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Prophetic Teachings about Our Bodies


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Prophetic Teachings about Our Bodies

Our bodies are a gift from God to us. Caring for our bodies properly can be a gift we give to Him.

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We learn in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 that our body is a temple. It is one of the most precious gifts Heavenly Father has given us. Yet sometimes we can become so focused on our spiritual growth that we forget how connected our spirits and our bodies are—and how important it is to make time to care for our bodies properly. Just as spiritual health and growth are key components to a purposeful, joyful life here and in the eternities, we have also been commanded to take care of the body that we have been given.

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said:

“The Lord sets a high standard for us in telling us to consider our bodies a temple. …

“… [He] has established some basic standards for the governance of our physical bodies.”1

Taking care of our physical and mental health helps us become more self-reliant and better prepared to progress personally and serve our families, the Church, and the community. Elder Perry taught that obedience to principles of health, especially the Word of Wisdom, also allows us to obtain a temple recommend, hold a calling in the Church, and “live a healthier life, a type of life that is conducive to our growth and well-being.”2

The following principles can help us appreciate and understand the gift of our bodies even more.

Heavenly Father Created Us in His Image

The creation of our physical bodies was a culminating event in the Creation. Moses 2:27 says, “I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.”

That moment was a priceless gift to us; the creation of Adam’s and Eve’s physical bodies by a loving Father in Heaven made it possible for each of us to also gain a physical body so we could learn and grow on this earth. It was an important step in our progression to become like Him.

We can learn much about Heavenly Father by the ways our bodies resemble His. President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) said: “God our Father has ears with which to hear our prayers. He has eyes with which to see our actions. He has a mouth with which to speak to us. He has a heart with which to feel compassion and love. He is real. He is living. We are his children made in his image. We look like him, and he looks like us.”3

The more we care for and learn about our physical bodies—particularly within the context of the plan of salvation—the more we can come to know and understand about God and His love for us.

Our Bodies Are Miraculous

Consider the intricate creations that allow bodies to move, breathe, and heal. They are nothing short of miraculous and an evidence of an all-knowing God. As President Russell M. Nelson taught:

Each organ of your body is a wondrous gift from God. Each eye has an autofocusing lens. Nerves and muscles control two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The eyes are connected to the brain, which records the sights seen.

Your heart is an incredible pump. It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand such stress almost indefinitely.

Think of the body’s defense system. To protect it from harm, it perceives pain. In response to infection, it generates antibodies. The skin provides protection. It warns against injury that excessive heat or cold might cause.

The body renews its own outdated cells and regulates the levels of its own vital ingredients. The body heals its cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Its capacity for reproduction is another sacred gift from God.4

We are truly blessed to receive bodies in this life and be restored to them in perfect form in the Resurrection.

The Body and Spirit Are Connected

Gaining a body also comes with great responsibility. Our bodies and our spirits are intricately connected. What affects the body can also affect the spirit. What affects the spirit can also affect the body. The Lord, through His servants, has affirmed this truth time and time again.

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) said:

The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see Doctrine and Covenants 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies of certain elements in the body can promote mental depression. A good physical examination periodically is a safeguard and may spot problems that can be remedied. Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit.5

Elder Jörg Klebingat of the Seventy said:

Take responsibility for your own physical well-being. Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! [President] Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness.”6

As we seek to strengthen our spirits and bodies, actions in one area can help strengthen and bolster the other. Becoming the people who Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would have us become requires that we take care of ourselves spiritually and physically.

We Should Seek to Live a Healthy Life

The General Handbook teaches that “Heavenly Father wants His children to develop physical and emotional strength. This includes doing the following:

  • Obey the Word of Wisdom (see Doctrine and Covenants 89 … ).

  • Strive to eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Avoid substances and behaviors that are harmful or addictive.

  • Practice good hygiene and receive proper medical care.

  • Develop and strengthen healthy relationships with family and others.

  • Learn to manage stress.

  • Seek help for mental or emotional challenges as needed.”7

President Monson once said, “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.”8

We are also meant to avoid addictive substances and practices, including drugs, alcohol, pornography, and an unhealthy use of technology. We can unintentionally allow these things to gain control over our actions and make it more difficult to use our agency for good.

As President Nelson taught: “If you yield to anything that can addict, and thus defy the Word of Wisdom, your spirit surrenders to the body. The flesh then enslaves the spirit. This is contrary to the purpose of your mortal existence. And in the process of such addiction, your life span is likely to be shortened, thereby reducing the time available for repentance by which your spirit might attain self-mastery over your body.”9

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, in talking about our bodies in relation to our divine destiny and the effects of technology:

Satan … strives to entice the sons and daughters of God to minimize the importance of their physical bodies. This particular type of attack is most subtle and diabolical. …

You may now be asking yourself, “… Brother Bednar, … are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer-mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?” That is precisely what I am declaring. …

I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes.

If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state. And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication. Beware of digital displays and data in many forms of computer-mediated interaction that can displace the full range of physical capacity and experience.10

Our Bodies Are Imperfect

Though we were created in God’s image, we still face health challenges and sickness in this life. Members of the Church are not immune to physical challenges or other health issues. Those who are sick or afflicted may wonder why they received the body they did. They may wonder if God is aware of their struggles.

President Nelson taught: “Be we reminded that a perfect body is not required to achieve one’s divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail or imperfect bodies. Great spiritual strength is often developed by people with physical challenges, precisely because they are so challenged.”11

The Lord does know His children. He knows each of our worries and challenges. Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “For all of us who have faced or continue to face health challenges, I am grateful to know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and gives us hope that we may endure all things.”12

We see time and time again in the scriptures that the Lord sought out those with physical challenges and by their faith He ministered to them lovingly and personally. He also trusts them greatly to minister to others and “contribute in meaningful ways” in His service.13 Every person has specific strengths and limitations related to their abilities, yet we all have important service to perform in the Lord’s kingdom.

There Is No Ideal Body Shape

In a world full of so much comparison, it can be easy to feel discontented with our bodies or wish that we looked a certain way. Temporary thoughts like these can motivate us to become healthier, but prolonging such thoughts gives Satan a lot of firepower to diminish our feelings of self-worth and make us feel less than we are.

In an address to the women of the Church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following, which applies to both men and women:

I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self—[the real you].” And in the kingdom of God, the real you is “more precious than rubies” [Proverbs 3:15]. Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the [young woman] in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.14

Satan uses comparison to try to make us feel like our worth comes from how we look. This is not God’s way. He created us all with individual differences. That is one of the beautiful things about this life. We all look different. We come from different cultures and backgrounds. We eat different foods and participate in different activities. Because we are all different, we should focus on how we can personally keep our bodies healthy.

Death Is an Important Part of God’s Plan

Life in this fallen world is meant to be temporary. One reason we receive bodies is so that we can be tested in this life, but at some point, our test on this earth will be over and we will leave this mortal life.

Losing someone we love may be scary or sad. We may worry, even for ourselves, about what comes after this life. Thankfully, Heavenly Father has a plan. We have been blessed with the knowledge of the plan of salvation; we know that physical death provides a step so that our spirits can continue to progress and that in the glorious day of resurrection the spirit and body will be reunited again for eternity.

President Nelson said:

If the body’s capacity for normal function, defense, repair, regulation, and regeneration were to prevail without limit, life here would continue in perpetuity. Yes, we would be stranded here on earth! Mercifully for us, our Creator provided for aging and other processes that would ultimately result in our physical death. Death, like birth, is part of life. Scripture teaches that “it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness” [Alma 42:8]. To return to God through the gateway we call death is a joy for those who love Him and are prepared to meet Him. Eventually the time will come when each “spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame” [Alma 11:43], never to be separated again. For these physical gifts, thanks be to God!15

We are all so blessed to receive bodies in this life so that we have the opportunity to learn and grow and to ultimately become like our Father in Heaven. No matter how short or long our time on earth is, we should strive with all our might to live healthy lives so that we can be “instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work” (Alma 26:3) in the way He needs us to be.