The baptismal interview was proceeding smoothly.
“Do you drink coffee?” asked Elder Jones.
“I quit,” replied Janey with a smile.
“No, I don’t.”
“Do you use tobacco?”
“I haven’t done that for years.”
“Do you use any illegal drugs?”
“Hmm, not since Monday — just kidding. No, I don’t.”
“Okay, just one more Word of Wisdom question. Do you eat meat sparingly, and only in time of winter or famine?”
It’s a baptismal interview that I’ve never heard of taking place. And yet, the Word of Wisdom itself is pretty clear:
12 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;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
Of course, the Word of Wisdom has undergone some interpretational changes since its inception. It began as an advisory section with no real enforcement, which explains the documented instances of Joseph Smith drinking coffee and occasionally alcohol, opening a bar, and smoking cigars. At some point around the turn of the century, the alcohol, coffee, and tobacco provisions began to be treated more seriously (with some exceptions, such as Elder Talmage’s cigar smoking).
Yet the verses relating to meat consumption have never, that I’m aware of, been similarly elevated to “rule” status. And I’m curious as to why this is. Should the meat rules be treated as seriously as the alcohol / tobacco / coffee rules? Is there a reason for treating them differently? (Does anyone know it?)