Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If God loves us so much, why doesn’t He warn us about the evils of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs?

This is part five of a ten-part post. Elder Cuthbert of the First Quorum of the Seventy suggested ten questions which members of any church might ask our missionaries or any other member of the Church.

Question number five: If God loves us so much, why doesn’t He warn us about the evils of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs?

Elder Cuthbert’s answer:

So many of God’s children degrade themselves by becoming chemically dependent. He is concerned, and in the year 1833 he gave such a warning through the latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith. This health law is called the Word of Wisdom. Oh, that the world would heed this counsel from the Lord through a prophet, for a great part of crime, sickness, and unhappiness in the world is drug related.

My testimony:

The Lord revealed the doctrine and teaching called the Word of Wisdom from a revelation received by Joseph Smith recorded in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. In my experience, people know that Mormons don’t drink, don’t smoke, etc., but the Word of Wisdom also instructs us to eat healthy and describes what we should take into our bodies. I think that most agree with modern study and real-life examples that healthy foods in moderation are good and alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs have negative effects on the body and on society.

I have seen the negative effects firsthand with some of my family and friends and even negative effects across an entire nation. I know some argue that a little wine or a beer doesn’t do anything to them which is probably true; I’ve seen that too. But the Word of Wisdom was “given for a principle with a promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints” (D&C 89:3). Some may be able to handle one drink, others cannot. I’ve seen even the most controlled of people end up drinking more than they wanted to, planned, ever had previously, and suffer the obvious consequences. Each addiction begins with one trial. In the most recent General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

The battle over man’s God-given agency continues today. Satan and his minions have their lures all around us, hoping that we will falter and take his flies so he can reel us in with counterfeit means. He uses addiction to steal away agency. According to the dictionary, addiction of any kind means to surrender to something, thus relinquishing agency and becoming dependent on some life-destroying substance or behavior. . . . Satan knows how to exploit and ensnare us with artificial substances and behaviors of temporary pleasure. I have observed the impact when one struggles to win back control, to become free from destructive abuse and addiction, and to regain self-esteem and independence.”
 (“O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One,” Ensign, Nov 2010, 108).

The power of Satan is real and He uses addictive and destructive substances to lure us to give away our agency through addiction. Agency is the means by which we can choose to be happy and choose to do those things that enable us to return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families forever. Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs are harmful and detrimental to our spiritual and temporal health. No matter one’s perceived tolerance level, complete abstinence from these addictive substances is always the best choice.

Our bodies are gifts from God, a gift that Satan chose not to have and he does everything in his power to get us to abuse our bodies. Taught Paul, “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 . . . For ye are bought with a price: therefore  glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” He continued, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:20; Romans 12:1).

The promise we receive if we live according to this law of health—both abstaining from that which is harmful to our bodies and taking in that which is good—is found at the end of section 89:

18 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;

19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

21 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. Amen.

The blessings from living the Word of Wisdom are inherent and God-given, temporal and spiritual. We receive health and shall run and not be weary, and walk and not faint. We also shall find great treasures of wisdom and shall be spared the destroying angel as were the obedient children of Israel (see Exodus 12).

Some substances we can take into our bodies have destructive powers, whether or not we believe it. The Lord in His infinite wisdom, mercy, and love has and continues to warn us against the evil of using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in addition to teaching us what is healthy and good for the body. Of course living the word of wisdom does not guarantee a completely healthy life. Most everyone will get sick and some will suffer from disease and other debilitating illnesses and disabilities—we each face trials of one kind or another throughout life. However, the promises from God are very real and applicable to everyone who is obedient to His commandments (see D&C 130:20-21).

Our Heavenly Father loves us and desires that we treasure the precious gift He has given us of a mortal body.


See also: