Thus Saith Ellen White: Rules and Regulations of Ellen White
By Brother Anderson
Mrs. White penned a multitude of regulations which she expected faithful Adventists to follow. The faithful followers struggled to keep all these rules, thinking all along that God was communicating these "special truths for the last days" through Ellen White. While most Seventh-day Adventists today are either unaware of or intentionally ignore these rules, there are a few who still endeavor to follow them all. As you will see, many of these restrictions are extreme. They add to the Word of God, and they go far beyond the Word of God. As Jesus so appropriately said, "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders" (Matthew 23:4).
Medicinal Laws - No drugs or doctors?
Do not use drugs
"You should avoid the use of drugs and carefully observe the laws of health. If you regard your life you should eat plain food, prepared in the simplest manner, and take more physical exercise. Each member of the family needs the benefits of health reform. But drugging should be forever abandoned; for while it does not cure any malady, it enfeebles the system, making it more susceptible to disease." (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 311)
Quinine is forbidden
Quinine is a substance found in the bark of the Cinchona tree. This natural remedy has been used for centuries and has no doubt saved millions of lives. It is effective in reducing fever in some diseases such as malaria. It was the only known remedy for malaria until the development in recent years of synthetic drugs. Surprisingly, Mrs. White classes quinine with known poisons such as mercury and colomel (mercury chloride):
"Mercury, calomel, and quinine have brought their amount of wretchedness, which the day of God alone will fully reveal." (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4A, p. 139)
Sadly, some Adventists took her seriously and forbid those who were suffering from malaria from using quinine. Her son W.C. White wrote the following in a letter:
"One time while we were in Australia, a brother who had been acting as a missionary in the islands, told mother of the sickness and death of his first-born son. He was seriously afflicted with malaria, and his father was advised to give him quinine, but in view of the counsel in the testimonies to avoid the use of quinine he refused to administer it, and his son died." (--W. C. White letter, September 10, 1935)
Homeopathic remedies outlawed
"In their practice, the physicians should seek more and more to lessen the use of drugs instead of increasing it. When Dr. A came to the Health Retreat, she laid aside her knowledge and practice of hygiene, and administered the little homeopathic doses for almost every ailment. This was against the light God had given. Thus our people, who had been taught to avoid drugs in almost every form, were receiving a different education. I was obliged to tell her that this practice of depending upon medicine, whether in large or small doses, was not in accordance with the principles of health reform." (Manuscript Releases Vol. 13, p. 177)
Do not go to physicians
In 1849, Mrs. White wrote:
"If any among us are sick, let us not dishonor God by applying to earthly physicians, but apply to the God of Israel. If we follow his directions (James 5:14, 15) the sick will be healed. God's promise cannot fail. Have faith in God, and trust wholly in him, that when Christ who is our life shall appear we may appear with him in glory." (To Those who are Receiving the Seal of the Living God, January 31, 1849)
NOTE: Mrs. White reversed herself by 1860, writing, "in some cases the counsel of an earthly physician is very necessary." (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 135) Later on, she went to see physicians quite regularly. The SDA Church later developed a substantial medical ministry that employed many physicians. Hopefully no one followed her early counsel, which was obviously uninspired.
Food Laws - Remember these at your next church potluck luncheon...
No more pizza? Dairy products banished
"Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach." (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 68)
Your prayers are useless if you eat eggs!
"You should be teaching your children. You should be instructing them how to shun the vices and corruption's of this age. Instead of this, many are studying how to get something good to eat. You place upon your tables butter, eggs, and meat and then your children partake of them. They are fed with the very things that will excite their animal passions, and then you come to meeting and ask God to bless and save your children. How high do your prayers go?" (Testimonies, Vol. 2, p. 362, 1870)
More banished foods
"Children are allowed to eat flesh meats, spices, butter, cheese, pork, rich pastry, and condiments generally. They are also allowed to eat irregularly and between meals of unhealthful food. These things do their work of deranging the stomach, exciting the nerves to unnatural action, and enfeebling the intellect. Parents do not realize that they are sowing the seed which will bring forth disease and death." (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 136)
NOTE: Although she ate meat most of her life, Mrs. White spent much of her life advocating a pure vegetarian diet. Mrs. White prohibited eating flesh meat and butter while allowing for a limited use of eggs, milk, and cream. This diet goes far beyond the Biblical standard. Jesus left "us an example, that ye should follow his steps". (1 Pet. 2:21). How did Jesus eat?
In 1902, Mrs. White said that the people of God would soon need to stop eating dairy products and eggs (see Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 135). It may be good that very few followed her advice, because vitamin B12 is only available from animal products. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause severe health problems.
Recently scientists have discovered the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, meat, and eggs. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the proper function of the cardiovascular, immune, and central nervous functions. Omega-3 fatty acids are very difficult to obtain from a purely vegetarian diet. One of these acids, DHA, is important for mental and visual function. DHA is found in red meat, animal organ meats, and eggs--all of which Mrs. White frowned upon.
Desserts are out
"It is better to let sweet things alone. Let alone those sweet dessert dishes that are placed on the table. You do not need them. You want a clear mind to think after God's order." (Counsels on Diet, p. 328)
Infants only to eat 2 or 3 times a day!
"Infants should be allowed only plain food...partaken of at regular periods, not oftener than three times a day, and two meals would be better than three." (Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 229)
Stop Using Baking Soda
"The use of soda or baking powder in bread making is harmful and unnecessary. Soda causes inflammation of the stomach and often poisons the entire system." (Ministry of Healing, p. 300)
NOTE: Baking soda and powder are simply sodium bicarbonate. Its primary purpose in bread-making is to release carbon dioxide gas which produces bubbles and causes the dough to rise. This leaves behind sodium which is a component of common table salt. The carbon dioxide disipates long before the bread is eaten and even if it got into the stomach it is completely harmless. Are we really expected to believe that these two harmless substances (especially in such small quantities!) can cause inflammation of the stomach and poisoning of the entire system? (Dr. Gregory Hunt, Beware This Cult, chap. 10)
Vinegar causes many evils (even in salad dressing)
"The salads are prepared with oil and vinegar, fermentation takes place in the stomach, and the food does not digest, but decays or putrefies. As a consequence the blood is not nourished, but becomes filled with impurities, and liver and kidney difficulty appear. Heart disturbances, inflammation, and many evils are the result of such kind of treatment, and not only are the bodies affected, but the morals, the religious life, are affected."--Letter 9, 1887, Manuscript Releases vol. 2, p. 143-144.
NOTE: Shockingly, Ellen White used so much vinegar she had a vinegar addiction.
Coffee and tea are forbidden
"I saw that the stewards of the Lord have no duty to help those persons who persist in using tobacco, tea, and coffee." Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 224
Mustard, pepper, pickles, and cinnamon prohibited
"Mustard, pepper, spices, pickles, and other things of a like character, irritate the stomach and make the blood feverish and impure." (Ministry of Healing, p. 325)
Fun, Games, Entertainment Restrictions
Card playing, chess, checkers, and sports and games for students all proscribed
"There are amusements, such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc., which we cannot approve, because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door for great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an exciting influence, producing in some minds a passion for those plays which lead to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians, and something perfectly harmless should be substituted in their place." (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 514)
"Play is not essential. The influence has been growing among the students in their devotion to amusements, to a fascinating, bewitching power, to the counteracting of the influence to the truth upon the human mind and character .... What force of powers is put into your games of football and your other inventions after the way of the Gentiles—exercises which bless no one! .... I can not find an instance in the life of Christ where he devoted time to play and amusement. He was the great Educator for the present and the future life. I have not been able to find one instance where He educated His disciples to engage in amusements of football or pugilistic games, to obtain physical exercise... and yet Christ was our pattern in all things." (Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 228, 229)
Picnics and social parties banned
"They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with them, have attended picnics and other gatherings of pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement. Yet I was shown that it is just such indulgences that separate them from God, and make them children of the world." (Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 269)
Tennis, cricket, baseball, and bike racing are all taboo
"A view of things was presented before me in which the students were playing games of tennis and cricket. Then I was given instruction regarding the character of these amusements. They were presented to me as a species of idolatry, like the idols of the nations." Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 350
Musical concerts [secular] nixed
"But many of the popular amusements have been an injury to both mind and body. The practice of calling in the rich and fashionable to give concerts for the diversion of the patients has had an influence contrary to the spirit of the gospel." (Testimony for the Physicians and Helpers of the Sanitarium, p. 69)
Can I read Robinson Crusoe? Shakespeare? Absolutely not!
"Dear Brother E: I have just read the Review and Herald and have seen your article giving a list of good books for our youth. I was much surprised to read your recommendation of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Robinson Crusoe, and such books. You are in danger of becoming somewhat careless in your writing. It would be well to give thought and careful study to whatever is to be immortalized in print. I am really alarmed to see that your spiritual eyesight is not more clear in the matter of selecting and recommending reading for our youth. I know that the recommendation in our papers of such infatuating books as Uncle Tom's Cabin will in many minds justify the reading of other books which are nothing but fiction. . . . This recommendation will make taxing work for those who are laboring to persuade the youth to discard fictitious reading. I have repeatedly seen the evil of reading such books as you recommend, and have an article all prepared, cautioning our youth in this very matter." (Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 516)
NOTE: Interestingly enough, Ellen White owned fictional books and used fictional stories as sources for Desire of Ages and other books.
If I can't read books, what about magazines?
"Do not, I beg of you, take up the old magazines that are flooding our world, and pay your pennies out for them, and read and search these magazines and keep them so all visitors can get hold of them. Put them away; do not spend your money for them. There is not enough in these magazines that will pay for the reading. God help you that you may search the Scriptures. We have but a little time. We must not load down our brains with this stale food or such food as you may find in these magazines." (Manuscript 188, 1905)
What's left to read? How about newspapers?
"Much time is devoted to reading newspapers which have no special connection with the work. This seems agreeable, but they give no food to the mind, no inspiration to the thought, nothing fresh, pure, noble to be presented to others. We must not think that God will accept from us such cheap offerings." (Manuscript 24, 1887)
Theaters? Don't even think about it!
"Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater." (Messages to Young People, p. 380)
Billiard halls and bowling alleys are off limits
"The true Christian will not desire to enter any place of amusement or engage in any diversion upon which he cannot ask the blessing of God. He will not be found at the theater, the billiard hall, or the bowling saloon." (Messages to Young People, p. 398)
Stay away from the Circus!
"The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence, as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement." (Messages to Young People, p. 380)
Parties with music are Satan-worship!
"The low, common pleasure parties, gatherings for eating and drinking, singing and playing on instruments of music, are inspired by a spirit that is from beneath. They are an oblation unto Satan." (Manuscript 16, 1896)
Dance halls are enemy territory!
"To those who plead for these diversions, we answer, We cannot indulge in them in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theater or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come." (Messages to Young People, p. 398)
The Opera is out! Plays forbidden!
"Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 459)
Shows and Lectures? NO!
"There are shows, lectures, and an endless variety of entertainments constantly arising, that are calculated to lead to a love of the world; and through this union with the world faith is weakened." (Review and Herald, July 15, 1884)
Women who do not wear pants underneath their dresses are immodest!
"They do not blush to witness the exposure of the almost naked limbs. But the limbs thoroughly dressed with warm pants shock their modesty. Such opposition to the pants, which are positively modest, and which protect the limbs from exposure and chilliness, should be supported by sensible reason." (Health Reformer, May 1, 1872)
Jewelry and wedding rings banned
"Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married." (Special Testimony to Ministers and Workers, No. 3, 1895).
NOTE: The restriction against rings goes far beyond the Biblical requirement. The Bible tells us that wealthy people attending church services in the New Testament wore gold rings (see James 2:2). When the "prodigal son" returned from his wanderings, his father, who represented God, put a ring on his finger (Luke 15:22). If Jesus was opposed to the wearing of rings, why would He represent His Father as putting a ring upon His child?
Curiously, Mrs. White wore jewelry on occasion. Was that in keeping with her faith?
What? College students cannot date?
"The infatuation which is upon you is more satanic than divine. I do not wish to have you disappointed in regard to Battle Creek. The rules are strict there. No courting is allowed. The school would be worth nothing to students were they to become entangled in love affairs as you have been. Our college would soon be demoralized." Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 109
"Secret Vice" (masturbation) banned
"They do not realize the exceeding sinfulness of this degrading sin..." (Testimonies Vol. 2, p. 347)
"This vice was shown me as an abomination in the sight of God." (Appeal to Mothers, p. 25)
NOTE: While the Bible condemns impurity of thought and action, it never mentions masturbation as a sin, much less an abomination. An abomination is a sin which carries the death penalty. The Bible lists the sexual abominations in Leviticus 18:
Masturbation is noticeably absent from this list of abominations. Once again Mrs. White exceeded the morality of the Bible and took it upon herself to elevate masturbation up into the category of abomination.
Physicians denied from seeing patients of a different sex
"Women should be educated and qualified just as thoroughly as possible to become practitioners in the delicate diseases which afflict women, that their secret parts should not be exposed to the notice of men. ... It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women." (Kress Collection, p. 23)
NOTE: Mrs. White went to male physicians her entire life.
Preparing food or shaving on the Sabbath breaks the 4th commandment
"The violation of the fourth commandment is not confined to the preparation of food. Many carelessly put off blacking their boots, and shaving, until after the beginning of the Sabbath. This should not be. If any neglect to do such work on a working day, they should have respect enough for God's holy time to let their beards remain unshaven, their boots rough and brown, until the Sabbath is past. This might help their memory, and make them more careful to do their own work on the six working days." (Signs of the Times, May 25, 1882)
Leave those dirty dishes in the sink!
"We would charge all not to wash their dishes on the Sabbath if this can possibly be avoided. God is dishonored by any unnecessary work done on His holy day. It is not inconsistent, but proper, that the dishes should be left unwashed till the close of the Sabbath, if this can be managed." (Letter 104, 1901)
No Swimming (or fun?) on Sabbath!
"Pleasure seeking, ball playing, swimming, was not a necessity, but a sinful neglect of the sacred day sanctified by Jehovah." (Letter 252, 1906)
"I was shown that Sabbathkeeping Adventists should not engage in life insurance. This is a commerce with the world which God does not approve. Those who engage in this enterprise are uniting with the world, while God calls His people to come out from among them and to be separate. ... 'For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.' Here is the only life insurance which heaven sanctions." (Testimonies Vol. 1, p. 549)
No formal schooling before age 8
"Parents should be the only teachers of their children until they have reached eight or ten years of age. ... The only schoolroom for children from eight to ten years of age should be in the open air amid the opening flowers and nature's beautiful scenery. And their only textbook should be the treasures of nature." (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 137, published 1873)
Note: In 1904, after SDA schools opened and needed students, Mrs. White contradicted her earlier testimony, writing that children "from five years old and upward" could attend school. (Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, p. 355)
Living in the city frowned upon
"...the conditions of life in the city are constantly becoming more and more difficult. Serious troubles are before us, and for many families removal from the cities will become a necessity." (The Adventist Home, p. 136)
No membership in Labor Unions permitted
"These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue." (Country Living, p. 11)
No praying standing up!
"I have received letters questioning me in regard to the proper attitude to be taken by a person offering prayer to the Sovereign of the universe. Where have our brethren obtained the idea that they should stand upon their feet when praying to God? One who has been educated for about five years in Battle Creek was asked to lead in prayer before Sister White should speak to the people. But as I beheld him standing upright upon his feet while his lips were about to open in prayer to God, my soul was stirred within me to give him an open rebuke. Calling him by name, I said, 'Get down upon your knees.' This is the proper position always." (Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 311)
All these heavy burdens take a lot of the joy out of living. They reduce the human experience to two dimensions: You are either working or doing spiritual exercises. Solomon once said, "Do not be overly righteous" (Eccl. 7:16 NKJV). Humans need down-time and relaxation from their high-stress lives. Jesus understood that. Jesus is frequently seen attending social parties where there was eating and drinking.
Jesus said, "my burden is light" (Matt. 11:30). The Pharisees, on the other hand, were masters at creating burdensome requirements. Jesus pronounced a "woe" upon those who "bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders" and who "will not move them with one of their fingers" (Matthew 23:4). In other words, these law-makers would not keep their own senseless restrictions when they could get away with it. The same can be seen in the life of Ellen White:
The evidence speaks for itself.
The difference between high-standards and righteousness
Jesus said, unless "your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20). Some people look admiringly at the high standards advocated in Mrs. White's writings and ask, "How could someone with such high standards be a false prophet?" The answer is that it is just as much an error to hold the standard too high as it is to hold the standard too low. The fact that Mrs. White held up extreme standards is no proof that she was a prophet of God. The Prophet Mohammed held up some high standards in the Quran. Was he a prophet of God?
There are two paths that lead away from the truth. One leads to immorality, the other to fanaticism. The Bible warns us about straying into either of these paths:
Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left. Prov. 4:25-27 NKJV
Extremes should be avoided because they tend to lead people away from God. Let us compare the two extremes that lead away from the truth:
High standards do not equate to righteousness. The Pharisees held up high standards and they were condemned by Christ for their wickedness. It is just as wrong to go beyond the Word of God and place unnecessary restrictions upon people as it is to fail to meet the requirements of God.
Adding to the Word
Advocating standards higher than the Bible is adding to the Word of God. This is excplitly forbidden:
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deut. 4:2)
Category: Bible vs. Mrs. White
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