There are 30 thoughts on “Whoso Forbiddeth to Abstain from Meats”.

  1. Pingback: Being Vegetarian is a Sin? How D&C 49: 18 is misquoted – Autistic Observations

  2. One doesn’t have to be confused by this verse in the D&C. That is, the two other statements AFTER the initial statement of “forbiddeth to abstain” directly state, in the first that we are talking about people saying not to eat meat, that such is NOT of God, and the second that meat IS for food.

  3. It’s interesting that you quote Lorenzo Snow saying, “The day will come when members of the church will abstain from eating flesh.” I would like to find that quote, where did you find it from?

  4. I enjoyed reading this article which, for me, has shed light on the confusions spoken of relating to D&C 49:18. Thanks for the insight.
    My wife and I have embarked on a journey to improved health and have become acquainted with food requirements of Veganism, Vegetarianism, as well as Ayurvedic nutrition. Others in our circle of family and friends are already on similiar paths or have just begun the journey, some of them totally espousing and promoting thier choice (mainly veganism) as THE or the CLOSEST to the Word of Wisdom. Of course they are absolutely free to feel that way, but I was a little concerned and surprised that this increasing fervour seems to be followed by a desire to teach such in public Church settings. One of my relatives mentioned he had spoken of veganism as the closest thing to the WoW during a talk he gave as a visiting high councilor to a ward. His expression when relating this experience was one of certitude and conviction. As much as I praise him for choosing better health I felt he crossed the line when using the pulpit to express this view. I do not agree with this view, nor do I agree that it was appropriate to state it in that setting. Veganism certainly promotes many of the aspects of the WoW, but not totally. Vegetarianism also. However, I submit that anybody with a desire to follow the Word of Wisdom morefully would appreciate what these nutritional lifestyles can offer toward improved health. I now enjoy fuller plates of salads, grain foods, and have also enjoyed very little meat. Reducing meal portions has also been important, as well as regular appropriate exercise. I also feel comfortable saying I am trying to make better health choices in order to live the WoW morefully, rather than labelling myself a vegan, vegetarian, etc etc. One can be healthy while not strictly following vegan, vegetarian or ayurvedic nutrition. Simply, I just have to follow the Word of Wisdom.

    • Thanks for your comments Nigel. I also believe that it was probably not appropriate for the high counselor to promote veganism (or any other specific diet) during his talk in your ward. I would have no problem with him promoting a healthy lifestyle in general, but veganism probably does not qualify, and sacrament meeting is not the place to preach any type of food-restricted diet.
      I have come to realize that veganism is more of a moral movement than a health movement. Wild-caught salmon breaks the vegan rules while french fries do not. Vegans eat Twizzlers and scoff at those who occasionally eat ice cream.
      Labels are not necessarily a bad thing. I am honored to be labeled a Christian, for example. If I were to label myself as anything in the world of nutrition it would be as a healthatarian (a real word!). The sole focus of that lifestyle is eating healthy and nutritious foods. I wish more members of the church were truly trying to live the WoW by focusing on healthy and nourishing foods.
      So, keep moving toward a healthier lifestyle (including adequate and appropriate physical activity), and treat your body as the temple that God intended it to be. If you do that you cannot err. Cheers!

      • 1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats,
        Original Greek: “Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats,”

        Notice the prejudice of the King James translators. In this single translational error, the critical human health choices and consequences, our creature relationships, humane and human reverence, and the compassionate path of all Christianity has been radically skewed, betrayed and degraded with this subtle insertion and reversed meaning of one single verb! ( http://www.ldsveg.org/Scriptures1Timothy4-1-5.htm )

        Now compare Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 49 and D&C 89:

        D&C 49:18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; (A double negative…In other words: Whoever won’t allow you to not eat meat (vegan) is going against God’s will.)

        Notice the correct original Greek meaning appears perfectly matched in the correct inspired understanding of Joseph Smith’s heaven dependent, sensitive writing!

        Both the original 1 Timothy 4 and DC 49 are not licenses to destroy and consume the animals!, but are God’s divine license for those who choose “to abstain”, and His protection from, as well as His condemnation of those who would forbid abstinence!

        D&C 89:12 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;

        When choosing the definition of “sparingly” to be to “spare life” instead of “moderation” the meaning compliments 1 Timothy 4:3 Greek translation.

        Also in analyzing the phrase “for food” vs. “as food,” the phrase “as food” means to eat, while the phrase “for food”can mean to use to produce food. The interpretation of eating animals as food is connected to the phrase “adapted to the capacity of the weak” in D&C 89:3.
        By Tom Rodgers at ldsveg.org

  5. All my kids are vegetarian/vegan and claim they are living the higher law. I say to them perhaps; however, they have to site a limited selection of obscure writings from men and prophets of the early church to support their claims. I love them and support their choices, but until the scriptures say different and the subject is broached during a modern day general conference I’m going to eat meat sparingly and say yes to the10th temple recommend question “do you obey the word of wisdom” without hesitation and the bishop and stake president will without question grant me a recommend even with full knowledge that I eat meat.
    I have no issue with vegans or vegetarians as I say my children are proponents of that lifestyle. It goes without saying there are many health benefits to eating healthy. And I do believe animal cruelty is wrong…of course it is; however, I don’t think my father in law who used raise the largest seedstock of short horn cattle in the nation at one time was defined as cruel. Do I believe we have become a little extreme on the topic…no question. Especially when I hear vegans say they can cure my dads cancer (which he tried the health route avoiding the doctors advice however ended up dead). And when they say they can cure my daughters cystic fibrosis which is just flat out offensive.
    People get caught up in movements and ride waves of condemnation pointing fingers and forget to heed to the councel given by the prophet and general authorities at general conferences twice a year.
    Great article. Agency is a gift. It’s clear we have been given much agency on the matter for the time being. Learn to love your brother even if he’s 400 lbs and each McDonald’s daily. I suppose that’s a challenge for all of us…and of course that includes myself.
    Respectfully

    • Great comments, Ryan! Agency is key. There is no commandment to abstain from meat, and we can certainly eat meat and be worthy of a temple recommend. But with so much evidence that abstaining from animal foods has many health benefits, I hope no one will hesitate to do so simply because it is not commanded. It is not meet that we be commanded in all things. We also know abstaining from meat except in times of need is pleasing to the Lord. We don’t have to look in obscure places to know this. It is right in the middle of our modern scriptures: D&C 89:13.
      If we want to know how to best care for our body temple, the Lord will lead us. If we prefer to do the minimum required of us, we’ll receive those blessings. Its all good!

      • Thank you Jane. Always support making wise decisions regarding your health. I think abstaining from excessive consumption of meat is more accurate. I think we can all agree there lies a deeper meaning for those who abstain from meat. The vigor and passion put into its cause suggests a far greater purpose than perhaps healthy living, living longer or otherwise being obedient to a higher law. I don’t see many push for more exercise. Again it goes without saying that a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes are better than a diet filled with steaks, bacon and hamburger. Of course it is. The question is will an occasional salmon sandwich make you less healthy or result in less blessed? I believe there are some who believe the Lord blessed this world with animals for us to partake of and to reject the Lords offering is offensive. I really don’t know. But I do know is I eat salads and I do love them. Now I’m rambling…its late. Love your neighbor which ever way they lean. Love them.

  6. I agree with you about that too; I just thought that you might find that little story interesting (there are people who interpret scriptures in all kinds of different ways!). I am glad to know that we are on the same page on the other issues as well.
    For me, the knowledge of how humans treat animals is one of the great sorrows of my life. I didn’t need the gospel to convince me that factory farming is wrong (as Brigham Young taught: “If we maltreat our animals, or each other, the spirit within us, our traditions, and the Bible, all agree in declaring it is wrong.”), but it is very nice to know that there is a harmony there.
    It saddens me to see so many LDS dismiss concern for animals because of cautions like D&C49:18. They should take that and other verses in light of the many pro-animal statements in that (v. 21) and other scriptures and the many statements from prophets as well. I have a compilation of them in my powerpoint.

  7. I take it to mean that we cannot claim that God says that eating meat is wrong in principle, i.e. that no one should ever eat meat. I do not take it to mean that one cannot make an ethical argument against eating meat given that a) it is unnecessary for survival/health today, and b) the methods in which (the vast majority of) it is raised are abundantly cruel and harmful to animals/environment/health, etc.
    I feel that these arguments are in keeping with not only this section itself (verse 21) but also with other LDS scriptures (e.g. JST Gen 9:10-11, and D&C89, not to mention many prophets (I have a powerpoint all about it, if you are interested).
    By the way, since you mention ANY type of dietary restriction, it is interesting to note that the first time I heard 1Tim 4 explained from a pulpit was at a Christian service that used it to argue against Mormons (because they restrict alcohol, tea, and coffee)!
    Thanks for your interesting follow up.

    • Christopher
      I agree with your ethical argument, even though I choose not to advocate for it publicly.
      And just a small point of clarification. I mentioned “ANY type of food-restricted diet” rather than “ANY type of dietary restriction.” The difference may seem small, but it is noteworthy. Oxford defines food as “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.” I would not consider alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee as foods, since none of them provide any physical nourishment, maintenance of life or growth.
      Rather, I would classify them as non-food substances. I have no issue with substance-restricted diets, nor do I believe that the Bible does. 1 Timothy 4 specifically talks about meats (foods) rather than non-food substances. And we know that D&C 89 clearly advises us to abstain from specific non-food substances (alcohol, tobacco, etc.).

  8. Thanks for this very thorough article.
    Though I am a public advocate against animal abuse (including meat eating), I have always understood D&C49:18 to be mean “Forbid to eat,” so I agree about the double negative (though my analysis was nowhere near as thorough).
    However, what we LDS veggie advocates are doing is not ‘forbidding’ to eat meat, but making an ethical argument against doing so when not necessary. We are not saying that God said that no one ever should be allowed to eat meat. We are saying that in a day in which plenty of plant food is available year round, that it is more ethical not to eat animals.
    In fact, D&C49 says the same thing just three verses later: “And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” Which is saying that you ought not to kill animals unless it is necessary. Therefore, if what we are doing in arguing against the needless harm to animals goes against D&C49, then D&C49 goes against itself.
    Therefore, the way I see it, we should understand our ethical argument against unnecessary meat eating (and against animal abuse more generally) to be in harmony with D&C49 as a whole.
    Thanks for sharing this interesting work!

    • Christopher
      Thanks for your comments. Interestingly, I am mostly in agreement with you on this issue. My wife and I have been vegetarians for more than two decades now and have encouraged our children to be so, with limited success. I guess what I take away from D&C 49:18 is that we cannot claim that God has authorized us to advocate for ANY type of food-restricted diet in His name.
      Having said that, I believe that citing scientific data to promote certain food-restricted diets (like abstaining from sugar, refined flours, and even animal flesh) is fair game. However, if we claim an ethical or moral basis for our advocacy, that could be interpreted by some as suggesting God’s support for our views. So, I try to steer away from ethical or moral arguments in favor of scientific evidence.

      • Joseph Fielding Smith was outspoken regarding the ethical and moral reasons for not killing animals unnecessarily. So were many other prophets in this dispensation. Morals, ethics, and justice are the basis of God’s dietary law, as with all his laws.
        Lorenzo Snow had a love of hunting until one day while walking into the woods to hunt, it occurred to him that the cause of his excitement to hunt was being bought at the expense of innocent creatures that he was about to go and murder. So subdued was he by this realization that he turned around, walked back to his home, put down his gun and never picked it up again. Morality and ethics caused this mighty change in his heart. They are at the heart of this matter for each of us, or should be in part.
        The promise of the peaceable kingdom to come, where none will hurt or destroy on the Lord’s holy mountain…, is based on morality, ethics, justice, and the highest laws of heaven finally coming out into the open. It was this promise of the holy babe in the manger that caused animals and men to rejoice together at his birth. These latent rights of animals cannot always remain forever hidden from the saints.
        Loren, you suggested that according to the true use of this idiom, a person is not ordained of God if he/she “invites” others to abstain from eating flesh. In a 1979 BYU devotional President Benson invited all students to eat like the prophet Daniel of old. Daniel was a vegetarian; therefore, President Benson invited BYU students to become vegetarians. Was he ordained of God?
        Similarly, Lorenzo Snow said, “The day will come when members of the church will abstain from eating flesh.” Was he foretelling of a great apostasy?
        The Lord himself has invited us to abstain from eating flesh, warning us soundly of woes that will come upon those who choose to eat flesh without need. Is the Lord not ordained of God?
        Can the Lord suggest a pleasing path is one that abstains from flesh without inviting us to abstain from flesh? Why does it please him? Ethics, morals, What? Is he not ordained of God, or can we all invite others to eat like Daniel and to please the Lord in our eating habits?
        Vegetarian Facts:
        1. Adam was given a vegetarian dietary law.
        2. Noah was given a vegetarian dietary law, with permission to eat flesh, only to save his life.
        3. Daniel lived a vegetarian law.
        4. The Word of Wisdom is a vegetarian law, with permission given to eat flesh during famines and excess of hunger.
        5. The millennial dietary law is vegetarian.
        Until we become crystal clear regarding God’s dietary law being vegetarian at its core, saints will never strive for obedience, but will forever yield to their addictions toward flesh. And God said, “You want flesh? You can eat flesh until the worms crawl from your nostrils and you say, I’ve had enough flesh; and I want no more.”

        • James
          Perhaps you did not read the article carefully enough. I did not state, as you wrote, that a person is not ordained of God if he/she “invites” others to abstain from eating flesh. Here is what I said:
          “I conclude that the proper reading of ‘forbiddeth to abstain’ in D&C 49:18 is the idiomatic rather than the literal one and that it should be understood as ‘commandeth to abstain’.” In addition, I stated that the word meats could mean any food, not just animal flesh. Perhaps you should reread the article.
          I did write that the current rendering of “biddeth” can be understood as “inviteth,” but that is not the Lord’s original language.
          Personally, I am a vegetarian, and have been for more than 25 years. And, I not only invite, but encourage others to change their meat eating ways all the time. I have also never hunted. But, where we cross the line, I believe, is when we begin to “command,” especially with some supposed authority from God or even his prophets, that people need to abstain from “any” food. Whenever I talk to people about abstaining from animal flesh, I do so from a nutritional/medical point of view. I try to avoid the moral/ethical argument specifically to not appear to be claiming any authority from God to do so. There are plenty of scientific arguments that one can make to advocate for vegetarianism without trying to use God or his prophets as a trump card.

          • These are good points. I, however, think that we can make moral arguments against mistreating animals because 1. Mistreating animals (e.g. factory farming) is unethical (for a wide variety of reasons, very much including unjustified infliction of mass amounts of suffering). These arguments do not depend upon religion at all, but on basic ethics and compassion. 2. Mormon scriptures and prophets do strongly teach that cruelty to animals, including unnecessary killing, is wrong.
            What I don’t do in light of this scripture is claim that the scriptures/prophets say that no one should ever eat animals. They don’t say that, but they do say (repeatedly) that people should not be cruel or kill unnecessarily. If people followed this policy, that would eliminate the vast majority of meat eating (since most of it is unnecessary and most of it involves cruel conditions).
            Those are my thoughts anyway.

          • It was a bit late after I stumbled into my office out of the rain-storm last night. I’ll read your original thoughts more carefully when my mind is a bit sharper.
            I can understand your choice to cite science as one of the primary reasons you employ while inviting others to be vegetarian. I also understand why Chris cites important moral, ethical considerations. It is not right to seek to inflence others to not cite moral and ethical reasons, for they are equally valid, if not more so, and are in fact one of the ways the Lord can use to reach others in this thing.
            The brethren themselves have cited each of these reasons and much more, as they’ve wrestled to know how to persuade the Lord’s people to obey the Word of Wisdom. We can hardly expect to not be engaged in similar mighty wrestlings before the Lord, especially if our path is in this thing.
            Anyone who is called to this work by the Lord is going to wrestle mightily to know how they are to do the work they that he wants them to do.
            My path, and what he wants me to do, isn’t even remotely close to what I imagined when I began this journey. I’m grateful to all contributions made by others who are also in this path, one way or another.
            The Lord’s dietary law is the same today as it was yesterday, except that it takes into account conditions that exist on this earth, and that will exist, until the earth is redeemed. Today’s conditions sometimes result in the loss of the primary food supply of the earth. Under such conditions God has authorized the use of flesh. If he authorize it for any other use, it will be on a personal basis, according to individual need, and likely not more generally. However, he is a “wild man” and just when we think we have his ways figured out, he teaches us what we never imagined, that we are barely scratching the surface.

        • James, you’ve stated a falsehood.
          I’m not going to go through each one, because I believe some of the others are false also. However, when you state:
          “4. The Word of Wisdom is a vegetarian law, with permission given to eat flesh during famines and excess of hunger.”
          This is false per what D&C 89 states.
          Verse 13 uses the same words as verse 15, however, it contains the word “NOT” in it. Verse 13 is referring to general use “Beasts” and “Birds” per verse 12. The addition of the word “not” is Old English and is stating that it’s “okay” to eat meat at other times, not only during Winter, Cold, or Famine. It was common for meat to be most eaten during the winter because it was the easiest thing to preserve. Thus, this scripture is saying, it’s okay to eat decent amounts of meat at other times, not just Winter etc.
          Verse 15, in contrast, doesn’t have the word “not” in it, and it refers to “Wild Animals” and “Bugs” per verse 14 stating that these things should not be eaten, except in times of Famine or excess hunger. This is import because wild animals often have diseases and they are not domesticated type animals that are traditionally for food. Bugs, it’s obvious why you wouldn’t eat those.
          In other words, the Word of Wisdom does NOT state that the only time you can eat “meat” is during famine or excess hunger, it says the very opposite.

        • I’m aware of some of the references you mentioned but not others. I would love it if you would list the scriptures and other sources for the situations you mentioned.
          What I’ve always understood from the verses in section 49 was that we shouldn’t demand that others eat a certain way. Even section 89 was not given “by way of commandment” though parts later became a requirement for worthiness. My journey toward “abstaining from meat” began with verse 13 of section 89, “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”
          Thanks for your comments.

    • Christopher, nowhere in the scriptures do they say we shouldn’t eat meat when not necessary.
      You state D&C 49 as an argument of such 3 verses later, but that’s not what the verse is stating. “And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”
      First, the flesh is not “wasted”, it is eaten, second, the shedding of the blood is for food, thus there IS a “need” there.
      The mistake here is that you’re taking the Veganism ideology, which tells you that you don’t need meat to be healthy, and then fitting the scripture to that ideology, rather than the other way around. However, the Veganism ideology is in error. There are too many cases to count of people who leave Veganism because of health issues due to not eating at least some meat products, and this is with even the most expert of Vegans.
      It is also a scientific fact that there are some nutrients that meat provides that can’t be found in any other way. The scripture is the wisest on the subject, we should simply eat meat “sparingly”.

  9. Excellent article, Loren! This awkward phrase has been a source of confusion for some well-meaning members of the Church. I think you have put at least one competing interpretation about this verse to rest. Thanks for sharing your research!
    I find D&C 49 fascinating. There is still much we do not fully understand about this verse. I’ve started to tackle an interpretation in this short article:
    http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/about/the-word-of-wisdom/wow-faqs/command-to-abstain/

    • Jane
      Thanks for the link. The China Study book looks interesting. Tina and I lived in China for many years. Once, while returning from a factory by bus, I sat next to a medical doctor whose specialty was diabetes. This was around 2003. He told me that during the 1990s the diabetes rate in China had quadrupled. He blamed it on the western diet (Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC) which was readily available throughout China. I just now bought a copy on Amazon and look forward to reading it.

      • The China Study is the best book on healthy plant-based eating in my opinion.
        That Chinese doctor was correct, I’m afraid. As the Chinese have adopted a more Western diet filled with both animal foods and processed foods, the prevalence of diabetes in China has gone from one of the lowest to one of the highest in the world. Less than one percent of the Chinese population were diabetic in 1980, that number rose to 5.5 percent in 2000, 9.7 percent in 2007 and 11.6 in 2010 (Yu Xu, et al., “Prevalence and Control of Diabetes in Chinese Adults,” Journal of the American Medical Association 30, no. 9 (September 4, 2013): 948–958).
        I love China! (I served my mission in Taiwan and then studied Chinese history, so I’m definitely biased.) I wish we were exporting the gospel and not our awful diet to our good brothers and sisters in China.
        I’ve been sharing your excellent article with others on Facebook!

  10. Apologies, I didn’t notice this comment until now. In response, I believe that killing animals for food would count as ‘shedding blood’ (even if it is not ‘wasted’). Notice this from JST of Genesis 9: 10 But, the blood of all flesh which I have given you for meat, shall be shed upon the ground, which taketh life thereof, and the blood ye shall not eat. 11 And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.
    Combine that with D&C 89: 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.
    You end up with a pretty consistent message: Humans are allowed to eat meat sometimes, but ought not to kill animals when not necessary.
    You are right that there is a vegan agenda: It is to stop unnecessary cruelty to animals. To me this message should right true whatever religion one may profess.
    (p.s I’ve been vegetarian and/or vegan for 31 years, and I am not aware of any missing nutrient other than B12 for vegans, which can be supplemented).

  11. Apologies, I didn’t notice this comment until now.
    In response, I believe that killing animals for food would count as ‘shedding blood’ (even if it is not ‘wasted’). Notice this from JST of Genesis 9: 10 But, the blood of all flesh which I have given you for meat, shall be shed upon the ground, which taketh life thereof, and the blood ye shall not eat. 11 And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.
    Combine that with D&C 89: 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.
    You end up with a pretty consistent message: Humans are allowed to eat meat sometimes, but ought not to kill animals when not necessary.
    You are right that there is a vegan agenda: It is to stop unnecessary cruelty to animals. To me this message should right true whatever religion one may profess.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    (p.s I’ve been vegetarian and/or vegan for 31 years, and I am not aware of any missing nutrient other than B12 for vegans, which can be supplemented).

  12. I love this article. Thank you so much for your insights. I also read Jane’s splendid document on the inserted comma in verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom, which is also wonderful! I took to heart many thoughts you shared with me in your comment, and I loved them as well. I apologize for having read the document too swiftly the first read through. It is worth many read-throughs and careful study. It is a gift!
    Thanks Again!

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