This Word of Wisdom
by Ora Pate Stewart
Salt Lake City
Ora Pate Stewart
All Rights Reserved
Printed in U.S.A.
“A Word of Wisdom, . . . showing forth the order and the will of God. . . .”
The desire to worship is a very strong trait in humanity, and in certain generations when God was not known, people have chosen to create and serve false gods. Strange codes of living and many weird and sadistic practices have sprung from such idolatry. And God himself has spoken out against it: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. . . . Thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them.”
We have no need to create gods of wood and stone upon which to lavish our worship. Our God has declared himself I AM to distinguish himself from gods who are not. To know him and his Son Jesus Christ — to do his will — is Life Eternal.
Our Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Does a realization of this help us to see how closely he regards us, loves us, watches over us, and hopes for our progressively good behavior? Does not his generosity in making us the objects of his work, the substance of his glory, encourage us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, to serve him with all our souls? He has placed us down here with one simple test in mind: to see if we are willing to do his will.
Our need, then, is not to find God, but to learn his will, and do it. In the matter of the Word of Wisdom he has expressed his will.
“We are weak,” comes the faint protest from some, who feel that they must lean upon stimulants for support. But the wisdom of the word has anticipated their weakness — “Adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest,” the text goes on, “of all saints, who are or can be called saints.” That just about takes care of the problem of weakness.
What are some of the other ready excuses?
“Well, it was not given as a commandment.”
No, not until somewhat later.
“We are not constrained.”
No, not unless we want to do the will of the Father. Not unless we want salvation. Not unless we want temporal well-being and eternal life.
Putting it in its simplest terms, there is not much room for argument about the Word of Wisdom. We either keep it or we don’t. If there is argument, it usually comes from those who seek to excuse themselves from its requests, from its gentle persuasion. But what excuse is left, now that we know that it is “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints”? How weak can we be and still be called saints? If we are so weak that we cannot abide the Word of Wisdom, can we be called saints? Can we expect the benefits and blessings that are promised to the saints who are willing to do the will of the Lord?
With willingness in mind, then, let us approach the “Word of Wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God.”
—O. P. S.
THIS WORD OF WISDOM
“Choose the right when a choice is placed before you … In the right, there’s safety for the soul. . . .”
In the light of these good lines, let us explore this Word of Wisdom.
I recently heard an old man say, “I didn’t know soon enough what I wanted from life; and now it is too late to get it.” He begged me to rush out and meet the young people in their tender years and give them an old man’s message: “You have only two things to work with — time and choice. Choose what you want to do — what you want to be — and waste no time doing it.”
The urgency of the old man is seldom felt in youth. Youth has his life before him. But it is time to weigh those wise words. What do we want?
After giving this question a great deal of study and thought, I know what I want — I want to do the will of the Lord.
. . . whole wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—every herb in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
The mineral and vitamin benefits of the “wholesome herbs” have been the object of much wonderful research in the field of human nutrition during the last twenty years. I have just finished reading a most delightful book by Adelle Davis, called, “Let’s Eat Right To Keep Fit.” (Harcourt-Brace, New York, $3.00) She has brought a great deal of wisdom into this field. Her book has brought a new respect for this Word of Wisdom. It is liable to make a better people out of us all, not only those of us who want to do the will of the Father, but all those who want to know the findings of science with respect to the “wholesome herbs.” The book is, in many ways, a masterpiece.
… in the season thereof . . .
The season thereof has in many cases been extended, due to improved refrigeration, quick freezing, better transportation of farm products, canning and bottling successes, dehydrating and condensing processes. If we confined our eating to the season thereof in its strictest sense many of us would go hungry through winter and spring. Potatoes, however, are in season so long as there are potatoes. Also wheat and corn. It is merely good judgment to preserve and store these and other good foods to prolong their season. God himself has recommended such projects. (See Joseph in Egypt in the Book of Genesis.)
We can extend the season for many products; but it still remains true that the flavor, the minerals, the nutrition, the “season thereof,” of fruits and vegetables and grains are best and most beneficial precisely at the time of their ripening. It is still best to capture these goodnesses at the height of their seasons, so far as is possible.
I am so glad that the Lord has asked us to enjoy these wonderful bounties disappointment, fear; in other words, by a lack of love, happiness, prudence and thanksgiving. Under these tensions certain glands cense to function properly; others become too profuse; muscles tighten and refuse to relax; the digestive system gets out of kilter. Food has a hard time under such circumstances to do its nourishing best. How different is the picture when we can relax and enjoy cur food with prudence and thanksgiving! Our bodies become factories with pleasant working conditions where foods are processed into energy and warmth, and sunny dispositions. With prudence and thanksgiving our spirits are nourished!
“A thoughtful application of the admonition in that verse could make us a happier nation.”
Yes, and a happier world.
“How long has God been interested in what we eat and how we take care of our bodies?”
“Daniel practised some sort of word of wisdom, didn’t he, proving the value of herbs and fruit? He was a prophet, wasn’t he?”
“Didn’t the Lord tell Samson what to eat and what not to?”
Yes, and his mother before him. They were especially warned against wine.
“And there was Joseph in Egypt and his food conservation program.”
Yes, there were many instances. But your first question was, how long has God been interested? Remember his instruction to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?
“Something like ‘of all the trees in the garden thou mayest freely eat’ ?”
“Except the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil . . .” ”
Are you trying to say that the sin of Adam and Eve was tied up with the Word of Wisdom?”
No, just that God has been interested in what his children should eat ever since that long-ago-and-timeless-day before Adam and Eve were mortal. I am trying to say that before time was allotted unto man, his food was provided, and recommendations were made.
“I guess we could say that God has always been interested in what we eat.”
Yea, flesh also of beasts and of fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving, nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
“That is as clearly stated as it possibly could be.”
Yes, and we can think of many reasons why this is good advice. Our mineral and vitamin needs and much of our protein and fat requirements can be supplied by herbs, vegetables, fruits and grains. Supplemented with animal products such as milk, butter, cheese and eggs, our animal protein needs are not so great as we might think — especially in spring, summer and fall, the “green and gold” months, when grown foods are most nutritious. Moreover, if we stuff ourselves with meats during these good growing months we may not be inclined to eat enough herbs, vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts, to give us our needed mineral and vitamin supply. Persons who eat too much meat invariably forego their rightful portions of these other vital bounties.
“But don’t you think that this advice was given when people didn’t have refrigeration, and meat didn’t keep so well unless it was cold weather? Haven’t we extended the winter season to all year ’round with the deep freeze?”
You know, I doubt if that had very much to do with it. The Lord gave us this Word of Wisdom for our time, here, now, in these last days. These words are for us. He probably anticipated the deep-freeze and made this warning particularly for us, because he knew we might be tempted to eat more meat in the warm seasons than was good for us. In the summertime we do not need the extra warmth and fuel that meat gives us, and we add to the burdens of our kidneys and our elimination systems when we take on more protein than we need.
“What about the Eskimos who practically live on meat?”
They are not necessarily violating the Word of Wisdom, which allows meat “in times of winter, or of cold, or of famine.” The Eskimo climate is largely winter, and the scarcity of “herbs and fruits in season, and of grains” would amount to famine in much of their territory most of the time. The metabolism of their bodies is geared over the generations to comply with the foods available in their climate. They’re getting their cod-liver oil, which is the world’s best substitute for sunshine.
We can allow the Eskimo to be happy with his lot; but I hope we can train ourselves to be as happy with our little, where meat is concerned, to use it sparingly.
Think of the many blessings animals bring to man. We may not use them so much for domestic and industrial labor as the Jaredites used their elephants and their cureloms and cumoms, and as our pioneer ancestors used the ox; but we are using their milk and butter and cheese, their wool and their hair, and at least one of my friends in California has become very rich in commercializing their fertilizer. When they are dead, we use their hides for shoes, gloves, belts, handbags, coats, luggage, and many other useful purposes; we use their hoofs for glue and their bones for chalk and fertilizer.
“I wonder what the ratio is between meat consumption and the need for shoes. Do we kill more animals to supply us with shoes? Or do we kill more for meat than we need for their hides?”
I do not have statistics on that; but it would be interesting to know. Perhaps that would be a good regulator for us: to kill no more than we needed for clothing, modestly, and for meat, sparingly; and we could add, with prudence and thanksgiving.
“I heard a young man say one time that he had shot 14 deer with a bow and arrow, and that he took only the hind legs of the largest animal with him back to camp. What would you say to that?”
I would say that he was a very selfish, egotistical young law-breaker, who had no respect for the laws of his country and not nearly enough respect for life. I have seen the same disregard for life and law in great strings of beautiful trout abandoned on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. Fish were very plentiful that year and quotas were reached quickly. But the fishes that died in the name of “sport” that summer made a sickening monument to sportsmen. It certainly showed little sportsmanship. Obviously, such hunters and fishermen care nothing for the gentle discipline of the Word of Wisdom, which, in part, is set to protect animal life. I will be happy for the time when as a nation and as a world, we can get these things regulated so that there will not be killing of animals, nor of fowls, nor fishes, beyond our sparing needs.
“It probably won’t come until the millennium, when the lamb can lie down near the lion.”
Probably not; but a nice understanding and observance of the Word of Wisdom could hasten the day.
About the small animals and creeping things the revelation says:
And these hath God made for the use of man, only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
So we see that every creature has its use, its place in the world, and its particular protection by the laws of heaven.
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. . . . All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground.
“There is not much argument here. I do not know of anyone who can take issue with this.”
Nevertheless, wheat for man . . .
Our trouble here is that we do not take the Lord at his full word. Perhaps here lies our most wholesale breakage of the Word of Wisdom. The bleached out, depleted, over processed, over-chemicaled, impoverished powder we call white flour makes pretty good wallpaper paste; but it was never meant to satisfy the hunger of man. The satisfying minerals and the life-sustaining wheat germ have been removed. Oh, it may say “enriched” on the bag. But it has been robbed of its natural enrichments. Twenty-one nutrients have been removed; three have been put back. It would make a wobbly staff of life. It will not sustain a common ordinary weevil. Weevils won’t eat it. They know enough to stick to whole wheat. This is actually one of the biggest reasons why white flour is marketed so widely, and why it is difficult to get whole wheat unless one goes directly to the mill. The white flour is easier to ship and to store, because it does not “spoil” with weevils and the insects that line up to get the good out of the whole wheat. Too, white flour will “keep” almost indefinitely — because it has been “enriched” with preservatives, and it has nothing left of value to spoil — while whole wheat deteriorates at room temperature and the wheat germ in it may become rancid or moldy. Whole-wheat flour and cracked-wheat cereal should be fresh each serving — if we would capture all the goodness and nutrition wheat has to offer. And any excess should be kept in the refrigerator and used without a long delay.
Research is now under way which is indicating that many types of heart trouble and associated blood and artery disorders — amounting to the number one killer of our times — are preventable, and in many cases repairable, with the proper use of wheat. Scientists are discovering that wheat is for man. One young doctor, paraphrasing a question of the Savior, concludes, “Which of you fathers, when his child asks for bread, will give him a wad of wallpaper paste?” (In the Savior’s question he asked which father would give his bread-hungry child a stone.) Softened somewhat, but scarcely more nourishing.
We will all be better off when we return to the gold standard — whole golden wheat.
. . . and corn for the ox . . .
The metabolism of cattle is geared to corn.* [*See Widtsoe, Word of Wisdom, p. 231-236.] And if we humans use more than our share of it, it may make “cows” of us. Conversely, wheat is not the best feed for cattle. It is interesting that the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was recorded a hundred years before these scientific experiments were conducted. But these scientific prescriptions are now widely circulated — wheat for the man, corn for the ox.
And oats for the horse.
The horse regularly chooses oats. Oats are his traditional dish. But sheep, if fed too steadily from oats, are made too warm — a condition often fatal to sheep. Oats are ideal for the horse.
. . . and rye for the fowls and for swine . . .
Ripened rye naturally spills itself upon the ground. The harvester of rye must observe a delicate timing, or he must harvest his crop with a vacuum cleaner. Possibly this is nature’s own way of seeing to it that the fowls and the swine get their share of their specially prescribed grain — and the “beasts of the field” — the small wild animals as well as the domestic ones who forage.
. . . and barley for all useful animals . . .
Barley is now one of the chief supplements to corn in feeding dairy cattle, and is widely used for poultry feeding. Steamed, rolled, and fortified with molasses residues (“black strap”), and other minerals, it forms a very important part of the diet for “production” animals and fowls, for milk and eggs. . . . and (barley) for mild drinks, as also other grain. This brings up a most interesting childhood memory. The years of my childhood were spent on a ranch in Wyoming. During the long winters it was very cold, often reaching 36° below zero. We had three miles to walk to school, and we had chores to do, animals to feed and water, wood and coal to bring in before and after school hours. It was necessary to keep well and to keep warm. My mother was the sturdiest of the frontiersmen. Her parents had been handcart pioneers. In England, before their conversion they had been brought up on tea. Something warm to drink of a morning was considered an unalterable necessity. With typical English stoicism, tempered by the Word of Wisdom, fortified by her own pioneer ingenuity, my mother served us “something warm of a morning.” It was usually a barley drink. To make it, she would take three or four cups of fanned barley — sometimes she would mix it half and half with wheat — and stir it dry in a large bake pan on the top of the stove, stirring, turning and shaking it, corn-popper like, until the grains were parched on all sides and somewhat tenderized by their own steam. Then she would spread the parched grain evenly over the bottom of the pan and sprinkle it with a very small amount of salt, perhaps a teaspoonful for the whole pan. Next she would pour a cup of molasses evenly over the barley. Sometimes she used melted honey instead, sometimes maple syrup, or occasionally just brown sugar, or even plain sugar. Then she would place the pan in the oven and leave it there at a very low temperature for the greater part of a day, peeking occasionally to see that it did not burn — once or twice it did scorch and I can remember those flavors as well. When the mixture was removed from the oven and cooled it resembled peanut brittle, and she would break it in chunks and store it wrapped in a clean cloth on the shelf of the flour bin, or in a small crock in the pantry. On cold mornings she would grind a few chunks of it in the food chopper and put a cupful or more into a large pan of cold water and set it on the stove. She would allow it to come to a boil, then set it back on the reservoir to steam until it cooled to a Word-of-Wisdom temperature. We didn’t always strain it. There was nothing in it that was not “ordained for the use of man.” We just added milk. If it should be sweeter we could use another spoonful of molasses or honey in our cups. I have never since tasted anything just exactly like it. It had a goodness unique to itself.
“As also other grains” being a part of the text, I should like to tell you of some of the other mild drinks that we found valuable on the ranch. In summer we would gather a large quantity of fresh tender peppermint sprigs, sort them carefully, wash them meticulously, and dry them on a screen until they resembled crisp alfalfa hay. Then we would store them in a clean flour sack and tie them to a rafter in an attic room. Peppermint tea was the particular delicacy for anyone who had the sniffles. It was no chore to crowd liquids when peppermint tea was the liquid at hand.
If the sniffles turned to sore throat the treatment was switched to ginger tea, made with ground ginger and honey and warm milk. I was the one who suffered most severely with sore throat, so perhaps my memories of ginger tea are more pronounced than those of the other members of my family. To this day I turn to ginger tea to help me through these ailments.
If the complaint ran to a stomach or intestinal upset Mother would bring down the crock of dried water-dock seed — because all the pioneers knew that “dock-seed tea” was especially created for digestive upsets. (But it had to be selected with expert caution, because there was a poisonous variety to be avoided.) The rust-colored seed was brought to a boil in water, steeped, strained, and the nourishments of milk and honey added to the fluid. I had never heard of “hot chocolate” or “cocoa” as drinks until after my older sisters came home from college; and I had never heard of Postum until I was in college myself. I guess we pursued our pioneer heritage longer than most.
And now we come to the best part of all — the rewards.