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Trusting the Lord’s Health Code

Ever have doubts about the Word of Wisdom? The original document of this 1833 revelation gives another reason to trust its divinity.

man running on lonely roadStories of famous stars using drugs show up on Buzzfeed and HuffPost. Peer pressure to drink and smoke blows up your newsfeed. People taunt, “Why can’t you drink coffee?”

Occasionally, mocking may tempt us to apologize for the Lord’s command in the Word of Wisdom not to partake of drugs, alcohol, or hot drinks. How can we gain confidence that this direction is from God?

Until recently, some ambiguity existed about the revelation’s origin. Before the publication of the 2013 edition of the LDS scriptures, the 1985 intro to the revelation stated that the first three verses of today’s Doctrine and Covenants Section 89—which affirm it as the “will of the Lord”—were written by Joseph Smith, allowing for the possibility that the Church’s health code originated with the Prophet rather than with God.

Now, The Joseph Smith Papers Project points out that the original 1833 document gave credit directly to God, treating all verses as divine revelation. The 2013 intro to Section 89 restores this original context to the revelation, omitting the statement about Joseph’s authorship. This correction reaffirms that the Word of Wisdom is a commandment, not just a suggestion.

Opposition to the Word of Wisdom—whether from those who don’t share our beliefs or from people within the Church—can be unsettling. But we can trust in the Lord as we live the Word of Wisdom by exercising and replacing harmful substances with nutritious food. “Wisdom and great treasures of knowledge” (Doctrine & Covenants 89:19) are promised to those who keep this law despite opposition.

What “treasures of knowledge” has the Lord given you?

See the original transcript of the original 1833 document: Revelation, 27 February 1833 [D&C 89].

Source: The Joseph Smith Papers
—Leah Davis, Mormon Insights

Find more insights

Read Jed Woodworth’s article on the Word of Wisdom.

Is using caffeine against the Word of Wisdom? See how answers this question. And discover what a Utah newspaper wrote.

How does this modern revelation relate to the Old Testament and the New Testament teachings on health? Read “What is the Blueprint of Christ’s Church?” by Elder Tad R. Callister.

Watch youth and young adults explain why they choose to take care of their bodies.

Photo courtesy of Sangudo


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  1. I didn’t even know that there was controversy over the legitimacy of the Word of Wisdom. We need to trust God and His servants. This is a great article; we shouldn’t base our testimonies on cold hard proof, though. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith!

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