Choose the Right

Based on a talk/article given by Elder Charles Didier in the February 2010 Ensign.

As we live in a world fraught with spiritual pitfalls and the buffetings of Satan, it is ever more important that we are constantly aware of dangers and threats posed by the world. Just how can we stand up to mounting trials and difficulties, threatening to throw us off the course back to our Heavenly Father?

One valuable support that we have is revelation – revelation from earlier prophets, latter-day prophets and revelation we receive for ourselves by the Spirit. We are told in the scriptures “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18) and also in the Bible Dictionary “Without revelation, all would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion.” (Bible Dictionary pg 762). This vital gift from God can help us avoid situations where we would be tempted to lower our standards and give in to the adversary. Not only do we have words from the scriptures echoing, encouraging us to heed revelation but also living prophets today. President Ezra Taft Benson said “The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life.” As we hold fast to the sacred words and inspirations from those three undiluted sources of knowledge and truth we will find the Spirit assisting us in our day to day lives – so much so that we are more able to choose the right in circumstances where others may mock or question why we are trying to do so.

Choosing the right in the face of larger ‘trangressions’ is imperative – but it is also watching out for the smaller mistakes which we need to be ever mindful of as it’s these violations which can fulfil what we read in 2 Nephi 28:21 “…thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” Satan often works subtly to carefully lead the Saints away in ways that make us think that we’ll be happier for it. However, President Gordon B Hinckley counselled “Evil never was happiness, sin never was happiness. Happiness lies in the power and the love and the sweet simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” For example, Sodom and Gomorrah are known for their disregard for keeping the commandments of God. However, if we look closer in the Old Testament at this city’s journey, it is actually something more subtle that begins their eventual downfall. We are told “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her…neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekial 16:49). These subtle traps might have led to the wanton disobedience that Sodom was known for later on – hence the large impact of actions which may seem small and even insignificant at the time. Of course “no unclean thing can dwell with God,” (1 Nephi 10:21) so even those smaller transgressions need to be avoided.

Overall, we need to be “an example of the believers,” (1 Timothy 4:12) and actively try to influence others for good. Elder M Russell Ballard said We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead if passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it.” We can make a much bigger difference than we think – we need to do it boldly, meekly and with the Spirit and we will be able to help others to choose the right.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Today there is chaos in the world. There are governments failing, despair, suffering, neglect. Equally as tragic is what is happening in homes around the world. More and more single-parent families, divorces, abuse, teenage pregnancies…Are these developments completely isolated? There is a wider lack of family values in the home and this is having an impact on societies and civilisations around the world. As a result, the First Presidency in 1995 published ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’.

It states “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents…” (The Family) – this already highlights an important fact – our first family experience is not here on Earth. We lived in a family before this life, we are all spirit brothers and sisters in the express image of our Father in Heaven. President Joseph F Smith once said “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body.” The family ideal is something that is innate to us, else why would the whole human family still focus around the basic structure of the family? God is our loving Heavenly Father and as such “…shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live.” (Hebrews 12:9) As a good father cares for and knows what can help their children, our perfect Heavenly Father knows truly what is best for us – hence why we need to listen to his commandments, including His words on the family.

The Proclamation later says “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” What a great blessing is this  – our family relationships can last beyond the grave. A husband and wife can have the assurance, not just a wish, that they and their children will be sealed together forever as they keep their covenants. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say…” (D&C 82:10) God has to give us the blessings if we are obedient to His commandments. What a great comfort it is to know that God will always be faithful to keep His promises as long as we are faithful to strive to keep our promises.

The Proclamation then begins to talk about the elements of the law of chastity that needs to be followed in order to obtain the previously mentioned blessings. It first says “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” A couple of things can be drawn from this. First, between man and woman. It talks about this in the scriptures, including Romans 1:27. There is a reason for this – we have been commanded to replenish the earth, hence why we are commanded to not impede the Lord’s plan to create eternal families and this cannot be done unless man and woman are together.

Also, the proclamation specifically says a husband and a wife. This goes beyond a certificate – this is much deeper and abiding. When a man and a woman take vows to be loyal, they promise to each other that they will honour and cherish one another until the day they die, and beyond in an eternal marriage. The power behind that is incredible – when each person in this mutual agreement has the same goal in mind, great things can happen “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:11)

It goes on to say “We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.” (Family Proclamation) The sacred power is to be used only within the boundaries the Lord has set. Temptation is strong to disregard the commandments of God in this area. However the Lord has promised help through difficult challenges. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.(1 Corinthians 10:13) There are many who suffer the same temptations but the Lord will provide a way if you will lean on him.

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.” (Family Proclamation) People who truly love one another and understand God’s eternal plan will not sacrifice their eternal happiness and safety for immediate pleasure now. They will put all their efforts into building that eternal marriage and strengthening one another.

We are also to love our children, it says “…mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” (Family Proclamation) There are a couple of ways people can neglect their parental responsibilities. One is to neglect spending time with their children and developing eternal relationships and instead focus on other, less important things. “All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.” (D&C 83:4) and “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) These verses relate to the physical and spiritual maintenance of our children. It is the duty of the parents to provide for these needs – “But if any provide not for his own, and specifically for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith…” (1 Timothy 5:8).

It then talks about how children deserve to be raised by parents “…who honour marital vows with complete fidelity.” (Family Proclamation) Each child has this right. When this principle is attained – love, trust and commitment in family relations will develop which will inevitably lead to more happiness and unity in families, spreading to the community.

Also “Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (Family Proclamation) Life’s greatest joys are to be found in the home, however this feeling of unity cannot be reached with no effort – a strong relationship takes effort, such as doing and implementing the guidance in the Family Proclamation. However, as we do those things, that brings great happiness now and forever. We can achieve that. Through activities such as family home evenings, we can achieve security and unity in the home.

As with all commandments, there being positive consequences if we follow them, there are also negative consequences if they are not followed.  We will hurt those around us if we do not fulfil our duties “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you.” (Jacob 2:35)

We are called upon to strengthen the family and be examples of purity, in fact we are to “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God…” (D&C 121:45) – we will be able to stand before the Lord and say with confidence that we have lived the best life we can. We will then receive the Holy Spirit’s guidance, strength, comfort and protection as we follow this guidance.

The Armour of God

Many are aware of the ‘armour of God’ that can be found in Ephesians and in the Doctrine and Covenants. Here is the summary:

  • Loins girt about with truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation
  • Sword of God’s Spirit and His word through revelation

All of these items are vital – if any were missing in our defence, we would fall very quickly as weaknesses would be exposed. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin warned that Satan “seeks to find any chink in the armor of each person. He knows our weaknesses and knows how to exploit them if we allow him to do so. We can defend ourselves against his attacks and deceptions only by understanding the commandments and by fortifying ourselves each day through praying, studying the scriptures, and following the counsel of the Lord’s anointed.”

There are a variety of ways that we can protect ourselves and put on this armour of God. It is interesting, that in the Ephesians account of this analogy, it says in Ephesians 6:16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” This passage seems to indicate the necessity of this particular protection – whether the most important or one of the most important – in order for us to overcome the wiles of Satan. It does make sense as faith is a principle of power. It seems ineffective having a knowledge of the gospel or understanding truth if we do not work on developing our faith.

Is it, therefore, any wonder that all the things we do to put on the armour of God are things that increase of faith? Acts such as reading the scriptures, praying, going to Church, partaking the sacrament and worshipping in the Temple. There are key areas where Satan tries to pinpoint his attacks which affect the majority of the human family, God’s children, that without the armour of God would be vulnerable areas.

One is chastity. The Law of Chastity is a simple law and one which, when one considers the consequences when not followed, makes sense – to those who understand the Lord and His love for His children. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught “One of the most pervasive deceptions in recent years is the notion that immorality is normal and acceptable and has no negative consequences. In truth, immorality is the underlying cause of much suffering and many other problems that are prevalent today, including rampant disease, abortion, broken families, families without fathers, and mothers who themselves are children.” It does seem to be one of the most accepted transgressions of the Lord’s commandments in the world today when in actual fact, for example, the sin of adultery is the sin ‘next to murder’. God delights in chastity. What better thing for Satan to try and pull us away with.

Not only this, but there are a variety of ways in which we can be ensnared. One of these tactics is pornography. President Gordon B. Hinckley warned “You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material. You must not dial a long-distance telephone number to listen to filth. You must not rent videos with pornography of any kind. This salacious stuff simply is not for you. Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive.” If we submit to this vile tool of Satan, we are literally stripping off our armour and our virtue and putting ourselves under Satan’s power. Stop now! For anyone who is under this seemingly unstoppable habit, it is never too late. Even if it has begun, it can be halted. We need to continually put on the armour of God and to do so we need to keep clean and call upon the Atonement of Christ to cleanse us further.

The second possible weak spot is honesty. President James E. Faust taught “Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” Honesty includes a complete change in our way of doing things – to become more honest. When we are not honest, then it becomes more and more difficult to tell the truth.

Of course it is one of the commandments to be honest. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16) The principle of being honest is, again, very simple. However, it is one that many can find difficult to keep fully for one reason or another. As members of Christ’s church, even as any human being,  we should strive to be honest. If we can become more honest, we will find strength to overcome more challenges.

The final example of possible weakness is our use of language. There are a few elements of our language we need to be careful with. We should not take the name of the Lord in vain. We shouldn’t use foul language. Of course, as with chastity and honesty, language is something that Satan has been working on up to today where, to use this kind of language, is something deemed as perfectly acceptable. President Hinckley said “Don’t swear. Don’t profane. Avoid so-called dirty jokes. Stay away from conversation that is sprinkled with foul and filthy words. You will be happier if you do so, and your example will give strength to others.” It is incredible how, when someone shows the example and doesn’t use foul language, it is really noticed by people around them. I’ve personally had a number of instances where people have mentioned they have noticed I don’t swear and appreciate it, or when they mishear me and think I have sworn and are shocked – when many other people around them use the same words freely.

Of course, when we use bad language it drives the Spirit away. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” (James 3:8-9) This verse points out the irony that the mouth that we use to say our prayers to God and even partake of the sacrament with – we sometimes allow it to issue forth things we shouldn’t. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve stated “Profanity and vulgarity…are sins that separate us from God and cripple our spiritual defences by causing the Holy Ghost to withdraw from us.” Foul language can draw the presence of the Spirit away and easily offend others – just what the adversary would want.

As we use the armour of God to protect ourselves and win the war against the fiery darts of the adversary, we will protect our weaknesses and receive more power by our Heavenly Father. Here is another interesting thought to add to that by President Harold B. Lee:
“[The] armoured man hold[s] in his hand a shield and in his other hand a sword…That shield was the shield of faith and the sword was the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. I can’t think of any more powerful weapons than faith and a knowledge of the scriptures in…which are contained the Word of God. One so armoured and one so prepared with those weapons is prepared to go out against the enemy.” The armour of God includes offensive as well as defensive preparations. The sword of God’s spirit – meaning the Word of God – can give us power to actively combat the falsehoods of Satan. We can use the scriptures against his lies and therefore, the armour of God becomes, not just a defensive tool that we have to shield us but is also a weapon to vanquish Satan and come off conqueror in our daily, spiritual battle.

The Love of God

This entry is based on a Conference talk given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the October 2009 General Conference.

God’s love for us is infinite and all-encompassing. There is a vast array of evidence of this love and He does show it. “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love…” (2 Nephi 1:15), “let us love one another: for love is of God…” (1 John 4:7), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,” (John 3:16) – these are just a few passages that describe the love of God. The miraculous thing is that He loves each and every one of us, no matter who we are or what we are becoming.

President Uchtdorf said “I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly…He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.” God’s love extends to all of His children. Whether we accept it His love or not is a different matter – but he will always be there.

What does this ultimate love do for us? It is very important because we can then trust in God that He will protect and provide for us when it is when it is the best for us. God does not need us to love Him But oh, how we need to love God!” President Uchtdorf continued and went on to say For what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.This is a powerful thought because that means if we truly love God (which includes keeping his commandments – see John 14:15) then we will become more like God – something which is taught in the scriptures that is a goal for us – “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).

Following President Uchtdorf’s talk at the same Conference was a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He said “Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children.” As God is perfect, He must uphold His laws and the consequences of them. He does this to protect all His children. If He allowed mercy to rob justice “…the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:22)

At some point we see God showing anger towards His children – some would say that if He truly was a loving Heavenly Father then He would not express any anger or punishment. How can wrath and anger be an evidence of perfect love? Elder Oaks affirmed “He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is. For this reason, God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love.” He went on to give the example of a parent being disappointed in a child’s behaviour, or even angry in a constructive manner – but doing it because they love the child and they want them to make the right choices now and later in life.

If we are truly wanting to fulfil admonition in John 14:15 to keep the commandments, we need the love of God. President Uchtdorf said “Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.” If we link this principle with the thoughts presented by Elder Oaks – we learn that if we love God, we will understand why He asks what He asks. We see the blessings of commandments and, because we love Him and desire the blessings, our willingness to keep the commandments improves. Not only this, but as we see the results (the evidence of our faith), our faith increases and we are more willing to be obedient.

We are assured in scripture that we receive blessings for obedience to commandments – in D&C 130:21 it tells us “And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” As God wants the very best for all His children, He has revealed these ways, these eternal laws (these commandments) that if we live our lives in obedience to them, we can receive what He has.

The love of God is everlasting, unchanging – as are His laws. Elder Oaks went on to say “The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires. If anyone thinks that godly or parental love for an individual grants the loved one license to disobey the law, he or she does not understand either love or law.” That means that we don’t have to fear that God’s love for us or His laws will ever change – they are constant. This is another evidence of this love.

As disciples of Christ, we need to try and emulate this love in all that we do. President Uchtdorf explained this in a marvellous way. He said Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple.Love should be at the centre of all that we do. As we improve and increase our love we can become more Christ-like.

Moral Discipline

This entry is based on a talk given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the October 2009 General Conference.

Elder Christofferson began by relating a story told by President James E. Faust, who says he was interviewed whilst he was in the army and the questions turned to religion. They asked “In times of war should not the moral code be relaxed? Does not the stress of battle justify men in doing things that they would not do when at home?” After debating within himself whether to give the more popular answer or the answer he knew to be true, he said “I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.” President Faust, believing he would have scored low, was surprised when he learnt he had passed the interview. He recognised we all have moral agency but we must have moral discipline so we can make the correct choices, even when faced with uncertain situations.

Elder Christofferson explains moral discipline as “self-discipline based on moral standards. Moral discipline is the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard.”

The scriptures are abundant with stories of people who have chosen the right in difficult circumstances. We read of Joseph, who was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. He said to her “There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) Even then she persisted – later “she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled…” (Genesis 39:12). He could have easily succumbed and no one would have even known – but he know it was wrong, and that God would have known. He had moral discipline.

In the world, there is a problem with moral discipline. We are reliant on laws and governments to enforce standards of a moral nature. Elder Christofferson quoted Walter Williams, a columnist, who said “Gentlemanly behavior [for example, once] protected women from coarse behavior. Today, we expect sexual harassment laws to restrain coarse behavior. …Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become.” If we truly were civilised as a whole group of individuals, there would be no need for laws to prevent violations of moral standards. Even then, some of those moral standards do not meet the Lord’s standards. As a result, the world as a whole loses entitlement to the full blessings and support of God. Elder Christofferson further explained “Societies will struggle in vain to establish the common good until sin is denounced as sin…”

Another scriptural example of moral discipline were the sons of Helaman. These valiant young men were a great exemplification of moral discipline. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” (Alma 53:21), “…yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” (Alma 56:47) They had been taught at a young age about moral standards and when the difficult decisions came, they did not falter in exercising their moral agency to defend their families and the right to worship their God.

This example of the army of Helaman leads onto another reason why it’s important to teach our children the principles of the Gospel which we cherish. Elder Christofferson said “I have heard a few parents state that they don’t want to impose the gospel on their children but want them to make up their own minds about what they will believe and follow. They think that in this way they are allowing children to exercise their agency.However, we know that in D&C 68:25 that “…inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” The reason for the need to teach children about the Gospel is clear – if we do not teach them, then how will they know about it? In order to use their agency effectively then they need to know what the ‘choice’ is. Satan is not going to allow anyone to go through this life without his ‘curriculum’, so we need to teach the Lord’s way also. If the Gospel is not taught, then they only have one choice placed in front of them…

“In some cases, temptation may have the added force of potential or actual addiction. I am grateful that for an increasing number of people the Church can provide therapeutic help of various kinds to aid them in avoiding or coping with addictions. Even so, while therapy can support a person’s will, it cannot substitute for it…” Elder Christofferson went on to say. In order to overcome any addicition or habit, professional help can intervene. Even Church led help can support. However, if we ourselves do not engage our moral discipline and our faith in Christ’s Atonement, then our efforts to overcome such addictions will not be successful. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the ungodly out of temptation…” (2 Peter 2:9). As long as we have faith in the Saviour, then He has told us “will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27) – it is possible through faith in Jesus Christ!

Finally, we can take hope in the fact that as we are morally disciplined, others around us will see that and they’ll be more likely to do the same. This is why Paul counselled “…be thou an example of the believers…” (1 Timothy 4:12) so that it may transfer the effect to someone who needs that example to improve. It will also have a beneficial impact for us in this life – “…let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power…to see the salvation of God…” (D&C 123:17) – we will be blessed with strength and for eternity as we make decisions which uphold the moral standards which we strive to attain, even when it is difficult to do so.

The Word of Wisdom

President Gordon B. Hinckley once said “I recall a bishop’s telling me of a woman who came to get a [temple] recommend. When asked if she observed the Word of Wisdom, she said that she occasionally drank a cup of coffee. She said, “Now, bishop, you’re not ging to let that keep me from going to the temple, are you?” To which he replied, “Sister, surely you will not let a cup of coffee stand between you and the house of the Lord””
What this bishop said was very true, we shouldn’t allow anything to stop us from going to the House of the Lord – we can’t even allow a cup of coffee because “…no unclean thing can dwell with God…” (1 Nephi 10:21) 

The ‘not allowing’ of drinking coffee relates to the Word of Wisdom, which can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why was it revealed? Part of the answer is linked to a question, which was often the case in the early days of the restoring of the Lord’s Church. It was revealed as a result of a question from Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma Smith. However, the counsel that our body is sacred and should be respected is not new. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Our spirits are the offspring of God (see Acts 17:28) and so, we need to keep the tabernacle in which they reside in pure.

Not only does the Word of Wisdom protect us, but it is further evidence that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God. When this revelation was received in 1833, the principles given about what not to take into our bodies were far advanced for their time – most of the items and substances prohibited  had not yet even been thought of as harmful, never mind proven as harmful. In fact, some doctors, when faced with a patient with a cough, would ‘prescribe’ them to smoke tobacco! Therefore, at the time, the Word of Wisdom would some counterproductive in protecting the body – although today’s scientific evidence proves the potential danger of these items.

Even D&C 89:4 is a prophecy that has been fulfilled. It says “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days…” This revelation was given in part because people will be tempted. Some of the items listed will not have significant damage to the body if taken in the correct moderation. However, because of ‘conspiring minds’ wanting to sell their wares, they make their products seem desirable for consumption, making people tempted to partake more than they should.

I will not attempt to make an exhaustive list of items suggested for consumption and items prohibited here but those wanting to find out can look on, or in Doctrine and Covenants 89.

The First Presidency in October 1942 declared “Drunken with strong drink, man have lost their reason; their counsel has been destroyed; their judgment and vision are fled…Drink has brought more woe and misery, broken more hearts, wrecked more homes, committed more crimes, filled more coffins, than all the wars the world has suffered.”

James O. Mason in the September 1986 Ensign put these statements forward regarding another prohibited item in the Word of Wisdom:
“Each year tobacco use causes nearly 2.5 million premature deaths worldwide. Tobacco use also harms millions of innocent victims. For example, smoking by pregnant mothers passes on toxic chemicals that interfere with fetal development, afflicting apporximately 3 million babies each year. These babies have lower birth weight and increased risk for neurological and intellectual delays and for premature birth. Other innocent victims include non-smokers who regularly inhale second-hand smoke. These people have much higher rates of respiratory illness and are three times more likely to die of lung cancer than those who do not inhale second-hand smoke.”

We see the  damage that not following the guidelines of the Word of Wisdom has. These quotes mention only the fatalities and impact on families. Consider the economic effects too:
President Heber J. Grant outlined “Consider the amount of land, money, and other resources that are used to produce harmful substances, advertise them, purchase them, and treat the consequences of their use. For example, in 1985 the cost in America of health care and lost productivity related to the use of tobacco was approximately $65 billion. The costs of the production and use of alcohol are also very high.Consider the potential economic impact of using these resources for beneficial purposes rather than destructive ones.”

It could be argued that the revenue brought in from producing tobacco pays up for it (I haven’t done the research myself so I have no idea), however, the fact that it could be used for greater purposes is still extremely valid.

Of course, the Word of Wisdom is not just a list of don’ts. There are many things listed that are recommended for us to eat as well as this counsel found in D&C 88:124 which says “…retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” President Brigham Young commented “Instead of doing two days’ work in one day, wisdom would dictate to [the Saints] that if they desire long life and good health, they must, after sufficient exertion, allow the body to rest before it is entirely exhausted. When exhausted, some argue that they need stimulants…But instead of these kind of stimulants they should recruit by rest.” Very simple guidance but can be hard to do – but this wise counsel will help us lead a happier, healthier life.

Having said all this, do all people who live the Word of Wisdom live a perfectly healthy life? Of course, some who live by it’s principles do suffer from physical ailments produced from the prohibited substances (although it is arguably a much smaller proportion). Two points answer this issue. First – why raise the chances? Second – even if they struggle with a physical issue, they will still receive the spiritual blessings of living the Word of Wisdom. 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.” Keeping the Word of Wisdom can help us be more in tune with the Spirit – allowing greater ability to receive personal revelation. Not only that but it gives us greater self-mastery and emotional strength.

Just look at King Benjamin’s address to the Nephites in Mosiah 2:41 “…consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.” Through the Word of Wisdom we are blessed spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally – what a great blessing to have this principle and be able to receive the promised blessings!