Though Not Initially Given “by Commandment,” the Word of Wisdom Is a Commandment Today

Doctrine and Covenants 89:1–3

1 A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—
2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—
3 Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

President Joseph F. Smith said:

“The reason undoubtedly why the Word of Wisdom was given—as not by ‘commandment or constraint’ was that at that time, at least, if it had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law. Later on, it was announced from this stand, by President Brigham Young [on September 9, 1851], that the Word of Wisdom was a revelation and a command of the Lord. I desired to mention that fact, because I do not want you to feel that we are under no restraint.”

(In Conference Report, Oct. 1913, 14.)

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