History of the Word of Wisdom, January 8, 1938

-- January 8, 1938
[President Heber J. Grant Diary] This evening at 6:30 I was at the Lion House at a banquet given in honor of George Albert Smith. ... I made brief remarks and told the joke about the two drunkards at the time George Albert Smith was sustained an apostle, one drunkard asked the other if he would like to know his opinion of the new apostle, and he said Yes, and the answer was "There are too d----d many Smiths." The other said "Do you want my opinion of your opinion: Well, it is my opinion of your opinion that the Lord doesn't give a damn for your opinion." (1)

-- January, 1939
Anti-Liquor-Tobacco Campaign-- President Heber J. Grant commended the anti-liquor-tobacco campaign being conducted by the Council of the Twelve and recommended the program to all stake, ward and priesthood quorums. (Compiler's resume.) {1939-January-Improvement Era 42:7, January, 1939.} (2)

-- Sept. 5, 1940
... No person should be given a recommend to the Temple who does not uphold the General Authorities of the Church; who is not an honest tithepayer or who does not undertake to become an honest tithe payer, as distinguished from a part tithepayer or a token payer; who does not either observe the Word of Wisdom or express a willingness to undertake to observe the Word of Wisdom; and who is not otherwise fully worthy by believing in and living the Gospel. ... [ George F. Richards diary, Sept. 5, 1940] (3)

-- October 3, 1942
General epistle of the First Presidency to the Saints in every land-- October 13, 1942.

President Heber J. Grant had suffered partial paralysis in 1940. His mind, however, was clear and active. As in the April 1942 Conference, the message of the First Presidency was read by President Clark. .... Drink and the Word of Wisdom

The world is smitten, nigh unto death, with great and grevious tribulations, following the commission of cardinal sins.

Over the earth, and it seems particularly in America, the demon drink is in control. Drunken with strong drink, men have lost their reason; their counsel has been destroyed; their judgment and vision are fled; they reel forward to destruction.

Drink brings cruelty into the home; it walks arm in arm with poverty; its companions are disease and plague; it puts chastity to flight; it knows neither honesty nor fair dealing; it is a total stranger to truth; it drowns conscience; it is the bodyguard of evil; it curses all who touch it.

Drink has brought more woe and misery, broken more hearts, wrecked more homes, committed more crimes, filled more coffins, than all the wars the world has suffered.

Therefore, we thank the faithful Saints for their observance of the Word of Wisdom, for their putting aside of drink. The Lord is pleased with you. You have been a bulwark of strength to this people and to the world. Your influence has been for righteousness. The Lord will not forget your good works when you stand before Him in judgment. He has blessed and will continue to bless you with the blessings He promised to those who obey this divine law of health. We invoke the mercies of the Lord upon you that you may continue strong in spirit, to cast off temptation and continue teachers to the youth of Zion by word and deed.

But so great is the curse of drink that we should not be held guiltless did we not call upon all offending Saints to forsake it and banish it from their lives forever.

God has spoken against drink in our day, and has given to this, the Lord's own Church, a specific revelation concerning it, as a word of wisdom by revelation-

"That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father . . .

"And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies."-(D&C 89:5, 7.)

This declares the divine wisdom. It is God's law of health, and is binding upon each and every one of us. We cannot escape its operation, for it is based upon eternal truth. Men may agree or disagree about this word of the Lord; if they agree, it adds nothing; if they disagree, it means nothing. Beyond His word we cannot reach, and it is enough for every Latter-day Saint, willing and trying to follow divine guidance.

For more than half a century President Grant has on every appropriate occasion admonished the Saints touching their obligation to keep the Word of Wisdom. He has told them what it means to them in matters of health, quoting the words of the Lord thereon. He has pointed out that treasures of knowledge, even hidden knowledge, would come to those who lived the law. He has, over and over again, shown what it would mean financially to every member who would keep the law, what it would mean financially to our people, and what it would mean financially to a nation. He has told us what it would mean in ending human woes, misery, sorrow, disease, crime, and death. But his admonitions have not found a resting place in all our hearts.

We, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now solemnly renew all these counsels, we repeat all these admonitions, we reinvoke obedience to God's law of health given us by God Himself.

We repeat here the directions heretofore given by President Grant: We ask that every General Authority, every stake and ward officer, every officer of Priesthood quorums, every auxiliary officer in ward, stake, or general board, every president of mission, every regular or stake missionary, in short, every officer in every Church organization, strictly to keep the Word of Wisdom from this moment forward. If any feels too weak to do this, we must ask him to step aside for someone who is willing and able so to do, for there are thousands of Latter-day Saints who are willing to obey the commandments and who are able to carry on the work of the Lord.

We ask all Church presiding officers immediately to set their official houses in order. ... (2)

1 - Diary of Heber J. Grant, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies
2 - Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)
3 - Anderson, Devery; The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, http://amzn.to/mo-temple

LDS History Chronology: the Word of Wisdom

Mormon Timeline: the Word of Wisdom