The Word of Wisdom, Lesson 36: Section 89

“The Word of Wisdom, Lesson 36: Section 89,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324–325 (1981), 71–72

“Lesson 36,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide, 71–72

The Word of Wisdom

Lesson 36

Section 89


The Lord’s law of health is spiritual in origin, and even though there are physical blessings for abiding by the precepts therein, the greater rewards are spiritual.

Theme Analysis

  1. The Lord gave a “word of wisdom” to the Saints of the latter days (D&C 89:2).

    1. The Word of Wisdom was initially given as a “greeting; not by commandment” (vs. 2).

    2. Later it became formalized by the Lord as a commandment.

    3. Obedience to it is within the capacity of even the weakest of Saints.

  2. The Word of Wisdom was given for our temporal salvation.

    1. It identifies some foods and substances that are harmful.

    2. This revelation lists some of the kinds of things that contribute to health and vitality.

    3. Clearly, all things are designed for the benefit of man through their wise and skillful use.

  3. The Word of Wisdom was given for our spiritual salvation.

    1. Although the message of this revelation deals with physical or temporal things, the reason for abstinence from harmful drugs or foods is to keep our tabernacle a fit dwelling place for the Spirit.

    2. Obedience to this law and to all other commandments is the key to physical and spiritual blessings.

  4. Some of the great blessings promised to those who live the Word of Wisdom are:

    1. Wisdom and great treasures of knowledge

    2. The ability to run and not be weary (physical and spiritual strength and vigor)

    3. The ability to walk and not faint (physical and spiritual endeavors)

    4. Salvation in the day of the Lord

Study Sources

Student Manual

Section 89

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach this revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

Basic Library

  • Discourses, p. 183. What were the consequences for refusing to abstain from liquor (rebellion) in the days of Brigham Young?

  • Discourses, pp. 183–84. Was the Word of Wisdom considered a commandment under President Young? Compare M of F, p. 56.

  • M of F, p. 63. Is there a danger that breaking the Word of Wisdom may lead to a more serious transgression?

  • L. Tom Perry, in CR, Oct. 1979, pp. 51–52. What is the key to successful living of the Word of Wisdom or any other law of God?

  • Marion G. Romney, in CR, Apr. 1979, p. 58. What special spiritual blessing accrues to us if we live the Word of Wisdom?

  • Spencer W. Kimball, in CR, Oct. 1974, pp. 5–6. After well over one hundred years of sincere adherence to the Word of Wisdom by Latter-day Saints, what interesting conclusion has the medical profession made?

Additional Sources

  • Church News, 17 Mar. 1973, p. 16. Many recipes call for the use of wines or liquors. Even if the alcohol is evaporated through the cooking process, the taste for alcohol is cultivated by those who learn to enjoy the product.

  • Church News, 16 Mar. 1974, p. 16. Studies now show a direct relationship between the use of alcohol by pregnant mothers and the abnormalities of the baby after birth—mental deficiencies, joint defects, congenital heart defects, and so on.

  • Lora Beth Larson, “The Do’s in the Word of Wisdom,” Ensign, Apr. 1977, pp. 46–53. What modern research tells us about the Word of Wisdom.

  • Watch for current articles which support Doctrine and Covenants, section 89.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

The Law of Spiritual Health (Discussion)

Perhaps no other topic is so familiar to the students as the Word of Wisdom. Since most students are well acquainted with the physical aspects of the Word of Wisdom, you may draw heavily upon their knowledge for this discussion. The Notes and Commentary on specific verses in the student manual will be helpful.

  1. What is included among those things prohibited by the Word of Wisdom? (Strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks; see D&C 89:7–9). This refers to alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee. Since 1833, when this revelation was given, additional harmful things have been discovered that men now commonly take into their bodies-things that were unknown in the early days of the Church. The spirit of the Word of Wisdom is that we avoid the use of all substances that contain habit-forming ingredients. A statement by the First Presidency in the Priesthood Bulletin said: “With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and N. Eldon Tanner, Feb. 1972, p. 4.)

    Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone commented in general conference on how some are sure to rationalize away this statement (see Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 102). It is clear that any drug, narcotic, or habit-forming substance that is harmful to man and restricts his agency is unfit for human use.

  2. Balance and wisdom are dietary guides.

    1. What does it mean that every herb and fruit is to be used “in the season thereof”? (D&C 89:11; see also Notes and Commentary in student manual).

    2. What is meant by the word sparingly (vs. 12) as it pertains to the use of meats? (see student manual Notes and Commentary; D&C 59:16–21; 49:19).

  3. Failure to live the Word of Wisdom may deprive a man of his exaltation. Use the quote from President Heber J. Grant found on Transparency 16, “You Haven’t Got a Future!”

  4. Living the Word of Wisdom becomes a key to spiritual power. In the following chain of reasoning, notice how elementary a level we are actually on when we simply live the Word of Widsom. The “spiritual journey” has only begun. It is significant, however, that it has begun.

    1. Physical purity requires obedience to the Lord’s law of health, for then our tabernacle can be a fit abode for the Holy Spirit (see Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 58).

    2. If we are free from these contaminations and also keep the commandments (see D&C 89:18), then the Lord’s promise is both physical and spiritual. We will have physical health and vigor of life (navel and marrow refer to the vigor of life rather than freedom from physical abnormality or limitation). We will receive the blessings that speak of spiritual vigor and endurance. The highest blessing pertains to the promise of being among the righteous at the coming of the Lord. (Read with the students President Spencer W. Kimball’s comments on this concept found in Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 210–11.)