Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, according to the Apostle Paul and we should treat them with respect and not abuse them. But we need to heed this advice in light of the context of the whole Bible.
When the children of Israel fled from Egypt, God, wanting to raise up and protect His chosen people from mixing with the surrounding pagan nations, instituted a, number of things that would keep them separated – and their dietary laws were very effective in accomplishing this. We can read about them in Leviticus 11. But with those laws came a lot of liberty in what they could eat and drink. In Deuteronomy 14:25 there is a discussion about money. Then in verse 26 it says,
“And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for WINE, or for STRONG DRINK, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.”
So, God’s covenant people were permitted to eat as much of these meats and drink alcoholic beverages before Him. It was all condoned by the Lord, Himself.
However, we should make a clear distinction here, between the use of alcohol and the abuse of alcohol. The Bible speaks of wine in a positive way as a sign of abundance and blessing. Melchizedek served bread and wine to Abram. Isaac prayed that God would bless his son with plenty of grain and wine. Moses told the Israelites that if they were faithful to the Lord, He would bless them with wine. Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding celebration. Wine in all, of these passages refers to the fermented alcoholic beverage – not grape juice.
The Bible does not say to abstain from wine, but to abstain from getting drunk on wine. Ephesians 5:18 tells us, we are not to get drunk on wine but are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The same principle applies to money. Is money the root of all evil? No. It’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. There is a huge difference between drinking and getting drunk. Paul even recommends drinking wine instead of water because it was healthier and safer in those days.
When Christ came and ascended to heaven, He removed the yoke of the law from the believers of God. When the Pharisees attempted to re-establish part of the law – the rite of circumcision – on the backs of gentile converts, Peter replies in Acts 15 that outward adherence to laws are no longer required. Instead it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved.
In preparation for what He was about to accomplish, Jesus began to introduce to His followers, teachings that were to transition them away from outward observances and toward inward allegiance saying, in Matthew 15:11 “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” To emphasize His point, He says again in verses 17-18
“Do ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart; and they defile the man.”
Yet, Mormonism has “restored” this legalism and made it a requirement for all to obey, who want to receive salvation through temple rites and rituals.
Paul made the point perfectly clear in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Once Jesus erased sin, what people ate or drank became a non-event. There is no need for special dietary rules and regulations any longer to keep people separate and peculiar. All are invited into the kingdom, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, or what they continue to do. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:8 “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”
Then, there is perhaps no better summation of the biblical Christian approach to eating and drinking than what is found in Romans 14:1-23. So profound, so important, so contradictory is this chapter from the contemporary doctrines and practices of the LDS Word of Wisdom. There is no “worthiness” that God sees in you because of what you eat or drink. Righteousness and worthiness was offered in the form of His Son, once and for all. Eat well? Sure. Avoid addictions? Absolutely. But we should never think we are worthy or unworthy because of what we consume. It is our heart for the Lord that He wants.
Religious institutions are not responsible for what He has written on our hearts – God is. That is the direct relationship between us and God. Men and religion tries to insert itself between to tell us what we need to think, to do, and what to eat and drink. But the Spirit gives life and we are free because we have the Holy Spirit.
Again, I come back to what Jesus said – It is not what goes into the man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of the heart. And what Paul taught in Colossians 2:16 “Let no man therefore judge you, in meat, or in drink.” No bishop or stake president should be judging us to decide whether or, not we are worthy. There are no special recommends issued only to those who keep certain health codes. Salvation is based not on food or drink but upon our faith in Jesus Christ, who paid our debt of sin.
God is not dealing with us in the physical – He is dealing with us in the spiritual. We are free from the law of religion, because we have the Holy Spirit. If we are led by the Holy Spirit, we do not need to subject ourselves to the regulations of the flesh. The laws of purity came to an end with Peter’s vision of the unclean animals the Lord now calls clean (Acts 10:9-15).
Today, we shouldn’t be concerned with strange doctrines about what we eat or drink – but live by His grace and, by the Holy Spirit.