Word of Wisdom
Mormons believe their body is a temple, designed to house the spirit God created. Because of this, they’re taught to treat their bodies with respect. One way they do this is by following certain dietary laws. Dietary laws have been a part of religious life since Old Testament times. While Mormons don’t keep kosher, they do have certain things they’re taught not to eat, and other things, they’re specifically commanded to eat. This law is called The Word of Wisdom, and is known as a “principle with a promise,” meaning that those who live this principle are promised great blessings.
Best known among the foods mentioned in the Word of Wisdom are the don’ts. Mormons don’t smoke or drink alcohol. They also don’t drink coffee or tea. While it’s sometimes taught they don’t drink caffeine, caffeine isn’t actually mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, found in Doctrine and Covenants section 89. The Doctrine and Covenants contains modern day revelations to the prophets of the church. The drinks that are forbidden are referred to there as “hot drinks” and have been interpreted by prophets to mean coffee and tea. This was the name commonly given those two drinks at the time the commandment was written. Members are left to decide for themselves how they feel about caffeine, but many avoid it in soft drinks.
Mormons also avoid, of course, any illegal drugs or anything else that might be harmful to them. They’re taught to use wisdom in their food choices, rather than expecting everything to be spelled out in detail.
In addition to the don’ts, there are also things Mormons are specifically commanded to do to safeguard their health. They’re taught that wholesome grains were given to them by God for their benefit. They’re instructed to enjoy herbs fruits, and vegetables, and particularly wheat. Many Mormons are known for storing away wheat in case of emergency, such as unemployment. Meat is allowed, but only sparingly. In fact, moderation is a basic principle of the Word of Wisdom. No matter how healthy a food might be, it’s important to balance your diet.
They are also taught to awaken early and to go to bed early, in order to have invigorated minds and bodies. “”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;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“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”
It’s interesting to note this revelation was given in the 1800s, long before people understood the wisdom of what is taught. Today, the teachings are common knowledge, but in their time, most people lived largely on meat, and while alcohol and cigarettes might have been seen as inappropriate in some circles, people didn’t realize the many health challenges they caused. In time, science discovered what God already knew.