Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Chapter 9—Labor Conducive to Health

Dear Brother and Sister I,

I have been shown that you have erred in the management of your children. You received ideas at ----- from Dr. J, which you have spoken of before the patients and before your children. These ideas will not bear to be carried out. From Dr. J's standpoint they may not appear so objectionable; but viewed from a Christian standpoint, they are positively dangerous. The instruction which Dr. J has given in regard to shunning physical labor have proved a great injury to many. The do-nothing system is a dangerous one. The necessity for amusements, as he teaches it and enjoins it upon his patients, is a fallacy. In order to occupy the time and engage the mind, they are made a substitute for useful, healthful exercise and physical labor. Amusements such as Dr. J recommends excite the brain more than useful employment. 4T 94.1

Physical exercise and labor combined have a happy influence upon the mind, strengthen the muscles, improve the circulation, and give the invalid the satisfaction of knowing his own power of endurance; whereas, if he is restricted from healthful exercise and physical labor, his attention is turned to himself. He is in constant danger of thinking himself worse than he really is and of having established within him a diseased imagination which causes him to continually fear that he is overtaxing his powers of endurance. As a general thing, if he should engage in some well-directed labor, using his strength and not abusing it, he would find that physical exercise would prove a more powerful and effective agent in his recovery than even the water treatment he is receiving. 4T 94.2

The inactivity of the mental and physical powers as far as useful labor is concerned is that which keeps many invalids in a condition of feebleness which they feel powerless to rise above. It also gives them a greater opportunity to indulge an impure imagination,—an indulgence which has brought many of them into their present condition of feebleness. They are told that they have expended too much vitality in hard labor, when, in nine cases out of ten, the labor they performed was the only redeeming thing in their lives and was the means of saving them from utter ruin. While their minds were thus engaged, they could not have as favorable an opportunity to debase their bodies and to complete the work of destroying themselves. To have all such persons cease to labor with brain and muscle is to give them ample opportunity to be taken captive by the temptations of Satan. 4T 95.1

Dr. J has recommended that the sexes mingle together; he has taught that physical and mental health demands a closer association with one another. Such teaching has done and is doing great injury to inexperienced youth and children, and is a great satisfaction to men and women of questionable character, whose passions have never been controlled, and who for this reason are suffering from various debilitating disorders. These persons are instructed, from a health standpoint, to be much in the company of the opposite sex. Thus a door of temptation is opened before them, passion rouses like a lion within their hearts, every consideration is overborne, and everything elevated and noble is sacrificed to lust. This is an age when the world is teeming with corruption. Were the minds and bodies of men and women in a healthy condition, were the animal passions subject to the higher intellectual powers of the mind, it might be comparatively safe to teach that boys and girls, and the youth of still more mature age, would be benefited by mingling much in the society of one another. 4T 95.2

If the minds of the youth of this age were pure and uncorrupted, the girls might have a softening influence upon the minds and manners of the boys, and the boys, with their stronger, firmer natures, might have a tendency to ennoble and strengthen the character of the girls. But it is a painful fact that there is not one girl in a hundred who is pure-minded, and there is not one boy in a hundred whose morals are untainted. Many who are older have gone to such lengths in dissipation that they are polluted, soul and body; and corruption has taken hold of a large class who pass among men and women as polite gentlemen and beautiful ladies. It is not the time to recommend as beneficial to health the mingling of the sexes, their being as much as possible in the society of one another. The curse of this corrupt age is the absence of true virtue and modesty. 4T 95.3

Dr. I, you have advanced these ideas in the parlor. The young have heard you, and your remarks have had as great an influence upon your own children as upon others. It would have been better to have left those ideas at -----. Close application to severe labor is injurious to the growing frames of the young; but where hundreds have broken down their constitutions by overwork alone, inactivity, overeating, and delicate idleness have sown the seeds of disease in the system of thousands that are hurrying to swift and sure decay. 4T 96.1

The reason the youth have so little strength of brain and muscle is because they do so little in the line of useful labor. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw good.” 4T 96.2

There are but few of the youth of this degenerate age who can even endure the study necessary to obtain a common education. Why is this? Why do the children complain of dizziness, headache, bleeding at nose, palpitation, and a sense of lassitude and general weakness? Should this be attributed mainly to their close study? Fond and indulgent parents will sympathize with their children because they fancy their lessons are too great a task, and that their close application to study is ruining their health. True, it is not advisable to crowd the minds of the young with too many and too difficult studies. But, parents, have you looked no deeper into this matter than merely to adopt the idea suggested by your children? Have you not given too ready credence to the apparent reason for their indisposition? It becomes parents and guardians to look beneath the surface for the cause of this evil. 4T 96.3

In ninety-nine cases out of one hundred the cause, searched out and revealed to you, would open your understanding to see that it was not the taxation of study alone that was doing the work of injury to your children, but that their own wrong habits were sapping the brain and the entire body of its vital energy. The nervous system has become shattered by being often excited, and thus has been laid the foundation for premature and certain decay. Solitary vice is killing thousands and tens of thousands. 4T 97.1

Children should have occupation for their time. Proper mental labor and physical outdoor exercise will not break the constitutions of your boys. Useful labor and an acquaintance with the mysteries of housework will be beneficial to your girls, and some outdoor employment is positively necessary to their constitution and health. Children should be taught to labor. Industry is the greatest blessing that men, women, and children can have. 4T 97.2

You have erred in the education of your children. You have been too indulgent. You have favored them and excused them from labor, until to some of them, it is positively distasteful. Inactivity, a lack of well-regulated employment, has injured them greatly. Temptations are on every side, ready to ruin the youth for this world and the next. The path of obedience is the only path of safety. 4T 97.3

You have been blind to the power that the enemy had over your children. Household labor, even to weariness, would not have hurt them one-fiftieth part as much as indolent habits have done. They would have escaped many dangers had they been instructed at an earlier period to occupy their time with useful labor. They would not have contracted such a restless disposition, such a desire for change and to go into society. They would have escaped many temptations to vanity and to engage in unprofitable amusements, light reading, idle talking, and nonsense. Their time would have passed more to their satisfaction and without so great temptation to seek the society of the opposite sex and to excuse themselves in an evil way. Vanity and affectation, uselessness and positive sin, have been the result of this indolence. The parents, and especially you, the father, have flattered and indulged them to their great injury. 4T 97.4