Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Meat Eating and the Gospel

IS it OK to eat meat as an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Yes, in moderation.
The Church’s “Word of Wisdom” states:
“Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly.”
“And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:12-13).
It is interesting to note that there was no comma in verse 12, after the word “used” until the 1920s.
I have a copy of a D&C published in 1918 and there is not comma there. Presumably, B.H. Roberts added the comma, when he added footnotes in later editions.
Since the word “only” basically used to mean “except” in the 1800s, the comma was probably warranted, because substituting the word “except” for “only” would have the verse read like this:
“And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, except in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”
Still, the fact the Lord placed the word “not” into verse 12 is intriguing. Take the word “not” out and the verse pretty much reads with the meaning that the Lord is pleased when you eat meats only in winter, cold or times of famine.
So, one could argue that in today’s world of refrigeration, the winter, cold or famine references may not apply. It did in Joseph Smith’s time for sure, though …
Notwithstanding, the accent on the entire verse is on “sparingly” usage for eating meats.
What does “sparingly” mean?
The Cambridge Dictionary states the meaning of the word is  “using very little of something.”
Indeed, the very day I decided to write this blog, I found this timely tidbit out there:
In an article, “What Science Has to Say About Red Meat,” from Yahoo Health News, Aug. 19, 2014, it advised consumers practice moderation in eating meat.
From increased cancer risk or a higher possibility of heart attack, too much meat is not a good thing,
However, the Lord does not advise being a vegetarian either, at least in the context of preaching publicly NOT to eat meats:
“Any whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God.” (D&C 49:18).
And, the Lord also cautioned against wasting meat or killing for pleasure only:
“And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” (D&C 49:21).
So, hunting for sport ONLY is not favored by the Lord.
The “Word of Wisdom” itself was originally given as a “greeting” and as a principle with the promise and NOT as a commandment.
Yet, the avoidance of alcohol, coffee, tea, or tobacco is now accepted as a commandment to the Saints, from Brigham Young’s time as prophet to today.
The rest of the Word of Wisdom, including eating meat sparingly, is likely still just good advice from the Lord.
I can find no General Authority discourses where eating meat is discouraged and all official LDS-sponsored dinners I've been to over the decades have included meat on the menu.
(One must also understand that the "Word of Wisdom" isn't purely about health matters. It is also a way the Lord separates his people from the world, by openly have them act differently, by not drinking coffee, for example.)



-In the Millennium, I don’t believe anyone will be eating meats. At the terrestrial world level, animals like the lion will not be meat-eaters, but will lay down with the lamb, safely together. Isaiah 11:7 states that the lion shall eat straw, like the ox, in the millennium.
So, why won’t man too be a vegetarian then?
Man will eat only what he raises in the field for his terrestrial world diet (see Isaiah 65:18-23).
(Myself, if I had to kill game or beasts for my own meat now; that prospect alone would make me a hasty vegetarian.)






1 comment:

  1. You may be interested in these articles which address the comma in D&C 89:13, the question of refrigeration and meat, and many other interesting aspects of D&C 89:13!

    “Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014): 133-149. (http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/questioning-the-comma-in-verse-13-of-the-word-of-wisdom/)

    "Getting into the Meat of the Word of Wisdom," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 1-36. (http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/getting-into-the-meat-of-the-word-of-wisdom/)

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