Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) came out with a statement telling us that processed meat, such as sausages and ham causes cancer– and that unprocessed red meats, ‘likely’ cause cancer. But did you know that for over 150 years The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has encouraged its members to limit their consumption of meat?
This counsel is based on the Word of Wisdom — an inspired list of health recommendations. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 89.
But here is an expert:
4 Behold, verily, thus sayth the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
I am confident that our meat producers are not who the Lord was talking about when He mentions “evil and conspiring men.” But we know relatively little about how diet affects the human body. And I am sure that as time goes on, we will see more and more of the direct counsel given in the Word of Wisdom proved by science.
Tobacco is also mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. It is mentioned specifically as “not for the body.” It wasn’t until almost 100 years after the revelation that doctors began to see a dramatic increase in cancer rates caused by smoking. It took another 50 years before nicotine was finally publicly recognized as a cancer causing agent. Those who followed the counsel of the early LDS church leaders were protected for a full 150 years from the harmful effects of tobacco. But it is great for treating bruises and it’s good for sick cattle. I would never have known these two things without the Word of Wisdom.
Another substance mentioned in the Word of Wisdom is alcohol. The specific words used are “strong drink.” We are cautioned that “strong drink is not for the belly, but for the washing of the body.” Alcohol makes an excellent antiseptic. And for those living in the 1840’s, whose medical knowledge was slim, this was quite a valuable piece of information. And we have all learned since then the dangers of drinking alcohol — especially while pregnant, or driving. I’ve watched many people changed by alcohol. They aren’t themselves when they are drinking. Again, those who followed this counsel have been protected.
Some knowledge is had about coffee and tea — further substances we are cautioned against taking into our bodies. The Word of Wisdom simply states that both are “not for the body or the belly,” but I have seen some great facials made with them. If you’ll take the time to read and understand the Word of Wisdom, you’ll see there are many good suggestions for the use of various things. I learn something new every time I read it. And I’m glad that the medical community is slowly proving to us what the Lord revealed so long ago.
The promised blessings for living the Word of Wisdom are great. To me they far outweigh anything I am giving up in following the Lord’s law. He promises us that we will receive “health to their navel, and marrow to their bones.” The Lord also promises that we will “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” Who doesn’t want to know the secrets of the universe? My mother has been blessed for following the Word of Wisdom by receiving personal revelation that guided her to discover she has a sulfur disorder. It’s a very rare genetic condition where she processes sulfur very well. And eating foods, that to most people are very healthy, was making her very sick. These ‘hidden treasures’ have saved her life. She had Parkinson’s symptoms before, and now she is healthy.
Keeping our bodies free of substances that cloud our judgment and subject us to addiction, also frees our souls to feel and hear the delicate promptings of the Holy Ghost. When we are quiet inside we hear the Lord the best. And when our minds are free and our bodies are healthy, those communications are that much easier to decipher. As I’ve followed the Word of Wisdom I’ve been blessed to better understand the Lord and His ways, and feel His love for me.
This leads me to my final point. The final promise of the Word of Wisdom- “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” For my mother this promise has become a reality. She would have died without the guidance of the Lord in finding what was making her sick. For many others, knowing to avoid tobacco and alcohol have spared them the terrible consequences of addiction. Their families have been spared the sorrow and pain attached to loosing someone; whether it be in the bottom of a bottle, or to the ravages of cancer. The Lord doesn’t make promises with such power often. And I, for one, plan to take Him up on His promises of protection.
I am grateful for the Word of Wisdom and all the blessings it has brought into my life. I am grateful for modern day Prophets who guide us, because I am not left wondering what the next medical advancement will find. In the Word of Wisdom I have guidelines that keep me safe from harmful substances and addiction. I am grateful for modern revelation that gives me the answers I seek when I have questions and take them to the Lord. I am also grateful that I have followed the Word of Wisdom, because I don’t have as many concerns for my family’s health. May you also find comfort and “hidden treasures of knowledge” as you seek to follow the Lord and His counsel more closely in your life.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.