Romans 14

Romans 14:1-6 let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth...One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike

Like disagreements over how the Word of Wisdom should be observed, the Roman saints were confused on what could be eaten lawfully.  The Old Testament had all of its rules regarding on Kosher foods-animals that were considered clean or unclean (See Leviticus 11).   More important for the Roman saints were all the Roman festivals, lavish feasts celebrating the idolatrous gods of Roman polytheism.  What if a saint went to one of these festivals, a wedding, or a party?  What could they eat?  If the food had been dedicated to a Roman God, they would be appearing to condone Roman religion by consuming it.  Consumption might mean implicit consent to an idolatrous practice. 

Paul gives counsel to the saints as to church policy (and he is writing it himself in all likelihood) on consumption of pagan foods.  His response is consummately practical.  Feel free to eat what you want.  It was a little bit of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  If it is obviously dedicated to an idol, a wise saint won’t partake, but the most important thing is not judging your neighbor for how he interprets the law, what he eats, or what holidays he celebrates.  The judgmentalism is worse than any dietary violation—a principle as important today as it was then.

Bruce R. McConkie

"Paul's approach to the problem follows the pattern set by the apostles in deciding the question of circumcision. (Acts 15:1-35.) Since eating and drinking, and even some matters connected with Sabbath observance, are not to be compared in importance with the great basic realities of Christianity, such as the divine Sonship of Christ, Paul wisely takes a tolerant view. Bear with the weak, he says. It is not their dietary preferences that will save them, but their faith in Christ." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 301.)

Romans 14:8 whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's

Brigham Young

"If those who are going to preach do not go with that faith that pertains to eternal life, and that spirit that is like a well of water, springing up into everlasting life, their labors will be vain...Don't carry your wives or your children in your hearts or in your affections with you one rod. [That you may focus on the work] dedicate them to the Lord God of Israel, and leave them at home; and when you are in England, or among other nations, no matter where, when you pray for your families, pray for them as being in the Great Salt Lake Valley, and do not bring them close to you, as though they were in your carpetbag. Pray for them where they are. You must feel-if they live, all right; if they die, all right; if I die, all right; if I live, all right; for we are the Lord's, and we shall soon meet again." (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 324.)

Romans 14:10 why dost thou judge thy brother?

Milton R. Hunter

"Throughout my life...I have observed that as a rule it seems as if human beings like to gossip. We like to hear unsavory things about our neighbors and talk about each other. It seems that ofttimes we get a certain degree of satisfaction or even joy out of saying bad things about other people. We thoughtlessly and sometimes maliciously judge each other. We censure our associates sometimes unjustly, many times unkindly; and most of the time we speak without having the evidence to back up what we are saying. We seem to forget that James, the brother of the Lord, warned that the unbridled tongue is 'full of deadly poison.' (James 3:8.)

"I know that even sometimes people who are faithful in the Church pass judgment and condemnation on those with whom they associate without knowing the facts. Such is displeasing to God." (Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 64)

David O. McKay

"It is a deplorable fact that the eye of the gossip and the slanderer sees not only no good in others, but sees 'evil where no evil exists.' Ofttimes, many evil, vicious things that are circulated exist only in the imagination of ignorant and evilthinking minds." (Instructor, June 1960, p. 178.)

Romans 14:11 every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God

John A. Widstoe

"The plan of salvation, conceived and proposed by our Heavenly Father, is for all of his children. Our Father will never cease to labor with our stubborn wills, until the last of his children has accepted the requirements of the gospel and has conformed to the plan of salvation. That may lead us into the far eternities, for though 'every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ,' yet many will refuse to bend their wills to the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such persons must wait for the full blessings of the Lord, until their stubborn wills have learned obedience. However, since progress is eternal, no person has ever reached the end of salvation. Progress need never end. It must be said that such people cannot overtake those who were righteous from the beginning.

"During this endless journey, man may rest secure in the eternal love of God. Our Father will help us forever. Never will he forsake us. He will ever seek to convert the sinner to better ways. It is probable that he will not consider his work complete until all of his children are on the road of progression." (Joseph Smith--Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951], 168.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"The time will come when 'every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God,' that Jesus is the Christ, (Romans 14:11; italics added.) and all who are worthy of a place in any of the kingdoms of glory will have to learn to be obedient to the divine laws by which they will be governed. All who refuse [to submit to Christ] will have to go with the devil and his angels into perdition." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 1: 77.)

Romans 14:14 there is nothing unclean of itself

Is an alcoholic beverage unclean? Is it the alcohol or tobacco which tarnishes our souls? The answer is no, for 'there is nothing unclean of itself' and it is 'not that which goeth into the mouth [that] defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man' (Matt. 15:11). A man who has not been taught the Word of Wisdom is not made unclean by a cigarette or a glass of beer. His choice may be unwise, but it is not sinful. Nevertheless, he may find some Mormons looking down on him. Like the judgmental Romans, we sometimes fall prey to judgmental attitudes about those who smoke and drink. But how can we hold him accountable for violating a law he has never covenanted to keep? Paul would ask us, 'why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at naught thy brother?' (v. 10)

When a member of the church breaks the Word of Wisdom, he is unclean-not because the substance itself is unclean but because he has broken his covenants to be obedient to God's law. Faith, hope, charity, peace and joy are the fruits of the Spirit and are much more important than our latter-day dietary code. Word of Wisdom "faddists," as Elder McConkie calls them, sometimes forget to place this law in its proper perspective. If we liken the scriptures to ourselves, we might correctly declare, 'For the kingdom of God is not abstinence from tobacco and alcohol; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost' (v. 17).

Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink

Bruce R. McConkie

"Some unstable people become cranks with reference to [our] law of health. It should be understood that the Word of Wisdom is not the gospel, and the gospel is not the Word of Wisdom. As Paul said, 'The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' (Rom. 14:17.)

"There is no prohibition in Section 89, for instance, as to the eating of white bread, using white flour, white sugar, cocoa, chocolate, eggs, milk, meat, or anything else, except items classified under the headings, tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor. As a matter of fact those who command that men should not eat meat, are not ordained of God, such counsel being listed by Paul as an evidence of apostasy. God has created 'meats,' he says, 'to he received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.' (1 Tim. 4:3.) If some particular food or drink disagrees with an individual, then that person should act accordingly without reference to the prohibitions in this particular law of health." (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 846.)

Romans 14:17 the kingdom of God is...righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost

Elder John Longden

"Paul had an evidence of peace. Here was a man, yes, who had fought the Christ, who had fought the principles which will bring peace. Yet after he had received conviction of the truthfulness of the Savior's message and of his divinity as the Son of God, he received a peace in his heart, and he could not be swayed from righteousness but used his energies, his talents, in going forward to teach this great message of which he received a conviction. Yes Paul did the things which will bring peace into the hearts of all mankind.

"Peace can only come to individuals, communities, states, nations, and the world by the acceptance of the greatest story ever told, by acceptance of the greatest life that was ever lived, by acceptance of the greatest example that was ever shown, by acceptance of the greatest Teacher who ever taught, the author of salvation and exaltation, the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ, the Divine Son of God. This I know in every fiber of my being." (Conference Report, October 1962, Afternoon Meeting 25.)

Romans 14:19 follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another

Marvin J. Ashton

"Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. Be fair with your competitors, whether in business, athletics, or elsewhere. Don't get drawn into some of the parlance of our day and try to 'win' by intimidation or by undermining someone's character. Lend a hand to those who are frightened, lonely, or burdened.

"If we could look into each other's hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care." ("The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword," Ensign, May 1992, 20)

Romans 14:23 whatsoever is not of faith is sin

F. Enzio Busche

"Paul declared to the Romans that 'whatsoever is not of faith is sin' (Rom. 14:23). The original word in the Bible for the word sin is hamartia. The word hamartia means 'missing the mark,' deriving from the sport of archery. Those of you who like basketball would probably call it 'shooting an air ball.' When we do not do everything in our life in faith, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are missing the mark. We are off target. When we are off target, we will not feel the confidence and joy and power of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, we will have to learn to direct our desires towards repentance, or change, to bring us back on target." ("Hitting the Mark," New Era, Oct. 1997, 8)

Joseph Smith

"By faith in this Atonement, or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith. He could have no faith, or could not exercise faith, contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be the shedding of the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man, for this was the plan of redemption, and without the shedding of blood was no remission. And as the sacrifice was instituted for a type by which man was to discern the great sacrifice which God had prepared, to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order. Consequently, Cain could have no faith, and 'whatsoever is not of faith is sin' [Rom. 14:23]. But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God himself testifying of his gifts [Heb. 11:4]. Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type or explanation, of what was to be offered through the gift of God himself, and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great sacrifice for a remission of sins." (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 16 - 17.)