandment that is given, there is a promise. The Lord promises the following to all who obey the Word of Wisdom: physical health, wisdom and great treasures of knowledge.  He promises us the ability to run and not be weary; to walk and not be faint, that we will be protected from the destroying angel.


Elder Boyd K. Packer said, "I have come to know…that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation…If someone 'under the influence' [of harmful substances] can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings? As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically."4


Latter-day Prophet Spencer W. Kimball stated that, "For observing the Word of Wisdom the reward is life, not only prolonged mortal life but life eternal."5


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1 "Holy Bible", 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

2  Doctrine and Covenants 89

3  "Your Questions: The Word of Wisdom", Improvement Era, Feb 1956, p.78-79

4 "Ensign", Elder Boyd K. Packer, November 1979, p.20

5 "The Miracle of Forgiveness", Spencer W. Kimball, p.211