The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither “loud” nor “harsh.” It is “not a voice of thunder, neither … voice of a great tumultuous noise.” But rather, “a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,” and it can “pierce even to the very soul” and “cause [the heart] to burn.” Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a “still small voice.” The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?) Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, “Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.”
I could, if I had time, open to you the D&C containing the prophecies, the revelations of God to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and show that one by one they have been fulfilled, not by Joseph Smith’s power but by the power of God. In referring to the advice and counsel contained in the eighty-ninth section of the D&C, the Lord made this promise: And all saints who remember to keep and do these things, 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. . . . While Joseph Smith might write those words, he couldn’t fulfil that promise. I stand here today as one of the humblest among you, as the result of the observance of the requirements of that revelation and other commandments that God has given. Observance of that commandment has placed the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the tops of these everlasting mountains in a class by themselves. Not only do we have the lowest death rate of any people in all the world, but we also have a high birth rate as well. That was the promise that was given by the Lord in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord said that the destroying angels should pass by us and not slay us if we kept his counsel. What has been another result? The age of men and women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has increased until the average term of life among us is longer than among any other people in the world. Another promise: The Lord said that he would give to those who would keep this word of wisdom, “great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.”
As I said before, we just cannot imagine or calculate in any way what a great influence for good we would have in the world if every holder of the priesthood would magnify his calling, and how much happier and more successful each individual would be if he would always choose the right. How sad it is to see one who would rather be popular than do what he knows is right. I have in mind and remember so well a good member of the Church who was elected to the legislature but who wanted to be a good fellow, popular with everyone. He, wanting to be popular, let down his standards and took one drink at a social and then another. It happened again and again. He began drinking with the fellows at lunch and at dinner. And then, unintentionally I am sure, and contrary to his greatest desire, he became an alcoholic and lost the support of his constituency and the respect of his friends and family who loved him and sorrowed for him. He died an early death as an alcoholic. What a sad situation—all because he sought the praise of men more than the praise of God. This is not a single case. We have examples of congressmen and senators who have lost their positions and self-respect and the respect of others because they wanted to be popular or didn’t have the strength to resist the temptations. We have the promise of the Lord that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things will be added unto us, meaning, of course, the things that are for our good. Let us always remember that people expect us to live up to our standards and respect us much more when we do, even though they may entice us to do otherwise.
Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of the Church is the fact that its people abstain from liquor, tea, coffee, and tobacco. Of course, there are some who apparently have not the courage nor the testimony to follow this program, but numerous thousands observe it strictly. One of the many revelations of God through a living prophet was the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, giving what is known as the Word of Wisdom. For 141 years now we have been practicing this great truth embodied in that revelation that we would abstain from wine and strong drinks, that tea and coffee are not for the body, and that we should not use tobacco in any form, that it is good only for bruises and all sick cattle. . . Now after all these years, we find that many of the medical profession and others agree that numerous diseases are the result of the use of these things. I remember standing by a hospital bed of a good friend of mine, and I watched him die of cancer. His physicians said it was caused by the use of tobacco. I have helped bury people who have been killed by the demon alcohol, and many other innocent people died because someone was driving who had been drinking. The use of liquor has brought much sorrow, pain, suffering, death to innocent bystanders. Some social drinkers claim they will never become alcoholic, but how sure can they be? Those who break the Word of Wisdom have strange and spurious excuses for the using of these obnoxious things. How can anyone ignore the revelations given through a living prophet? The Lord reiterated it through another prophet and made it a definite commandment. We deplore the practice of many business and professional firms and others who serve liquor as a part of the entertainment in their special parties. We are especially concerned that at Christmas time many celebrate this holy birth of Jesus Christ our Lord with a so-called social hour which surely must be an affront to him. Is it not a sad reflection upon people to have to drink to have a good time, or to take a stimulant to give them energy or self-assurance? We hope our people will eliminate from their lives all kinds of drugs so far as possible. Too many depend upon drugs as tranquilizers and sleep helps, which is not always necessary. Certainly numerous young people have been damaged or destroyed by the use of marijuana and other deadly drugs. We deplore such.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we possess sacred knowledge from revealed truth about the relationship between the body and the spirit. Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 states, “The spirit and the body are the soul of man.” To bless us both physically and spiritually, the Lord also revealed to us a law of health, telling us which foods and substances are good for the body and which are not. With these instructions comes the promise found in section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants: “And all saints 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. “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” There is no better counsel concerning the Word of Wisdom than that found in the booklet For the Strength of Youth. It states: “The Lord has commanded you to take good care of your body. To do this, observe the Word of Wisdom, found in Doctrine and Covenants 89. Eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. When you do all these things, you remain free from harmful addictions and have control over your life. You gain the blessings of a healthy body, an alert mind, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. … “Any drug, chemical, or dangerous practice that is used to produce a sensation or ‘high’ can destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. These include hard drugs, prescription or over-the-counter medications that are abused, and household chemicals” We do not want to harm our mortal bodies, for they are a gift from God, and part of our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness is the reuniting of our immortal bodies with our spirits.
I must also say a word concerning illicit drugs. You know how I feel about them. I don’t care what the variety may be. They will destroy you if pursued. You will become their slave. Once in their power, you will do anything to get money to buy more. I was amazed while watching a television program to learn that parents introduced drugs to their children in 20 percent of the cases. I cannot understand what I regard as the stupidity of these parents. What future other than slavery for their children could they see in them? Illegal drugs will utterly destroy those who become addicted to them. My advice, my pleading to you wonderful young men and women, is to stay entirely away from them. You don’t need to experiment with them. Look about you and see the effects they have had on others. There is no need for any Latter-day Saint boy or girl, young man or young woman, to even try them. Stay clean from these mind-altering and habit-forming addictions.
In the Church, one is not condemned for tendencies or temptations. One is held accountable for transgression. If you do not act on unworthy persuasions, you will neither be condemned nor be subject to Church discipline. We do not set the standards, but we are commanded to teach them and maintain them. The standard remains abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield. Obedience to the moral standard and observance of the Word of Wisdom will remain as requirements for ordination to the priesthood, for a mission, and for a temple recommend. You had conferred upon you the gift of the Holy Ghost. There will be whisperings of approval or warning when you have decisions to make. The Holy Ghost can guide you away from evil and bring you back if you have wandered and lost your path. Never forget that you are sons and daughters of God. Satan cannot forever imprison you. You always hold the key of repentance to unlock the prison door.
We have something that this world needs to hear about, and these interviews afford an opportunity to give voice to that. One of the most extensive was with Mr. Mike Wallace of the CBS “60 Minutes” program. . . For the most part, this is from the material not used in the broadcast. Here are Mr. Wallace’s questions and my extemporaneous, unrehearsed answers: . . Question: “Your church has a very strict code of health. Why is that a part of religion?” Reply: “The body is the temple of the spirit. The body is sacred. It was created in the image of God. It is something to be cared for and used for good purposes. It ought to be taken care of, and this thing which we call the Word of Wisdom, which is a code of health, is most helpful in doing that.” Mr. Wallace: “For some, particularly those who are not Mormons, your teachings demand conformity, rigidity. Those are the complaints one hears.” Response: “Oh, yes, you may hear those complaints. I don’t think it is so. I don’t think there is substance to it. Our people have tremendous liberty. They are free to live their lives as they please.” Question: “Are they?” Answer: “Oh, absolutely. Surely. They have to make choices. It is the old eternal battle that has been going on since the war in heaven, spoken of in the book of Revelation. The forces of evil against the forces of good. We all exercise agency in the choices we make.”
A knowledge of truth is of little value unless we apply it in making correct decisions. Consider for a moment a man, heavily overweight, approaching a bakery display. In his mind are these thoughts: The doctor told you not to eat any more of that. It’s not good for you. It just gives you momentary gratification of appetite. You’ll feel uncomfortable the rest of the day after it. You’ve decided not to have any more. But then he hears himself say, “I’ll have two of those almond twists and a couple of those chocolate doughnuts. One more time won’t hurt. I’ll do it just once more, and this will be the last time.” The process of identifying truth sometimes necessitates enormous effort coupled with profound faith in our Father and His glorified Son. God intended that it be so to forge your character. Worthy character will strengthen your capacity to respond obediently to the direction of the Spirit as you make vital decisions. Righteous character is what you are becoming. It is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished. It allows you to be trusted. Righteous character provides the foundation of spiritual strength. It enables you in times of trial and testing to make difficult, extremely important decisions correctly even when they seem overpowering.
And so I plead with you tonight, my dear sisters. Sit down and quietly count the debits and the credits in your role as a mother. It is not too late. When all else fails, there is prayer and the promised help of the Lord to assist you in your trials. But do not delay. Start now, whether your child be six or 16. I am told that there was recently held in this area a great gathering which attracted 10,000 young people. I am satisfied that some of those young people were our own. It is reported that the acts of that evening’s entertainment were lewd and evil. They were loathsome and downgrading. They were representative of the foulest aspects of life. There was no beauty in them. There was only ugliness and depravity. It was sleaze in its worst form. These young people paid from $35 to $50 admission. In many cases that money came from their parents. Similar things are going on across the world. Some of your sons and daughters make it possible for the promoters of such filth to prosper in their evil undertakings. Last Sunday the Deseret News carried a detailed feature story on underground drug parties that go by the name of Rave. They run from 3:00 until 7:30 of a Sunday morning. Here young men and women, in their late teens to early 20s, dance to the metallic beat of so-called music pouring forth from stacks of amplifiers. “Some are wearing brightly colored beads; others are waving glow sticks. Some have pacifiers in their mouths, while others are wearing painter’s masks” Teach your sons and daughters to avoid illegal drugs as they would the plague. The use of these narcotics will destroy them. They cannot so abuse their bodies, they cannot so build within themselves vicious and enslaving appetites without doing incalculable injury. One habit calls for another, until the victim in so many cases is led down to a situation of utter helplessness, with loss of all self-control and habituated to a point where it cannot be broken. A recent television program indicated that 20 percent of young people who are on drugs were introduced to their use by parents. What is wrong with people? The use of illegal drugs becomes a dead-end road. It takes one nowhere except to loss of self-control, to loss of self-respect, and to self-destruction. Teach your children to avoid them as they would a foul disease. Build within them an utter abhorrence of such.