As I have been restudying the Word of Wisdom I remembered that in John A. Widtsoe’s biography, written by Alan K. Parrish, which I had read several years ago, there was a lot of dialogue about The Word of Wisdom. So I pulled it out. I learned from the biography that Elder Widtsoe and his wife Leah wrote a book called, “The Word of Wisdom-A Modern Interpretation.” Their book was approved by President Grant and in a later edition by President McKay. The book later served as a manual for the Priesthood.
Joseph Fielding Smith said of their book, “This work is needed immediately and should be published as soon as possible.”
President McKay wrote, “Elders Joseph F. Merrill, Charles A. Callis, and Albert E. Bowen, acting under appointment, report that they have read your manuscript entitled THE WORD OF WISDOM-A MODERN INTERPRETATION, with very great interest and found it to be an ably written exposition of the Word of Wisdom as seen in light of a multitude of confirmatory evidence furnished by modern science….We are therefore pleased to give our consent to the publication of this book.”
When their book was up for another printing Leah would not proceed without the approval from the first Presidency. Parrish writes, “Each of the presidency wrote a strong letter of endorsement urging that the book be updated and reprinted.”
Their book is available through Amazon and a free copy is available on line here to print. It is not the best layout however.
In Widtsoe’s biography the author compiled several quotes. Here are some:
Elder Widtsoe wrote: “To many of our members feel that if they refrain from taking liquor, tobacco, tea and coffee, they are keeping the Word of Wisdom. They are doing so only in part. If the law be understood and lived, people would not be ill and the blessings promised may be fulfilled…
of Christ must ever try to care for the whole man.” .The Church
He also said, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to give man health and happiness. Health is concerned with the spirit and mind as well as with the body of man. The Gospel is mistakenly supposed to concern only man’s spiritual health. Mental and physical health forms the only assurance of spiritual progress. A man who is physically or mentally ill is not truly happy, though he may approach spiritual peace. The three parts of man’s nature are interrelated and depend upon one another’s welfare.”
Elder Widtsoe wrote, “In the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, the sanctity of the body is second only to that of the spirit. It is the duty, as well as the desire, of every person to preserve his physical health, so that he may live out most completely the destiny of his existence.”
The author summarized some of Leah’s writings by saying, “That teaching children about [physical health] exceeds the importance of teaching them reading, writing, or arithmetic.”
And later he summarized her again by saying, “Leah explained that mortal bodies are composed of dust of the earth, which chemists had divided into fifteen elements that could be found only in the Lord’s foods, the plants and fruits of the ground. Children should be fed with at least as much thought as farmers put into feeding their prizewinning livestock…a person’s health is largely a function of the food consumed.”
As some of you may be pondering health at this time I invite you to read the Widtsoe’s book as I think it will add value to your studies.