When the Lord revealed the section commonly known as the Word of Wisdom to the Prophet Joseph Smith, He said it was a warning given "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:4).
As parents send their children off to universities throughout the world, they should know that their children will in many cases come in face-to-face contact with those evils and designs that were prophesied.
In the United States, the hard-liquor industry has recently abandoned its long-held agreement to refrain from advertising, and it currently has several clever radio and television commercials aimed directly at young people. New products, known as alco-pops, offer alcoholic drinks with sweet tastes reminiscent of innocent childhood beverages.
Some advertisers, reacting to criticisms of these tactics, have responded with ad campaigns that feign concern for the need to encourage "responsible" drinking. These ads contain the underlying assumption that young people, even those too young to drink legally, are going to drink out of social requirement or as a rite of passage. This cannot be stopped. The best that can be done, they reason, is to try to curtail the over-consumption.
That's why one company tells college students that, on average, C students consume five drinks or more at a party, while A students consume three.
Considering how slick advertising and clever marketing have created a culture that encourages heavy alcohol consumption, such an ad campaign is, at the least, hypocritical. Meanwhile, the effects of addiction rage like a scourge on the land.
A survey released earlier this month found that more than 1 in 10 Americans is addicted to illegal drugs, alcohol or both. The government study, based on interviews with more than 68,000 people age 12 or older, determined that 19.5 million people used illegal drugs during the month prior to the interviews, while 54 million had consumed alcohol in a manner now commonly referred to as binge drinking and 15.9 million are consistent heavy drinkers, according to a report of the study by Scripps Howard News Service.
Alcohol abuse often goes hand-in-hand with illegal drug use. An addiction to one chemical often breaks down a person's moral or ethical defenses against the use of others, particularly when peer pressure enters in.
The survey found that, among children aged 12 to 17, 11.6 percent use illegal drugs. Among those 18-25, the rate is an astounding 20 percent. Marijuana, a harmful drug that now has become legal in some states and nations under some circumstances, is the most commonly used drug. But prescription drug abuse is not too far behind.
And then, of course, cigarettes continue to enslave about 71.5 million Americans, as well, which represents 30 percent of the population over 12.
There are many modern evidences of the fulfillment of prophesies, but few are as stark as those that demonstrate the divine nature of the Word of Wisdom. This revelation was given in 1833, at a time when science and medicine knew little if anything about the harmful effects of such substances, and when no one could imagine modern marketing techniques. Today, too many families are torn apart by the devastating effects wrought by "evils and designs … in the hearts of conspiring men …."
The Lord, of course, has not left us alone to fend against these evils. Modern prophets have sounded consistent warnings, as do local ward and stake leaders.
One of the most helpful modern guides for young people is the For The Strength of Youth pamphlet, which contains counsel and promises from The First Presidency.
"The Lord has commanded you to take good care of your body," it says. "To do this, observe the Word of Wisdom, found in Doctrine and Covenants 89 …. 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."
Or, as the Word of Wisdom itself states, those who are faithful "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. Amen" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21).
No wonder Satan would have people ignore this revelation, and no wonder it is so important to obey.