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The Other Side Of The Word Of Wisdom

Rusty - June 13, 2005

Today in Elders Quorum we had the Word of Wisdom lesson. I was secretly hoping the teacher’s first words would be, “Today we’re going to talk about the Word of Wisdom, but we are not going to say a thing about alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea.” Alas, it was not to be. The first 30 minutes were taken up by stories about how smoking is addictive, alcoholics are bad, there are studies that say coffee shortens life by 3 months… blah, blah, blah. Okay, fine, those things are true. Of course we’re going to latch on to studies and stories about how the Lord knew all along, that those substances are bad for us, etc. Funny how we don’t say much of those who drink in moderation and never have any problems whatsoever. (I had to step out for a moment and from what I gather this last point was brought up in class and sparked an interesting back-and-forth, which I regret missing)

We then read the following verse (D&C 89:4):

“Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—”

The wording on this is interesting. It says, “In consequence of…” in other words, “what follows is the REASON I’m giving the Word of Wisdom…” What are those words? Because of the evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men. He doesn’t say, “because of all the health benefits…” or “because of tanic acid/caffeine…” or “because second-hand smoke…” He said it was because of the conspiring men.


So anyway, the teacher asked the class what this might refer to and someone suggested the tobacco industry, that it was a conspiracy how they deceived the population about tobacco’s health risks. I agree with this. I personally believe that this is part of what this verse is talking about.

But in my “annoyed that we always talk about the don’ts of the WofW and never the do’s” mind frame I tried to apply this scripture to the do’s of the WofW. And for some reason it seemed to make just as much sense, if not more. There are conspiring men in the beef industry, there are conspiring men in the grain industry, there are conspiring men in the fast food industry, there are conspiring men in the sugar/high fructose corn syrup industry. The whole idea of artificial/natural flavoring smacks of conspiracy to me. (Do a quick Google search on any of these industries and you’ll quickly see the overwhelming power and influence they have to determine what we eat and how little we know about it).

Is this a conspiracy though? Am I seeing connections where there aren’t any? What say ye?


  1. Adam Smith would have you believe that any time two capitalists are in the same room, they are conspiriting — which seems true.

    Good point about focusing on the “do” part of the story.

    We had the Section 89 of the D&C lesson in Sunday School this week and most of the lesson was on our bodies as temples and what that really means. It was actually interesting, though I found out that our instructor’s power point presentations are now on the web and that he had to break it to some guy that he was *not* in the family of the president of the Church, just shares the name.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — June 13, 2005 @ 7:52 am

  2. I wish I knew more about church history, and could make better commentary concerning the possibilities of whether Joseph Smith was talking about his time when he made those comments, or whether he was speaking prophetically about us today.

    Whatever the case, Rusty is onto something here. The words of the Lord made him think, and analyze his life and eating habits, and that’s a good thing. I’m not sure if I beleive that the artificial sweetener industry is the embodied antichrist (not that Rusty implied they were), but the Doctrine & Coventants got him to think about what he can be more careful and watchful of. Hence, progress was made.

    Very insightful, Rusty. It got me thinking.

    Comment by Joe — June 13, 2005 @ 8:31 am

  3. Spot on. Less meat, more grains = Doesn’t sound like Atkins or diet conspirators to me…

    Comment by lyle — June 13, 2005 @ 10:07 am

  4. Rusty, we talked about this aspect of it in my EQ yesterday as well. A good point was made that the “evils and designs” in the “hearts of conspiring men” doesn’t necessarily mean that such industries are conspiring with each other. Rather, the “conspiracy” is just generally the greed in the hearts of men coupled with the new ability to reach market segments and exploit them for the greatest profit possible. In other words, it is perhaps one of the most insidious forms of conspiracy because you could talk to one of the individual magnates involved and he or she could honestly tell you that he or she has no ill-will toward the targeted market and does not have evil designs towards them in his or her heart. Instead, it is the greed coupled with the modern capacity for production and distribution, perhaps, that combine to form the dangerous “conspiracy” from which the WoW can protect us. The cigarette ads and fast food commercials are often targeted at low-income segments of society b/c corporations have learned that they are the most likely to patronize fast-food joints and buy cigarettes. Thus, following the WoW can protect us from an unhealthy, costly list of habits, all of which are addicting to a certain degree, even if only because they become habits which are generally hard to break.

    Also, the evils and designs in the hearts of conspiring men and women does not necessarily have to refer to “others.” Maybe you and I are the one it is referring to and the WoW is protecting us from our pleasure-loving selves. Perhaps absent the WoW, in this temporal world, I would be the weakest of the weak in getting unbreakable addictions to those things proscribed by the WoW. Perhaps the reason this is specifically designated for the last days is because of our industrialized society (in which such vices are mass-produced and efficiently marketed) coupled with the leisure-lifestyles that this age uniquely knows in the history of the world.

    Comment by john fowles — June 13, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  5. There are conspiring men in the beef industry, there are conspiring men in the grain industry, there are conspiring men in the fast food industry, there are conspiring men in the sugar/high fructose corn syrup industry. The whole idea of artificial/natural flavoring smacks of conspiracy to me.

    I guess I need to go talk to the Bishop. :)

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2005 @ 12:14 pm

  6. …says the VP of a sweetener company.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2005 @ 12:15 pm

  7. J,
    I knew there was something shifty about you.

    Comment by Steve H — June 13, 2005 @ 12:24 pm

  8. There is no beef conspiracy. There is no fast-food conspiracy. Please just can we keep to realities, people?


    The Fried Food Cattlemen’s Association for Better Government

    Comment by Steve Evans — June 13, 2005 @ 12:32 pm

  9. John,
    Interesting points. I’ve often thought of that aspect of “evil corporations” that most employees are just going to work and doing business, no ill-will towards anyone. And I don’t even know if those “conspiring men” would consider what they’re doing as a conspiracy, rather trying to efficiently make more money, because hey, it’s just business. Good points.

    J. Stapley,
    It’d be interesting to know more about what you do and get your feelings on the ethics/non-ethics of artificial flavors/sweeteners. And like I said, I think there are conspiring men in those industries, not that the industries themselves are conspiracies. I should probably have explained why I sometimes feel like the artificial flavoring industry smacks of conspiracy, but I didn’t want to derail my post too much. Sometimes I guess I just have a hard time with the idea of a Cheeto, puffed starch with fake flavor with zero nutritional value marketed towards children. It just doesn’t seem right.

    Now, that being said, I enjoy Cheetos, beef, and sugar and don’t know how to reconcile my feelings about them and the WoW.

    Comment by Rusty — June 13, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

  10. Steve,
    That’s funny.

    Comment by Rusty — June 13, 2005 @ 12:50 pm

  11. As you know from some of our past discussions, I believe that I share your ambivalence on the issue. I personally think all advertising to children should be proscribed, though I don’t think it would be legal or feasible.

    Food companies are only interested in making money. Period. The thing is, though, that they will sell what people buy. I can’t tell you how many healthy, great tasting, products I have worked on that have failed, simply because the average American isn’t willing to pay 20% extra. That said, I do believe they hold a large measure of responsibility precisely because consumers are ignorant…but maybe that is the governments job. Asking companies to watch out for a bunch of ignoramuses from which they are harvesting cash doesn’t work very well.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

  12. I’m not a Mormon, but I’ve been following this discussion on the Word of Wisdom today, and I was wondering how many Mormons don’t eat meat during hot summers. (I read the WofW here) When I went to an LDS church one summer, the potlucks always contained meat products.

    This part confused me, too: Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals Does that mean that Mormons aren’t to eat cornbread, oatmeal, or barley soup?

    If so, then these potlucks were even more radical than my friends’ contraband Coke bottles suggested.

    Comment by julie — June 14, 2005 @ 5:38 pm

  13. Julie,
    Good question. Generally the interpretation is left to the membership of the Church. So one person might interpret it as “don’t eat meat every meal” and another might read it as “don’t eat meat during the summer”. My personal interpretation is somewhere in the middle. Your question about grains is also a good one, though I think the answer is that those things aren’t prohibited, the verse is just suggesting what those substances are used for. It’s not saying that man can only eat wheat.

    Comment by Rusty — June 14, 2005 @ 6:00 pm

  14. Thanks, Rusty! :o )

    Comment by julie — June 14, 2005 @ 7:48 pm

  15. Sorry I’ve forgotten where I’ve read this:

    What’s the difference between a Mormon and a non-Mormon?

    The temperature of their caffiene

    Comment by Daylan Darby — June 14, 2005 @ 10:21 pm

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