Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adapted to the Weak

John and I teach the the six, seven, and eight-year-old children in Primary. This week we are studying the Word of Wisdom, in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89.

One phrase in the third verse caught my attention during my mission, as we were teaching a man who was struggling with alcoholism: "Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints."

I recall that my companion and I said to the man something along the lines of, "See? The Lord said that this law was adapted for even the weakest of the saints, so that everyone could keep it. Do you think that of all the people to come to Church, you're the weakest? We don't either. We know you can do it."

I suppose that made for a fancy pep-talk at the time, but I don't think that is exactly what the scripture is teaching. I think it is more relevant in answering the challenges that people make against the Word of Wisdom, such as:
  • What's wrong with a little social drinking every now and again if you don't get drunk?
  • Can't there be health benefits to drinking wine, etc.? All alcohol isn't all bad.
  • I drink tea and coffee without any side effects or addictions. What is wrong with that?
  • Why should I watch my diet if I'm seemingly healthy and don't have weight problems?
The Lord said that the principle was given for the weak. For all the people who can dabble in these things without great consequence, there is another group of people who can't. There are people who are very susceptible to addiction with only a few uses. There are people who are more susceptible to illnesses and cancers. There are people who have a lower tolerance to behavior-altering substances. And we generally don't know who we are until the bad consequence rears its ugly head. So the Lord gave the principle to everyone in order to protect the weak.

"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."   -Romans 14:21

I think, too, that modern science is showing us that perhaps all of us are weaker with regard to these kinds of substances that we would like to admit. Pretty much everything prohibited in the Word of Wisdom has been identified as risk factors for cancer and heart disease, while everything we are instructed to eat (fruits, vegetables, grains, scarce meat) are shown to prevent both. I can't believe that that is a coincidence.

As a mostly-unrelated aside, I audited a D&C class at BYU with John, and the professor was talking about how LDS people who keep the Word of Wisdom live quite a bit longer than their average non-LDS counterparts. He then asked if we knew who lived longer than LDS people. His answer: Seventh-Day Adventists; they have a similar code of health, but they actually keep the eat meat sparingly part that we like to ignore. They keep the commandment, they get the blessing. We need to work on that one in this house =).

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