The Word of Wisdom

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Boyd K. Packer

The patriarch [who gave him his patriarchal blessing], who is a prophet, said, "Take nothing into [the body that would] harm the organs thereof."

As I began to read, I came to section 89 and learned that it was "a Word of Wisdom , . . . given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints" (D&C 89:1, 3). And "the weakest of all saints" included me.

There was another essential point. The Lord said, "I warn you, and forewarn 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" (D&C 89:4).

The scriptures say elsewhere that "this is a day of warning, and not a day of many words" (D&C 63:58).

In one way, I envy you with your youth and looking forward to all the opportunities and challenges. In another way, I'm glad I'm old! It is more comfortable.

The "Word of Wisdom [was] given for a principle with promise" (D&C 89:1, 3). But what is the promise? The promise, of course, is personal revelation.

"[Those who remember to do these things will] receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; . . .

"And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. [And that means we will have some measure of health, which, I have learned, is of secondary importance.]

"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" (D&C 89:18, 20-21).

And this: "[You shall receive] great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" (D&C 89:19).

Now, the Word of Wisdom is, I think, only incidentally to keep us healthy, if we will observe it. But that matter of physical health is a losing battle. You know, no matter what you do to take care of your body, in due course, it begins to weaken! We are not going to live forever in this life. We can live with our infirmities.

I remember once we were having a sacrament meeting in the temple. Elder Marion D. Hanks was passing the sacrament. I had a catch in my shoulder, and I could not get my hand up to the bread plate. It was very awkward. I was very embarrassed. Finally, we accomplished it, and later I apologized to him and said, "I just couldn't; my shoulder just wouldn't move!"

And he said, "My shoulder wouldn't move, either! I couldn't get the thing down to you!" So that was some comfort.

We have accepted as the Word of Wisdom in the Church standards that we will not change. You are not going to go on a mission unless you observe it. You are not going to go to the temple for the more sacred ordinances unless you observe it. That is no tea or coffee or liquor or tobacco or whatever else is covered by it.

We get strange letters asking if this or that is a part of the Word of Wisdom. Marijuana is not listed in section 89!

And neither is strychnine or arsenic listed! But, of course, they are not habit forming.

The point is, if you want to move on spiritually and do as you ought to do in this life, the principle outlined in the Word of Wisdom shows you the requirements. You cannot just toy with it.

Just a week or two ago before a seminary class began, some students were standing at the back of the room. It was a Monday. A new girl in the class overheard them. These very foolish young people were talking about their weekend and what drinks they had. One of them turned to her and said, "What is your favorite drink?"
She said, "Water, Stupid!"

And so, like it or not! If you are tampering, if there is any mischief, you have got to quit it! It is not that you are going to be a healthy athlete all of your life, and it is not that you are going to avoid old age. It is that you will have the key to revelation. When your body begins to deteriorate, the patterns of revelation will be augmented and magnified.

President Boyd K. Packer's CES Fireside address: "The instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character", delivered on February 2, 2003.