I taught the word of wisdom in priesthood today. In case you know me and Mormon culture I will repeat: I taught the word of wisdom today! For those of you who do not know what that means … it means that I covered scripture that tells the biggest hunting/meat eating people on earth that they should not kill animals nor eat meat (except in extreme cases, e.g. “famine and excess of hunger”).
Actually, it was awesome. I told Cherie it was like my coming out (as a vegetarian) in church!
Here’s how it happened: I came to church having prepared lesson 30 (on “Charity”). But since we had covered that topic (twice) last month my EQ president said “Technically, we should be teaching lesson 29 because we skipped that one.” When I asked “What is lesson 29?” he answered: “The Word of Wisdom”. When I said, “I could teach that,” he responded “But you already prepared the other topic.” I said “No big deal,” but what I meant was “MWOOOHAHAHAHA!!!”
Cherie laughed nervously as we went home to collect stuff. My preparations just kept getting ‘worse’ (depending on your world view). Cherie was like “what are you doing?” as I grabbed The Food Revolution (the follow up to John Robbins’ Diet for a New America – aka hard-hitting veganism) and all kinds of vegetables, Tofurkey, and junk food for object lessons about what to/not to eat. Cherie was worried that teaching the word of wisdom this way would be contrary to my health! I believe her exact words were “I don’t want to have to scrape your battered and bruised body off the floor afterwards.”
But I said that I had sat through too many priesthood lessons where the parts of the word of wisdom about not eating animals were so readily dismissed that now was my chance (revenge?). She was won over.
I just covered the WOW verse by verse, and when we got to the animal stuff – I totally ‘went there’! I started by showing the poster from my “Should Mormons Eat Meat?” lecture last Thursday and “came out” – I said that I was not trying to be preachy, but I am a long-time vegetarian and just did a presentation about how the gospel is in favor of animal ethics (much more so than most realize) and that the WOW and other scriptures indicate only eating meat under extreme conditions (if you want to know more about this then follow my other blog: mormonsforanimals.blogspot.com). I had my slide show printed out and showed them all the relevant scriptures, including JST Gen 9 that reads “And surely their blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives, and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.”
Thanks to several sympathetic members of the quorum and thanks to several doses of humor, the tension level was low, and it was well received. There were, however, a couple comments that attempted to dismiss the seriousness of the topic. One guy said, for example, that the WOW “is really just telling us not to let anything get control over us, so as long as you don’t eat red meat all day long with no control then you’re fine – that’s all it’s trying to say.“
Well, I have heard such dismissive comments nearly every time I have heard the word of wisdom taught in church. But this time it was my lesson, so I didn’t let it sit. “From the clear and consistent message of all these scriptures,” I said, “it seems that we are also accountable for the effects that our diet choices have on animals and nature.” And the balance of people agreed. And wow (pun intended): Who has two (green) thumbs and just stood up for animals in the church? THIS GUY!!!
Why this is significant is that today I gave a voice not only for myself, but also for many other like-minded people who sit silently or who don’t go anymore, and also for animals, and for nature, and for the gospel. I just reclaimed a bit of ground for me. Cherie was so proud.