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So, the Word of Wisdom isn’t a pronunciation on right and wrong…

June 12, 2009

So, I’ve been going back and forth on Messenger and Advocate’s latest post on gay marriage as it relates to gay marriage supporters calling for a new march on Washington.

And you know what…I know this experience, as well as many others, is a lesson that I’m just not learning. I’m supposed to get out of this that arguing about gay marriage is a fruitless pursuit…a pursuit that will only bring misery to all parties and lead to increasingly huge comments.

But I’m not getting that message yet. Fortunately, I know enough that I’m not going to talk about gay marriage in this post. Instead, I’m going to talk about what one commenter said. After presenting a secular argument against gay marriage, Dee wrote:

Looking at it from a religious standpoint, the problem comes when the gay community encroaches on the beliefs of others. I have the right to disagree with you and believe what you’re doing is wrong, just like I can believe, for example, drinking coffee is wrong and should not be liable for having that belief. I should be able to abstain from drinking coffee just as I should be able to turn down photographing gay weddings, etc. I think that is a major factor in why it is important to leave marriage as it has traditionally been.

OK, I see her point…so I responded:

You are correct as well, in that we should be allowed to believe as we wish. But note…when a Mormon believes that coffee is wrong…this is a belief they only hold themselves or other Mormons too. If a Mormon tried to use their moral arguments that coffee is wrong/bad to try to bind the non-Mormon general public, this would be problematic. I mean, obviously, Mormons have the right to do this, but this sets a nasty precedent. What happens if another group decides (as others have decided) that Mormons are a cult who should be shut down?

Among other things.

Well, then, another commenter, Sherpa, responds to me:

Whoa Andrew, you got it wrong. We choose not to drink coffee, but we don’t think it’s “wrong” per se. It’s not that black and white, and shouldn’t be compared to gay marriage. The two aren’t the same.

Whoa. My bad. I was just responding to what Dee had aready supposed…and what I, in my many years in the church had supposed. Of course, I will grant to him…perhaps Dee has it wrong and I had it wrong. It wouldn’t be the first or last time a member had a dangerous misinterpretation of theology or doctrine and ran with it. And yet…I too feel that it’s a bit disingenuous in the long run to use this strategy of downplaying certain parts of the church. So now, the Word of Wisdom isn’t about doing what’s right or what’s wrong…it’s just a choice. Similar, the priesthood ban for blacks, that wasn’t doctrine; it was just policy. But both of these are materially different from the church’s position on gay marriage, the proclamation on the family, etc., These are pronunciations on what is right and what is wrong.

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21 Comments
  1. I’m just happy to see you and sherpa (a blog friend of mine) together in a conversation. 🙂

    Imho, drinking coffee is not wrong, per se, while doing meth is. You could probably find a flaw in that statement though. Perhaps it’s all on a spectrum?

  2. re adamf:

    when I saw the name, I thought it sounded familiar, but I then thought: “no, adamf is shenpa…not sherpa.”

    It depends on how you justify it. I could easily see someone justify why doing meth is wrong with a completely different reason than why they choose to abstain from coffee.

    It just seems to me that the reason many LDS choose to abstain from coffee happens to be because they believe it to be wrong. But then again, these members (and myself) could be reading too much into the actual text of the Word of Wisdom.

  3. Agreed. I know plenty of members who believe it is “wrong” right along with shopping on Sundays. Funny, in my family growing up we always sent my sister’s boyfriend (who was/is an atheist) to get more ice-cream on Sundays. 😉

    I suppose my views on the WoW have changed over the years though, probably first when I read that Joseph drank wine and etc., and then that it wasn’t a strict “recommend” type commandment until the prohibition era.

  4. finding ways *around* commandments is called cleverness ;p like how certain Jews have developed “Shabbat elevators” that will automatically go up and down each floor without needing any operation on Saturdays. I’m just saying…if I were God and I saw someone who was that innovative, I’d translate them immediately. Probably because I’d suspect them of stealing my secrets.

    interesting perspective on changing views (to fit especially with Joseph’s situation).

  5. And also when I read a letter from BY to one of his sons who was coming home from a mission. He told the soon to be RM to quite tobacco because it would be a bad example for other members, lol.

  6. Whoops, I meant “quit”

  7. that’s still better than Seth R’s peestone

  8. Hi Adam!
    Hi Andrew.

    I’ll elaborate on my point later on. Work is busy. Thanks for quoting me, Andrew.

  9. And yet…I too feel that it’s a bit disingenuous in the long run to use this strategy of downplaying certain parts of the church. So now, the Word of Wisdom isn’t about doing what’s right or what’s wrong…it’s just a choice. Similar, the priesthood ban for blacks, that wasn’t doctrine; it was just policy. But both of these are materially different from the church’s position on gay marriage, the proclamation on the family, etc., These are pronunciations on what is right and what is wrong.

    Saying drinking coffee is wrong is simplistic. I’m not being disingenious. Not at all. I’m not downplaying this part of the church either.

  10. re Joy, thanks for the replies.

    …but…I’m not quite sure if that was an elaboration.

    Any number of ideas can be simplistic…but then again, the gospel principles and commandments could be simplistic. I could look at the Ten Commandments (which is a low blow, since they are a few thousand years old, after all), and say, “Oh, how simplistic these were…there are some instances when it’s ok to lie and some when it’s not…”

    This doesn’t sidestep anything. The simplicity of a pronouncement doesn’t affect if it’s the official position of a group. If drinking coffee is not wrong, then you need theological backing other than “well it’s not wrong because saying it’s wrong is simplistic.”

  11. Looking at it from a religious standpoint, the problem comes when the gay community encroaches on the beliefs of others. I have the right to disagree with you and believe what you’re doing is wrong, just like I can believe, for example, drinking coffee is wrong and should not be liable for having that belief. I should be able to abstain from drinking coffee just as I should be able to turn down photographing gay weddings, etc. I think that is a major factor in why it is important to leave marriage as it has traditionally been.

    Okay, here’s where I have issue with this. Saying Coffee is wrong is simplistic becaues that’s not what the scriptures say. DyC 89 says:
    1 A aWord OF Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—
    2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the aword of wisdom, showing forth the order and bwill of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—
    3 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the bweak and the weakest of all csaints, who are or can be called saints.
    4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of aevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of bconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
    5 That inasmuch as any man adrinketh bwine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.
    6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, apure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
    7 And, again, astrong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
    8 And again, tobacco is not for the abody, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.
    9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
    10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome aherbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
    11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with aprudence and bthanksgiving.
    12 Yea, aflesh also of bbeasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used csparingly;
    13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be aused, only in times of winter, or of cold, or bfamine.
    14 All agrain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
    15 And athese hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
    16 All grain is good for the afood of man; as also the bfruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—
    17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.
    18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, ashall receive bhealth in their navel and marrow to their bones;
    19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
    20 And shall arun and not be bweary, and shall walk and not faint.
    21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the adestroying angel shall bpass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

    Does it say anywhere there that “Coffee is wrong?” If so, I don’t see it. It says that those that abstain from hot drinks (ie coffee) will, “shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures,” but it doesn’t say that Coffee is wrong or evil.

    What I’m saying is that, the view Coffee is wrong, is a simplified explanation of the actual gospel principle.

  12. re Sherpa:

    so wait…your complaint is not against the “is wrong” part…but it’s against the classification of what is wrong?

    It says a considerable number of things are”not good” (see, verses 5, 8) and conflates these things with being “not for” us or the belly (from 5 to 7, or 8 does it all at once)…so for 9, when we find out hot drinks are “not for the belly” — does this or does this not follow the same pattern of their being “not good”?

    In this case, I understand and agree that “coffee is wrong” is an oversimplification. But I simply thought people were disagreeing with a wholly different part of things.

  13. You know, Verse 2 states that this revelation is,”to be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the aword of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—”

    Huh, it says to be sent greeting, not by commandment or constraint. Then it verse three it says ” Given for a principle with promise”

    That isn’t the same vein or forceful language as the Ten Commandments or even other commandments in the Doctrine and Covenants or other LDS Scripture. Granted in verse 21 it states “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall bpass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them, but the language here is different than what you see in other commandments. It’s more gentle.

    Now, main stream Mormons follow the Word of Wisdom, a Principle with a Promise- But to say “coffee is wrong,” simplifies the gospel doctrine to the point that person may not understand the underlying principle and reasons that the principle is followed. Now, the fact that individual is following the principle is a good thing, and I don’t want to judge other’s reasonings, but to this Mormon who follows the word of wisdom, the phrase “coffee is wrong” irks me.

    But I simply thought people were disagreeing with a wholly different part of things
    Elaborate please.

  14. it most certainly isn’t the same vein of forceful language as the ten commandments (it isn’t a commandment, after all).

    But if you don’t do it, you will face limitation in the church. You will face eternal limitation as a result (no WoW? no temple. No temple? No temple ordinances. etc.,). It *does* end up functionally being a constraint.

    It seems to me that saying, “Not drinking coffee is good for you, advantageous, will give you all kinds of benefits, but this is just a good piece of advice for you, even though if you don’t follow this piece of advice, you will see direct negative consequence to it” is a way of confounding the spirit of the message. It seems that where we really disagree is that “coffee” is too rough and narrow and simplistic in the equation…it’s more than coffee. It’s more than hot drinks. It’s more than just diet. It’s life. One way of life, a life of obedience, is better.

  15. it most certainly isn’t the same vein of forceful language as the ten commandments (it isn’t a commandment, after all).

    I’m glad you actually read my last post where I specifically referenced the scripture that says it isn’t a commandment.

    But if you don’t do it, you will face limitation in the church. You will face eternal limitation as a result (no WoW? no temple. No temple? No temple ordinances. etc.,). It *does* end up functionally being a constraint.
    That’s why I said in my previous post that main stream Mormons follow the Word of Wisdom, a Principle with a Promise-. Mainstream mormons do follow it, but functionally a constraint? It’s a constraint in the aspect that members are asked to refrain from coffee/tobacco/tea etc. But it really isn’t a constraint when you look at the blessings promised.
    As far as no temple ordinances? I know of members who don’t fully follow the WoW and yet have temple recommends, and I know of members who follow the WoW and don’t have recommends. Sorry, but it’s not the be-all and end all to being a faithful latter day saint. Yes, it’s very important, but there’s other questions in the temple recommend interview, and temple worthiness is between the member and their leadership. As far as eternal limitation because of the WOW? That’s between the individual and God. Neither you or I can say that the WOW will either allow or limit an individual from entering the Celestial Kingdom as we don’t know the thoughts and desires of those around us. We are judged after we die. The WOW is a requirement of obediences, but DyC 89 doesn’t specifically state that those that follow it will be given eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom, that’s found in another scriptures and tied to other commandments. There’s more than the WOW that Mormons follow to obtain the Celestial Kingdom.
    This is what irks me, is that mormons or anti-mormons see the WOW in a bubble, it’s not a bubble-it’s very important to follow as it’s a protection, but there’s other principles and commandments that are just as important, and perhaps even more important.
    The Golden Rule for example? If I keep the WOW, but am a dick to everyone? Then well, that’s not necessarily living the life as a Christian. I’m not saying that a Mormon shouldn’t be obedient to the WOW, and I’m not denying it’s power or importance, it’s just so much more than “Coffee is wrong.” Wow, that phrase irks me.

    “Not drinking coffee is good for you, advantageous, will give you all kinds of benefits, but this is just a good piece of advice for you, even though if you don’t follow this piece of advice, you will see direct negative consequence to it” is a way of confounding the spirit of the message.

    Sorry, but I don’t follow you there. That isn’t what I’m saying at all, and I’m sorry if that’s what you’re getting from what I’m saying.


    It seems that where we really disagree is that “coffee” is too rough and narrow and simplistic in the equation…it’s more than coffee. It’s more than hot drinks. It’s more than just diet. It’s life. One way of life, a life of obedience, is better.

    That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make. Coffee is too rough and narrow and simplistic in the equation. That’s the point I’ve been trying to get through from the beginning.

    “Coffee is wrong,” is a “Law of Moses” approach to the Word of Wisdom. It’s like when Mormons say “I can’t drink that.” Well, yes, they can drink it, but they CHOOSE not to drink it. The Word of wisdom is a CHOICE to follow God’s words. Once you explain simply to someone who isn’t Mormon the Word of Wisdom, they get it. It’s common sense.
    The underlying principle to the Word of Wisdom is obedience to God, and faith in God and his gospel. God asks us to restrict certain behaviors because of his love for us. He’s protecting us, even though we may not understand completely. Yes, he requires a lot, but we’ve been promised great blessings.

  16. re Sherpa:

    As far as no temple ordinances? I know of members who don’t fully follow the WoW and yet have temple recommends, and I know of members who follow the WoW and don’t have recommends. Sorry, but it’s not the be-all and end all to being a faithful latter day saint. Yes, it’s very important, but there’s other questions in the temple recommend interview, and temple worthiness is between the member and their leadership.

    Wait. Are you saying that now, the WoW is not a requisite for the temple recommend? Are you seriously suggesting that the recommend process is so holistic that one can “fail” one question (like WoW) but be outstanding on others and get a recommend.

    This is blowing my mind, man. What I’ve heard (but maybe I’m wrong) is that this is an instant fail. You can’t even get the OK for baptism if you don’t first get straight with the WoW. So it would seem more to me that if a member had a recommend but wasn’t following the WoW that this was a 1) demonstrable deception of the member to his leaders or a 2) demonstrable example of leadership breaking church policy. I haven’t brushed up on the Church Handbook of Instruction in a while though, so I could be terribly misinformed.

    But seriously, you’re shocking my mind (in a good way). It never occurred to me that an orthodox member would see the WoW in such a loose way.

    As far as the latter part (neither of us can say whether it will limit into CK ); I agree. After all, it could be that if the church has a hardline stance on the WoW (which you doubt…this is shocking)…that the church is incorrect in having such a hardline stance.

    I’m not putting the WoW in a vacuum. I’m not saying it’s the only thing. After all, you’ve got Law of chastity as well at the very least to worry about too 😀

    So I think your comparison on WoW with Golden Rule is a bit of a diversion. I’m not saying someone who follows WoW but not Golden Rule is or should be seen in a Mormon context as more righteous — they will be recognized as imperfect who needs to improve on their imperfection in Golden Rule. But for someone who follows the Golden Rule but not the WoW? I think the church would ALSO see these people as imperfect people who need to improve on their imperfection, but in the WoW. To be perfect, I think the church would advise that a modern member needs to do both, not one or the other. And not just WoW and Golden Rule, but a series of other obediences.

    “Not drinking coffee is good for you, advantageous, will give you all kinds of benefits, but this is just a good piece of advice for you, even though if you don’t follow this piece of advice, you will see direct negative consequence to it” is a way of confounding the spirit of the message.

    Sorry, but I don’t follow you there. That isn’t what I’m saying at all, and I’m sorry if that’s what you’re getting from what I’m saying.

    It’s not what you’re saying. It’s what the scriptures (in part) are saying but what the church leadership is saying to fill the other part. You are actually contradicting it in a way that, as I’ve mentioned at several points, is blowing my mind. You propose that not following the WoW may not have directly negative consequences in the church (such as no temple recommend)

    That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make. Coffee is too rough and narrow and simplistic in the equation. That’s the point I’ve been trying to get through from the beginning.

    “Coffee is wrong,” is a “Law of Moses” approach to the Word of Wisdom. It’s like when Mormons say “I can’t drink that.” Well, yes, they can drink it, but they CHOOSE not to drink it. The Word of wisdom is a CHOICE to follow God’s words. Once you explain simply to someone who isn’t Mormon the Word of Wisdom, they get it. It’s common sense.
    The underlying principle to the Word of Wisdom is obedience to God, and faith in God and his gospel. God asks us to restrict certain behaviors because of his love for us. He’s protecting us, even though we may not understand completely. Yes, he requires a lot, but we’ve been promised great blessings.

    OK, I get this. (In light of mindblowingness of our discussion).

    But in the end, I think it doesn’t qualitative change the message I’m making. It simply parses at verbal laziness on my (and others’) parts. Expand coffee to mean other things. Change “I can’t drink that” (which, as you point out in your example, is even contrary to LDS doctrines about agency) to “I choose not to drink that”. But what I am saying is, even “I choose not to drink that,” is an oversimplication. My point is…LDS doctrines about the WoW and the way it is applied make the WoW something like, “I choose not to drink that because I shouldn’t.”


  17. Wait. Are you saying that now, the WoW is not a requisite for the temple recommend? Are you seriously suggesting that the recommend process is so holistic that one can “fail” one question (like WoW) but be outstanding on others and get a recommend.

    No, I’m not saying it’s not a requisite for the temple recommend. It’s still a question in the temple recommend ceremony. However, I feel like you’re trying to paint this black and white, and then dismiss it (straw man logical fallacy).

    The older I get, and the longer I live as an active LDS member, not all leadership paints it black and white. There’s instances where someone may drink coffee a bit, but still allowed a recommend. I know several people personally who are in that situation. Other leadership may be completely black and white with the WoW. Needless to say, it’s up to the leadership, the member and God. I don’t need to know what goes during individual temple recommends.

    It never occurred to me that an orthodox member would see the WoW in such a loose way.
    It’s not loose per say, but you’d be surprised how many “orthodox” members feel the way I do about it.

    I’m not putting the WoW in a vacuum. I’m not saying it’s the only thing. After all, you’ve got Law of chastity as well at the very least to worry about too

    Absolutely. Both are important, but the law of chastity, that is one of the very most important covenants.

    So I think your comparison on WoW with Golden Rule is a bit of a diversion. I’m not saying someone who follows WoW but not Golden Rule is or should be seen in a Mormon context as more righteous — they will be recognized as imperfect who needs to improve on their imperfection in Golden Rule. But for someone who follows the Golden Rule but not the WoW?

    No, I believe what I was trying to illustrate by using a bit of hyperbole was the concept that the WOW doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The only one that knows the nature of our hearts is God.

    It’s not what you’re saying. It’s what the scriptures (in part) are saying but what the church leadership is saying to fill the other part. You are actually contradicting it in a way that, as I’ve mentioned at several points, is blowing my mind. You propose that not following the WoW may not have directly negative consequences in the church (such as no temple recommend)

    Sorry, but that’s not what I’m saying.

    But in the end, I think it doesn’t qualitative change the message I’m making. It simply parses at verbal laziness on my (and others’) parts. Expand coffee to mean other things. Change “I can’t drink that” (which, as you point out in your example, is even contrary to LDS doctrines about agency) to “I choose not to drink that”. But what I am saying is, even “I choose not to drink that,” is an oversimplication. My point is…LDS doctrines about the WoW and the way it is applied make the WoW something like, “I choose not to drink that because I shouldn’t.”

    Uh, talk about word-smithing. “I choose not to drink coffee.” There’s nothing wrong or contrary in LDS doctrine that get’s me in trouble for saying that, rather than “I choose not to drink that because I shouldn’t.” If anything, your sentence is incorrect English. 😉

  18. errr….I don’t think that’s a straw man…if I’m trying to paint it black and white, it’s because I think this issue truly *is* black and white. On the other hand, if you would like to suggest that it’s gray, then that seems more the misrepresentation. Again, I haven’t seen the Church Handbook on this one, so I may be outdated here.

    Basically, if a few leaders do treat it flexibly, then what I want to see is: is there any justification for their treating it flexibly? Why couldn’t it be that they are mavericks? Do you suppose that these leaders, if general authorities knew of their actions, would uphold and defend those actions? If I seem to be trying to paint it black and white, it’s because I simply think that GAs (or similar sources of recognized legitimacy in the church) wouldn’t see the issue as flexible. Flexible is like, “Coke or no coke.”

    Uh, talk about word-smithing. “I choose not to drink coffee.” There’s nothing wrong or contrary in LDS doctrine that get’s me in trouble for saying that, rather than “I choose not to drink that because I shouldn’t.” If anything, your sentence is incorrect English.

    Touche on incorrect English.

    Of course there’s nothing wrong or contrary in LDS doctrine that get’s [sic] you in trouble for saying “I choose not to drink coffee,” all I’m arguing is it’s because it’s ALREADY IMPLIED in the LDS doctrine what comes after…your agency is moral agency. When you exercise free choice, you do it because you want to enact or pursue moral consequences. Following the WoW (however that is narrowed down) is morally “good” and this is widely understood in an LDS context.

    It would be if you said to anyone, “I choose not to murder.” No one would ask further why not. Most people, even non LDS, share in a cultural understanding that murdering is bad…or at the very least, not something to pursue.

    Basically, I just need something that suggests that within the conservative LDS orthodoxy (which, for better or for worse, is the legitimate part of the church) what you suggest about flexibility in what it means to follow the WoW holds true. Because it seems like ambiguating it to local leaders, “God,” and the individual, muddies the water…it doesn’t set precedents that necessarily are indicative of general trends or trends that would even be recognized as desirable by those in power.

  19. rrr….I don’t think that’s a straw man…if I’m trying to paint it black and white, it’s because I think this issue truly *is* black and white. On the other hand, if you would like to suggest that it’s gray, then that seems more the misrepresentation. Again, I haven’t seen the Church Handbook on this one, so I may be outdated here.

    Is it? How many church members do you know that follow the WoW fully, and pay attention not only to the alcohol/cigarettes/coffee, tea restrictions, but also follow the dietary guidelines also?

    Basically, if a few leaders do treat it flexibly, then what I want to see is: is there any justification for their treating it flexibly?

    It’s between the member, their leaders during the temple recommend. If the member and the leaders feel that individual is worthy, then they’re worthy. That’s it. There’s no “justification” that I need to see. As far as the GA’s go, they are involved in the sustaining of the stake leaders. They trust the stake leaders to carry out the gospel and make sure members are worthy to enter the temple. Those no reason for micro-managing the temple interview process.

    Following the WoW (however that is narrowed down) is morally “good” and this is widely understood in an LDS context.

    It’s like we’re back to “coffee is wrong” and choosing not to drink it is “good”

    Basically, I just need something that suggests that within the conservative LDS orthodoxy (which, for better or for worse, is the legitimate part of the church) what you suggest about flexibility in what it means to follow the WoW holds true. Because it seems like ambiguating it to local leaders, “God,” and the individual, muddies the water…it doesn’t set precedents that necessarily are indicative of general trends or trends that would even be recognized as desirable by those in power.

    Sorry, I don’t have time to get the burden of proof you’re asking for. You strawmanned my point once again, but that’s okay.

  20. Is it? How many church members do you know that follow the WoW fully, and pay attention not only to the alcohol/cigarettes/coffee, tea restrictions, but also follow the dietary guidelines also?

    If you asked a GA about the rest of the dietary guidelines, they would give a considerably different answer about these than about alcohol/cigarettes/coffee. You can clearly find a “white” in the dietary restrictions whereas there is a “black” in alcohol/cigarettes/coffee and a cultural gray in things like Coca Cola.

    It’s between the member, their leaders during the temple recommend. If the member and the leaders feel that individual is worthy, then they’re worthy. That’s it. There’s no “justification” that I need to see. As far as the GA’s go, they are involved in the sustaining of the stake leaders. They trust the stake leaders to carry out the gospel and make sure members are worthy to enter the temple. Those no reason for micro-managing the temple interview process.

    The GAs can also censure and call a stake leader to church court. Their trust goes as far as they don’t hear noticeable heresy. So again, I ask: if someone told a GA about this, would there be no issue? Do you think it would be noncontroversial if a stake leader or bishop publicly voiced this practice? It seems that the privatizing and personalizing of all of this is very significant. I suggest this is the case because we both know that, whether for good or for bad, this wouldn’t go very well in public.

    It’s like we’re back to “coffee is wrong” and choosing not to drink it is “good”

    Because it seems like you’re not addressing the “wrongness.” You’re addressing the content of wrongness (e.g., coffee). Yet, we could easily hypothesize about what answers the church handbook or a GA would have — they would clearly say different things about coffee than they would about meat, but the gray is in things like cola.

    Sorry, I don’t have time to get the burden of proof you’re asking for. You strawmanned my point once again, but that’s okay.

    “In the future, I will continue to simply claim my opponent is making certain logical fallacies without backing it up and then say it’s ok, because that’s an effective strategy and it makes him look bad if he tries to call me, the better man, out on it.”

    ^now that’s a fallacy on my part. I freely admit it.

    Personally, I like your ideas. I just think they represent exceptions, rather than rules, and exceptions that would not be tolerated under modern cultural or authoritative understandings of the rules. So I think it would be disingenuous to go about presenting the LDS view of the WoW as you have (even though I personally like such a view and would enjoy if that *were* the authoritative view), without caveating that it’s rather nonstandard unless you live in this ward or that.

  21. Anonymous permalink

    Sherpa:

    “Does it say anywhere there that ‘Coffee is wrong?’ If so, I don’t see it.”

    It doesn’t say that, but it does say that if a person follows the word of Wisdom, the destroying angel will not slay them. This seems to imply that those that don’t follow it will be destroyed by the destroying angel. Ignoring a threat from the Lord is serious business. I wouldn’t consider that area gray.

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