As the newly-formed Latter-day Saints strove to learn more about themselves as new members of the church, they sought to learn more about their God. As a young prophet still learning, Joseph Smith decided it would be beneficial to invite other brethren to join him in learning about the Gospel so they could lift and teach one another.
It is interesting to note that while these brethren began to meet, it was their goal to learn how to become more like the Lord while striving to perfect themselves in faith and knowledge. Little did they know, this school that had become part of their lives would soon change them in very meaningful ways.
After meeting in the morning for quite a while, the Prophet Joseph realized that more brethren would be able to attend if they held the school at night. However, he noticed a subtle but perceptive change in the spirit that attended the meeting at night in contrast to the morning. It would take a woman’s guidance for him to realize that the brethren were not living up to the highest physical standards.
When his wife, Emma Smith, came to visit the school, it was filled with smoke and tobacco spit stains, and the brethren smelled more like the animals they had been working with all day, than the animals themselves did. She promptly pronounced to Joseph that this could not be the best environment in which to learn about the Lord. Thus, after much prayer and thought, the Word of Wisdom was revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith to the brethren and the Church.
Let it also be noted that not only was the Word of Wisdom brought about, but also another law of physical cleanliness. Here at BYU, all students and staff are obligated to abide by the Honor Code. This Code instills within us the importance of being clean on the inside, as well as on the outside. As Joseph Smith realized this, he made it a point to make sure that all the brethren attending the school were clean before they came in, as to not offend the Holy Spirit. This seemingly small change did wonders, and the Prophet Joseph commented that the Spirit of the Lord was reestablished among them, and their learning increased.
– Ben Simmons, Psychology Major and Education in Zion Student Gallery Educator