Prohibition and a Word of Wisdom

June 1, 2011 Posted by zachary

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—

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—

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. (Doctrine and Covenants 89:1-3)

In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith was led to inquire of God on the use of tobacco and alcohol by members of the church. This inquiry led to the revelation Latter-day Saints call the “Word of Wisdom.”

This revelation has 3 key parts: A proscription on the use of strong drinks, wine, tobacco and “hot drinks” (later decreed by the leaders of the church to refer to coffee and tea); A listing of food fit for the use of man and beast; And a promise to those who follow this word of wisdom.

At the time of this revelation, it was given as strong suggestion rather than a commandment. It wasn’t until much later during the time Brigham Young was prophet that the leaders of the church were inspired to make the proscription portion a requirement for temple access.

As Latter-day Saints we have a duty to live by this Word of Wisdom. However, we do not have a right to force others to do the same.

In 1919, the United States passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment made the production, transportation, sale and consumption of alcohol a federal crime. What followed was not a state of peace and prosperity in the US. Instead, a period of heavy organized crime, over crowded prisons and backlogged justice systems in the US.

Does this sound familiar?

Today we have similar laws on the books that create the exact same problems revolving around other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. These drugs are in high demand in the US but because they are illegal, they are being provided by violent gangs and mafias. The transportation, sale and consumption of these drugs are federal crimes and are a direct cause of much of the US’s over crowded prison system.

As Libertarians, we seek to end prohibition and the crimes and problems associated with them. By legalizing them, or at least decriminalizing the use of them, we will have fewer non-violent people in our prisons, our courts will have fewer people on trial and our police forces will be able to focus on actual crime.

By ending drug prohibition Libertarians would double the resources available for crime prevention, and significantly reduce the number of violent criminals at work in your neighborhood. (Libertarian Issues: Crime and Violence)

As a Latter-day Saint, we have a spiritual responsibility to live the Word of Wisdom and to follow the proscriptions set by it and the inspiration of the leaders of our church. However, the proscriptions within do not apply to those who are not members except “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom

By eliminating the crime that revolves around prohibition, we will make our cities and streets safer for our families and friends. Those who abuse drugs should be treated in the same way we treat those who abuse alcohol, punish them for endangering others and help them overcome addition. Doing otherwise will simply continue to bankrupt and bog our justice system.

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