Milk Before Meat so Where’s the beef?
When my third child finally weaned at 15 months of age, he seemed to have the flu all-the-time. Diarrhea that would shoot out of the diaper and down his legs at times and smell particularly foul. I had to take him out of cloth diapers and splurge on disposables for a while (he needed a full-on bath after most diapers).
For months I tried elimination diets and allergy free foods. I tried keeping him off eggs, dairy, corn, gluten, etc. It was hard. Gradually a gastroenterologist confirmed that he likely had a dairy protein intolerance. Keeping him off milk, cheese, butter/margarine, and any whey or casein in any product was difficult, but gradually helped. I think I cried with relief when he had a normal poop.
And still my husband would sometimes forget and feed him ice cream or yogurt, because he wasn’t dealing with all this stuff all the time. Even a bite would trigger days of extra laundry and diaper rashes. For a few years I often had to give this child a different meal than the rest of the family because I hadn’t yet re-trained myself to cook with this new food issue in mind.
Then child number four came along and had the same problem. Then child number five. Now I have six children with a dairy protein intolerance; some of them had more food issues besides the milk thing as well. We gradually stopped eating dairy as a matter of course, and now rarely have it. We eat more beans and vegetables to get calcium and protein. Meat consumption also tapered off. The way I feed my family has completely changed as a result of our experience and on the whole I think we are eating much healthier than we ever would have otherwise – that’s the silver lining.
In the church I have often heard stressed the importance of ‘milk before meat’ (Cor 3:2). The church uses this phrase to reinforce hierarchical mysteries that are supposedly revealed only to the ‘worthy’ who have been sufficiently obedient through time and grown up the chain in church authority. Lay members are expected to ‘endure to the end’ in obedience and submission and not to seek for the hidden mysteries. Week after week we attend meeting after meeting and are fed milk and milk and milk. Here’s the thing–I have grown intolerant to milk. It makes me sick to my stomach and gives me diarrhea. Where is the ‘meat’? Where is the sustenance I need for growth and health? The church would have me stay and await this greater meal, but I am no longer convinced that it is there at all, or whether meat is actually the best thing for my health. The last 13 years I have had to bring special food for my children to ward dinners and activities because of their food issues. Now I would need to bring my own spiritual food to church on Sunday as well. And I find myself less inclined to come to the table.
Paul wrote “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age — even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). This seems to say that there is an appropriate time for teaching, or even re-teaching the fundamentals –this is, until experienced in discerning good and evil. Unfortunately, my experience in church has been that Relief Society lessons are not any richer in doctrine than the Gospel Principles manual. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we are told “And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me. For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish” (19:21-22) So, perhaps we have not yet come to a place as a church where we are ready to eat meat? What then for those who have become intolerant of the diet available? Is it then time to graduate to independent research? What then if we are led to a diet that looks nothing like the “milk only” menu available at church?
I’m concerned that church members are being asked to live on a diet lacking in vital nutrients, being kept always on milk when our palates were made to mature and branch out into other food groups and experience a broader array of spiritual nourishment.