Sunday, November 14, 2010

All wholesome herbs God hath ordained

I’m revisiting D&C 89 and some things stuck out to me.
And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man— (D&C 89:10)
This time through I noticed the word “wholesome.” It is interesting that this verse does not say that all herbs are wholesome; it says all wholesome herbs are ordained for man. So we learn that there must be certain herbs that are NOT wholesome and do not promote mental, spiritual, and physical health.

Something else that sticks out to me is the list at the end of the verse: “for the constitution, nature, and use of man.” I ask myself why use all three of those words—constitution, nature, and use—and not just one of them. To study them better it seemed like it might be easier to think about them individually if I were to pull them apart.

For the constitution of man
For the nature of man
For the use of man

Where’s my dictionary? (Michaela rummages around in her shelves) Okay, got it.

constitution of man

Obviously in this context it is not the founding document of the United States that is meant. The dictionary says that constitution is “the physical makeup, the structure, composition, or nature of something.” So we learn (and nutritionists can show) that the chemical make-up of wholesome herbs is such that humans can consume them and be nourished, and they contain what we need. The verse shows us that God planned it that way.

nature of man

“Nature” in this context means “the basic quality or character of a person or thing, or the disposition, temperament, or natural feeling in one’s attitude.” This shows us that wholesome herbs are adapted to appeal to humanity’s taste and smell. They are calculated to be beautiful so that we want to eat them. I see this is true as I find myself most attracted to salads with lots of color and texture. I love the broad rich green leaves of spinach, the bright orange of carrots, the deep reds of tomatoes and bell peppers, the yellow of corn. I like the red outside of radishes and their bright white inside. I love the purple cabbages and the stringiness of alfalfa sprouts. I could go on all day about avocados, strawberries, pomegranates, peaches, garlic, onions, celery, and so on. (Yeah, I know, I’m naming some fruits with the vegetables, but if we’re talking about beautiful and tasty, fruits deserve to be mentioned too!)

use of man

“Use” is such a basic word, but if I’m looking at definitions, I might as well do this one too. It means “to put into action or employ, to consume, to carry out a purpose by means of something, to behave towards.” This suggests that wholesome herbs may have good uses beyond that of food. We use extracts and essences, we make perfumes, medicines, flavors and spices. We use plants as decoration, filtration, shade, erosion protection, soil renewal, and more. We even make clothes out of them.

In studying this verse, I can see God’s wisdom in providing food for us with His creations. He knows about body chemistry and plant chemistry and He knows what nourishes and what doesn’t. He wants us to learn that too, so the next verse says this:
Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. (D&C 89:11)
Prudence means “the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason, discretion and shrewdness in the management of affairs, skill and good judgment in the use of resources, caution, circumspection.” We develop good judgment when we learn of the health benefits of wholesome herbs and fruits.

We know the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but do we know what nutrients apples have and what else we should eat to make up for what apples have less of? I don’t. It seems to me that I need to learn more of this kind of thing so that I can make my cooking and eating decisions with more prudence, rather than relying so much on mere enthusiasm.

The Lord also wants us to use wholesome herbs and fruits with thanksgiving and to appreciate them at their full value. I sense that this can be done best if we learn of their qualities and health effects. I believe that the more I learn and do these things, the more I will see good herbs and fruits as something great and I will thank Heavenly Father for them.

What herbs and fruits have you learned about that have helped you better appreciate them and use them wisely?

Image: cornucopia.jpg,


Heather M. Collins said...

I think all of Heavenly Father's creations have a good purpose they're supposed to serve. I don't think there's any of them we could call unwholesome in general--just unwholesome for man's consumption. I like how in D&C 89: 8, God tells us what tobacco is supposed to be used for. I never noticed that before :)

Interesting emphasis. Thanks for sharing it.

Michaela Stephens said...

Good point, Paradox.

I've noticed that while verse 4 mentions that the word of wisdom is given "in consequences of the evils and designs that do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days," we must read D&C 89 as the statement about the designs that the LORD has for those same substances and follow HIS designs and purposes.