Jane Birch

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Read Jane Birch’s Phenomenal Word of Wisdom Series at Meridian Magazine

I have heaps of respect for Jane Birch and all of the research she has done on the Word of Wisdom. Having corresponded with her by email on several occasions and reading her essays, I’ve been more and more impressed with what she continues to produce on the subject. Her “Doctrines, Principles, and Applications” series that can be found at Meridian Magazine (ldsmag.com) represents some of the best work that I have ever read on the Word of Wisdom.

Building on the foundation of Elder Bednar’s teachings concerning doctrines, principles, and applications, Jane takes us on an engaging exploration of the Word of Wisdom that speaks reason to the mind and wisdom to the heart. This revelation is needed now more than ever and Jane’s work does more than bridge the past with the present, it emphasizes those keys that unlock treasures, even hidden treasures.

Rather than take a dogmatic application-based approach that preaches to us what we should or shouldn’t do, Jane leans on the doctrine and principles as her guide while respecting individual applications that may vary from case to case. Her sober persuasion invites thought and self-examination without resorting to ineffective guilt and shaming.

While I respect the light she brings to the topic of the Word of Wisdom, I think Jane’s series has demonstrated a wonderful framework that can be applied to so many other topics in LDS theology. I offer the following links to her series for your consideration with my full endorsement:

  1. Distinguishing Between Doctrines, Principles, and Applications
  2. The Doctrine of the Word of Wisdom
  3. Rethinking Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea
  4. The Principle Behind Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea
  5. The Letter of the Law
  6. The Spirit of the Law
  7. Section 89 as Parable
  8. Why God Doesn’t Over-Explain
  9. Three Foods Ordained by God
  10. The Wholesome Herbs Ordained by God
  11. Animal Flesh is Ordained by God

If you liked those, you can find links to all of her published articles at Meridian Magazine here.

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Short Film: Discovering the Word of Wisdom

This is fantastic. The woman in this video, Jane Birch, contacted me a while back regarding her book “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” which I really enjoyed. I wrote a review of it here and wrote a testimonial for her site here.

I’ve studied this subject quite a bit and it’s worth our time to give it serious consideration. I think a lot of people read the beginning of Section 89 where it says, “sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint” (vs.2) and think, “Oh, ok, it’s just a suggestion then, I’ll just keep on my merry way.” But if you continue reading, this is a “revelation” that is “showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—” (vs.2)

If that isn’t enough to catch our attention, verse four gives us even more reason to take heed, “Thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the Read Full Post

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Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom by A. Jane Birch

The following article was published at Mormon Interpreter. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the research and put together some good information on this subject and I think Jane did a great job. She’s the author of the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom which she wrote following her own personal journey toward health and wellness by seeking to follow the principles in D&C 89.

Of all the things going on in the world, the Word of Wisdom might not seem to be very significant, but when the revelation itself states that it is “showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days” and that “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation”, it sounds pretty relevant to us today.

I don’t personally feel like it is my duty or obligation to tell people how they should live the principles of the gospel, but I do believe that giving people as much information as possible so that they can make their own decisions as guided by the spirit is my duty and obligation.


Abstract: The 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included an additional comma, which was inserted after the word “used” in D&C 89:13: “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Later authors have speculated that the addition of the comma was a mistake that fundamentally changed the meaning of the verse. This article examines this “errant comma theory” and demonstrates why this particular interpretation of D&C 89:13 is without merit.

In 1921, a committee of five apostles who had recently completed a new edition of the Book of Mormon began preparing a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C). Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the committee, noted that previous editions of the D&C contained “many errors by way of omission.”1 The most significant change in this new edition was the removal of the “Lectures on Faith,” but the committee also expanded the headnotes, revised the footnotes, and divided the pages into double columns.2 Numerous smaller changes were also made. As one of the many changes published in the revised 1921 edition, a new comma appeared in verse 13 of section 89, [Page 134]also known as the Word of Wisdom. This comma was inserted between the words used and only:

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;

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. (D&C 89:12–13)

In his detailed analysis of the textual changes throughout the history of the D&C, Robert J. Woodford relates the following interesting story:

It [the comma] was never found in any text prior to the 1921 edition of the D&C. According to T. Edgar Lyon [prominent LDS historian and educator], [Apostle] Joseph Fielding Smith, when shown this addition to the text, said: “Who put that in there?” This is a significant statement since Elder Smith served on the committee to publish that edition of the D&C. Thus, the comma may have been inserted by the printer and has been retained ever since.3

This story supports what has become a very popular interpretation of verse 13, namely, that the inserted comma is a mistake that reverses the meaning of the text and that the true meaning is understood only Read Full Post

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