Word of Wisdom/Eat meat sparingly
Critics charge that Mormons do not keep the Word of Wisdom by eating meat "sparingly."
It is not clear how the critics have made this determination about most members. How do they know? What does "sparingly" consist of? Who authorized them to judge others?
The Word of Wisdom was enforced differently in the 19th century than today. It was not the strict test of fellowships that it is for the modern member. Members and leaders struggled with its application, and leaders of the Church were clear that while the Lord expected perfect adherence to the Word of Wisdom as an ideal, he was also patient and understanding of everyone—leader and member—who struggled to alter their habits.
In our day, the Word of Wisdom applies in ways in which it did not for Joseph Smith's era—the modern Word of Wisdom forbids a great many other illegal street drugs that received little attention in the 19th century.
Modern implementation and principles
Just as past members struggled as individuals and a group to keep some parts of the Word of Wisdom, it is arguable that some members today likewise struggle. As with the former members, the Lord is merciful and has not yet created a "standard" for meat consumption—each member and his or her conscience settles the matter with him or herself.
Joseph Fielding Smith seems to take this attitude:
- While it is ordained that the flesh of animals is for man's food, yet this should be used sparingly. The wording of this revelation is perfectly clear in relation to this subject, but we do not always heed it.
Thus, each member is encouraged to do better, but as in Joseph Smith's day we ought not to attack or dictate to others. If the Lord is displeased with us individually, he can make his will known by revelation. If He is displeased with the Church as a whole, prophetic authority will give the necessary correction.
To be certain, the last correction any Latter-day Saints needs is from a cynical critic trying to use this as one more chink in someone's spiritual armor. But, as good Christians, we can appreciate the reminder, examine our conscience, and pay the critics or their issues no further worry. They do not have our spiritual well-being at heart.