When is it okay to eat meat?

Posted on February 10, 2006 at 12:25 pm

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Dear Gramps,

There’s something I struggle with as a member of the Mormon Church. When was a revelation received that said meat was okay to eat or is the only part of the Word of Wisdom that allows people to be temple worthy is to abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco, or alcohol? Is it a sin to not eat meat? Can one gain exaltation if they choose not to? I want your answer on this.

Derek

 

Dear Derek,

In partial answer to your question, the comma in verse 13 of Section 89 is of particular significance. With that comma in place, in the phraseit is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine, the word only could be replaced by except, suggesting that meat should not be eaten when those severe conditions did not obtain. However, that comma did not appear in the original version of the Doctrine and Covenants, nor in subsequent versions, until the 1920 version when the Doctrine and Covenants was divided into columns. Without that comma, in the phraseit is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine, the word only, implies that it is proper to eat meat during those severe conditions, and also during other times as well. In this context the word only could be replaced by the word just.

When the question of where that comma came from was posed to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, his reply was, “We eat meat in the winter, we eat meat in the spring, we eat meat in the summer, we eat meat in the fall. As to where that comma came from, I have no idea.”

That interpretation of verse 13 is consistent with D&C 49:19-

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.

Now, looking at D&C 89:13-14,

All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

We observe here that different classes of animals are mentioned-beasts of the field, fowls and wild animals. The pronoun these in verse 14 refers only to its antecedent wild animals, not to all animals. Thus, wild animals should not be used for food except in times of famine and excess of hunger. This is consistent with the phrase in D&C 49:21,

And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.

The idea of hunting wild animals for sport or for food when the meat of domestic animals (beasts of the field) is abundant is repulsive to the Lord, and those who indulge in such destruction of this class of God’s creatures will be held accountable for their actions.

However, the injunction is given in D&C 89:12 that the flesh of domestic animals and fowls should be eaten sparingly,

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.

So it would seem from the above that it is not against the will of the Lord to eat the meat of domesticated animals at any season of the year, but to do so sparingly; the interpretation of the word sparingly being left to the judgement of each individual.

Gramps

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When is it okay to eat meat? - Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine
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There’s something I struggle with as a member of the Mormon Church. When was a revelation received that said meat was okay to eat or is the only part of the Word of Wisdom

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