I don’t know where I got my first Bible. I’ve written in childish script the names of my siblings–their births and the deaths of the three who died when we were little. I just packed it around wherever I landed and still have it.

When my first husband died, I had that paperback Book of Mormon with the blue cover and my old Bible. I read them both, along with the cheap copy of the D&C & POGP. Maybe I read them twice in those first couple of years. (I read straight through Jesus the Christ and a few other books as well in my newfound zeal for the gospel.)

I think I have two other copies of the scriptures; one Bill bought me when we were first married which was large–really too heavy for me, but he meant well. He thought I’d appreciate a bigger set of scriptures. I don’t know how many times I read through them. Three years ago, I bought a smaller set and I’ve read the Book of Mormon twice and I’m on my second reading of the Bible–into Acts. I am also reading the D & C which I skipped reading in this new set of scriptures.

I’m not a scriptural scholar, I read straight through and underline and highlight what I like or what strikes me; there are places where I’ve written “this is crap” or “are you kidding me?” or “wonderful” depending on what I’ve read. I dog-ear my favorites.

I’ve concluded that the Old Testament and Doctrine & Covenants are similar in tone–especially some of the fire and brimstone guys like Jeremiah. And there is a lot of similarity in tone in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the New Testament, but this time I’ve really been struck by the realization that, were I a skeptic, I would read the New Testament seeing the areas I could discredit the story of Christ. Just as some read the Book of Mormon.

I’m not saying this right, I know, but sometimes when I read the Book of Mormon, I think “well, Joseph could have thrown that in to make himself look better.” I’ve never doubted the divinity of Christ, but this time, I realized that the same could be said for the New Testament stories “some Christian threw that in.”

All that being said, my main purpose in writing this post is to ask for clarification on one question I have about D & C. Before I ask that question, I must say that I don’t much like this book of scripture. I find it mean in tone. Preachy and sometimes just boring as it lists instructions to specific individuals as to their missions, etc. When I read the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, I didn’t get that mean, “you’re going to burn” feeling. The D&C feels disjointed and incongruent to me at times. I’m starting in on section 107 which seems pretty meaningful and am impressed at the authoritative tone the prophet uses to address Melchizedek, especially since there’s no reference to that priesthood in the Bible. I’m a believer.

But this is my least favorite book of scripture to read. I’m reading it with a bad attitude. I’ve had, I believe, some personal revelation while reading it, but I’m still not having fun.

This is my question: Section 89 starts with this in verse 2 “To be sent greeting; NOT BY COMMANDMENT OR CONSTRAINT (I added the capitols), but by revelation and the word of wisdom.” Hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe this has been discussed at length–probably it has, but I’ve either totally forgotten about it or never paid much attention and it gave me pause. I’d read that the day before I went to lunch with two of my friends who have college degrees and have been incredibly faithful all their lives. I brought it up and one friend, less prone to this type of discussion didn’t respond. My other, more out-spoken friend, stated definitively “it wasn’t a commandment at first but it was revealed to the prophet later and made a commandment.” I asked, “which prophet did God reveal that to? When did that happen?” She didn’t know.

According to Wikipedia, no prophet ever pronounced it as revelation; however, Heber J Grant made it a condition of holding a recommend.

Hmmm……….I believe there’s a lot of wisdom in the Word of Wisdom. We argue about eating meat (and section 89 seems pretty definitive on that, but I’m still going to eat a lot of meat) and drinking Pepsi, but I think most people today—not just us guys—would say alcohol isn’t all that good for you. Jury’s still out on coffee and tea, as far as I’m concerned; I’ve read opinions and stats all over the planet on those two drinks. Smoking–smoking kills (there’s a story in the Wikipedia reference saying that Joseph Smith preached a sermon on the Word of Wisdom and then drove through the streets in his buggy smoking a cigar—I LOVE that guy).

Nowadays we have pills and illegal drugs and all that other stuff that can be harmful in some circumstances but not in others and it all gets pretty confusing. And what’s wise for one person might not be wise for another.

But “not by way of commandment.” I think refusing a temple recommend to a kind person who drinks coffee and letting a jerk who only drinks water into the temple isn’t the way God intended this law.

My question is am I right? Did I miss some revelation and this was a revelation not to let people into the temple or hold callings, etc? based on Section 89 of the D & C?

My previous words to the contrary, there’s some pretty cool stuff in the D & C to go along with the crap stuff I dislike; however, it sure seems like we pick and choose our commandments and scriptures just like any other religion.