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How Does Health Affect Spirituality?

By Mormon.org
young men running on beach

It’s Hard to Feel Good When You’re Unhealthy

For decades health experts have told us to eat better and exercise more, not just for our physical health, but for our mental health as well. It just makes sense. Overindulging in food and drink, not sleeping enough, not exercising: this is a good recipe for an unhappy body and a sluggish mind. Everyone’s experienced it to some extent. So it just stands to reason that physical and mental health can have a direct effect on our spiritual health as well.

It Says So in the Bible

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). In other words, if we want the Holy Ghost to be with us to guide, teach, and warn us, we need to treat our bodies well.

The Word of Wisdom

This principle is also the basis of the Mormon health code, known as the Word of Wisdom. The Prophet Joseph Smith received these instructions in 1833 as a “principle with promise.” The principle is that we should eat healthy foods and avoid harmful and addictive substances, specifically coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco. The promise is that those “who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:18–20).

President Boyd K. Packer, a modern-day Apostle of the Lord, taught how the Word of Wisdom affects spiritual health: “Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation, the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication.”

A Caveat

It is important to note, however, that the Word of Wisdom does not guarantee good health for all. Disease and disability can strike even the most faithful adherents of this principle. In many of these cases, people have found that the lack of health causes them to rely more on God, leading to an increase in spiritual blessings.

Whatever our circumstances, an important key to spiritual health is to take care of our bodies as well as we can, trusting God to take care of the rest.