23) ADDICTING: What are “addicting” substances and do they affect my spirit, or just my body?

Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

Many sisters think they cannot live without tea; I will tell you what we can do – I have frequently said it to my brethren and sisters – if they cannot live without tea, coffee, brandy, tobacco, etc., they can die without them. This is beyond controversy. If we had the determination that we should have, we should live without them or die without them. Let the mother impregnate her system with these narcotic influences when she is bringing forth a family on the earth, and what does she do? She lays the foundation of weakness, palpitations of the heart, nervous affections, and many other ills and diseases in the system of her offspring that will afflict them from the cradle to the grave. Is this righteous or unrighteous, good or evil? Let my sisters answer the question for themselves, and the conclusion which each and every one of them may come to is this, ‘If I do any injury to my child, I sin.’ [1]

The Spirit whispers to me to call the Latter-day Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, to let tea, coffee, and tobacco alone, and to abstain from drinking spirituous drinks. This is what the Spirit signifies through me. If the Spirit of God whispers this to His people through their leader, and they will not listen nor obey, what will be the consequences of their disobedience? Darkness and blindness of mind with regard to the things of God will be their lot; they will cease to have the spirit of prayer, and the spirit of the world will increase in them in proportion to their disobedience until they apostatize entirely from God and His ways. [2]

The constitution that a person has should be nourished and cherished; and whenever we take anything into the system to force and stimulate it beyond its natural capacity, it shortens life . . . [3]

You are aware that many think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.

In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the Devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth. If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.

Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization. When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed. [4]

Heber J. Grant

I am not going to give any command, but I will ask it as a personal, individual favor to me, to let coca-cola alone. There are plenty of other things you can get at the soda fountains without drinking that which is injurious. The Lord does not want you to use any drug that creates an appetite for itself. [in Conference Report, April 1922, p. 165.] 1

Joseph F. Smith

I would rather feel tired and exhausted by labor, and let nature have a chance to restore itself, than I would attempt to doctor myself by the use of narcotics and drugs that would sap the foundation of my physical and spiritual health. But inasmuch as we do not observe the Word of Wisdom, how shall we have wisdom, knowledge and understanding by which we may be governed in our own conduct? The promise is that if we will observe this we shall have knowledge, and the destroyer shall pass us by, and we shall excape those evils that are coming upon the wicked. [5]

I believe that we are coming nearer to the point where we shall be able to observe that great and glorious law of temperance which the Lord Almighty has given unto us, wherein He has said that strong drink is not good, that tobacco is not for the habitual use of man, not for the stomach . . . We are coming to the conclusion that the Lord knew best, when He delivered to the Church, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that “Word of Wisdom,” contained in the bood of revelations from the lord . . . The great majority of the people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are coming nearer and nearer to a proper observance of the law which the Lord has given to us for our health, for the preservation of our lives; that we may be in harmony with His Spirit and His will, that we may be clean and undefiled, that we may be nearer like unto Him Who was without sin, Who was indeed pure and holy as God is pure and holy.

The young man who would cope with the world, who would be full of vigor, and fresh for the battle of life, will find his strength in living according to the word of the Lord; for the promise is that all “who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow to their bones, and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary; and shall walk and not fain; and I the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” [6]

Are these glorious promises not sufficient to induce us to observe this Word of Wisdom? Is there not something here that is worthy our attention? Are not “great treasures” of knowledge, even “hidden treasures,” something to be desired? But when I see men and women addicting themselves to the use of tea and coffee, or strong drinks, or tobacco in any form, I say to myself, here are men and women who do not appreciate the promise God has made unto them. They trample it under their feet, and treat it as a thing of naught. They despise the word of God, and go contrary to it in their actions. Then when affliction overtakes them, they are almost ready to curse God, because He will not hear their prayers and they are left to endure sickness and pain.

Now, I do wish with all my heart – not because I say it, but because it is written in the word of the Lord – that you would give heed to this

Word of Wisdom. It was given unto us . . . for our guidance, for our happiness and advancement in every principle that pertains to the kingdom of God, in time and throughout eternity, and I pray you to observe it. It will do you good; it will ennoble your souls; it will free your thoughts and your hearts from the spirit of destruction; it will make you feel like God, who sustains even the sparrow, that it does not fall to the ground without His notice; it will bring you nearer to the similitude of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, who healed the sick, who made the lame to leap for joy, who restored hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind, who distributed peace, joy, and comfort to all with whom He came in contact. [7]

David O. McKay

A . . . contributing factor to happiness I name as the confidence of self-mastery. No one wishes to be a slave to other human beings; no one willingly bows down to a dictator. But some are slaves to themselves, to their appetites, and passions. They are not free. They have deprived themselves of freedom and of individual liberty. Instead of being kings and masters of self, they are slaves.

That is one reason why the Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom, one reason why He has told us to control our passions, to control anger, not to speak evil of one another, but to control the tendency of human nature to slander or to rejoice in another’s faults.

Any physiology book will tell you how nicotine may harm the body, particularly how injurious is its effect upon the young. Science demonstrates that, too, but there is a greater reason why young people especially should not indulge in cigarette smoking or in habit-forming drinks – because as children of God they should not be slaves to an appetite. [8]

Too many members move along the lines of lease resistance and yield to a craving appetite developed by disobedience to the Word of Wisdom of God, thus depriving themselves of spiritual as well as physical strength . . . Neither the Church nor the world at large can hear too much about the Word of Wisdom. [9]

  1. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 185
  2. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 183
  3. Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 183
  4. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 69-70)
  5. Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, p. 327
  6. Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21
  7. Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church – Joseph F. Smith, pp. 327 – 329
  8. Gospel Ideals, Selections from Discourses of David O. McKay, pp. 498-499
  9. David O. McKay, Improvement Era, 1953. p. 376
  1. Heber J. Grant, President of the Church, 9 April 1922
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