|This upstairs room in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland was the place where, among other revelations, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the Word of Wisdom, Doctrine and Covenants Section 89.|
I felt prompted this week to go back to the text of the Word of Wisdom. I did. Word choices and phrases I have read over dozens of times seemed new and revelatory to me this time. I saw anew the heft of the word of wisdom. It is not just a light thing, nice if you do, not so bad if you don’t.
It’s something we’ve been asked to do. Not doing is an omission on our part. Hear me out.
I understand how often it is glazed over and looked upon as a elective; like the “elective classes” I had to choose from in school. I remember middle school, the first time I really had a choice. I could choose choir, band, orchestra, computers, wood shop, art, foreign languages, and home economics. I had a problem, something I still struggle with now. I wanted to do just about everything, but I could not. I like a lot of things and often wish I could fit more into my life. I will always regret not studying art. I love it and like to wonder what my life would be like if I had taken classes. Would I draw better animals for my children, nieces and nephews as we color together? Would I have more confidence choosing outside of the box art for my own walls? Or perhaps would I have developed a new talent that would shape my hobbies and career? Who knows? I never will. I elected otherwise.
The thing about electives is when you elect to go another direction (or choose not to act at all) you miss something. The same thing goes for any omission. An omission by definition is something that is omitted or left out, a void. Choosing not to do something is still a choice, and an opportunity for loss. That is the way I see the word of wisdom. The section begins:
1 A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion-
2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days. (emphasis added)
Yes, it is “not by commandment or constraint,” technically not essential; but here is the kicker: “but by revelation.” I don’t think I am in the position to put down revelation from God, and this is one, not just a kinda-sorta-if-you-feel-comfortable-doing-so-and-it-is-not-too-hard-or-awkward sort of thing. Rather, the word of wisdom is in fact, “the order and will of God.” And we know about it, so it is too late to claim ignorance here.
The reason it was introduced “not by commandment or constraint” is for reason of introduction. If this revelation had been laid out, as a hard and fast you’re in or you’re out rule from the point of reception, all the early saints would have been out. At the time everyone imbibed and consumed all of the condemned items. In kindness the Lord allow the saints sometime to withdraw from the coffee, tea and alcohol that they were so accustomed to.
As people who have known about the revelation for some time, I don’t think we are afforded the same leeway. Rather, I think we are to see it exactly as written, “the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.”
More on this to come.
And if you want your own Enchanted Broccoli Forest, don’t forget to enter the giveaway here. I will pick a winner Monday morning.