What the Word of Wisdom says and what it doesn’t say


D&C 89, the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom, gives both very specific and very general instructions. Sometimes we have a tendency to read more into it than is there, or to take away what is actually written there. In the economy of heaven, supererogation is a sin. We are expected by the Lord to do what is required by him. No more, no less.

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. (3 Ne. 11: 40)

But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them. (3 Ne. 18: 13)

Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. (D&C 10: 68 )

And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&C 93: 25)

And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. (D&C 98: 7)

For that which is more or less than this cometh of evil, and shall be attended with cursings and not blessings, saith the Lord your God. Even so. Amen. (D&C 124: 120)

So, in the spirit of doing no more and no less than what the Word of Wisdom says, let’s review just what it does say, and what it doesn’t say.

  • Wine Drinking wine is prohibited by the revelation with but one exception: we can use wine for the sacrament if we ourselves make it, but it must be pure grape wine, not other types of wine.
  • Strong Drink Drinking strong drink is strictly prohibited, however, it is given the use of washing our bodies.
  • Tobacco Smoking, chewing and eating tobacco is strictly prohibited, however, it is given the use of a healing herb for bruises and sick cattle, with cautions on its use (as tobacco poisoning is a real danger.)
  • Hot Drinks Hot drinks, defined by modern prophets as tea and coffee, are strictly prohibited to be used on the outside or inside of the body.
  • Wholesome Herbs The Lord gives the thumbs up, but says to use them in the season thereof, with prudence and thanksgiving.
  • Fruit Again the Lord gives his approval of their use, but says to use them in the season thereof, with prudence and thanksgiving.
  • Flesh of Beasts and Fowls of the Air The Lord gives his approval for their use but emphasizes two times in the revelation that they are only to be used in times of winter, cold or famine, which is his definition of the word “sparingly” and also says that it is pleasing to him that they not be used, at all, except under the conditions he states. Also, these things are to be used with thanksgiving.
  • Grain The Lord gives a thumbs up for all grain, both for man, beasts of the field, fowls of heaven and all wild animals on dry earth.
  • Mild Grain Drinks The Lord gives a thumbs up for all mild grain drinks. Mild grain drinks at the time the Word of Wisdom was revealed was interpreted by the saints, including, apparently, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself, as being beer drinks, with alcoholic content between 1% and 5%, as opposed to strong drink, which was hard liquor with alcoholic content of 40% or more.
  • Fruit-Bearing Plants The Lord gives a thumbs up to all fruit-bearing plants, whether that “fruit” is found above or below ground.

That, in a nutshell, is what the Lord says about what we can or cannot eat. Now, here is what the Lord doesn’t say:

  • Cola drinks The Lord is silent on cola drinks.
  • Chocolate The Lord is silent on chocolate, including hot chocolate drinks.
  • Caffeine The Lord is silent on the consumption of caffeine.
  • Seafood The Lord is silent on eating seafood, both sea creatures and sea plants. After all, the saints were in the middle of the country and had no access to seafood, so why talk about it?
  • Insects, Arachnids, etc. The Lord is silent on the eating of insects, arachnids (scorpions, etc.)
  • Drugs The Lord is silent on drugs, whether legal or illegal.
  • Cooking The Lord is silent about cooking food. He doesn’t approve or disapprove of raw-foodism.
  • Vegan Diets The Lord is silent about vegan diets.
  • Vegetarian Diets The Lord is silent about vegetarianism, though the revelation seem to stress a mainly plant-based diet.
  • Every other type of food consumed, not mentioned in the revelation. The Lord is silent.

Some modern LDS interpretations on the revelation that contradict how the saints who lived at the time of the revelation interpreted it:

  • Wine Means Grape Juice The early saints did not understand the revelation to mean grape juice. It was wine, as in it had alcoholic content. It is lumped together with strong drink for this reason. After all, what’s wrong with drinking grape juice?
  • Mild Barley Drink Is Barley Water The early saints did not use barley water. The mild barley drinks they made were beers, not barley water. The Lord in the revelation is referring to the practices of the time. Therefore, he is referring to, and approving of, beer.

Open interpretations:

  • Wholesome Who decides what a wholesome herb is? You do.
  • Tea Although the prophets have interpreted “hot drinks” to mean tea and coffee, just what constitutes the tea that is prohibited is interpreted by LDS in different ways. For example, there are four types of tea: black tea, oolong tea, white tea and green tea. Some choose to interpret tea as being only the type of tea that was in use by the saints at the time of the revelation, leaving the other three types open for use. Especially green tea, which many people feel has great healing properties. Others reject all teas, including herbal teas.
  • Coffee Many saints think that it is the caffeine in coffee that makes it prohibitive and so drink decaffeinated coffee.

Sometimes as LDS we tend to be a little too judgmental of our fellow saints, based upon our preconceived notions of what the Word of Wisdom is and isn’t. Just because a saint has a bottle of vodka in his cupboard doesn’t mean he’s drinking it, it may mean he’s using it for washing purposes. Just because a saint has a winery and is bottling wine doesn’t mean he’s drinking it, it may mean he’s preparing for the day when we will again partake of the sacrament with wine. Just because a sister refuses to eat meat, it doesn’t mean she is breaking any commandment. Just because a saint is a raw-foodist or vegan or vegetarian, doesn’t mean they are weird or strange. Just because a saint drinks coca-cola or green tea or makes a meal of cake and ice cream doesn’t mean that they are sinners. And even if we ever see a saint drinking Guinness, at 5% alcohol, are they really breaking the Word of Wisdom? The earlier saints wouldn’t have thought so.

Remember, the Word of Wisdom was given for “the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.” It may be less of a test to see if we can follow it and more of a test to see if we can stop judging our fellow saint.

Previous Word of Wisdom article: Strong drinks, mild drinks, hot drinks, wine, etc.

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Extended fasting: a cure for all spiritual AND PHYSICAL ailments


Fasting is a faith amplifier or multiplier. By voluntarily reducing our bodies’ reliance upon food, we increase its reliance upon Spirit. We can then increase our portion of the Spirit by coupling it with prayer and righteous living. This can lead to a greater probability of receiving whatever spiritual blessing we are seeking.

Spiritual blessings are essentially spiritual remedies for spiritual ailments. For example, the spiritual gift of belief cures the spiritual condition called doubt. The spiritual gift of charity cures the spiritual condition known as fear. And so on and so forth.

When we are afflicted with spiritual ailments, sometimes mere prayer, scripture study, and other typical activities of LDS are simply not enough. However, the Lord, in his mercy, has given us yet another tool, fasting, to use in our search for healing.

When the scriptures talk of fasting, they say that the saints of former dispensations “fasted much and prayed much” and “fasted often.” But these are relative terms. How often is “often?” How much is “much?” Different people will give different definitions. Proper frequency and proper length will vary according to person and circumstance.

One thing we do know is that the most spiritual people ever to exist on this planet engaged in extended fasting. For example, Moses engaged in a fast of 40 days and 40 nights without any food or water. (See Ex. 34: 28 and Deut. 9: 9.) Jesus likewise engaged in a fast of 40 days and 40 nights. (See Matt. 4: 2 and Luke 4: 2.) And Alma said that he fasted “many days” to gain the spiritual gifts he ended up possessing. (See Alma 5: 46.)

It is instructive that of the three persons mentioned above, two of them ended up getting translated. If translation isn’t evidence of how far advanced your spiritual state is, then I don’t know what is.

We LDS are accustomed to think of fasting as producing spiritual blessings, but physical blessings also accompany its practice. In fact, the Lord has given us at least three means to overcome physical ailments: the gifts of healing, herbs and mild food, and extended fasting.

Think about it. Whenever you get sick, your body’s first or initial reaction is to reject food. You stop eating because fasting is a mechanism of healing. What most people, including LDS, don’t know is that extended fasting heals just about anything. To demonstrate this principle, I quote in its entirety a newspaper article on the healing effects of extended fasting:

Soviet Cure-All: Eat Nothing for 30 Days

By Murray Seeger

Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW—Vladimir Leshkovtsev had the flu and was sore all over. The doctors he saw told him he had infectious metabolic polyarthritis.

The doctors treated Vladimir for six weeks but he felt no better. He decided to be his own doctor and to follow a radical course of treatment he had only heard about.

For 45 days, Vladimir ate nothing. He drank lots of water, but had no solid food. He lost 44 pounds and got rid of his arthritis. And he has not seen a doctor for the last 10 years since then.

The experience of Vladimir Leshkovtsev, a physicist and writer, is only one of thousands of cases of remarkable recoveries claimed in the Soviet Union for what advocates call the “hunger cure.”

Besides arthritis, advocates claim controlled starvation will cure almost everything from eczema to hardening of the arteries. It is recommended for some cases of gallstones and pancreatitis.

The method is used to treat schizophrenic patients and others with less serious neurotic afflictions—fears of crowds, darkness, strangers, infections and sharp objects, and it is effective for people who only think they are sick.

“Leshkovtsev was in great danger of becoming an invalid,” Dr. Yuri Nikolayev of the Moscow Research Institute of Psychiatry observed. “The experiment conducted by him is one of the most successful cases of healing.”

The Soviet Union, which has one of the largest and best organized systems of public health protection in the world, has several clinics devoted to research and practice of the hunger cure.

In the clinic he heads, Dr. Nikolayev specializes in using controlled starvation to treat mental disorders. Another clinic at Patrice Lumumba Friendship University has used the same method to treat psoriasis and at the First Medical Institute hunger is prescribed to cure other skin disorders.

Other Soviet doctors have written papers on their successes in treating metabolism, disorders, bronchial asthma, hypertension, gallstones, tumors, pancreatitis and early forms of artery hardening.

“There is a German saying that ‘the illness which cannot be cured by fasting cannot be cured by anything else,'” Dr. Nikolayev said in a statement in the Moscow News.

The physician traced the origins of hunger therapy to ancient Egypt, Greece and India. Starting in the 18th century, Russian doctors at Moscow University experimented with the treatment, beginning a series of case histories that is still being extended.

“Our innovation,” Dr. Nikolayev said, “is that we initiated the use of controlled hunger for the treatment of psychic disorders, primarily sluggish forms of schizophrenia.

“Particularly good results have been obtained in the treatment of hypochondriac conditions when patients are over-anxious about their health, are likely to greatly exaggerate their existing ailments and believe they are suffering from diseases which they do not have.”

Dr. Nikolayev cautioned that the hunger treatment should be administered only under carefully controlled conditions. The patient and his relatives must approve the procedure and the patient is thoroughly examined before the treatment starts.

Food intake is not halted until the physicians are sure the patient will not have a negative reaction. He receives no drugs during the treatment which lasts from 20 to 40 days.

“Before the commencement of abstinences, the patient’s intestines are purged,” Dr. Nikolayev said.

“He is given a great deal of water, a hydro treatment every morning, general massage and baths. Our patients spend most of their time in the open.”

A patient’s appetite disappears in the first three to five days and he no longer reacts to the sight or smell of food or the rattling of dishes, he said.

“However, pleasant memories of food persist, particularly if the patient is not distracted from such thoughts,” Dr. Nikolayev continued. “This is when the experience of the doctor and psychotherapy help.”

The crisis for the patient comes on the sixth or seventh day of treatment. He begins to feel heavy because his body is switching signals to start consuming stored fat.

After a few more days, the patient passes the crises and gains a feeling of euphoria. The patient’s symptoms begin to disappear and he feels very good, until the stored energy source is consumed.

This occurs after about 30 days, the doctor said. By that time, the patient’s tongue is clean, his skin color is a healthy pink, bad breath disappears and he develops a “wolf’s appetite.”

“This is when the most important process commences—the process of rehabilitation,” Dr. Nikolayev asserted.

Food is reintroduced to the patient slowly. First, he is given diluted fruit juices, then whole juices and grated fruit mixed with yogurt. These are followed by cooked vegetables and boiled cereals. Near the 40th day, normal eating is resumed.

Meanwhile, the patient has lost 15% to 20% of his body weight. If the patient’s ailment is obesity, the weight loss can be even greater.

“For instance, some time ago, two brothers applied to our clinic,” Dr. Nikolayev recalled. “The elder of the two weighed 210 kilograms (462 pounds) and the younger 175 (385 pounds). They could hardly pass through the door.

“Having taken the hunger cure, both patients lost half of their original weight and both feel quite well now.”

The doctor said the hunger treatment gives the entire nervous system and the brain a rest. The body is cleaned of poisons and the tissues and glands renovated.

Resting the brain “forms the basis for the treatment of neuropsychic disorders,” he added.

Why is self-imposed starvation healthful when involuntary starvation is harmful? The difference, Dr. Nikolayev asserted, is that under involuntary starvation the body dies from poisons contained within itself.

“In our case, we try by all means to withdraw endotoxins from the body as soon as possible,” the doctor said.

“Altogether, we have treated some 7,000 patients at our clinic. Our extensive experience enables us to broaden the range of application of this method and to take up the treatment of cases formerly considered hopeless.”

The doctor recalled one patient who was starved for 50 days in order to achieve a cure. Leshkovstev, who starved himself for 45 days, joined the ranks of the “record setters,” the doctor observed.

Since taking the tough, self-imposed cure, Leshkovstev has maintained his health by careful dieting and annual fasts of eight to 10 days.

Dr. Nikolayev acknowledged the success of Leshkovstev’s experiment, but recommended against others trying the same method “without any medical control.”

“A cure by fasting is a very complicated method connected with a profound reorganization of the organism.”

Mon. Apr. 3, 1972

Los Angeles Times

Fasting resources

You can read a free, online book called Fasting, Hydropathy and Exercise by Bernarr Macfadden or you can go to www.fasting.com to obtain extended fasting programs. You may also read my own extended fast journal.

Next Fasting article: My extended fast journal

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Scriptural Discussion #4: Sick—Faithless Members/Faithful Saints


SICK—FAITHLESS MEMBERS

The Lord said, “And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy. And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection. And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.
• • •
“And they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, have power to become my sons; and inasmuch as they break not my laws thou shalt bear their infirmities.” (D&C 42: 43-47, 52)

SICK—FAITHFUL SAINTS

The Lord said, “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed. He who hath faith to see shall see. He who hath faith to hear shall hear. The lame who hath faith to leap shall leap.” (D&C 42: 48-51)

Discuss.

Next Scriptural Discussion: #5 TEACHERS—MUST BE SANCTIFIED

Previous Scriptural Discussion: #3 SEXUAL SIN—AMONG MEMBERS/AMONG INVESTIGATORS

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