Mormons follow a strict code of conduct regarding the care and respect of their physical bodies. Mormons believe their bodies to be sacred gifts from God–gifts for which Jesus Christ has paid the ultimate price. Our bodies are made after the likeness of the Lord and should be treated as sacred. Members of the Mormon Church are taught from a young age to respect their bodies as temples wherein the Spirit of the Lord can reside.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
Isaiah 52:11: “Touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.”
Mormons believe the Lord’s Spirit cannot dwell with someone who is not obedient and respectful to the commandments of the Lord. To remain pure and keep their lives in order with the reverence and obedience required to receive the Spirit of the Lord, Mormons follow commandments designed to keep their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One such commandment, given in revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833 at Kirtland, Ohio, gave specific direction to the restored Church about how to treat the glorious gift of the body with respect. This is termed by members of the Mormon Church as the Word of Wisdom.
Initially, Joseph Smith pondered and prayed to the Lord about the use of tobacco in the meetings of the Church. As a result, the Lord set forth the guidelines, which became commandments under Prophet Brigham Young, on the treatment of the body and the physical and spiritual blessings that will come from following those gospel laws. This revelation to Joseph Smith was recorded in what is now the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and is referenced by all Mormons as an inspired law on how to enjoy life on earth and respect the physical body.
The Word of Wisdom was introduced well before the modern scientific community conceived the idea that certain human pastimes could actually be very hazardous. These include the use of coffee, black and green tea, tobacco, alcohol, and the various narcotics and illegal drugs that have become so prevalent in today’s world.
Mormons believe that Satan does not want the children of God to be happy, in this life, or ever. He works very hard to win over the hearts of humankind and drag them down to his “gulf of misery and endless wo” (Helaman 5:12). One of the ways Satan is attacking the children of God on earth today is through attempts to convince them that their bodies belong to them alone and it is their right to do whatever they will with them. In reality, Jesus Christ has bought our bodies with a price–He sacrificed His life so that all the children of the Lord would have a chance to come to earth, receive physical bodies, and overcome physical and spiritual death:
Mosiah 15:23: “They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.”
Mormons are grateful for these commandments, as they leave no room for wondering what is right or wrong to take in to the body. Also, adherence to the Word of Wisdom prevents an individual from experiencing the emotional and physical distress that inevitably comes from any addiction. The revelatory message sent from God about such things contains, as an introductory statement, words of warning pertaining to “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:4). Indeed, addiction and financial ruin are no accident; industries that supply alcohol, tobacco, and drugs thrive on such.
In addition to the guidelines on the harmful substances not to be taken in to the body, the Word of Wisdom condones the use of herbs, fruits, meat, and grain, stating that they are indeed for the use of man in their proper season.
At the close of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 89, the Lord gives a promise to those who follow these commands:
“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; 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.” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-20)
Mormonism teaches that the Lord has a plan for all of us. Part of this plan is that He has given us the earth and our physical bodies so we can enjoy life. We have the gift of agency, so we can choose right from wrong and prove ourselves worthy. Mormons believe the proper treatment of the body, as outlined by the Lord in the Word of Wisdom and from knowledge which comes from studying the commandments, will lead to peace and happiness in this life and in the life to come.