Word of Wisdom & Eden

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Has anyone else found some parallel between the commandments given to Adam in the Garden of Eden and the Word of Wisdom given to us today?

For example, in Genesis 2:16, Adam is told that he can eat freely of every tree. In D&C 89:10-17 outlines substances of which we are free to eat.

In the following verse (Gen 2:17), God told Adam that he shall not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Likewise, in D&C 89:5-9, we are told of substances we are not to consume.

In addition, Adam is told if he disobeys, he will die. We are told in D&C 89:18-20 that if we hearken the counsel in the Word of Wisdom (as well as keep other commandments), we will receive health benefits (presumably longer life, or prolonging death).

I also find it interesting that if we obey the Word of Wisdom we are promised that the destroying angel shall pass us by. Conversely, when Adam and Eve were banned form Eden, a angelic being was put in charge of guarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

23 thoughts on “Word of Wisdom & Eden

  1. nope not until this moment did I think that.. but then that is usually the case in point until you bring up a topic of conversation making me think hmmmmmm

  2. This might be slightly off topic but, am I the only person who has questions about these two verses?

    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.

    In the first verse it’s pretty unclear if non-flying birds have been ruled out for consumption (think turkey). I’ve also noticed that most of the brethren seem to interpret ‘sparingly’ differently than I would – but that’s another discussion altogether.

    The second verse has a very vague ‘they’. What precisely does this ‘they’ refer to?

    I’ve heard plenty of speculation and had quite a few interesting discussions about these questions, but I have yet to hear anything conclusive on the topic.

  3. I’d like to nitpick your last point a little. It’s true that the “destroying angel” and the cherubim sent to guard the Tree of Life (not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) both appear to be heavenly beings–possibly angels. But so what? This just isn’t a significant connection. It’s kind of like finding a remarkable coincidence in the fact that both Moses and Joseph Smith were married to women.

  4. Rick, I assume ‘they’ refers to beast and fowls of the air.

    ltbugaf, the same point could be made of any of my points. After all, the fruit in the tree of knowledge of good and evil can be consumed just like alcohol can. I wasn’t trying to draw any groundbreaking conclusion; just pointing out an apparent parallel (although somewhat antithetical on the last point).

  5. That’s a good point about the seafood.

    Hey Kim, think about this for a while.

    How much emphasis does the church give to food storage and the cannery?

    Then consider the fact that the WoW specifically states that members are to eat things while they’re in season.

    Odd, no?

  6. It isn’t necessarily contradictory to say that (1) foods in season are especially recommended for our consumption and (2) we should store other foods for times of need, especially times when seasonal foods are scarce.

    It’s also become problematic to say when a food’s season is. What’s the season for tomatoes, in an age of hothouses and hydroponics? Foods are grown year-round and shipped worldwide. I can’t interpret Section 89 as forbidding or discouraging these practices.

  7. I think the church’s stance on this is that you have to read it in the context of Joseph’s time, no?

    Otherwise hot drinks does not mean coffee and tea, mild barley drinks would include beer, etc.

    When he spoke of eating ‘in season’ he meant at specific times of the year. Then again the membership can feel free to ignore this, just like they do with the whole eating meat sparingly thing.

    I guess many LDS are buffet believers, they take what they want and leave the rest.


  8. I agree with itbugaf that recommending fresh produce in season is NOT in direct conflict with storing produce for the off-season. Indeed it’s been scientifically established that fresh produce is more nutritious than canned produce, (and therefore is best for our health)but I see nothing in the verse that precludes the idea that canned produce is better than no produce during the off-season or times of hardship.

    I suppose this dispute is resolved with clarification from the current acting prophet. Since a food storage supply ensuring a balanced diet is commanded of us, I think it’s safe to consider canned fruit as kosher.

    But I will also agree with Rick that many mormons ignore some aspects of the WoW, particularily the “all things in moderation” and the meat consumption issue. If you look at the food pyramid, meat is of lower priority than grains and produce. Thus it might be a good guide to determine the definition of “sparingly” perhaps? I also think there is a big problem with using refined flour and sugar “moderately”.

  9. oh there is a HUGE problem with LDS eating refned sugar and flour moderately.

    you know, something interesting. a couple of years ago i was called to nursery and the only stipulation was that i would not “impose my dietary ideas on the children”. the only restrictions we have for our children is no refined sugar and no junk food. you would think they would WANT the nursery children to eat healthy. oh and we have the same restrictions for ourselves :)

    if my children were allowed, they would be sugar crazy. they already love sweet things as it is (eat fruit like it’s going out of style). i was a sugar addict and still would be if i didn’t control myself :). then there is kim who can have a bag of candy sitting in his desk at work and it lasts for months. not me, no way. it would be gone in two days. which is why i don’t eat it.

  10. Anonymous at 18:08:

    It’s even been shown in recent years that canned produce can be BETTER for you than fresh produce. Fresh produce loses some of its nutritional value as it sits in trucks and supermarkets, where as the canned foods are processed much sooner after picking and are able to retain certain nutrients better. So it seems that foods can sometimes lose more by just sitting around than by going through the canning process. Very counterintuitive, but apparently true. It came from a newspaper article, but unfortunately I’m unable to give you a reference.

  11. Mary:

    When the bishopric called you to the nursery they asked you not to impose your dietary ideas on the children. I don’t think that’s the same as saying they didn’t want the children to eat healthful foods.

    Some Latter-day Saints have ideas about food that other Latter-day Saints don’t share. That’s fine. Most of those ideas are based on limited human understanding of nutrition. Eating practices are also based on some basic preferences in parenting: How much should you allow your kids to partake of what isn’t especially good for them? Your limit is undoubtedly different from mine. That’s all right too.

    The problem arises when we try to IMPOSE our individual ideas on other members in the context of a church meeting where we are acting as agents of the Church. When we do this we essentially teaching as doctrine something that isn’t doctrine.

    For example, member X may believe that vegetarianism is better for people than eating meat. Nothing in the scriptures forbids him from being a vegetarian. However, the scriptures DO forbid him to forbid others–that is, he may not teach vegetarianism as a DOCTRINE. He may not tell Member Y that vegetarianism is a commandment, or more harmonious with living the Word of Wisdom. He may teach it as a good scientific idea, but of course a Church meeting is not an appropriate setting for such teachings. Church meetings are for the teaching of Church doctrines, not personal ideas.

    So the bishopric was probably wanting to avoid two things: First, they didn’t want you to teach children your ideas about nutrition during Church, because your ideas (no matter how good they are) are not doctrine. Second, they didn’t want you to impose upon the wishes of parents who have no desire to see their children’s food intake restricted in the same way you choose to restrict your own food intake.

    There is plenty of room for individual interpretation and application of certain portions of the Word of Wisdom. For example, do the general principles of Section 89 mean that I should moderate my white flour intake? How much? That’s an individual choice. Does the general princple of caring for my body mean that I should entirely abstain from caffeinated soda pop? Or from all soda pop? That’s another individual decision.

    If we don’t leave these decisions up to individuals, then we have two very undesirable alternatives: (1)Force the Prophet to issue an official edict on every question that ever arises or (2) Create a system of insitutionalized rules such as the Pharisees and Sadducees had, that both lack divine authority and distract us from the central core of the commandments.

    You are obviously free to share your views on food with anyone, member or nonmember, as long as you don’t teach them in Church meetings or teach them as Church doctrine. I assume you never intended to impose your individual judgments on other parents and I suppose you never intended to teach your own ideas as doctrine. But it’s not so bad for the bishopric to make sure you don’t.

  12. Interesting…though I’m sure in Joseph Smith’s era people were more likely to each freshly picked fruit and veggies from their back yard.

  13. Well the interesting thing is, I have never imposed my nutritional concepts on anyone. And they were aware of that. But because we had requested that our children not be given candy or highly processed food in nursery, they felt the need to bring this up. I am also a vegetarian, but my children are not.

    That’s right, I never have imposed my opinion on anyone, although I make no secret about the fact I find junk food, refined sugar and pop to be extremely detrimental to one’s health.

    We decided before our children were born that we would do our best to make sure they had a good nutritional start. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I stopped eating junk food and refined sugar myself. It has been a long hard battle. I LOVE junk food. I LOVE sugar and I know the havoc it has wreaked on my own health that I am now overcoming. I think it is deplorable that companies deliberately market towards children, creating more health problems and obesity as the years go by.

    Anyway, no I don’t teach this in Church, though if asked, I don’t mince words. My children do get treats, just not the junk food variety, and they will have that choice when they are older.

    I am pretty certain they didn’t think I was going to teach this as doctrine, they jsut didn’t want me to limit what snacks were being brought in. That never occured to me, but I find it interesting that they didn’t see the irony of that. MY children often get the junk food imposed on them. I have been told (yes by members) that I am depriving my children and one day they will be gluttons. Well, research shows that isn’t the case. And since they do get candy (sugar free, nope no aspartame) and snacks (of the organic variety and very limited as well) they sure aren’t deprived.

    Oh, and it was the Primary Presidency who wanted it to be said, not the Bishopric so I don’t think the doctrinal issue even occured to them.

  14. I sincerely hope the Primary Presidency and the Bishopric will both do their best to see that no one’s food preferences are imposed on your children. I assume you’ve asked them to do so.

  15. ltbugaf, that would be nice, but the onus lies on us. As it has in every ward we’ve been with our children. That being said, if we’re no there, the children are the ones that have to say yes or no. Our children have yet to learn about being assertive.

    There’s a double standard and I doubt it will ever change.

  16. If there’s a silver lining to this, maybe it’s that your children will learn to stand up for their own standards in all kinds of situations. I hope so.

  17. Wait Kim.
    Are telling me that you know members of your ward who don’t understand boundaries?

    Un-heard of, my word.
    //sarcasm off

    Try being the ‘mixed-membership’ family at a ward gathering…
    Then you’ll see ward coercion in action.

  18. Good evening,
    I was just surfing around trying to find more thoughts about the W of W…and read your parallel between the Word of Wisdom and the commandments given to our beloved first parents. Thank you. I will be pondering that for a while. Excellent comments by all.

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