Jun 2, 2019
6 min read
 

Bringing Peace to Dietary and Other Discords

Image copyright jean wimmerlin

One of my go-to apps is the Bible app by YouVersion which offers a myriad of different Bible translations. Among my favorites for personal reading are the NASB, NIV, and the CEV for kids.

Today I came across another version I had missed before called the EasyEnglish Bible 2018. One of the first chapters I read when testing a new translation is Romans 14. I like this chapter for a number of reasons and the KJV version is pretty tough for me to understand so I like seeing how others have translated it.

I think of this chapter as the keystone for resolving the discord between those that profess different dietary choices such as vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, carnivores, etc.

I think that this is a chapter for everyone because the principles taught here go far beyond how we treat people that eat differently than we do.

Romans 14, EASY

“It is difficult for some Christians to trust God completely about everything. You should accept people like that as your friends. Do not argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. Some people believe that they may eat all kinds of food. But other people are not so sure, so they eat only vegetables. People who eat anything must not think that they are better than people who eat only vegetables. Also, people who eat only vegetables must not judge other people who eat anything. They are not doing anything wrong, because God himself has accepted them.

God is the master of all believers and they are his servants. You do not have authority to judge someone else’s servant. The servant’s own master will decide if he has done well or he has done something wrong. And he will serve his master well, because the Lord is able to help him to do that.

Some people think that certain days are special and more important than other days. Other people think that all days are the same. Each person should decide what seems right to him. A person who makes a certain day special does that in order to respect the Lord. A person who eats all kinds of food does that in order to respect the Lord. He thanks God for the food that he eats. A person who refuses to eat certain foods also does that in order to respect the Lord. And he also thanks God.

None of us lives only to please ourselves. And we do not die to please ourselves. While we live, we want to please the Lord. And when we die, we want that to please the Lord also. So, while we live, or if we die, we continue to belong to the Lord. Christ died and then he became alive again. That happened so that he could be the Lord of all people, those who have died and those who are still alive.

So then, if you eat only vegetables, you must not judge other believers. Also, if you eat anything, you must not think that you are better than other believers. Remember that all of us will have to stand in front of God. He will decide whether we have done what is right or wrong. This is written in the Bible:

‘The Lord God says,
“As surely as I live, this will certainly happen:
Everyone will go down on their knees in front of me.
Everyone will praise me that I am God.” ’

So, each of us will have to explain to God about the things that we have done.

So, we must no longer judge other believers. Instead, you must decide never to bring trouble to another believer. Do not cause them to do something wrong. As for me, I am sure that we may eat any kind of food. God does not think that any food is dirty. The Lord Jesus has shown me that that is true. But someone else may believe that it is wrong to eat certain food. For that person, it would be wrong to eat that kind of food.

You should not cause another believer to be sad because of what you eat. If you do make him sad, then you are not really loving him. Remember that Christ died on behalf of that person. So, do not let your food make him turn away from God. You may think that something is good. But still you should not do it, if other people will say that it is bad.

We belong to God’s people and he is our King. The things that we eat and drink are not really important to him. This is important: We should do what is right. We should have peace in our minds. And we should be truly happy. God’s Holy Spirit helps us to live like that. If anyone serves Christ in that way, they will make God happy. And other people will respect them.

So then, we should try to live in a way that brings peace. We should try to help each other so that we become stronger as God’s people. Do not bring trouble to someone because of the food that you eat. Do not destroy what God has done in the life of another believer. God lets us eat all kinds of food. But do not eat anything that will cause another believer to do something wrong. It is good not to do anything that might cause another believer to do something wrong. That includes if you eat meat or if you drink wine.

What you believe about these things should be a secret between yourself and God. You should do what you have decided is right for you. Do not feel guilty about what you eat. Then God will bless you. But someone else may not be sure whether it is right to eat certain kinds of food. If that person does eat that kind of food, then he shows that he is guilty. He has not trusted God that it is right for him to do that. Whatever things we do, we must trust God about them. If we do not trust God that something is right, then it is a sin.” https://www.bible.com/2079/rom.14.1-23.easy

Takeaways

It is very easy to see what we perceive to be flaws in others. Jesus taught us to judge people by their fruits and so we attempt this by looking at what people do.

I find in these things something of a paradox rather than a contradiction. Jesus often taught in a way where you really had to wrestle with the teachings to figure out what to do or think.

Paul is teaching that we need to really have more patience with one another. We cannot forget that we are all loved by God and in turn express our love to him in different ways.

These teachings have helped me navigate the difficulties of having dietary preferences that are very different from my wife, kids, family, and friends.

In my heart, my desire is to honor God and I know that everyone else around me feels similarly. This is what is important. How we honor God will be as different as the individuals and their circumstances are.

We must not be like the Pharisees and think that just because we do differently than others that this makes us better than them. This is the path to pride and what destroys individuals and nations.

Paul says, “What you believe about these things should be a secret between yourself and God.” which is probably good counsel. However, I think that it is fine to express our opinions and have a dialog just so long as you stop short of condemning others and causing contention.

I think that it is good to share and teach, as long as we remember what is really important and that is the worth of souls.

2 Comments

  1. This is going to seem like an oddly long comment, but it’s mostly copy/paste of something I’ve been pondering and studying the last couple of days that align with your post and your post has given me added insights.

    Word of Wisdom, other laws/rules:
    How are they trying to point our minds to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His atonement?

    The offering of sacrifice was only to point the mind forward to Christ... to open their eyes, and enable them to look forward to the time of the coming of the Savior, and rejoice in His redemption... whenever the Lord revealed Himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins... We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations, yet all things which God communicated to His people were calculated to draw their minds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God alone as the author of their salvation. -Joseph Smith

    Every activity, lesson, and advancement in the church points to the Lord and His temple... At the root of every temple ordinance and covenant is the atonement of Jesus Christ. Russell M. Nelson

    Unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Heb. 4:2

    The law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments... And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled. 2 Nephi 25:25, 30

    Ok now my point of how my notes relate to your post. I so agree with your commentary! What I believe it comes down to is the way we are counseled to eat in D&C 89 has nothing to do with coffee, tea, meat, alcohol, etc (even though it does – paradox). It has everything to do with pointing us to look forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and receiving His atonement and redemption through Him. So we can read D&C 89 with faith and profit from keeping how we interpret that. Someone else might interpret it differently also with faith and still profit from the sacrifices they make accordingly. Either way these souls are making sacrifices for the purpose of receiving the gift of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Yet others might not read D&C with faith and ignore its counsel completely, and others might not read it at all, not having faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Yet we should not judge them for that! Because the law is dead/irrelevant. The point is Jesus Christ. So if they don’t believe/keep the WoW is simply not important, what is important is HOW can we invite them to feel the love of Jesus Christ and desire to come to know Him? There are a myriad of answers, but it is unlikely that lecturing them about dietary choices is one of them. (Though, if guided by the spirit, it is a possibility. As I believe the WoW in light of current science of which food is most healthy stands as one of the most concrete evidences that Joseph Smith was, in fact, a prophet of God.)

    • Wonderful comment, thank you for contributing your ideas. I agree that D&C 89 is less about the specific things mentioned and more about the principles they illustrate and how they will help us avoid the cunning of wicked men, provide for our temporal salvation, avoid the destroying angel, and bless us with revelatory treasures and wisdom.

      We learn that everything God has blessed us with can be used in a way that brings harm or healing. We learn that the flesh of other beings is ordained for our use for times of need.

      But it is up to each person to apply these principles in their own lives and it is not for us to condemn each other. D&C 89 was sent not by commandment or constraint and so it doesn’t make sense that we should constrain or command others and violate the spirit by which these principles were sent.

      The Lord says in that revelation what is in accord with his will and what pleases him. It is for us to use those principles to navigate our lives and circumstances as best we can.

      No doubt in my mind that this revelation was from God and foresaw our times when the “destroying angel” is taking so many so soon and when food of all kinds is being created to turn a profit and please the senses rather than nourish and heal mankind.

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