We have a problem with the Word of Wisdom!
Let us rephrase that: We have a problem with the rather selective way we live the Word of Wisdom. No smoking, check. No drinking, check. No tea or coffee, check. But what about the part on eating meat sparingly? And eating whole grains? What about wholesome herbs and fruits in their season? And is there anything in there about excessive ice cream?
Why is heavily Mormon Utah the ninth most obese state in America? We don't think Rulon Gardner drinks or smokes, but was he living the Word of Wisdom as he grew to almost 500 pounds? Same question to the rest of the record number of other Utahns who ate their way onto "The Biggest Loser."
If the Word of Wisdom were re-revealed today, would it include something about fast foods? About preservatives? About corn syrup sugar? About Big Gulps?
Maybe the reason it is called the Word of Wisdom is that it was expected that we would be wise about the whole thing — or at least that we would use a little common sense.
And what about our kids? Back in the day when children worked on the farm, nobody had to worry too much about exercise. But would a little wisdom today suggest that other parts of our kids' bodies need a little exercise besides their thumbs from texting and their eyeballs from playing video games?
We Mormons love to say that our bodies are the temples of our spirits, but we would never trash our brick and mortar temples like we trash our flesh and bones ones.
Truly and completely living the whole Word of Wisdom is a spiritual exercise as well as a physical one, and it may be a key to the goal and purpose of mortality. In the Book of Mormon, Alma uses a fabulous metaphor in his letter to his middle son, Shiblon. It uses a horse as the representation for appetite and a bridle to suggest that our goal should be to control rather than to kill our appetites. Appetites and the whole physical experience are good and even Godlike things, and bridling and mastering them is one of the key purposes of mortality. Controlling our appetites for food is a "type" for controlling all of our appetites — for material things, for sex, for control, etc. An uncontrolled appetite, like an unbridled horse, is much stronger than we are and can destroy us. But when well-bridled, all of these appetites can bring us some of the joy which we were put into mortality to find.
So here's the deal (and remember from the top of this column that we are talking to ourselves here): If we're not going to live the whole Word of Wisdom for ourselves, let's do it for our children!
Our unique theology really does suggest that our physical bodies can be an instrument of joy and even that they can make us more like God. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether they are achieving that in our own case or whether they will accomplish that for our children.
Children who grow up living the whole Word of Wisdom and understanding why they live it will have a legacy of health and fitness that will make their lives more joyful as well as longer.
Kids who eat healthy things at home learn to like them and can actually develop a distaste for fast and flabby food. Part of our stewardship over our children involves teaching them (and showing them how) to take care of their physical bodies and how to live the whole Word of Wisdom.
Note: The Eyres welcome feedback, comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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