Today we're talking about the Lord's Law of Health, which includes the Word of Wisdom. Of course the Word of Wisdom is one of the most visible and noticeable aspects of being a member of the church. I'm sure all of us have a story to share about a situation where we had to explain to someone why Mormons don’t consume alcohol or other things. And occasionally that can even lead to opportunities to explain our values and beliefs to people who aren't familiar with them.
On my 18th birthday, my boyfriend (at the time) took me to one of those Japanese tepanyaki restaurants where the chef cooks the meal in front of you. We were seated at the table next to a biker couple. When the waiters came and sang the birthday song to me, the biker couple asked me how old I was. "I'm 18," I said. They said, "Congratulations! Now you can smoke!" I told them that I didn't smoke. "Well, in 3 more years, you can drink!" I told them that I didn't drink. With crestfallen faces, they said: "I wish our kids said that that!"
Invite any sisters to briefly tell any funny or noteworthy experiences in which they had to explain that they didn’t smoke or drink.
Brief Overview of the Lord’s Law of Health
Well, because the Word of Wisdom is something that is so visible and distinct, it should be fairly easy for us to rattle off without any problems.
Write "Don'ts" on one side of the board and "Do's" on the other side of the board.
So, what have Latter-day scriptures and prophets told us about our health? As sister's come up with responses, write them down on the board. When finished, the list should look roughly like this:
- Drugs (except for medicine)
- Meat (but sparingly)
Because I'm a bit of an environmentalist, I might possibly mention the "in season" aspect as being good for the environment.
Assign someone to read this quote from the lesson manual on page 170:
In addition to Doctrine and Covenants 89, other scriptures tell us how to be healthy. They tell us that we should "cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; … cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated" (D&C 88:124). We are also told, "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work" (Exodus 20:9). The Lord counsels us not to labor more than we have strength for (see D&C 10:4).What do we need to add to our list on the board in light of what we just read?
A latter-day prophet has told us that we should keep our bodies healthy. He counseled, "Nutritious meals, regular exercise, and appropriate sleep are necessary for a strong body, just as consistent scripture study and prayer strengthen the mind and spirit" (Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 60; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 46).
Add to the Do's
- Get appropriate sleep
- Nutritious meals
- Regular exercise
- Labor more than you have strength (overwork yourself)
Close this section by saying that, although it can be easy to live by the Word of Wisdom, we shouldn’t forget that last month we had a lesson about charity (our ward combined the lessons on service and charity). In that same vein, it's important to have charity towards individuals who may struggle with any aspect of the Word of Wisdom. (For example, I'd be willing to bet that it might be hard for some of us to exercise regularly. None of us is perfect.) We don’t know what people struggle with and I think it’s important to be understanding of different circumstances and to be compassionate. It takes a strong support system to recuperate from addiction.
Why should we keep the Word of Wisdom and what are the benefits?
Assign two different people to read this quote from the lesson manual on page 170 (I break it up into two parts because it's long):
Our Heavenly Father has given us health laws to teach us how to care for our bodies. The scriptures tell us about God’s laws: "No temporal commandment gave I … , for my commandments are spiritual" (D&C 29:35). This means that His commandments concerning our physical state are for our spiritual good.
When we keep the Lord's law of health and obey His other commandments, the Lord promises to bless us physically and spiritually.
Physically we have been promised good health. As a result of this good health we "shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint" (D&C 89:20). This is a great blessing, but the spiritual blessings He has promised us are even greater than the physical ones.
The Lord promises us that we "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" (D&C 89:19). We will be taught important truths by the Holy Ghost through revelation. President Boyd K. Packer taught: "Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication. The Word of Wisdom is a key to individual revelation" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14).So, one of the main things I got out of that section of the manual is that our bodies and our spirits are connected.
The Lord also promises that the destroying angel shall pass us by. President Heber J. Grant said, "If you and I desire the blessings of life, of health, of vigor of body and mind; if we desire the destroying angel to pass us by, as he did in the days of the children of Israel, we must obey the Word of Wisdom; then God is bound, and the blessing shall come to us" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant , 192).
I want to express this connection in a slightly different way. Have any of you heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? I’m going to put an adaptation of his theory on the board:
- Physiological Needs (food, water, good air to breathe, good health)
- Safety (clothing, shelter, financial security, stable government)
- Love/Belonging (friendship, family, intimacy)
- Self-Esteem (confidence, respect of others)
- Self-actualization (creativity, spirituality)
NOTE: This is my own slight adaptation of the original theory. I'm putting health into the "Physiological Needs" when it was originally under "Safety." Also, I de-emphasize sex on the pyramid because, hey, I'm talking to Mormons after all.
Point out that we can’t achieve our highest potential if these basic physical needs are not being met. You know the saying: "When you haven't got your health, you haven’t got anything." I find that when I'm sick it basically keeps me from being able to do much else. So, naturally it makes sense that if our bodies are not in their best condition, it's more difficult to receive communication from God.
Our Bodies Are Temples
NOTE: This section of the lesson is 100% plagiarized from Whoa-man's post on the Exponent blog. It was really, really good.
I'm going to shift gears a little bit and it's going to seem like I'm going on a tangent when I'm not.
Show a picture of the temple. What are some words that you would use to describe the temple? Write sister’s responses on the board.
The very first line in this lesson manual says that our bodies are temples. (Pointing to the words on the board.) Have you ever used these same words to describe your own body? Read off the list of words they put on the board beginning with “My body is…”
Imagine how your lives would be different if you thought of your body as a temple. Literally. As temporal housing for a spiritual being. As a place for a god to dwell on earth. As the physical symbol of a divine purpose. As something to be treasured, respected, and cherished.
What are some of the other reasons you can think of for taking care of your bodies? What are some of the blessings or benefits that come from keeping the Lord’s Law of Health that you may have noticed in your life?
I'm going to close by reading this quote from Elder Bednar's talk "Ye Are the Temples of God," Ensign Sept. 2001):
I now want to try and explain a principle that is fundamental to our knowledge about and understanding of the importance of a physical body. The principle is this: Our bodies are not our own. First Corinthians 6:19–20 [1 Cor. 6:19–20] states:
"Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?End by talking about how we have a responsibility to take care of our bodies because Christ has purchased them for us through the Atonement.
"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s."
King Benjamin also taught with great clarity the truth that our bodies ultimately are not our own. In Mosiah 2:23–25 he describes how we are blessed through service and indebted to our God:
"And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
"And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?" …
Both our agency and our physical body, through which we exercise that agency in mortality, are truly "bought with a price" through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.