Posted by: rusch | January 26, 2006

Certain self destruction

A couple of days ago I went to the doctor. It had been a while, and after some things that raised concern over the holidays, I made an appointment and went and had a check up. It turns out that things were much more serious then I thought.

My blood pressure was high, and after hearing my symptoms, the doctor said that he wanted me to have blood work done including a screening for diabetes.

This was all shocking, I am twenty seven years old, I am not supposed to have high blood pressure or diabetes. He prescribed some blood pressure medication and admonished me to work out every day, which I have been better about since joining a gym.

This has made me reflect about how we teach the word of wisdom, and what does this revelation really say.

In all of the lessons that I can remember about the word of wisdom, all of the emphasis was placed on alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use. The health benefits of abstaining from these things stood out, and to me it was clear that one should avoid these things.

Very little attention was paid to the portions that discussed diet.

I have wondered about some of the people that I have seen at Church from time to time. The morbidly obese man in elders quorum, who will try to split hairs about postum and caffeinated sodas, but who the night before helped himself to three servings of fried chicken, potato salad, green jello-salad and all the deserts at the ward social.

Is he somehow guilty of violating this law, just like the youth who get drunk on a regular basis and then visits with the bishop? When we “pig out” on foods that are not healthy, do we violate this law given from heaven?

The injunctions in the word of wisdom against tobacco and wine are explicit. “Strong drinks”, interpreted as other alcoholic beverages, and illegal drug use, are interpretations that need to be heeded, but what about the explicit portions about diet?

I purpose a physical examination as part of the temple recommend interview. After answering the verbal portion of the word of wisdom section, the stake president then asks the interviewee to the step on a scale. Following this, the executive secretary takes blood pressure, and determines body composition using skin calipers.

An interview might go something like this. “ Well brother Johnson, as soon as you loose twenty pounds and lower your blood pressure a few points, I’ll feel comfortable about signing that recommend.” Or,” Sister Smith, what does it mean to you when I use the phrase sweet spirit?”

Oh well, I guess that I will have to change my lifestyle if I am going to live a long life. I will be at the gym tomorrow if anyone wants to go, and no, we will not be going out for Chinese food and milkshakes following.


  1. Perhaps the reason why we focus on the “DO NOT’S” of the Word of Wisdom is that the leaders of the Church following Joseph Smith eventually applied these versus as commandments (not suggestions). Recall that the original context of Section 89 was “not by commandment or constraint”. That said, I think you’re right that we should count ourselves wise in heading the Lord’s council even when that council does not take the form of an explicit command.

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