Section 89

DC 89 Historical Background

"It is said that on the 22nd of February, 1833, the Prophet came to the room in which the School of the Prophets was being held, and upon opening the door found the room filled with tobacco smoke. Upon that occasion he left the room, closed the door behind him, and when he returned announced to the brethren a new revelation upon the subject of health." (William E. Berrett, Teachings of the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1956], 199.)

Brigham Young

Over [the] kitchen was situated the room in which the Prophet received revelations and in which he instructed his brethren [the School of the Prophets]. The brethren came to that place for hundreds of miles to attend school in a little room probably no larger than eleven by fourteen. When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the Elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry.  ("House of Revelation," Ensign, January 1993)

Zebedee Coltrin

When the Word of Wisdom was first presented by the Prophet Joseph ... there were twenty out of the twenty-one who used tobacco and they all immediately threw their tobacco and pipes into the fire. (Minutes, Salt Lake City School of Prophets, 3 Oct. 1883, p. 56.)  ("House of Revelation," Ensign, January 1993)

DC 89 Introduction

Ezra Taft Benson

The Word of Wisdom is one of the recognized and distinctive practices of members of the Church. Generally, others not of our faith acknowledge that members in good standing abstain from tobacco, coffee, tea, and all alcoholic beverages.

Scientific studies have confirmed that Latter-day Saints have less incidence of heart problems, all forms of cancer, and other diseases because of their adherence to the Word of Wisdom.

These studies have demonstrated that not only will one live a longer life, but also that the quality of one's life will be better.

The Word of Wisdom is one of the evidences of the inspiration of Joseph Smith's prophetic calling. Let me tell you why.

Several years ago an investigator gave this testimonial about Joseph Smith. He said that the Word of Wisdom was the revelation that most attracted him to investigate the Church. "There is no possible way," he said, "that Joseph Smith could have known what we now know in the medical world about the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee. Yet this has all been substantiated by medical science."

He said that this was the beginning of his earnest investigation of the gospel, for he reasoned that if Joseph Smith could be so accurate on a matter that medical science validated over a hundred years later, the rest of the teachings of the Church deserved investigation. He did so and is now a member of the Church.  ("A Principle with a Promise," Ensign, May 1983, 53)

DC 89:2 not by commandment or constraint

Joseph Fielding Smith

We sometimes hear it said that the Lord did not give the Word of Wisdom by commandment, and therefore some take advantage of a word and justify themselves in not observing this revelation. But let us remember that the Lord has also said that what he has here said is "adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints." There were good reasons why it was not strictly commanded at the time the revelation was given, as already expressed. When men became sufficiently taught they were expected to observe what is here written. In fact the High Council of the Church over which the Prophet Joseph Smith presided declared in 1834 by unanimous vote after a full and free discussion on the subject, that, "No official member of this Church is worthy to hold an office after having the Word of Wisdom properly taught him; and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with or obey it." (Essentials in Church History, page 169.)

The following is from a discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, Oct. 4, 1908:

"Here we are informed that it was not given, at that time, by way of commandment or restraint but by revelation, 'a word of wisdom showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.' Subsequently, years afterwards, from this stand, it was proclaimed from the mouth of the Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young, that the time had come when this Word of Wisdom-then given not by commandment or constraint-was now a commandment of the Lord to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Lord required them to observe this Word of Wisdom and counsel, which is the will of God unto the people for their temporal salvation."

 (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 147.)

Ezra Taft Benson

In 1851, President Brigham Young proposed to the general conference of the Church that all Saints formally covenant to keep the Word of Wisdom. This proposal was unanimously upheld by the membership of the Church. Since that day, the revelation has been a binding commandment on all Church members. ("A Principle with a Promise," Ensign, May 1983, 53)

Gordon B. Hinckley

Some people argue over whether it [the Word of Wisdom] is a commandment. I do not need to argue. As far as I am concerned, whether it is a commandment or counsel, that which the Lord counsels becomes a commandment to Gordon B. Hinckley. I hope it does to you. (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 703.)

DC 89:3 given for a principle with promise

"Unfortunately, in some instances the Word of Wisdom has... become part of the culture of the Church and the 'hobby horse' of some individual members. Sometimes the Word of Wisdom as Church doctrine and the Word of Wisdom as local or individual culture come into conflict with each other. Individual interpretations of Doctrine and Covenants 89 abound (see 2 Peter 1:20), and some persons have elevated their private understanding of section 89 above other principles of the gospel. 'Some unstable people become cranks with reference to this law of health,' wrote Elder Bruce McConkie. 'It should be understood that the Word of Wisdom is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the Word of Wisdom... There is no prohibition in Section 89, for instance, as to the eating of white bread, using white flour, white sugar, cocoa, chocolate, eggs, milk, meat, or anything else, except items classified under the headings, tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor.'" (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 3:140)

Boyd K. Packer

The Word of Wisdom was "given for a principle with promise" (D&C 89:3). That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor.

Members write in asking if this thing or that is against the Word of Wisdom. It's well known that tea, coffee, liquor, and tobacco are against it. It has not been spelled out in more detail. Rather, we teach the principle together with the promised blessings. There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation.

Everything harmful is not specifically listed; arsenic, for instance-certainly bad, but not habit-forming! He who must be commanded in all things, the Lord said, "is a slothful and not a wise servant" (D&C 58:26). ("The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises," Ensign, May 1996, 17)

DC 89:3 adapted to the capacity of the weak

We often pride ourselves in keeping "the higher law."  We look at ages past recognizing that they were given a lesser law because of their inability to keep higher principles.  Yet Tithing and the Word of Wisdom are basic principles.  Strength in the gospel requires much more than keeping these basic principles. The strong will keep these commandments without the least temptation to do otherwise. Those who can't live the Word of Wisdom don't deserve to be called saints.  You can call them Mormons, but they are not saints.  Even the weakest of saints can keep the Word of Wisdom for they have been adapted to the capacity of the weak.

George Albert Smith

Are we worthy to be called Saints? All who hope to be called Saints should certainly be observers of the Word of Wisdom. (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 105.)

LeGrand Richards

I presided over two missions. We had many Saints who had used tobacco and tea and coffee, and some of them liquor, all of their lives, and it was hard for some of them to quit. I remember being in one meeting with a stalwart man sitting right down in front of me, and as I read these words, "Adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints who are or can be called saints," I said: "If there are any Latter-day Saints in this mission weaker than that we will not ask them to keep the Word of Wisdom." At the close of the meeting that big fellow came up and said, "President Richards, I am not that weak." I said, "I didn't think you were. I just wanted to let you know what the Lord had to say about this principle." (Conference Report, April 1961, Afternoon Meeting 45.)

DC 89:4 evils and designs...will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days

Marlin K. Jensen

In 1997 Elder W. Eugene Hansen and I were asked to host the Honorable Michael Moore, attorney general of Mississippi, during a brief visit he made to Utah and Church headquarters. In a wide-ranging conversation with Mr. Moore, Elder Hansen and I raised questions about the lawsuit he had filed against the large American tobacco companies on behalf of the state of Mississippi. We knew Mississippi had recovered a sizable judgment and that other states, including Utah, were then undertaking similar action. We asked him specifically upon what legal theory the state of Mississippi's claim had been based.

Much to our surprise, Mr. Moore informed us that the state's cause of action had been based on a theory of "conspiracy," which the evidence eventually conclusively showed existed among the tobacco companies and even among their lawyers. As Mr. Moore talked of his conspiracy theory and the efforts made by the tobacco companies to hide from the public the addictive and harmful effects of tobacco, my mind almost instinctively turned to section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants. A copy of that book of scripture was quickly located, and after briefly explaining the background and import of section 89, I asked Mr. Moore to read verse 4.

We listened attentively as he slowly and deliberately read that verse out loud in his appealing southern accent: "Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation" (italics added).

The scriptural reference to "conspiring men" was not lost on Mr. Moore. As he finished reading verse 4, a broad smile came across his face, and with a twinkle in his eyes he said, "I never dreamed in visiting Utah I might find 10 million people who would agree with my conspiracy theories!"

My heart burned within me that day and has many times since as I have thought about Joseph Smith's gifts as a prophet and seer. (Out of Obscurity, The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], p. 9)

Heber J. Grant

Evil and designs! Men hired to certify that cigarettes do not injure them and never have done, and I have been told that when you challenge some of them regarding these things they say, "Of course they never hurt me, because I have never used any of them."

In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days

Don't you think it is evil and conspiring to publish pictures of beautiful women, using cigarettes, knowing as they do that it destroys the very purpose of life? We have been warned against these things. A billion is beyond my comprehension, and yet, if I am not mistaken, on an average of 117,000,000,000 cigarettes per year were used over a period of many years in the United States. (Conference Report, October 1935, 8.)

DC 89:5-7 strong drinks are not for the belly

I.  Prevalence

"About 35% of the adult US population abstains from alcohol use, about 60% are occasional to moderate drinkers, and about 5 to 7 % are diagnosable with alcohol abuse or dependence (NIAAA, 1997). Of the some 16 million Americans who meet the diagnostic criteria for abuse or dependence, only about 1.5 million seek and receive treatment (SAMHSA, 2003).

"Alcohol consumption causes some 100,000 deaths annually in the US, including more than 16,000 alcohol related traffic fatalities (Meister et al., 2000; NIAAA, 2000). Compared with abstainers, drinkers - particularly heavy or excessive drinkers - have higher death rates from injuries, violence, suicide, poisoning, cirrhosis, certain cancers, and possibly hemorrhagic strokes (Gutjahr et al., 2001; Thun et al., 1997)." (

II.  Alcohol Abuse, Cancer, and Major Health Problems

Relative Risk for Major Chronic Disease by Gender in heavy drinkers*


Increased Risk in Females

Increased Risk in Males

Mouth and Oropharynx Cancers



Esophagus Cancer



Liver Cancer



Breast Cancer



Benign Tumors






Hemorrhagic Stroke



Cardiovascular Diseases






Cirrhosis of the Liver



*Definition of heavy drinking for females, daily consumption of 40 g or more of pure alcohol equivalent; for males, 60 g or more pure alcohol.

(Adapted from Jürgen Rehm, Ph.D., Gerhard Gmel, Ph.D., Christopher T. Sempos, Ph.D., and Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., M.S., Alcohol-Related Morbidity and Mortality, published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the NIH;

III.  Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

An Introduction to the Problem of Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBDs)

"When a mother drinks, her unborn child is exposed to alcohol. As opposed to a common misconception, the baby is not protected in the uterus from alcohol exposure. Excessive drinking by the mother at any time after fertilization of the egg may result in damage to the developing child.

"The problem of alcohol related birth defects (ARBDs) is very large. In fact, maternal alcohol consumption is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western world. Although the range of intellectual deficits is wide, the average IQ of individuals with full blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is approximately 70.

"The prevalence of full blown FAS is typically quoted as 1 in 750 live births in the general population. However, the reported incidence varies, depending on the study population and design (NIAAA report; see web site -- According to the Centers for Disease Control, incidences of FAS per 10,000 births for different ethnic groups were as follows: Asians 0.3, Hispanics 0.8, whites 0.9, blacks 6.0, and Native Americans 29.9. Among Native Americans, the incidence of FAS varies among different cultures. In the case of blacks, the risk of FAS remains about sevenfold higher than for whites. The incidence of FAS currently exceeds that of Down Syndrome, spina bifida, as well as cerebral palsy. The incidence of other ARBDs (fetal alcohol effects including neurobehavioral abnormalities) is estimated to be at least twice as high as that of full blown FAS (approximately 1 in 300 live births in the general population)

"In spite of the fact that FAS and other ARBDs can be prevented by women simply avoiding alcohol consumption throughout their pregnancies, the problem remains. (

IV.  Cost

Table 3
Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse: 1992 Estimates and Updates for 1998
(Millions of current-year dollars)

Cost Component

Cost Estimate
($ in millions)

Average Annual Percent Change

Total Percent Change

1992 (original estimate)

1998 (updated estimate)






Specialty Alcohol Services






Alcohol Abuse Treatment






Insurance Administration






Alcohol Abuse Prevention






Alcohol Abuse Research






Alcohol Abuse Training





Medical Consequences






Medical Consequences of Alcohol Consumption






Medical Consequences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome






Insurance Administration





Lost Future Earnings Due to Premature Deaths






Motor Vehicle Crashes






Other Alcohol-Related





Lost Productivity Due to Morbidity






Lost Productivity Due to Alcohol-Related Illness






Lost Productivity Due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome





Lost Earnings Due to Crime/Victims






Lost Productivity Due to Alcohol-Related Crime






Lost Productivity of Incarcerated Persons





Crime-Criminal Justice, Property Damage, etc.






Violent Crime






Property Crime






Alcohol-Defined Offenses





Social Welfare Administration






Supplemental Security Income






Other Social Insurance





Motor Vehicle Crashes-Property Damage






Fatal Crashes






Nonfatal Crashes





Fire Destruction-Property Damage





Source: Harwood et al. (1998) and analysis by The Lewin Group. ( - table3)

DC 89:8 tobacco is not for the body

I.  Toxic Chemicals in Tobacco Products

"Cigarette smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. Worldwide, lung cancer kills over one million people each year.  Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens).  These chemicals represent approximately seven chemical classes (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, arenes, N-nitrosamines, aromatic and heterocyclic aromatic amines, aldehydes, organic compounds, and inorganic compounds). Twenty of the carcinogens cause cancer in the respiratory tract.  In an exposed individual, numerous irritants, inflammatory agents, and reactive species work in concert with the carcinogens to induce replication of initiated or precancerous cells. Because of the chemical complexity of tobacco smoke it is unlikely that there is a single measurable mechanism of tobacco carcinogenesis.

"Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) are a class of known carcinogens that are formed during the curing, processing, fermentation, and combustion of tobacco.  They have been identified in cigarette tobacco,  tobacco smoke,  environmental tobacco smoke,  smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products such as cigars and bidi cigarettes."


II.  Which cancers are caused by cigarette smoking?

1.  Lung

"Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in the world. The total number of cases is now estimated to be 1.2 million annually and is still increasing. The major cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoking, primarily of cigarettes. In populations with prolonged cigarette use, the proportion of lung cancer cases attributable to cigarette smoking has reached 90%.

"The duration of smoking is the strongest determinant of lung cancer in smokers. Hence, the earlier the age of starting and the longer the continuation of smoking in adulthood, the greater the risk. Risk of lung cancer also increases in proportion to the numbers of cigarettes smoked.

"Tobacco smoking increases the risk of all histological types of lung cancer including squamous-cell carcinoma, small-cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma (including bronchiolar/alveolar carcinoma) and large-cell carcinoma. The association between adenocarcinoma of the lung and smoking has become stronger over time. The carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoking appear similar in both women and men.

"Stopping smoking at any age avoids the further increase in risk of lung cancer incurred by continued smoking. The younger the age at cessation, the greater the benefit."

2.  Urinary tract

"Tobacco smoking is a major cause of transitional-cell carcinomas of the bladder, ureter and renal pelvis. Risk increases with the duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked. As for lung cancer, stopping smoking at any age avoids the further increase in risk incurred by continued smoking.

Evidence from several cohort and case-control studies published since the previous IARC (The International Agency for Research on Cancer is part of the World Health Organization) Monograph on tobacco smoking has indicated that renal-cell carcinoma is associated with tobacco smoking in both men and women. The association is not explained by confounding. A dose-response relationship with the number of cigarettes smoked has been noted in most studies, and a few also noted a reduction in risk after cessation."

3.  Oral cavity

"Tobacco smoking, including cigarette smoking, is causally associated with cancer of the oral cavity (including lip and tongue) in both men and women. Since the previous IARC Monograph on tobacco smoking, evidence from many more studies has accumulated that further confirms this association. Use of smokeless tobacco and/or alcohol in combination with tobacco smoking greatly increases the risk of oral cancer. Risk increases substantially with duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked. Risk among former smokers is consistently lower than among current smokers and there is a trend of decreasing risk with increasing number of years since quitting."

4.  Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses

"An increased risk of sinonasal cancer among cigarette smokers has been reported in all nine case-control studies for which results are available. Of seven studies that have analysed dose-response relationships, a positive trend was found in five and was suggested in the other two. In all the five studies that have analysed squamous-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma separately, the relative risk was clearly increased for squamous-cell carcinoma."

5.  Nasopharynx

"An increased risk for nasopharyngeal cancer among cigarette smokers was reported in one cohort study and nine case-control studies. Increased relative risks were reported in both high- and low-risk geographical regions for nasopharyngeal cancer. A dose-response relationship was detected with either duration or amount of smoking. A reduction in risk after quitting was also detected. The potential confounding effect of infection with Epstein-Barr virus was not controlled for in these studies; however, such an effect was not considered to be plausible. No important role was shown for other potential confounders."

6.  Oropharynx and hypopharynx

"Oropharyngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer are causally associated with cigarette smoking. The risk increased with increased duration of smoking and daily cigarette consumption and decreased with increasing time since quitting."

7.  Esophagus

"Tobacco smoking is causally associated with cancer of the esophagus, particularly squamous-cell carcinoma. Tobacco smoking is also causally associated with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. In most of the epidemiological studies, the risk for all types of esophageal cancer increased with numbers of cigarettes smoked daily and duration of smoking. However, risk for esophageal cancer remains elevated many years after cessation of smoking.

"Tobacco and alcohol in combination with tobacco smoking greatly increase the risk for squamous-cell carcinoma of the esophagus. In India, use of smokeless tobacco in combination with smoking also greatly increases the risk."

8.  Larynx

"Laryngeal cancer is causally associated with cigarette smoking. The risk increases substantially with duration and number of cigarettes smoked. Use of alcohol in combination with tobacco smoking greatly increases the risk for laryngeal cancer. A few studies also reported that relative risks for cancer of the larynx increased with decreasing age at start of smoking. The relative risk decreased with increasing time since quitting smoking."

9.  Pancreas

"Cancer of the pancreas is causally associated with cigarette smoking. The risk increases with duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked daily. The risk remains elevated after allowing for potential confounding factors such as alcohol consumption. The relative risk decreased with increasing time since quitting smoking."

10.  Stomach

"The data available in 1986 did not permit the earlier IARC Working Group to conclude that the association between tobacco smoking and stomach cancer was causal. Since that time, further studies have shown a consistent association of cancer of the stomach with cigarette smoking in both men and women in many cohort and case-control studies conducted in various parts of the world. Confounding by other factors (e.g. alcohol consumption, Helicobacter pylori infection and dietary factors) can be reasonably ruled out. Risk increases with duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked, and decreases with increasing duration of successful quitting. In studies that had adequate numbers, the relative risks for men and women were similar."

11.  Liver

"In the previous IARC Monograph on tobacco smoking, a causal relationship between liver cancer and smoking could not be established, chiefly due to possible confounding from alcohol intake and hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infections. Many cohort studies and case-control studies have provided additional information on smoking and liver cancer since then. Most of the cohort studies and the largest case-control studies (most notably those that included community controls) showed a moderate association between tobacco smoking and risk of liver cancer. In many studies, the risk for liver cancer increased with the duration of smoking or the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Former smokers who had stopped smoking for more than 10 years showed a decline in liver cancer risk. Confounding from alcohol can be ruled out, at least in the best case-control studies, by means of careful adjustment for drinking habits. An association with smoking has also been demonstrated among non-drinkers. Many studies, most notably from Asia, have shown no attenuation of the association between smoking and liver cancer after adjustment/stratification for markers of hepatitis B/hepatitis C virus infection. There is now sufficient evidence to judge the association between tobacco smoking and liver cancer as causal."

12.  Cervix

"An association of invasive cervical squamous-cell carcinoma with smoking has been observed in the large number of studies reviewed. The most recent studies have controlled for infection with human papillomavirus, a known cause of cervical cancer. The effect of smoking was not diminished by the adjustment for human papillomavirus infection, or analysis restricted to cases and controls both positive for human papillomavirus (as ascertained by human papillomavirus DNA or human papillomavirus serological methods). There is now sufficient evidence to establish a causal association of squamous-cell cervical carcinoma with smoking. In the small number of studies available for adeno- and adeno-squamous-cell carcinoma, no consistent association was observed."

13.  Leukemia

"Myeloid leukemia in adults was observed to be causally related to smoking. Risk increased with amount of tobacco smoked in a substantial number of adequate studies. No clear evidence of any risk was seen for lymphoid leukemia/lymphoma.

"Support for a causal relationship of smoking with myeloid leukemia is provided by the finding of known leukemogens in tobacco smoke, one of which (benzene) is present in sufficient amounts to account for up to half of the estimated excess of acute myeloid leukemia."

( - 1)

III.  Smoking and Pregnancy

"Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a variety of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including low birthweight, spontaneous abortion, and infant death. Some biological mechanisms which have been clinically confirmed link cigarette smoke to fetal health. Of the fetal outcomes documented, low birthweight shows the clearest and most consistent association with maternal smoking. Evidence suggests that a dose response relationship exists between cigarette consumption, especially during the third trimester and birth weight. Women who smoke during pregnancy expose themselves as well as their developing fetus to numerous tobacco smoke carcinogens, many of which may be harmful to the fetus." (

DC 89:8 tobacco... is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle

"In 1982, Dr. Rulon S. Francis of the Human Performance Research Center at Brigham Young University said that his research indicated that bruises treated with tobacco juice heal 20 percent faster than untreated bruises. He was prompted to investigate the healing effects of tobacco after BYU athletic trainer, Marvin Roberson, returned from the 1971 Balkan games in Yugoslavia with stories about trainers spraying a commercially manufactured tobacco spray on basketball players' bruises. The healing may be produced by one of the alkaloids found in tobacco." (Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993], 156 - 157.)

Brigham Young

You put cattle into a field where there is tobacco and you will see that none of them will eat it unless they are sick, they will take it then, but at no other time. If a horse, ox or sheep be in good, ordinary health it will not touch it, and to say that it is necessary for man is absurd! Well, is it good for nothing? Was it created in vain? No, the Word of Wisdom tells us that tobacco is for sick cattle, and the dumb brute will demonstrate this if it is sick and can get at it. The tobacco plant and the lobelia plant are similar in taste and outward appearance, though not in their effects; but the former is for cattle, the latter for man. The difference in their effects is chiefly, that lobelia has no narcotic influence, while tobacco has. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 13: 275 - 276.)

DC 89:9  hot drinks are not for the body or belly

John A. Widstoe

When the Word of Wisdom was first promulgated in 1833, the question was at once asked: What is the meaning of "hot drinks?" Was it an injunction against consuming beverages so hot as to burn the tongue or mouth? That did not seem reasonable...

The question concerning the meaning of "hot drinks," as used in the Word of Wisdom, was at last brought to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He defined "hot drinks" as tea and coffee, the two common household beverages of the day. Joel H. Johnson, with whose family the Prophet was intimate, relates that on a Sabbath day in July (1833) following the giving of the "Word of Wisdom," when both Joseph and Hyrum Smith were in the stand, the Prophet said to the Saints: "I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said 'hot drinks' in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. Tea and coffee are what the Lord meant when he said 'hot drinks.'"... Sometime later, in 1842, Hyrum Smith, the Prophet's brother, in speaking upon the Word of Wisdom concerning the term "hot drinks" said, "There are many who wonder what this can mean, whether it refers to tea or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea and coffee."  Brigham Young, who, as the President of the Council of Twelve, was very near to the Prophet, always taught that "hot drinks" meant tea and coffee. (John A. Widtsoe and Leah D. Widtsoe, The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1937], 85 - 87.)

The current status of medical thought on the use of coffee is that it is not a health hazard when used in moderation.  The following quote is typical and frequently quoted by the coffee industry:

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified caffeine as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) in 1958...

"The American Medical Association (AMA) has a similar position on caffeine's safety, stating that 'Moderate tea or coffee drinkers probably need have no concern for their health relative to their caffeine consumption provided other lifestyle habits (diet, alcohol consumption) are moderate, as well.'" (

Certainly, no one would argue that alcohol and tobacco are more damaging substances than coffee and tea. However, there are negative health effects which cannot be disregarded. Perhaps more importantly, caffeine is well recognized to be a stimulant with addictive potential.  For a latter-day saint, taking addictive substances weakens the power of the spirit over the body. As Elder Marion G. Romney stated, "The use of a habit-forming drug of any kind violates the spirit of the Word of Wisdom and defiles both body and spirit." ("Be Ye Clean That Bear the Vessels of the Lord," Ensign, May 1974, 82)

"Caffeine, coffee's main ingredient is a mild addictive stimulant. And coffee does have modest cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat that should be considered... the negative effects of coffee tend to emerge in excessive drinking so it is best to avoid heavy consumption." (

Not used in moderation, coffee can cause spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and possibly birth defects. (Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology, Vol. 7:9-17, 1985)  In high enough doses, caffeine can be lethal.

"The effects of coffee on the body fall into several categories:

  • Stimulant effects. Because one of its major ingredients is caffeine, coffee is a well-established stimulant, meaning that it stimulates the nervous system, including such diverse networks as the nerves controlling intestinal activity, blood pressure and airway size. As a result, any caffeine-containing food or beverage (including tea, cola and chocolate milk) may impair sleep, but avoiding coffee late in the day is usually an easy way to avoid this problem. Jitters and anxiety may also be related to caffeine's stimulant effects.

  • Heartburn. Even decaffeinated coffee can stimulate secretion of stomach acid, leading to heartburn.

  • Diuretic features. Caffeine is also a diuretic - it encourages the kidneys to produce urine so effectively that it may contribute to mild dehydration. In addition, the increased intake of water associated with drinking several cups of coffee also leads to frequent urination to rid the body of excess fluid.

  • Miscellaneous. Features of coffee may also have other effects on the body. For example, yellowed teeth are common among regular users of coffee. Injuries related to burns from hot coffee are not rare. And there is even a suggestion by some mental health professionals that occasional caffeine users, including coffee drinkers, should be considered dependent, addicted or struggling with substance abuse.

As for the overall health risks of coffee or caffeine use, concerns have been raised by studies over the past 50 years, including an association with stomach problems, pancreatic and bladder cancer, fibrocystic breast disease and gallbladder disease, among other conditions. When rigorously analyzed, these studies fall far short of implicating modest coffee consumption as a significant health risk, even among pregnant women and cardiac patients." (

DC 89:10 all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the... use of man

As accomplished as Western Medicine has become, the Lord has prepared many underutilized medicines in the herbs He created.  Long before the medicinal value of plants and roots was understood by modern science, the Nephite and Lamanite "medicine men" made good use of the only pharmacy available to them.  Mormon editorialized, "there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land-but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases." (Alma 46:40)

In our dispensation, science has found that plant-derived medicines have many uses:  quinine is an effective treatment for malaria, opium is a powerful pain killer, digitalis stabilizes the heart's rhythm, and belladonna is used to make atropine, a drug with many medicinal uses.

"Most of our medicines used today are derived from native cultures. Approximately 25% of prescription drugs in the US contain at least one active plant material ingredient. Currently, over 4 billion people or 80% of the world population use herbal medicine for some forms of healthcare. Ayurvedic practitioners, homeopathic practitioners, naturopathic practitioners, traditional Oriental practitioners and Native American Indians commonly utilize herbal medicine. Today, pharmaceutical companies are extensively researching rain forest plant materials for their medicinal potential.

Herbs remain the foundation for a large amount of commercial medications used today for treatment of heart disease, blood pressure regulation, pain remedies, asthma and other health problems. A prime example of herbal medicine is the foxglove plant. Used since 1775, this powdered leaf is known as the cardiac stimulant digitalis which preserves life in millions of heart patients in modern society. From Aloe to St. John's Wort, herbal medicines are mainstream in modern civilization.


DC 89:11 Every herb in the season thereof

If we interpret herbs in season to mean vegetables, then the Lord is commanding us to eat our vegetables-especially fresh vegetables. This could be useful ammunition with our children at the dinner table.  However, the astute vegetable hater will quickly retort that canned vegetables are not in season and therefore the individual is not morally obligated to eat them.

"The National Cancer Institute recommends adults consume at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. The counsel in D&C 89:11 to use vegetables and fruits 'in the season thereof' supports what scientists say: that vegetables and fruits yield the greatest nutritional value when consumed in a fresh, unprocessed state." (LDS Church News, 1996, 05/04/96)

DC 89:12  flesh... of beasts and of the fowls of the air...are to be used sparingly

Boyd K. Packer

Young people, learn to use moderation and common sense in matters of health and nutrition, and particularly in medication. Avoid being extreme or fanatical or becoming a faddist.

For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly (see D&C 89:12). Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that "whoso forbiddeth to [eat meat] is not ordained of God" (D&C 49:18).  ("The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises," Ensign, May 1996, 18)

LeGrand Richards

The Lord admonishes us to eat meat sparingly, an admonition that is also verified by the findings of science today, since an excess of meat can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. However, he didn't say that man should abstain totally from eating meat. In an earlier revelation he declared, ". . . whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God. For, behold, the beasts of the field and fowls of the air . . . are ordained for the use of man. . . . " (D&C 49:18-19.) The key is found in the word "sparingly." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 361.)

D&C 89:13, 15 it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used


Verse 12, 13, and 15 of D&C 89 deal with an issue that is uncomfortable for most Latter-Day Saints.  In most modern cultures, consumption of meat is a common mainstay of a well-balanced diet.  Amongst most modern Mormons, meat consumption is prevalent.  So what is the Lord saying in these verses?  Are the saints actually sinners for eating too much meat?  Let us look at the spirit of these verses and paraphrase what the Lord is saying.


·         Meat is ordained for the use of man

·         It should be eaten with thanksgiving

·         It is acceptable for the saints to eat meat sparingly

·         It is most pleasing to the Lord if meat is only eaten in times of winter, cold, famine, or hunger.


Carnivorous gluttony without gratitude for the Lord’s creations is the worst.  Based on just these verses, a vegetarian diet is the most pleasing to the Lord.  This may have less to do with health consequences and more to do with respecting life in all its forms.  The Lord is not pleased with killing animals for sport.  He is not pleased with the wanton destruction of animal life. According to the text, the Lord is fine with us eating meat in times of cold, scarcity, or hunger, but in our society, is that still an issue?  Since the invention of refrigeration, there is rarely a scarcity of food for most of us—no problem getting adequate calories from other sources—no shortage of protein.  For most families, there is little justification for eating meat out of need. 


The author of this site, B. Richards, loves steaks and hamburgers like any other American; he hasn’t lost much sleep over this principle.  A little repentance and a little less meat are probably in order. On the other hand, there are Latter-day Saints who chose to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.  That is fine as long as they don’t require it of others.  Paul condemned those who command others “to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim 4:3-5).  Again notice that Paul’s emphasis on thanksgiving.  The Lord is not going to be offended by one who eats meat with careful gratitude for the Lord’s bounty and the glory of his animal creations.


On the other hand, there are many who have tried to justify their carnivorous diet.  The most common suggestion is that the comma should be removed, “it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter…”, implying that they should be used all year round, not just in times of winter, cold, famine.  This interpretation is self-serving and contrary to the tone of the end of verse 12 wherein the Lord says, “they are to be used sparingly.”  The following article deals with the “misplaced comma theory” of D&C 89:13,


The Brethren don’t require all members be vegetarians.  Can you imagine a temple recommend interview in which your recommend was revoked for eating meat?  That would be strange. Perhaps we should look at this issue like other laws that we don’t live in their fullness.  We aren’t living the law of consecration, the United Order, the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant of marriage, etc.   Remember the scripture which says we should make our own clothes, “let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands”? (D&C 42:40)  Do we really want to make our own clothes when they are so cheap at Wal-Mart?  We don’t always practice the principles in the scriptures as exactly as we could.  When is that OK?  Fortunately, the apostles and prophets determine the standards.  We should actually be thankful for their lenience given the cultural mores. If they weren’t considerate of our weaknesses, we would be polygamist vegetarians living the United Order and making our own clothes.


“The following are examples of the way D&C 89:13 was read before 1921:


“In 1857, Apostle Heber C. Kimball said:


In a revelation which God gave to Joseph Smith, he says, “It is not pleasing in my sight for man to shed blood of beasts, or of fowls, except in times of excess of hunger and famine.” Go and read it for yourselves.


“In 1868, President Brigham Young counseled:


Flesh should be used sparingly, in famine and in cold.


“In 1868, Apostle George Q. Cannon said:


We are told that flesh of any kind is not suitable to man in the summer time, and ought to be eaten sparingly in the winter.


“In 1895, Apostle Lorenzo Snow (then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) stated:


Unless famine or extreme cold is upon us we should refrain from the use of meat.



“There is no evidence for the idea that, before 1921, any of the literate, well-read Church leaders or Church members read D&C 89:13 in the way later supporters of the “errant comma theory” suggest the text should have been read without the comma.


“President George Albert Smith, born in 1870, was fifty-one years old in 1921. President Smith was apparently careful about his consumption of meat. In the 1950 Improvement Era devoted to honoring his 80th birthday, his son-in-law reported:


President Smith’s meals are simple and nourishing. In the summer he eats no meat, and even in the winter months he eats very little.”


Final thoughts:  None of the commentary in this site is meant to be official church doctrine.  This commentary is particularly exempt from any attempt to be official.  There are so many who focus so much on their diet, it makes me nervous to make extensive commentary.  Do we remember the Savior’s statement, it’s “Not that which goeth into the mouth [that] defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt. 15:11)? Remember the advice of Paul to the Corinthians, “meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak… Whether therefore ye eat, or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 8:8-9; 10:31)

DC 89:14  All grain is ordained for the use of man... to be the staff of life

For centuries, grains have been the staff of life for all societies.  Ironically, our current society has begun to challenge this, declaring that carbohydrates are the cause of obesity and should be severely limited. Two of the most famous of these diets are the Atkins and South Beach Diets.  Both of these diets stress proteins and even fats over carbohydrate consumption.  Latter-day saints should understand that such diets are not safe long term. They deny the fundamental truth that grains are "to be the staff of life."

"The Chair of Harvard's nutrition department went on record before a 1973 U.S. Senate Select Committee investigating fad diets: 'The Atkins Diet is nonsense... Any book that recommends unlimited amounts of meat, butter, and eggs, as this one does, in my opinion is dangerous. The author who makes the suggestion is guilty of malpractice.'" (

"The Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter weighed in on the South Beach Diet in their May 2004 issue: 'Disappointingly, the South Beach Diet is simply yet another version of a fad wrapped within a gimmick.' They concluded that it was 'based on fallacies... replete with faulty science, glaring nutritional inaccuracies, contradictions, and claims of scientific evidence minus the actual evidence.'" (

"Grains come in many shapes and sizes, from large kernels of popcorn to small quinoa seeds. Also called cereals, grains are the widely varied seeds of grasses, which are cultivated for food.

"All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates, various vitamins and minerals and are naturally low in fat. But grains that haven't been refined - called whole grains - are even better for you. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium.

  • Bran.  The outer layer of the seed, the bran is a rich source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The bran also contains most of the seed's fiber.
  • Germ. The part from which a new plant sprouts, the germ is a concentrated source of niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The germ also contains protein and some fat.
  • Endosperm. Also called the kernel, the endosperm makes up the bulk of the seed. It contains most of the grain's protein and carbohydrates and has small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Whole grains vs. refined grains

"Whole grains haven't had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them better sources of fiber - the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn't digest. A high-fiber diet can help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. A high-fiber diet may also lower your risk of other disorders, such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and the development of small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).

"Refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran and germ removed from the grain. Although vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the milling process, they still don't have as many nutrients as whole grains do, and they don't provide as much fiber.

"You can eat whole grains plain, add them to other dishes or use them as ingredients in baked goods. Rice, bread, cereal, flour and pasta are all grains or grain products. Choose the whole-grain versions - rather than refined grains - as often as possible." (

For the past 60-70 years, wheat has been hybridized to produce better white flour. This means that the endosperm is larger, the bran and germ smaller, the germ more bitter, the bran harder - all so that high-speed roller mills can more easily separate the parts from each other and process the endosperm into white flour. So-called whole wheat flour has had this inferior germ and bran added back into it. And to label your product as whole wheat only requires that your flour be 49% whole wheat. Look for stone ground wheat flour (or berries to grind yourself), and heirloom varieties (anything true to its form from 50+ years ago). You may need to find different bread-making recipes since this flour is quite a bit different than modern wheat and white flour.

D&C 89:15 these hath God made for the use of man


The antecedent, these, refers to “the beasts,” “the fowls,” and “all wild animals that run or creep,” mentioned in the preceding verse.

DC 89:17 corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls

"It is noted from these verses that all grains can be used both for man or for beast, but certain grains are best for certain animals. The 17th verse says that specifically wheat is for man, corn for the ox, oats for the horse, and rye for fowls and swine.

"In the light of this very definite statement a series of experiments carried out by the Experiment Station, at Madison, Wisconsin, (Wis. Bul. 275) are extremely interesting. These experiments deal with only certain phases of the statement above cited but the results are quite conclusive.

"Swine were fed on a ration that was composed, in a large measure, of wheat. After about nine months on this ration they began to lose weight, finally showing difficulty in moving about, labored breathing, and muscular twitching. The motor cells of the spinal cord were shrunken, surrounded by fluid, and appeared to be under pressure, a condition similar to that produced in beri-beri. In beri-beri these effects are due to a deficiency of the vitamin water soluble, while in these cases it was due to the poison in the wheat embryo.

"Although in this experiment the swine were not fed rye alone to see the effect it would have on them, still the experiment distinctly shows that wheat fed alone over long periods of time, is not healthful for swine.

"In experiments with chickens fed on wheat, there was an increase in the death rate, and when on corn the death rate appeared slightly larger, although the ones that lived in both cases appeared healthy and vigorous and laid fertile eggs. It must be noted here that the death rate was large and that in another experiment involving young chickens, only about 5/6 of the chickens survived the experiment. It would appear then that neither of these grains gave ideal results. In the poultry producing section of Belgium it is customary to feed the fowls almost exclusively on a rye diet, and the results obtained are very favorable. Undoubtedly work along this line will be done in the future and we can watch for the results with considerable interest.

"No work in this series of experiments was done with oats and horses, still it is the consensus of opinion that this is the best horse feed known.

"The work with cows is probably most significant, for it was done with both wheat and corn. Let me quote from the authors of this bulletin, 'In all the work a chemically balanced ration from the wheat plant and its product has never produced normal calves, while a ration from the corn plant has always produced vigorous offspring.'

"When the products of the wheat plant alone were fed, the calves were born blind and weak and lived only a short time. It seemed that the effect of feeding wheat was cumulative in the cows, for when the effect did not show at first, it always showed at the next birth.

"Products from the corn plant on the other hand, proved extremely successful in the production of vigorous calves for in no case in these trials did it fail.

"It must not be concluded from the results here indicated that it is bad practice to feed other grains than the particular ones to the particular animals as given in the quotation from the revelation by Joseph Smith, for 'All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts.' These experiments do prove that when a ration is balanced entirely from one single grain plant the results on the animals were disastrous, except in the one case where corn was fed to cows.

"A contemplation of these things ought to fill one with a greater faith in the inspiration of Joseph Smith, and this great revelation on the 'Word of Wisdom.'" (C.Y. Cannon, "New Proof for the 'Word of Wisdom'," Dept. of Animal Husbandry, BYU, Improvement Era, 1924, Vol. Xxvii. January, 1924. No. 3.)

DC 89:18 All saints who remember to keep and do these sayings... shall receive health

"Recent reports from the National Cancer Institute show that Utah has the lowest rate of cancer in the United States, and researchers believe the lifestyle of the population, which is made up predominantly of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a major factor. Brenda Edwards, associate director of the institute's surveillance program said, 'It illustrates a group of individuals [that] have healthy practice in regard to diet because of the large Mormon population. There is an absence of smoking among most of the population [and] alcohol is not consumed. These are factors that are often related to cancer risk' (Seamons 5). Similarly, in 1982, Professor John Williams, head of the department of biochemistry at the Australian National University and president of the Australian Cancer Society stated, 'Mormons' death rate from cancer is less than one-fourth of that of the general population.' Professor Williams pointed out that in order to prevent cancer, people must be 'prepared to change their diets and alter lifestyle habits. It is completely established that smoking can cause lung cancer while excesses of alcohol, fat, coffee, smoked and pickled foods, cyclamates, saccharine and fungally contaminated carbohydrates are inadvisable. A diet rich in fiber, green vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, with adequate vitamin C and A, gives protection' ("Scientist"). This sounds like the counsel given by Joseph Smith in the Word of Wisdom over 150 years ago." (Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1993], 156.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

I remember a report from the American Medical Association to the effect that heavy smokers die seven years before they would if they did not smoke. Seven years of life. That's as long as many persons spend in high school and college. Seven years-time enough to become a doctor, an architect, an engineer, a lawyer. Seven years in which to enjoy the sunrise and the sunset, the hills and the valleys, the lakes and the seas, the love of our children, the friendship of wonderful people we may know. What a statistical promise confirming the word of the Lord that the destroying angel shall pass by those who walk in obedience and will not slay them. (See D&C 89:21.) ("Pillars of Truth," Ensign, Jan. 1994, 6)

Gordon B. Hinckley

People are becoming increasingly health conscious. We have a running start on the world, a code so simple and easily understood. Not long ago I met Dr. James E. Enstrom of the University of California at Los Angeles. He is not a member of the Church. He speaks with complete objectivity. His studies indicate that actuarially speaking, Latter-day Saints live about 10 years longer than their peers.

Who can set a price on 10 years of life? What a remarkable and wonderful blessing is this Word of Wisdom. ("Look to the Future," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 69)

Heber J. Grant

I wish to bear my witness here that I believe with all my heart and soul that if I had not obeyed the Word of Wisdom, if I had not kept these commandments, that I would not be standing before you this day as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe that I would not be alive but for having obeyed this commandment, but for having fulfilled the law which was irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world, whereby I was entitled to live. (Improvement Era, 1923, Vol. Xxvii. December, 1923. No. 2.)

DC 89:19 wisdom and great treasures of knowledge

"How critically we need greater wisdom and knowledge in these perplexing times-more, even, than we need the greater physical health the revelation promises. Our children are growing up in a world that demands decisions on issues their grandparents never dreamed of. How marvelously reassuring to know that hidden treasures of knowledge are available to help make those decisions the right ones." (Finding Hidden Treasures, LDS Church News, 1989, 05/27/89)

Dallin H. Oaks

The scriptures demonstrate that we are most likely to hear the voice or know the will of God if we are keeping his commandments. The Savior taught, "If any man will do his will, he will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17) To cite a more modern example, Saints who keep the Word of Wisdom are promised that they "shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures." (D&C 89:19.) If we are to be confident in distinguishing between spurious signals and the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we must be receptive to the Spirit. To do this, we must keep the commandments of God. ("I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1983, 27)

Gordon B. Hinckley

I thank the Lord for a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I wish we lived it more fully. But even though we do not, the Lord pours out His blessings upon those who try. The promise is before us that if we will do so, we shall receive health in the navel and marrow in the bones and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures... To me it is marvelous that beyond the promises of a physical nature is the promise of hidden treasures of knowledge concerning things divine and eternal. ("My Testimony," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 53)

Joseph F. Smith

Are these glorious promises not sufficient to induce us to observe this Word of Wisdom? Is there not something here that is worthy of 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. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 366.)

DC 89:21 the destroying angel shall pass by them

The first destroying angel was sent by the Lord to kill the firstborn in Egypt.  The term Passover, has reference to this destroying angel passing over those dwellings which had lambs' blood painted on their door frames (Ex. 12). The destroying angel entered all the other homes, killing the firstborn of man and beast.

The deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt is a type for the deliverance of latter-day Israel from the wickedness of Babylon. The Lord, with a mighty hand, will save his saints while Babylon will suffer the wrath of His destroying angel. How will this destroying angel know whom to destroy? For the saints, it will be those who did not keep the Word of Wisdom as they had been taught.

Colloquially, the Law of Tithing is referred to as fire insurance.  Those who keep it will "not be burned at his coming." (DC 64:23).  Similarly, the Word of Wisdom can be referred to as life insurance.  Those who keep it will not be killed at his coming. As the Lord has warned:

   I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
   Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
   Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Luke 17:34-36)