This past Sunday I accompanied a musical number in sacrament meeting and taught a lesson on the word of wisdom in elders’ quorum.
For my lesson, I divided the chalkboard into columns of Acts and Motivations. We began with the central act of our theology, Christ’s atonement, and found that its motivation was love. Then a discussion of the two great commandments to love God and each other, and how these two principles inform not only the substance of all other commandments (WHAT to do), but the motivation behind them (WHY we do them).
We then looked to the word of wisdom specifically—what acts it proscribes and recommends—and discussed why it is loving advice from Heavenly Parents, how obeying it shows love to those who gave us the gift of bodies and to the people around us who would be greatly affected by use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc.
In the spirit of “proving contraries,” we looked at Jesus’ statement that things that go into a person do not defile, but things that come out of a person do defile. My suggestion was that this is consistent with the word of wisdom because the Pharisees were using the dietary laws as a sword rather than a shield. This led to the concept that the word of wisdom should be used for our own temporal and spiritual well-being but should not be used to judge other people. Others elders resolved the seeming incongruity with the idea that taking alcohol or drugs into the body in fact affects what comes out.
Finally, we talked about what to do if we find ourselves on the wrong side of the word of wisdom. I shared that in my years away from the church, I developed a drug addiction which led me to 12-step recovery. Others in the quorum emphasized that everyone is welcome at church, even (and perhaps especially) people who are struggling with word of wisdom problems.
I have much more of a testimony of the word of wisdom after teaching this lesson. I have even *gasp* given up coffee. But not green tea. Baby steps.