How to Live the Word of Wisdom

Adapted from the April 1996 general conference address “The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promise.”


Boyd K. Packer

How to Live the Word of Wisdom

We know that young people generally don’t like restrictions. Believe it or not, we were young once and we remember.

Young people, you must understand that there is something of colossal importance to justify the restrictions imposed by the Word of Wisdom!

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.

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.

In some cultures, native drinks are claimed to be harmless because they are not specifically mentioned in the revelation. Yet they draw members to parties which certainly offend the principle.

Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life.

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).

Honor the principle of the Word of Wisdom and you will receive the promised blessings (see D&C 89:18, 20).

The Word of Wisdom does not promise you perfect health, but it teaches how to keep the body you were born with in the best condition and your mind alert to delicate spiritual promptings.

The promise of health for living the standard of the revelation is not limited to members of the Church. Tell your nonmember friends about the Word of Wisdom and urge them to live it.

While the Word of Wisdom requires strict obedience, in return it promises health, great treasures of knowledge, and that redemption bought for us by the Lamb of God, who was slain that we might be redeemed.

Surely the Word of Wisdom was given so that you may keep the delicate, sensitive, spiritual part of your nature on proper alert. Learn to “listen” to your feelings. You will be guided and warned and taught and blessed.

I bear witness that this revelation is a powerful protection to all members of the Church, particularly to you, the youth of the Church, as you face a life full of so many troubles and danger and uncertainties.

How Have You Done This?

I stay away from drugs and alcohol to keep my body healthy.

Randy S.

I go running a lot, and at school I try to encourage people to do well in gym.

Isabelle M.

I go to sleep at a proper time and get up at a proper time.

Kaden C.

I play softball and do gymnastics, and I try to eat as healthy as I can.

Mckenna H.

Share Your Experiences

Share your experiences about living the Word of Wisdom and read the experiences of other youth by going to lds.org/go/13J.