Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Word of Wisdom Obedience

This week I had the opportunity to be asked about my faithfulness to the religion of which I belong.  I was interviewed to renew my "temple recommend", which is a small slip of paper which allows me entrance into holy temples.  One of the questions is whether or not I obey (in essence - I don't know the exact wording) the Word of Wisdom, which is what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call a health code issued by revelation to Joseph Smith in 1833.  I answered that yes, indeed, I do.  

Tonight I had to stop the man interviewing me, because I realized that I had to rethink my answer.  If he's asking if I abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and other illicit drugs, then yes, I do obey the council given.  If he's asking if I obey the other parts of the Word of Wisdom, then to be honest, I'm not so good at it.  Mainly, this point:
12 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;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
My husband and I go rounds, on whether or not the comma in verse 13 means that meat should not be used only in times of winter, etc., or if it means that they shouldn't be used unless it's winter, etc.  He likes to think that God is not telling us to prohibit anyone from eating meat, which is true.  I like to think that God is saying he values life, and we shouldn't eat meat excessively, which is also true, given verse 12.  I think deep down inside he agrees with me, he just doesn't like someone telling him he can't eat meat if he would choose to, which is listed elsewhere in scripture.

(photo source)
That said, I realize that either way, as a culture, members of this faith do not generally adhere to the idea that we are to eat meat sparingly.  In fact, there is very little to no emphasis on verse 12.  How would it be, as this question is asked in every temple recommend interview, if the guiding criteria for obedience to this "greeting" (D&C 89:2) were taken as seriously as the guideline that we not be drinking strong drinks or smoking tobacco?  Would we be permitted to enter the temple of the Lord, as many of us eat meat nearly every day?  Are we in a time of winter or famine?  If we consider the intent of the words given, are we really needing to eat meat in wintertime, as we have an endless supply of foods brought to our local markets, and killing animals is not necessary to sustain us?

Likewise, I could pose similar questions for nearly every verse in this section of our scripture.  Why do we not take it more seriously, meaning more literally?  Could we avoid the multitude of health concerns if we took it a little more seriously?  I don't doubt it.  After all, it is given for our "temporal salvation".  

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