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Moral Inertia & Indecisiveness

December 6, 2011

I think one interesting thing about my disaffection from the Mormon church is the extent in which I’ve engaged with Mormonism more and in a deeper way since I’ve stopped going to church than I ever did when I was going to church.

I’m sure some people would say then that I was “doing it wrong,” and that I should repent and go back to church with my heart more fully turned to it…but I don’t think it’s about that. Rather, I’m engaging in spite of the church and in spite of the institution, not with it or through it. So, if I started attending again, I’d be a foil, spoiler, antagonist, devil’s advocate, or whatever else. And maybe that would be fun for a bit…but I also think it would be draining.

To put it in another way, what engages me about Mormonism is not the stuff that happens every Sunday. It’s stuff that happens online, on the blogs, in the forums, in history, behind the scenes. It’s unfortunate that the facade that is presented to every average person who visits or investigates a local ward is such a poor one instead.

…anyway, that’s just one thing I was thinking about, and not really the point of today’s blog post.

So, I’ve disaffected from the church. I do not attend. But…as I have probably mentioned before, my life really hasn’t changed much. In some ways, I understand that differing commitments on an ideological or theological level should propel differing actions and morality on a practical level, but for the most part, I just don’t see that.

At the most superficial level, I could put this as something like: I still follow something like the Word of Wisdom…but I don’t follow it for the same theological or ideological reasons that Mormons are supposed to. I don’t have any ideological reason not to drink tea, coffee, or alcohol…I just don’t have any compelling reasons to drink these things, either. (In fact, when I’ve tried these things, I’ve found that I just do not like the taste.)

So, I have this kind of moral inertia. There’s nothing pushing me further, so therefore, I’m still kinda where I was in terms of things like the Word of Wisdom.

…but maybe there’s something further behind that inertia and indecisiveness? Maybe it’s a thought deep within that still thinks: as long as I don’t try anything different, I’m immune from any negative consequences. To state this in the most shallow way possible with respect to the Word of Wisdom analogy I’ve been using before: if I don’t start drinking, then there’s no chance that I’ll go overboard with it, get into a bad situation from it, compromise my short or long-term health with it, etc.,

The same thing applies, with some modifications, to Law of Chastity. I mean, discounting masturbation and pornography completely, I could basically say I’m still as clean as a whistle. Is that repression? Is that social awkwardness? Is that due to something negative that I’m just saying is a positive thing? I don’t know. In any case, I’m avoiding any and all possible negative consequences (STDs? Pregnancy scare? Something worse?) here out of pure inertia.

(But it’s really similar to the Word of Wisdom of stuff. It’s not out of an ideological or theological c0mmitment. It’s just I’m not interested, and still see a lot of things in “the world” as unappealing.)

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  1. It seems to me that what substances you ingest (or do not ingest) is not a moral issue. It may be a moral issue if you were doing drugs in front of a child, or neglecting some responsibilities because of a substance. But drinking coffee (or coke) is not morally wrong, although some religious people may believe that. Morality is following the rules of right conduct, and it is only certain religions (mormonism) that equate drinking beverages with right conduct.

    What choices you make are yours, the consequences are also yours. Coffee and tea have been shown to have health benefits. Not in all cases, but in some cases. The evidence doesn’t reflect moral depravity in the users.

    But again, that doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t partake. It’s really your life and your journey, where you decide what to do based on your own criteria.

  2. I agree on all points.

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