Lesson 18: The Word of Wisdom

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 61–65


Each young man will live the Word of Wisdom and understand how it can bless him both spiritually and physically.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

  2. 2.

    Assign two young men to read or tell the stories in the last part of the lesson. Encourage them to be well prepared.

  3. 3.

    If it is available, consider showing “Addiction versus Freedom,” on Family Home Evening Video Supplement 2 (53277).

Suggested Lesson Development


Scripture and discussion

  • What does the phrase “Word of Wisdom” mean to you?

  • Where do we find the Word of Wisdom? (Doctrine and Covenants 89.)

  • Why do you think the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom?

  • Why do you feel the Lord is concerned with your physical well-being, as one of his sons?

  • What does the Word of Wisdom tell us to avoid?

Write the young men’s answers on the chalkboard.

Have the young men turn to Doctrine and Covenants 89 and search for more guidelines.

  • What are possible consequences for those who disobey the Word of Wisdom?

As the young men respond, summarize their remarks in a chart on the chalkboard similar to the following:


Possible Consequences

Alcoholic beverages


Loss of health, home, family, job, money

Release of inhibitions

Lost virtue, venereal disease, unwanted pregnancy

Drunken driving

Accidents, injury, death


Heart disease, liver disease, damage to unborn children


Nicotine addiction

Cancer, emphysema, poor circulation, heart disease, damage to unborn children

Tea and coffee


Poor health, contributes to heart disease

Explain that much is said about drug abuse, yet many fail to realize that tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee all contain dangerous drugs. Because of their widespread use, tea, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco are the most common substances that lead to drug addiction.

Quotations and discussion

Explain that although section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants says nothing about marijuana, cocaine, or other such dangerous drugs, Church leaders have since warned us of the dangers of these drugs.

Explain that President Spencer W. Kimball gave the following advice:

“We hope our people will eliminate from their lives all kinds of drugs so far as possible. Too many depend on drugs as tranquilizers and sleep helps, which is not always necessary.

“Certainly numerous young people have been damaged or destroyed by the use of marijuana and other deadly drugs. We deplore such” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, p. 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 6).

Briefly discuss the dangers involved in this kind of drug abuse. You may wish to mention that drug abuse often results in addiction and damage to bodies and minds.

If time permits, you might tell of someone you know whose life has been affected by abuse of dangerous substances, without giving names. Emphasize that the Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom to help us take care of our bodies and avoid the sorrow that comes with substance abuse.

Living the Word of Wisdom Brings Great Physical and Spiritual Blessings

Scripture and discussion

Explain that the Lord has promised great blessings to all his children who live the Word of Wisdom and take good care of their bodies. To discover what blessings are promised, have a young man read Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21 while the others follow along in their scriptures. Encourage them to mark this scripture.

  • What blessings are promised to those who keep the Word of Wisdom and live the commandments?


Read the following story, which tells how a young man learned of the blessings we receive when we keep the Word of Wisdom.

“I wasn’t quite 12 years old, but I worked right alongside my father in the grain harvest over 60 years ago. He cut and I bundled the grain … ; it was exhausting labor, day after day.

“One Saturday, we began [working] at daylight and stopped about 8:30 that night. I was so tired I wanted to lie down and sleep without even waiting for supper.

“My father looked at me and said gently, ‘Lee, the patch of grain I cut today was very green. If we wait until Monday … , the kernels will be shrunken. We must do it tonight. There’s a bright moon outside. Do you think you can help me?’

“I fought back the tears and nodded.

“My father said, ‘Okay, we’ll have a bite of supper, I’ll [feed] the hogs, and then we’ll [stack] the grain.’

“We soon finished our bread and milk, but I was still so tired that I could hardly raise my head. As my father went out to feed the pigs, I sat at the table, thinking bitterly, ‘I’ve never smoked or drank; I’ve always obeyed the Word of Wisdom. The Doctrine and Covenants says that if you obey the Word of Wisdom you will run and not be weary and walk and not faint. And now I’m so tired I can hardly raise my head.’ My mouth twitched as I fought to keep back the tears of exhaustion.

“It is impossible to describe what happened, but it seemed as though a beautiful shaft of white light entered my body, filling every fiber of my being. I got up when Father came back, and we went out to the fields.

“My father was a very fast worker, but he couldn’t keep up with me that night, even though he worked as fast as he could. I ran for stray bundles, and tossed them, many heavier than I was, from [pile to pile]. I’ll never forget the astonishment in my father’s eyes.

“It was 30 years before I told him what had happened, but he still remembered the night. I’ll never forget it” (Leo W. Spencer, “To Run and Not Be Weary,” Ensign, Mar. 1974, p. 45).

Quotation and discussion

We generally think of obedience to the Word of Wisdom as having physical benefits only.

  • How might the Word of Wisdom bless you spiritually?

Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“I have come to know … that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation.

“From the time you are very little we teach you to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, narcotics, and anything else that disturbs your health.

“And you know that we get very worried when we find one of you tampering with those things.

“If someone ‘under the influence’ can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings?

“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.

“Even if you keep the Word of Wisdom, there are some things that can happen to you physically, but those things don’t generally damage you spiritually” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, pp. 28–29; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 20).

  • What does it mean to have “hidden treasures” of knowledge? (This could mean that we will have the Holy Ghost to guide and inspire us toward knowledge, truth, and testimony.)

  • What other spiritual blessings might we receive if we obey the Word of Wisdom?

By Living the Word of Wisdom We Can Set a Good Example


Have the assigned young man read or tell the following story:

“Won’t you come in and get warm while you are waiting?” The speaker, Tatsui Sato, was the only one in the village of Narumi, Japan, who spoke English. Through his shop window he had watched the American soldiers, their breaths showing frosty in the air, as they stamped their feet on the hard ground to keep warm. Although the three soldiers had looked surprised, they readily accepted the invitation of the small, dignified Japanese gentleman.

Once inside, the Americans thanked their host as they rubbed their hands together over the meager coals in the little hibachi. As a token of hospitality, Tatsui Sato presented each visitor with a steaming cup of his best tea. “Thank you, but we do not drink tea or use other stimulants,” one of the soldiers said. “Our Church teaches us that our bodies are a very sacred gift from God and that we should take special care of our health.”

“This is a very strange teaching,” said Sato San. “I have never heard of such a belief although I have studied the Bible.”

The soldiers then explained about God’s revelation called the “Word of Wisdom.” They offered to return to tell this quiet, scholarly man more about their beliefs.

As promised, the soldiers did return and began to hold study classes with the Sato family. Tatsui Sato read the Book of Mormon they brought him from cover to cover, and then reread, studied, and prayed.

By the time the summer rains came to Narumi, Tatsui Sato and his wife Chiyo were convinced the book was true. Their lives had changed since the Latter-day Saint servicemen had first declined to drink their tea and had told of their beliefs.

The Sato family’s baptisms were the first baptisms of local Saints in Japan in over twenty years and the beginning of a new era for the Church in Japan. Brother Sato became the official interpreter and translator for the Japanese Mission. He translated all of the scriptures, many manuals and tracts, and the temple ceremony into Japanese. He and his wife did genealogical research, compiling many Japanese names, including the royal families, to make possible their temple work. When the temple was built in Japan, Brother and Sister Sato were there for the dedication, and Brother Sato became a sealer in the temple. Through the efforts of this one man, the lives of thousands of Japanese people have been changed (adapted from Harrison T. Price, “A Cup of Tea,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1962, pp. 160–61, 184, 186).


Discuss the consequences of the servicemen’s observing the Word of Wisdom.

  • How might this story have been different if the soldiers had just drunk their tea and departed?


Have the assigned young man read or tell the following story:

“A young man who was stationed in Teheran, the capital of Iran, … was a member of our Church. While he was there he decided to make the best use of his time and learn the Farsi language. He thought the best way of doing this would be to work with little children and have them teach him Farsi as he taught them English. … So he found a very intelligent young pair of children, a young boy and a young girl, and through an interpreter … he said he would teach them English on the condition that they would teach him Farsi. They were overjoyed at this opportunity and so it started. … It was only a very short time until they were able to communicate with one another. He didn’t have any teaching materials, but he did have his Service-man’s Principles of the Gospel with him and his Book of Mormon, so he began to read with them out of these English books. In the course of his teaching, he taught them about the Word of Wisdom and about a whole host of things that we do and believe in our Church. One day they invited him to come and meet their uncle. … He took the little girl on his shoulders and boy by the hand and went over to the uncle’s home laughing and chatting all the way. When they got there, the uncle received him with outstretched arms. He was very, very hospitable to him and they had a wonderful time. Then finally the man got up and went over to his bookcase, opened the door, and reached in, and there was a beautiful silver tray, a silver decanter, and some very tiny cups made of silver. He brought the tray and set it down before them on that beautiful bronze table, and then he very carefully removed the cork from the decanter, and poured beautiful cherry-red wine into those little silver cups. … [The young man] thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I don’t believe in this thing, but after all, he has been so hospitable to me, and he has explained that this is a custom in his country. I don’t want to offend him in any way, so I will do it.’ And that is exactly what he did. As the tray reached him, he took this tiny silver cup no bigger than a thimble and toasted the man’s health and drank it down. The conversation dragged immediately. A silence spread throughout the room. He became uncertain and he quickly broke off the conversation, took the little girl on his shoulders and the little boy by the hand and went outside on their way home. On their way, the little girl started to cry. He said, ‘Honey, why are you crying?’ She could not answer a word through her sobs, but the little boy said, ‘Joe, why did you do it? Why did you do it?’ And he said, ‘Why did I do what?’ And he said, ‘Why did you take that drink?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘It was just a little thimble-ful.’ ‘Well,’ the boy said, ‘That doesn’t make any difference. Uncle said you would do it. We told him all about the Word of Wisdom, and he said, “Those Americans talk about a lot of things, but they don’t believe them.” We told him that you really did, but you didn’t.’ Well, the [young man] said as soon as that happened, he would have given his right arm if he could only recall the action that he had done, because he knew what damage he had done to the lives of those little children. They never came back. He had lost his valuable contact and perhaps an opportunity to spread the gospel among influential people in that land” (Theodore M. Burton, Tickling the Tiger, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 17 Jan. 1961], pp. 7–9).


  • What was the consequence of this young man’s actions?

  • How might this story have been different if the young man had refused the wine?

  • Do you think that tiny cup of wine “no bigger than a thimble” hurt the young man physically?

Help the young men to understand that a small amount of anything harmful is not good for us physically. Alcoholics would never have become alcoholics if they had not taken a first drink.

  • Did it hurt him spiritually?



Impress upon the young men that the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom because he loves us and wants us to find the joy that comes only from being physically and spiritually clean. As we live the Word of Wisdom, the Lord will fulfill his promise to bless us both physically and spiritually.

Bear your testimony of the Word of Wisdom and how important it is that priesthood bearers obey it completely.


Review the counsel about physical health given on pages 36–37 of For the Strength of Youth. Challenge the young men to study the Word of Wisdom to gain a better understanding of it. Challenge them further to pray for a firm conviction of its truthfulness as a commandment of the Lord and to live according to its principles throughout their lives.