The statement, "It's nobody's business what I eat," has been uttered a great many times as a defense against the diet feature of health reform. But those who thus express themselves overlook the broad concept of the instruction given us in this and other phases of healthful living. No doubt such persons have the idea that the principles of health reform in regard to diet are an infringement upon their liberties and free thinking. So let us address ourselves to the supposed "personal liberty" argument.
Freedom of thinking and acting is desirable when conducted in the right channels, but otherwise it is not so desirable. "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." I Cor. 6:52. If thinking leads to wrong acting, it should be changed. No man "liveth to himself." This being true, others must be influenced by our thinking. "If thou be wise, be wise for thyself," is good counsel, but the results of so-called freedom of thinking may produce very unfortunate reactions that would not be wise.
I believe in freedom of thinking and acting when such freedom is along approved lines. Paul says, "Who by reason of use [the habit] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Our thinking therefore should strengthen our ability to discern that which is good from that which is evil. No man has a free mind who, because of his thinking, is set adrift, bound in chains of disobedience or prejudice, and refuses to break from such bondage. He may be bound by the demands of appetite or passion, or he may be bound by custom or caprice, or by the presence of others enamored of some unfortunate attitude. Many years ago Channing said:
"I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, which is not swept away by the torrent of events, but acts from an inward spring from immutable principles which it has deliberately espoused, . . . I call that mind free that does not cower to human opinion and feels itself accountable to a higher tribunal than man's. . . . I call that mind free which through confidence in God has cast off all fear of wrongdoing."
That mind is free which Channing describes, not because of being incapable of wrongdoing, but because of "confidence in God." Such confidence can come only by the assurance brought by obedience to God's requirements. This should be the basis of all true approach to health reform. A man's attitude toward one precept of the law of God is his attitude toward every other precept of that law. If he "offend in one point, he is guilty of all." If his attitude toward the diet instruction we have received is disobedience, then he is accounted as disobedient toward every other law of nature by "that higher tribunal."
Man is not my judge unless that man is myself. I am not to "cower to human opinion," not even my own. How unfortunate that my own acts should judge me unworthy of my desired reward. Shakespeare stated, "This above all; to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." And we may add, nor to God. That man's mind is not free who, hoping to be true to himself, refuses to order his life by the divine instruction given us. When we are motivated by the higher powers of the mind and by the determination to act in harmony with truth and true living, then our living may produce the desired obj ective.
"True religion brings man into harmony with the laws of God, physical, mental, and moral. It teaches self-control, serenity, temperance. Religion ennobles the mind, refines the taste, and sanctifies the judgment. . . Religion tends directly to promote health, to lengthen life, and to heighten our enjoyment of all its blessings. It opens to the soul the never-failing fountain of happiness."—"Patriarchs and Prophets," p. 600.
Transgression of the laws of nature is sin as much as transgression of the moral law of God, for we are sinning against ourselves in either case. The ultimate result is certain—violation of one precept of the law makes one guilty of all. The wages of sin is death, in both the physical and the spiritual realm.
How necessary therefore that all bring their thinking into true perspective, measuring the present by the future, the temporal by the eternal. Then our eating will be to please ourselves, because it betters the physical and prepares for the spiritual. Thus pleasing ourselves, we please our Creator. This freedom will not allow us to transgress either the physical or the spiritual law, for that would destroy the joy of true freedom, true living, and true religion.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." "For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." Our acts will not take on a selfish motive, because our living, eating, and drinking, or whatsoever we do, will be measured by the larger rule.