Dear Gramps,There are people in the church who would suggest that eating meat is something the Lord prefers we as Latter Day Saints not do. My question is: why is it that we serve meat dishes in the temples everyday, why does every ward social include meat in one form or another, why does the church own one of the largest cattle farms in the world, why does the church includes meat as part of their welfare food deliveries? I have come to see that the word sparingly as found in the 89th section of the D&C, is open to much interpretation among church members. Will there ever come a time when the church will officially declare that sparingly means almost none at all?
Myra, from Florida
Nope. I doubt very much that the Church will ever put a quantitative definition on the word “sparingly.”
Now, apparently you are asking why organizations within the Church serve meat when there are people in the Church who suggest that the Lord prefers that we become vegetarians. I’m sure that you can find people in the Church who would suggest all sorts of foolish notions. But our Church does not get its doctrines nor its practices from the suggestions of its members, but rather from those who preside with the keys of priesthood authority.
Perhaps we could examine the Word of Wisdom and other scriptures with respect to eating meat. In doing so, it will be easy to understand why there is such variant opinions on the eating of meat. In D&C 89:12 we read that the flesh of beasts and fowls are for the use of man, but “nevertheless they are to be used sparingly.” We learn from verses 14 and 15 that wild animals should be consumed for food only in times of famine and excess of hunger. From this we can assume that the term “sparingly” would not mean so infrequently as only in times of famine or excess of hunger, and also that the word “beasts” refers to domesticated animals.
Now we have the controversial verse 13, which reads “And it is pleasing unto me that they [the flesh of beasts and fowls] should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”
In light of that scripture, what do we do with D&C 49:19, which reads—
For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.
Here is an apparent controversy, where one scripture says that the flesh of beasts and fowls are made available that we might have an abundance and the other that they are only to be used in times of winter, cold or famine.
Let’s see if we can shed some light on this apparent controversy. In the first place, when the Word of Wisdom was given there were many food fads being promoted, among them, the abstinence from eating meat. D&C 89:13 was given in part to refute that practice, but when it was given by the Prophet, and published in the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, the comma after the word “used” was not there. In fact, that comma was added when the Doctrine and Covenants was first divided into columns in 1920.
Now, if you remove the questionable comma, the sense of that statement is as follows—
And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine,
[but at other times as well.] That verse is now in perfect accord with D&C 49:19.
So, it appears that it is alright to serve meat in the temples and at Ward socials and for the Church to raise cattle to help feed the poor and to have meat available in the Church Welfare Program. Enjoy!