Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Contrary to the beliefs of some (particularly the anti-Mormon contingent in Utah), the Mormon Church advocates a high degree of education, continual life-long learning, and the asking of questions, questions, questions. An interesting article by FAIR, "Education, Scholarship, and Mormonism," gives specific data. Mormons in the U.S. are almost twice as likely as the general population to attend college. And even more interestingly, nearly 80% of Mormon scientists say that have a very strong belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet. No data is presented to compare whether that is a higher percentage than the general Mormon population, but it is noted that the more years of education a Latter-day Saint has, the more active he tends to be. Those with 8 years or less of education are in the 30-50% church activity bracket while those with 16 years of education (college graduates) are in the 70-80% church activity bracket.
Here is another interesting set of graphics from a study done at Princeton showing that in many churches, higher education leads to lessened faith, but in the LDS Church the two correspond: "Education and Religiosity: Mormons Buck the Trend".
The statistics do not show Mormons to be uneducated people, blindly following their leaders. In fact, we follow our leaders in their counsel to get as much education as we can!
President John Taylor prophesied clearly how it shall be: “You mark my words, and write them down and see if they do not come to pass. You will see the day that Zion will be far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.” (Sermon, 20 Sept. 1857., quoted in President Spencer W. Kimball, "Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith," Ensign, Sept. 1983)
In what other church do you find the leaders teaching doctrine, administering programs, and giving counsel while fully expecting that each church member has the ability, through prayer and personal revelation, to have that information confirmed to them by the Holy Ghost? In fact, no one is allowed to join the Church unless they can pass a baptismal interview in which they assert that they have received a personal witness of the truthfulness of the restored Church!
The Mormon Church expects the exact opposite of blind, uneducated obedience, the only religion that teaches, "The glory of God is intelligence" (D&C 93:36) and that "whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection." (D&C 130:18)
For the rest of this lesson, I cannot do any better than to refer to President Kimball's excellent article, linked above. He covers it all.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Hand out the quotes at the end of the lesson for class members to read aloud at the right time. Hand out quizzes to the class.
Word of Wisdom Quizzes
Answer the following questions without referring to your scriptures.
- What hath God ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man?
- What are to be used sparingly; only in winter, cold, or famine?
- What is the staff of life?
- These are to be used with prudence and thanksgiving?
- Which grain is singled out in D&C 89 as being good particularly for man?
Have class members write down everything they remember eating yesterday.
Check quiz answers, discuss them, award prize of fruit to high scorer, maybe pass out a snack from grain for everybody to munch during the discussion.
POP QUIZ ANSWERS
- What hath God ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man? Answer: v. 10: All herbs (plans or vegetables)
- What are to be used sparingly; only in winter, cold, or famine? Answer: v. 13 & 15: Meat, poultry, and wild game
- What is the staff of life? Answer: v. 14: All grain, not only for man but for all beasts and fowls
- These are to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. Answer: v. 11: Every herb (vegetable) and every fruit in their season.
- Which grain is singled out in D&C 89 as being good particularly for man? Answer: v. 17: Wheat
Overview Word of Wisdom
We tend to think of ourselves as perfect at keeping the Word of Wisdom if we don’t smoke or drink alcohol, tea, or coffee. We think it is a simple black-and-white commandment, cut-and-dried, just like tithing. But the Word of Wisdom has more to it than just avoiding tobacco and strong drinks, and we can’t expect to reap all of the blessings of the Word of Wisdom unless we keep the whole thing. (Have someone read Quote 1, printed at the end of the lesson. The quotes are not used in the lesson in numerical order. Don't let that throw you off.) On the other hand, we don't need to add to the Word of Wisdom with extremes. (Have someone read Quote 2.)
V. 1-3: Introduction/Explanation—wasn’t originally a commandment, just good counsel. Now it’s a requirement for temple attendance, but even if it weren’t, who would want to ignore the Lord’s counsel, though? Following it is always going to bring additional blessings.
V. 4-9: What not to eat—skim over—the lesser part of the law.
V. 10-17: What to eat and how—the higher law. “Herbs” would mean vegetables. They are to be eaten with “prudence and thanksgiving.” Does “thanksgiving” mean that we should always say a prayer before we eat? Twice it is mentioned that meat and poultry be eaten sparingly, very sparingly in fact. All grain is good for man, but wheat is specifically itemized as good for man. Various grains particularly good for animals. Why is that mentioned? (Honestly, I don't know...)
V. 18-22: Blessings
Blessings of the Word of Wisdom. The blessings are paired. This may be like the poetic style of Proverbs, Psalms, and Isaiah, wherein the same thing is stated in two different ways as a poetic form, rather than as two separate blessings. But, even if the second one just restates the first, it is still instructive to look at each of the blessings separately, because they clarify each other. (Ask class members what they think each blessing means. Ask to share their comments on any of these blessings that they have received in their own lives, through obeying the Word of Wisdom. In addition, use the ideas below.)
Health in their navel:
Torso (navel) houses most of the vital organs—heart, lungs—also the digestive organs. The Word of Wisdom will greatly reduce the risk of lung diseases, such as lung cancer. The Word of Wisdom is high in fiber and that, combined with “prudence” in portions will make a huge improvement in how the digestive organs run and how healthy the person feels on a day-to-day basis. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is known to reduce heart disease.
Marrow to their bones:
“The key cells in your immune system are lymphocytes…which originate in the bone marrow.” (Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, p. A-18) Keeping the Word of Wisdom promises strength in immunity. Many of the vitamins found in fruits and vegetables have been linked to immunity.
Wisdom being the application of knowledge, keeping the Word of Wisdom helps us learn good sense and self-mastery. Eating with “prudence and thanksgiving” invites the presence of the Spirit, the greatest source of wisdom. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol prevents any contact with the Spirit. Wisdom and knowledge itemized in Section 46 as spiritual gifts.
Clarity of thought, good brain function. More knowledge specifically about how to help our own body to function optimally? (Quotes 4 & 5)
Run and not be weary:Running implies energy. Word of wisdom promises increased energy. (Quote 3)
Walk and not faint:
Walking implies endurance. Whole grains and fruits and vegetables are the foods that give you long-lasting energy, as compared to sugars which spike your blood sugar level, and then drop it drastically. Some of the trace minerals and the vitamins also likely contribute to endurance.
The destroying angel shall pass them by:
The Word of Wisdom offers protection from many terminal physical diseases—or at least a greatly reduced risk. Which can you think of? (Diabetes, various cancers, heart failure…) (Quote 7) D&C 42:43-44 says that nourishing the sick with herbs and mild food precedes or complements the priesthood ordinance of administering to the sick. The Word of Wisdom is part of the miracle of healing. We won’t be spared forever, as death is a part of life. Only John the Beloved and the Three Nephites get that blessing. D&C 42:48 says that when we are appointed to death, it will come. But D&C 42:47 says death will be sweet if we die “in Christ.”
Also, the Word of Wisdom offers protection from spiritual death. How? Presence of the Spirit to guide you, through the gifts of wisdom and knowledge. Energy to serve tirelessly. A good physical housing for your spirit. (“The spirit and the body are the soul of man;” they are inseparably connected on this earth, and one can offer great support to the other. D&C 88:15) Gaining Self-Mastery over one area gives the skills of self-mastery to use in other areas, such as overcoming our sinful habits. Obedience.
Additional blessing regarding the economy of the nations added by a subsequent prophet. (Quote 6)
Who is capable of keeping the Word of Wisdom?
Verse 3 : “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. “The “weakest saint” can keep the Word of Wisdom. This is an important point, but there is more to it than you might think.
Any time there is a commandment that involves controlling our physical passions—is there one that doesn’t?—it is difficult to keep. And we each have a harder time with some of these than others. In developed and prosperous countries, it is very difficult to keep the part of the Word of Wisdom that says we should eat with “prudence and thanksgiving.” We can easily lapse into gluttony and greed. This wouldn’t be a problem for many of the saints around the world who live in poverty. People who have been exposed to alcohol or tobacco or coffee are going to have a very difficult time keeping that part of the Word of Wisdom, more so than those of us who were blessing to not grow up breathing second-hand smoke, or who had the influence of good friends in high school. But the promise is specific that those who “are or can be called saints” will have the ability. It doesn’t just say, the weakest man—there is a specification made here that should not be overlooked.
In John Grisham’s book, The Testament, the main character struggles with alcoholism for years, goes through rehab repeatedly, and always sinks back into his old ways, until he comes to Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and humbly pleads for his help. After that, his physical craving for alcohol is replaced by his spiritual craving to be more like the Christians he admired. Through Christ’s grace, he is finally free of alcoholism for the first time in his life, and it sticks! Most twelve-step addiction programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous), also rely upon aid from God.
Christ is the greatest rehabilitator ever known. If we ask for his grace to overcome, we will receive it. It may be in one fell swoop, as it was for the man in The Testament, but it may more likely come gradually, over a great period of rime, as we continue to try and develop, for example, the determination to always eat with “prudence and thanksgiving.” The Word of Wisdom is not as black-and-white as we may think if we only pay attention to the first section. But as we work, probably the rest of our lives, to get better and better at following the nutritional guidelines of the Word of Wisdom, we will receive more and more of the great blessings promised therein.
Silent Review of Food Diaries—Do you keep the Word of Wisdom perfectly? Challenge to pick one area of improvement to try for a month or two and see if you reap greater blessings.
* * * * * * *
Quote 1: Joseph Fielding Smith: “Many a man thinks he keeps the Word of Wisdom who knows only the ‘don’ts…’” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2:148)
Quote 2: Mark E. Peterson: “I do not believe we should try to establish our personal fads as church doctrine. I do not believe my eternal salvation will be effected in any way if I eat white bread or white sugar. I do not believe the doctrines of the church are in any way involved I whether my whole wheat is stone-ground or steel-cut.” (April 1953 General Conference)
Quote 3: Heber J. Grant: “No man who breaks the Word of Wisdom can gain the same amount of knowledge and intelligence in this world as the man who obeys the law. I don’t care who he is or where he comes from, his mind will not be as clear, and he cannot advance as far and as rapidly and retain his power as much as he would if he obeyed the Word of Wisdom.” (April 1925 General Conference)
Quote 4: Boyd K. Packer: “I have come to know that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation…As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically.” (Oct. 1979 General Conference)
Quote 5: Bill Beardall: “[When I was a missionary] years ago, the third missionary discussion talked about the Word of Wisdom…We would always try to get a commitment from the investigator to live the Word of Wisdom. When the investigators accepted this principle, they were able to understand subsequent discussions. Almost without exception, I found that if they had not started to live this important principle, they could not comprehend further growth in the gospel.” (Gospel Doctrine Class website)
Quote 6: Heber J. Grant: “[The Word of Wisdom] would solve the economic problems, not only of our country, but of every other country, if it were obeyed by the people of the world.” (April 1936 General Conference)
Quote 7: 1997 UCLA study showed LDS death rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease to be half those of the general population. Members of the Church live from 8 to 11 years longer than the average American.
Definitions of “constitution”: The physical makeup of an individual
Definition of “nature”: the essence of a person, or constitution
Definition of “herb”: 1) a seed-producing plant that does not develop a persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season, or 2) a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities