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A Physical Body

We are taught that our spirits came to earth to gain physical bodies like those of our Heavenly Parents. We are also taught that in the resurrection our spirits and bodies will be permanently reunited (Alma 11:42-45). Because spirit and body together constitute the soul (D&C 88:15), our bodies are integral to who we are. A disembodied existence would be incomplete and undesirable (D&C 138:50). Only in our bodies can we experience fullness of joy (D&C 93:33-34).

These teachings undercut the notion that our "flesh" is corrupt and sinful. Instead we learn that our bodies are part of our divine nature (Moses 6:8-9) and that the pleasures of the physical world are a gift to be relished, albeit judiciously (D&C 59:18-20). The Word of Wisdom and the temple garment remind us to nourish our bodies so we can enjoy good health and long life. In the temple, our bodies are blessed to grow, physically and spiritually, into God's image.

By learning to value the body, we also learn to take seriously the scandal of physical suffering. A religion which acts as if people's spiritual welfare overshadowed their material wants makes no sense if, as modern revelation declares, the temporal and the spiritual are one (D&C 29:34). God's salvation is a temporal salvation. Christ took on flesh so he could succor us according to the flesh (Alma 7:11-12). Likewise, Christ's disciples are called to alleviate physical, not just spiritual, need (Mosiah 4:26)—the two being, in fact, inseparable.

Joseph F. Smith: The spiritual and the temporal are blended together. It is absolutely necessary in the cause of redemption, in which we are engaged, that the temporal welfare of the people should be looked after, and their temporal salvation secured unto them as well as their spiritual salvation.
Conference Report, October 1898

James E. Talmage: We Latter-day Saints do not regard the body as something to be condemned, something to be abhorred, and something to be subdued in the sense in which that expression is oft-times heard in the world.

Conference Report, October 1913, 117-118

Marion D. Hanks: I am grateful to understand that my physical body is an eternal, non-evil component of my eternal soul, . . . a great gift of God.

Conference Report, October 1958, 109

Lowell L. Bennion: The Word of Wisdom is more than a set of rules . . . It was given for a principle; it is an outlook and a way of life. The principle of the Word of Wisdom might be stated as follows: All things good for man, let him enjoy with prudence and thanksgiving; from all things not good for man, let him abstain. . . . The Word of Wisdom means moderation, prudence, and thanksgiving in every aspect of life. It leaves room for common sense and insight and encourages initiative, freedom, and a wholesome positive outlook on life.

An Introduction to the Gospel (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1955), 252-253

John S. Tanner: The Word of Wisdom is but one of many ways the Doctrine and Covenants establishes the intimate link between body and spirit. Commending tasting and smelling (D&C 59:19), singing and dancing (D&C 136:28; D&C 25:12), loving and grieving (D&C 42:45; D&C 130:2), the Doctrine and Covenants is truly a book for our entire being. It reveals a God who cares for the wholeness of our souls—body and spirit.

“The Body as a Blessing,” Ensign, July 1993, 7

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.