"Forbidding to Abstain from Eating Meat" :) Hold onto your hats!!

Recently in talking with a friend, he pointed something out to me in the scriptures that I had never noticed before.  Maybe I'm the only one who hasn't noticed it before, but I doubt it.  :)   My mis-reading of this scripture seems pretty universal.  So sit down and hold onto your hats!!

You know how double negatives work:

I'm going to the store.
I'm not going to the store.
I'm not not going to the store. --> Now we're sort of back to going to the store.

Or like in math:  4 = 4;    -4 = -4;    -(-4) = 4

So turn to D&C 49: 18 and look at what it really says.  I've been missing the double negative all these years:

"And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;"

Notice -- who is not ordained of God?  The person who forbids.  Forbids what?  Forbids abstaining!  Not forbids eating meat, but rather forbids abstaining.  Wow!  Get it?  I've been reading this scripture all these years as though it was saying that the person is not ordained of God who forbids eating meat.  That is not what it says.  One more time, it says:

The person is not ordained of God who forbids abstaining from eating meat, i.e. the person is not ordained of God who forbids vegetarianism!  Neat, no?

Now this whole set of passages makes sense, which it formerly didn't.

D&C 49: 18-21
18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; 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. 20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.
21 And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.

In other words, it's wonderful in God's eyes to abstain from eating meat, except when we need it in times of winter, cold, famine, excess hunger, and to save our lives.  Life is precious.  But the animals give themselves to us willingly if we need them to save our lives.  (See the JS translation of Gen. 9: 10-11 on pg 797 of your quadruple combination, and also D&C 89: 12-15).

I believe Heavenly Father is always careful about how He says things, and I believe that He knew exactly that saying this in the way He said it would be easily misinterpreted, thus protecting us from further condemning ourselves.

I love it! Hope you did too and that it hasn't freaked you out too much. If it has, just ignore this post. Comments, anyone?

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It it Great insight, I learned it a few years ago. (Doesn't mean I'm good at following it yet). Take some time to check your footnotes as well :)

Now, here's another thought provoking idea: Famine/Excess of Hunger -- does it only mean a famine in the land or "a time of scarcity" -- for example: People with multiple food allergies that the allergens include grain, dairy, soy, egg, nuts, possibly beans and some fruits and vegetables.

Guess I want clarification, since I am trying to live the WoW the best I can, while breastfeeding a 4 month old infant who appears to have allergy/intolerance symptoms of all the above named foods (when I eat them- she's not old enough for them on her own yet)
That's great that you already knew this. Maybe it will turn out that I am the only one who has been misinterpreting this scripture all these years!

Wow, the thing with your baby would really be hard. I hope Jim comments on this and has some insights for you.

As for the "famine/excess of hunger" thing, my personal opinion is that Heavenly Father approves of us eating meat when we need to for our lives and health, whatever may be causing that. A really good scripture on this is D&C 49: 21: "And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need." When there's need, the animals give themselves to us willingly.
I had never looked at it that way, so after reading your post I looked it up and read in my Doctrine & Covenants Student Manual as well.

This section was given in reference to Shaker beliefs which, for many, included not eating any meat.The footnote on "forbiddeth" says "i.e. biddeth to abstain." The footnote makes the verse make sense because they are addressing people who "biddeth to abstain."

However, I think it is interesting that even when telling people who may require abstinence from meat that they should not forbid meat eating, the Lord still firmly states in verse 21 that animals should not be killed and/or eaten without need.

I feel that I have no need to eat meat because I have no food allergies and other foods are available to easily supply my needs. If I find myself in need of meat, I will eat it; if others have a need (real or perceived), I will not forbid them.
I've read this same scripture to people many times who tell me I'm wrong for not eating meat. I show them the double negative, but then they point to the footnote. To me biddeth is the opposite of forbiddeth and I don't think the Lord meant the opposite of what he said. I think that the Shakers were afraid the church would forbid them to abstain if they joined the church and God was clarifying that nobody should forbid them to abstain if they wanted to.
Just as true is the point that we shouldn't bid someone to abstain. We should all come to that decision on our own.
I'm hoping that I can be a shining example of health so people will want to know how they can gain their health back. Then they will ask questions and be ready for the answers.
I appreciate your insight, Kisi. I'm not ashamed to admit I had missed that double negative. Undoubtedly I am not the only one. Thanks for sharing!
I love this! My youngest son and I love to have these sorts of discussions. He's a very logical young man. That aside, I'm so glad to get this very confusing thing cleared up. Another thing about the scriptures and meat are all the flocks and heards. Why did they have them? Was it just for the pillows, wool, and leather? Pottage and pulse are my favorites, but what about the flocks and herds?
To take this one step further, Adam and Eve were dressed in coats of skins to cover their nakedness when they left the Garden of Eden. I cannot imagine that the meat that came with those skins was just wasted: more likely, every usable part of the animal was probably put to good use, perhaps the way the American Indians utilized the buffalo. Many of the animal sacrifices under the law of Moses were eaten, also. However, those people had a very active and physically challenging lifestyle that most of us today cannot begin to match - nor would we particularly want to! It is still consistent with the principle that flesh is for the use of man in times of cold or of other need.
The whole issue is confusing to me. Nevertheless, I am stronger, have more energy, and feel like a kid again, since removing all animal products: meat, dairy, and eggs.
I love the Jewish writings on this subject; if you haven't taken the time to read them, you won't be dissappointed if you do. Point your mouse to Daniel's Challenge on the menu bar above and select Jewish writings from the drop-down menu. From everything I've read on this subject, I believe first and foremost that God wants us to be well and happy. In some scripture He actually encourages meat usage by telling us He gives it to gladden the heart. Similarly in the stories of Esau and Jacob, it gladdened their father's heart and prepaired him to give spiritual blessings by receiving his favorite porridge that included tasety meat. Animals were ordained for use for both food and raiment, and on and on. Therefore, in our physical and spiritual journey I don't think it is ever good or right to refuse any gift from God when we truly have a "need" for it, whether that need be true comfort, survival, medicinal, or otherwise. On the otherhand, the scriptures are replete with invitation to abstain from meat and to never eat more of it than is "needed." Also, as you read the Jewish writings referred to earlier, you will see that the use of meat was forbidden until Noah, and that many prophets, including prophets from our own dispensation have prophesied of the time when we will no longer eat meat. Many Latter-day Saints have already experienced the blessings derived from abstaining from meat. Even science acknowledges higher IQ average, less diseases, and longer life enjoyed by those who choose to abstain. Many LDS think that is just plain wierd to even consider abstaining. As it was in the begining of the earth, so it will become in the end. There will come a time when no one will eat meat. Between now and then, we are to use it as needed, not to excess, and the Lord has told us that it pleases Him when we choose not to use it when it is not needed. My father was an avid hunter and fisherman; he taught me the love of hunting and fishing. We had ducks, geese, phesants, deer, and so forth that frequented our farm. One time when I went running for my gun to shoot a phesant, dad said, "Oh, please don't, I so enjoy watching him sneak along the fence lines." A discussion ensued and dad told me what a joy it was for him to watch the mother ducks and geese nest, hatch eggs, and then teach their young ones. He recognized their family unit and greater community units as a thing of beauty, something that never occured to him in his youth, after his father died and he was the young man of the house who had to bring home food to eat. However, in his later years, it became more and more difficult for him to shoot any animal. He didn't need them and recognized them and loved them the way God loves His creations. Perhaps this is why it pleases the Lord when we do not shed blood when no need exists to do so. At all other times, he encourages us. I found similar writings among every major religion in the world, as if the same spirit moves all great spiritual leaders. Finally, anyone who chooses not to eat meat will come to realize this is an important decision on many levels.
I appreciate people pointing out the footnote about "forbiddeth". I love this whole thing so much that it's fun to get a chance to write more about it.

The footnote on D&C 49: 18 says that "forbiddeth" (all by itself) means "biddeth to abstain".

So verse 18 actually says, "And whoso biddeth to abstain from abstaining from meats,... is not ordained of God."

In other words, in modern language, "Whoever commands someone to not be a vegetarian, someone who doesn't eat meat, is not ordained of God."

We all know what "forbids" means. It's a common word. The abstain that's part of the definition of "forbiddeth" is not the same abstain that's already in verse 18. Forbid is the opposite of bid, or we could say forbid is the same as "bid to not do". So "forbiddeth to abstain from meats" is the same as "bid not to abstain from meat", or "bid to not be a vegetarian."

The really wonderful thing is that the Lord is being totally consistent in what He tells us in all three places in the scriptures where He mentions this: D&C 49, D&C 89, and the JS Translation of Gen. 9: 10-11 on pg 797 of your quadruple combination. He tells us four things consistently:

1) He has made animals for our use, for both clothing and food.
2) He is pleased with us when only use them when we have real need, because their blood will be required at our hands.
3) It is wrong to forbid someone from being either a vegetarian or a meat eater. Both are sanctioned by Him.
4) We should eat meat sparingly, if we do eat it. There is a "wo" to eating more meat than our body needs. (The China Study is all about this amazing thing. D&C 49: 21 is giving us a heads-up about it.)
I definitely agree with the four points that you've made based on scripture, Kisi.

I see the logic in your interpretation of "forbiddeth to abstain," but then I wonder, if we all know clearly what "forbid" means, then why do we need a footnote to explain what it means? There are many instances in the scriptures where a footnote is placed on one particular word, but the note refers to a phrase in the verse.

I appreciate all of the comments and experiences given on this topic.
I get it, and I like it. Thanks for continuing to teach this subject until it sunk into mi loco cabeza. I tried to do the vegetarian thing before, but my diet consisted of mostly white flour, sugar, and canned veggies. Although we ate a fare share of beans, too, it was far from healthy as were we. I love how abstaining from all animal products makes me feel, but would eat them if it was absolutely neccessary (only in famine.) Thanks again.

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