I took a Mormonism class this semester. It was an interesting class taught by a non-Mormon who grew up in Magrath, a small, Mormon town in Southern Alberta. It was a balanced class that expanded my understanding of the early church and its related factions.
One thing it made me think about was the Word of Wisdom. We didnâ€™t touch on it much, but as we reviewed it in class, I was thinking about how we as Mormons generally donâ€™t live the Word of Wisdom in its entirety.
The most prominent component that came to mind is found in D&C 89:12â€“13:
Yea,Â flesh also ofÂ 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 usedÂ sparingly;
And it is pleasing unto me that they should not beÂ used, only in times of winter, or of cold, orÂ famine.
Most members of the LDS church interpret this to mean a restriction on meat eating, which is kind of funny since most Latter-day Saints donâ€™t practice limited meat consumption.
Notice these verses, however, indicate not meat generally but specifically the flesh of beasts and flesh of fowl of the air. The 1828 Websterâ€™s Dictionary defines beast as â€œany four footed animal, which may be used for labor, food or sport; distinguished from fowls, insects, fishes and man.â€ I interpret fowl of the air to mean specifically birds that fly; I do not interpret this to include chicken, turkey,Â ostrich, and other birds that cannot fly.
What this means then is that I interpret these two verses as saying that except in times of winter, cold, or famine, the only meat we should eat comes from birds that canâ€™t fly and from seafood.
Despite having had this interpretation for several years, I never adhered to it. Being in a class of mostly non-Mormons studying, if only briefly, the Word of Wisdom made me realize how hypocritical I was being.
As such, I resolved to make a change, and as of the summer solstice, the only meat I have eaten has been chicken and fish. I hope to continue this practice until the weather cools.
Wish me luck.