June 30th, 2008

The Bare Minimum


photo credit: valooran

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been pondering the general reaction to the Kirby Heyborne Miller Lite commercial. It’s been interesting to witness the entire gamut of responses, ranging from stinging rebukes to absolute indifference. One of the responses that most caught my attention, however, was authored by Orson Scott Card.

A syndicated columnist, his article was featured in the Deseret News “Mormon Times” section. The title, “Heyborne in the age of purity” paints a picture of the basis of Card’s arguments. Essentially, Card uses the excuse mastered by young children the world over: “Well if Johnny can do it, why can’t I?” This appeal for equality in opportunity has long been a tool used by kids to get their parents to lower their chosen standards or amend their rules. After all, Johnny’s mom is a great woman, and if she lets her child do X, then X really can’t be all that bad, right?

Card’s satirical suggestions offer a number of examples in which Saints might likewise be participating in things they shouldn’t, all in the pursuit of financial gain. Some examples include the Marriotts selling alcoholic beverages in their hotels, public servants in states in which the lottery is legal, or advertising agents using seductive models to market their products.

Reading the article, it seems that Card is arguing for the bare minimum, and nothing more. Since we don’t publicly excoriate the Marriotts, Steve Young, and all the other nameless hordes who participate in questionable activities for a living, Card implies that we therefore should have no moral right to comment on Kirby’s decision.

Whatever happened to aspiring to be a moral, virtuous, and Zion people? Are we lobsters in a bucket—trying to pull down any who aspire for higher ground—or are we Saints trying to become increasingly righteous? Do we try to defend and justify our actions based upon those that others have made, or upon the ones the Lord has counseled us to make?

Though Card does not use the word, I believe that his article’s main message is that the reader should not cast judgment, in this case upon Kirby. Others have made similarly questionable choices in their career, argues Card, and so who are we to judge what Kirby has done?

In a wonderful discourse on the nature of judgment, Elder Oaks taught that we are actually directed to make certain judgments based on principle:

In contrast to forbidding mortals to make final judgments, the scriptures require mortals to make what I will call “intermediate judgments.” These judgments are essential to the exercise of personal moral agency. . . .

The Savior also commanded individuals to be judges, both of circumstances and of other people. . . .

We must, of course, make judgments every day in the exercise of our moral agency, but we must be careful that our judgments of people are intermediate and not final. Thus, our Savior’s teachings contain many commandments we cannot keep without making intermediate judgments of people: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine" (Matt. 7:6); "Beware of false prophets. … Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:15-16); and "Go ye out from among the wicked" (D&C 38:42).

We all make judgments in choosing our friends, in choosing how we will spend our time and our money, and, of course, in choosing an eternal companion. Some of these intermediate judgments are surely among those the Savior referenced when He taught that “the weightier matters of the law” include judgment (Matt. 23:23).

The scriptures not only command or contemplate that we will make intermediate judgments but also give us some guidance—some governing principles—on how to do so. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Judge Not” and Judging)

Disagreeing readers might in defense suggest Jesus’ teaching of “he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” But in making an intermediate (temporary) judgment on an issue, in no way are we condemning the individual or suggesting (nor executing) a punishment. Opining on the morality of the action itself does not indicate one’s thoughts regarding the person involved, nor should it. We should restrain our conversation and observation to principles and issues, not individuals and their personal lives.

Thus, I feel it is entirely appropriate to comment on the action Kirby made. I believe that a people (ideally) progressing towards Zion should analyze actions, their involved principles, and their consequences, in order to better understand the best and most appropriate way to continually increase in righteousness. Such scrutiny does not necessarily engender a “holier than thou” attitude (though many may be guilty), nor does it imply that the person judging is free from sin himself.

Living the bare minimum of the gospel—and excusing one’s actions on account of others’—is, to me, the sign of an individual content to mix Babylon with Zion. As a peculiar people with the charge to be a light unto the world, the last thing we need to do is find (and attempt to justify) ways to let the slow stain of the world make their mark.

Elder Ballard commented on the importance of seeking righteousness when he said:

We cannot ignore keeping the commandments of God. We cannot excuse ourselves or rationalize or justify even the smallest things in our lives that we need to master. We must work to overcome them. We can become the masters of our own destinies by practicing self-discipline and by setting worthy goals that will lead to higher ground so that we can become what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. (M. Russell Ballard, The Message: Go For It!)

Brother Card may feel that as long as there are imperfect people doing improper things, that we are likewise to be accepted and excused. As for me and my house, we will let (correct) principles guide our actions, and not seek to use our neighbor’s choices as a reason to feel good about lowering our own standards.

86 Responses to “The Bare Minimum”

  1. Clumpy
    June 30, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    Exactly – we have our own judgment, and we can judge the action or behavior of others according to our own standards and our understanding of doctrine and counsel. What we can’t do is condemn an individual.

    Myself? I recognize his right to make a choice for himself and his family, and, despite his technical conformity to his and my church’s commandments and requirements, think that he acted with impropriety in this case.

    On a related note: I had an LDS friend who drove the Budweiser truck in my first year of college and tried not to think too much about it.

  2. Jeff T
    June 30, 2008 at 9:50 pm #

    Brigham Young said:

    Now, brethren, love the truth, and put a stop to every species of folly. How many there are who come to me to find fault with, and enter complaints against, their brethren, for some trifling thing, when I can see, in a moment, that they have received no intentional injury! They have no compassion on their brethren, but, having passed their judgment, insist that the criminal shall be punished. And why? Because he does not exactly come up to their standard of right and wrong! They feel to measure him by the “Iron Bedstead principle”—”if you are too long, you must be cut off; if too short, you must be stretched.” Now this is the height of folly. I find that I have enough to do to watch myself. It is as much as I can do to get right, deal right, and act right. If we all should do this, there would be no difficulty, but in every man’s mouth would be “May the Lord bless you.”

    Connor, I do not think this quote contradicts anything you’ve said here. I agree that it is important to be able to evaluate another’s actions in light of gospel truth. I don’t post this in disagreement, only as a precaution: in the pursuit of self-improvement and Zion, and eye towards our own actions will do more than a thousand commentaries of someone else’s.

    I too think that in the name of “compassion” we have all but abandoned the basic action of labeling sin sin and good good. At the same time, we too often use the sins of others to bolster our own sense of superiority.

  3. Connor
    July 1, 2008 at 8:06 am #

    That’s a great quote, Jeff. I agree with both you and Brigham: we certainly have plenty of our own problems to worry about. I find personal benefit, though, in observing others’ actions and determining what I would/wouldn’t do differently. In this way, I try to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid such situations myself.

    So in essence, passing (intermediate) judgment upon others is a technique to ensure that one’s personal life is on the right path. If I encounter somebody doing drugs, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to judge that that is a horrible thing to do, and decide that I would never do it myself.

    Regardless of the judging taking place, I find it disappointing that Card’s defense of Heyborne’s actions is based upon the actions of others, and not upon principles, morals, or counsel. It seems like a very weak argument to me, and as I argued in the post, tends to lead us more towards Babylon than Zion.

  4. Jeremy
    July 1, 2008 at 1:42 pm #

    Is it possible not to be “holier than thou” when you make someone else’s sins the topic of your blogging efforts?

    I agree with you (and Elder Oaks) that in observing the actions of others we should always be able to judge the righteousness/unrighteousness of their behavior and counsel ourselves and our families about any lessons that might be learned. Does that include bringing the topic of someone else’s sins out into the blogosphere to be dissected and discussed? That seems to be a different thing entirely.

    I don’t think I’d have chosen to host a discussion about someone else and their “sinful” behavior on my blog but I’ll admit to having enjoyed a guilty pleasure in reading your original post and its comments. Hypocrisy is obviously not a vice I’m immune to.

  5. Connor
    July 1, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    Does that include bringing the topic of someone else’s sins out into the blogosphere to be dissected and discussed?

    Is it any different than bringing the topic of Korihor’s or Alma the Younger’s sins out into a gospel doctrine class to be dissected and discussed? :) Perhaps because scriptural characters are dead it’s seen as more acceptable, whereas live people might take offense?

  6. Jeremy
    July 1, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    You have got me there. I taught my primary kids about Korihor and his wickedness just week before last!

  7. Clumpy
    July 1, 2008 at 8:10 pm #

    To be fair, Korihor’s evil was unambiguously stated in the text, and the content of his character was made clear by direct statements in scripture, whereas we have a bit more leeway with Mr. Heybourne here. . .

  8. Brandon
    July 2, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    Connor,
    Like Bro. Card, I am extremely disturbed by the condemnation of Kirby. While you made goods points in your post about why it is appropriate to judge, for me that does not outweigh the hypocrisy of the entire affair. One point Orson Card failed to make is that the very institution that is promulgating these values (The Mormon Church) advertises and sells alcohol (by way of its businesses). How then can we condemn a member of the church for doing the very thing that the church owned entity does? While you insinuate that his sarcasm was over the top and was a justification, it raises an excellent point. Why this specific topic and why now? As he clearly points out, there are countless examples of other LDS similarly violating their supposed beliefs in pursuit of money, so why Kirby? Is it because his case is so much worse, or so obvious? And if our religious values must not be violated in the pursuit of money, why doesn’t the church have to live up to this same standard? I just can’t condemn someone when I see the church and others doing the same thing.

  9. Connor
    July 2, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    Regarding the sale of alcohol by Church-owned businesses (the SLC mall is the only one of which I’m aware), we read:

    LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills said the decision on alcohol came, in part, because outside developers will own portions of the new malls. Only in those non-church owned portions will alcohol sales be allowed.

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has consistently made plain that in matters of public policy it is not opposed to responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages by informed adults,” Bills said. “In the downtown redevelopment project currently being planned by the church, a limited number of high-quality restaurant tenants who will operate on land not owned by the church may apply for licenses to serve alcoholic beverages in accordance with existing state regulations.”

    The LDS Church has previously said that Michigan-based shopping center developer Taubman Co. will help develop and partially own portions of the mall. William Taubman, executive vice president for the developer, told the Deseret Morning News earlier this year that it would be impossible to draw certain high-end restaurants to the mall unless they were able to sell alcohol.

    And regarding the advertisement of alcohol (KSL is the only entity that has previously done so, as far as I’m aware), we read (in an article from 1990):

    KSL-Television, Channel 5, was commended by the Utah Alcohol Policy Coalition for a recent decision to discontinue accepting beer and wine advertising on local programming.

    The commendation was made Aug. 13 by George Van Komen, coalition chairman, who said KSL “set an example that we would like to see other stations follow.”

    The decision was not publicized by the station itself, but the coaltion sent out news releases commending the decision.

    KSL is part of Bonneville International Corp., a Church-owned company. Station officials emphasized that the decision was their own and was not forced upon them by the station owner

    So, to sum up, the Church doesn’t currently advertise nor sell alcohol. If I’m incorrect (i.e. they’ve made more recent decisions that run contrary to those posted here), please let me know. But as far as I can tell, there’s no hypocrisy on the part of the Church regarding alcohol.

  10. Brandon
    July 2, 2008 at 10:58 am #

    Connor,
    My point wasn’t that the church is being hypocritical by having ever advertised or sold alcohol. My point is that it is hypocritical to hold a member of the church to a standard that wasn’t applied to the church itself. The church had justifications and rationalizations for why it was appropriate and then subsequently why they stopped. In the same way, I think you could have posted quotes saying the same things from Kirby Heyborn, ie.. “I don’t support the consumption of alcohol, I was only doing my job, etc. etc.” I don’t think the church was wrong in the same way I don’t think Kirby Heyborn was wrong.

  11. Clumpy
    July 3, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Brandon, if the LDS church micromanaged and meddled in every aspect of any businesses in which they have a controlling share, to the point of regulating all editorial and advertising content, is it possible, just possible that you might have found something else to criticize?

    The fact that the Church doesn’t zealously enforce their standards upon the community, while not directly providing “unkosher” substances themselves, is pretty much a position of understanding and perspective. Likewise, the fact that the Church is behaving rationally and not acting according to some hallucination of yours of the way that they are supposed to behave is an argument for Mr. Heybourne but not against the Church.

    On an unrelated note, I’d rather see a seductive model than a CK heroin chic any day :).

  12. Helaman
    July 3, 2008 at 3:05 pm #

    According to Card, I should ignore the “Adult Slumber Party’s” being put on by a member in my ward, or the Bunko games my wife has been invited to by other members.

    I whole heartily disagree!

    To me, and this is how I explained it to my bishop, is I think we’re getting too lax on things like this. Coming up with excuses that it’s their own business, or it’s not my business. But I think if we’re to survive as a ward family, even a church family we should be helping members, not excusing them.

    But for those who think the slumber parties and dice/card games are alright, how many would let their husbands go by themselves?

  13. Brandon
    July 4, 2008 at 12:14 pm #

    To Clumpy:
    Did you actually read my post? I think you have confused my argument with something else. In no way did I criticize the church. I criticized what I perceive to be a double standard in this case. I don’t care what the church decides to do in the management of its businesses. Likewise, I don’t care what Kirby does. I only care that he is being criticized for something very similar to what the church itself has been involved with. I clearly said I think neither of them are in the wrong.
    To Helaman:
    Yes, I think you should ignore those parties or get together’s that you dissaprove of. If you don’t like them, or think they are wrong, don’t go to them. It really is none of your business what the other members of your ward do. If there is a problem, the responsibility to address it belongs to your bishop. You say it is your responsibility to help your ward family survive. How do you propose doing that? By criticizing them on internet message boards and indulging your sense of superiority because of your supposed righteousness by not participating in their “sins”?
    In my opinion, this is exactly what is being done by those who criticize Kirby Heybourne for acting in a beer commercial. If he has done something wrong, it is between him, God and his bishop. Personally, I think what he did is fine. Maybe that’s because I work for an advertising agency and am involved in selling things that I may or may not use myself. What would I do if all of a sudden we took on an alcohol client? Would I quit? Probably not, because other people choosing to drink alcohol doesn’t affect my own relationship with God. Its just a job, and frankly most every single one of us have to make similarly adjustments each day as we make a living. Otherwise very few of us could survive outside of Utah.

  14. Jeff T
    July 4, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Brandon,

    Dallin H. Oaks:

    “Christian standards should also apply to those who earn a living by selling or advertising products in the marketplace… The magazine Women’s Sports and Fitness does not accept cigarette ads, thus foregoing much-needed revenue. … Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this same attitude of looking after the interests of others governed Latter-day Saints who are making a profit from the sale or promotion of alcoholic beverages? … Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should not be involved in employment or other activities upon which they cannot conscientiously ask the blessings of the Lord.”

    If I worked at an advertising agency and was asked to advertise alcohol, I wouldn’t do it, or I would quit. Why? Because my integrity is more important than money or social status.

  15. Brandon
    July 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Jeff:
    I already saw the quote that was previously posted (on another thread I think). I understand why you bring this up because you feel it contradicts my insistence that I likely wouldn’t quit if my agency took on an alcohol client. Let’s just say I’m not as righteous or as humble as I should be, but this quote doesn’t change my mind. Elder Oaks continues on to say that “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should not be involved in employment or other activities upon which they cannot conscientiously ask the blessings of the Lord.”
    While I agree with this in principle, it has some practical limitations. We live and work in a world that does not believe the same things we do. Very many of our people would have to go hungry if they refused to work in any job or industry that had some element that violated their own personal beliefs or that God wouldn’t explicitly bless. Orson Card’s article gave a great run down of many of these situations (while ignoring the other trivial occupations that God couldn’t bless either because they are, well, trivial). While some have argued that he is just rationalizing bad behavior, I think he is actually trying to condemn hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is evident when we single out one person for condemnation while we ignore all of the other examples of people doing the same or similar things. To top it off, I believe these are unrighteous judgments since they are primarily based in one’s own interpretation of the gospel. I think a relationship with God is personal and I am in no place to judge Kirby Heybourne or anyone else for that matter. Good for anyone else who thinks they are.

  16. Jeff T
    July 4, 2008 at 4:11 pm #

    True, we live in a world that doesn’t believe as we do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stick to our beliefs. I don’t have to quit if the store I work at opens on Sunday; I can just refuse to work on that day. If they fire me, I find another job. If all Latter-day Saint were to do this, employers would have to reconsider there options. I don’t have to quit an agency if they advertise alcohol; I can just refuse to work on the project, and if they fire me for it, then I find a new job.

    Again, if we as Latter-day Saints stand united for principles, the world would have to accommodate us; it is only because we collectively don’t stand for principles that we have to accommodate the world.

    We don’t have to compromise with the world in order to live in the world. That is a great lie of the adversary; we CAN stand for principle, even in a wicked world.

  17. Connor
    July 4, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    We live and work in a world that does not believe the same things we do. Very many of our people would have to go hungry if they refused to work in any job or industry that had some element that violated their own personal beliefs or that God wouldn’t explicitly bless.

    What about standing for principle and virtue, regardless of the consequences, having faith that the Lord will bless us for our righteous desires and unwavering commitment to the gospel?

    While some have argued that [Card] is just rationalizing bad behavior, I think he is actually trying to condemn hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is evident when we single out one person for condemnation while we ignore all of the other examples of people doing the same or similar things.

    As I argued in the post, I believe that we can discuss specific actions regardless of who has committed them. The simple fact of the matter here is that Kirby is in the spotlight; he has placed himself there of his own accord. Those who voluntarily submit themselves to the public light cannot ascribe others’ remarks to hypocrisy when they are singled out more often than their lesser-known peers. Kirby is a well-known LDS actor. Thus, people look to him as an embodiment of what a good LDS actor should be like. When they feel that he shoots below that mark, I think that people are entirely justified in commenting on his actions.

    We do the same thing with other famous people, simply because they are generally known to the public. We as a people often critique and comment on the actions and words of public officials, for example. They are only public officials because they have sought after the position. One cannot seek fame and notoriety while not permitting others to scrutinize their actions.

    Simply put, it’s easier to comment on certain actions committed by well-known people exactly for that reason: people know them. They have context to the story, rather than prefacing your comment on an action by having to explain the situation. In Kirby’s case, most Saints are aware of his acting career, and thus have the background information necessary to understand the question behind the Miller Lite commercial. Talking about some random Joe’s similar decision would be more difficult to discuss if the other person had no background understanding.

    But in essence, you’re exactly correct. If action X is wrong for person A, then X is wrong for person B as well. We should apply the same standard to all people, regardless of their fame. That’s where Card’s article doesn’t apply to myself at least—I think that working in any environment that promotes sin is wrong. Others may (and do) justify their actions to the contrary for any number of reasons, and you’re right: that’s between them and God. But I see no harm in analyzing the decision and stating personal opinion—to give, as Elder Oaks called it, “intermediate judgment”.

  18. Brandon
    July 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    Connor:
    I went back and re-read your original post and I think I have identified how we disagree. You think Card was trying to excuse Kirby’s behavior using the argument that if X does it then we shouldn’t condemn Y. However, I think Card was arguing that there was nothing wrong with Kirby’s action to begin with and therefore the criticism is unwarranted (I happen to agree). The examples of other people were used to illustrate how extreme this criticism of Kirby is, considering all of the other people that do similar things without being criticized. If Card indeed meant to make the argument that you attribute to him, I would likely disagree with him. I don’t believe it is appropriate to justify bad behavior, I just don’t think Kirby’s behavior was bad.
    What about standing for principle and virtue, regardless of the consequences, having faith that the Lord will bless us for our righteous desires and unwavering commitment to the gospel?”
    I think it is awesome for individuals to try to do their best to be a good example to the world. But, which “principle and virtue” should we stand for? Is it your definition of virtue or Kirby’s or someone else’s? My point is that the whole thing is very personal. You have to make your own choice about what that means for you just like he made his decision and came to a different conclusion.
    I personally am not that bothered by alcohol. I understand that the WOW was accepted by common consent as a commandment from God and that abstinence from alcohol is now a temple recommend requirement. But I frankly have a hard time believing that God really cares that much about what we eat or drink. I think that every person that has a conviction that God wants them to abstain from alcohol should do so and they will be blessed for their efforts to grow closer to God. However, I don’t think God distances himself from people who drink, else how would you explain the relationship that my ancestors had with God, since they were all drinkers (and Mormons)?
    I am convinced that standing for virtue and principle is a very personal thing and I think we do tread dangerous waters when we try to impose our interpretation of these things on other people, even if they are semi-famous actors who have sought the spotlight.
    But I see no harm in analyzing the decision and stating personal opinion—to give, as Elder Oaks called it, “intermediate judgment”.”
    I disagree. The quotes you posted lead me to believe that Elder Oaks was referring to making judgment in the context of our everyday lives and our relationships with other people. Sure, it is appropriate for you to judge whether or not someone is worthy of your friendship or companionship. I just don’t think Kirby Heybourne acting in a beer commercial falls under the same umbrella. Maybe this is just something we won’t agree on.

  19. Kevin Henderson
    July 5, 2008 at 8:48 pm #

    Brandon,

    I couldn’t disagree more. Section 89:18 says “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones” (emphasis added). Section 89:2, an introduction written by the Prophet (so not part of his actual revelation) says that the section “show[s] forth the order and will of God.”

    Section 95:12 says “If you keep not my commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness.”

    It aure sounds to me like God does care (His order and will) what you eat and drink and when you disobey (breaking the commandment), He certainly does “distance Himself” (darkness and His love NOT continuing with you).

    Not sure about your ancestors. I don’t even want to go there because I might be judging another person. I’d sure hate to do that. I’m just going off revelation here. But I could see how that gives me an air of superiority. The truth hurts (as it does to me quite often, unfortunately).

  20. Jeff T
    July 5, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    Brandon,

    Dallin H. Oaks, a personal representative of the Savior Jesus Christ, disagrees with you. He believes we shouldn’t be advertising alcohol. Obviously, the Savior Jesus Christ does care, since his personal representative has told us so in an official church meeting.

    It seems as though your argument has been, “Well, I do it, and my parents and their parents have done it, so it can’t be that bad.” You are smart enough to know that we ought not evaluate the rightness of an act by how many “good” people do it, but by the word of God and His servants. God has told us it is wrong. When you say that it isn’t wrong, you are contradicting God Himself.

    Well, perhaps we ought to stop evaluating ourselves by what others do and start evaluating ourselves by the words of God in scripture and the words of His representatives here on earth.

  21. Jeff T
    July 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

    Kevin,

    I’m pretty sure God never distances Himself from us; rather, we distance ourselves from Him. His light doesn’t continue with us when we do wrong because we cease to follow it; His love doesn’t continue with us because we refuse to accept it.

  22. Jeremy
    July 5, 2008 at 11:00 pm #

    Was Mr. Kirby worse than Christ? Kirby just acted in a commercial about booze but Jesus was a well-known manufacturer of the stuff.

  23. Jeff T
    July 5, 2008 at 11:12 pm #

    Are you LDS, Jeremy?

  24. Kevin Henderson
    July 6, 2008 at 5:11 am #

    Jeff,

    Can you support the claim that God never distances himself from us? Section 121: 37 says that “the heavens withdraw themselves,” not that we withdraw from the heavens. “When it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” Naturally it’s our fault, but the scriptures are clear. God can and does withdraw His Spirit/Himself/the heavens from us when we don’t keep the commandments. Withdrawing His Spirit sure seems like distancing Himself, even if it is our own fault.

  25. Jeff T
    July 6, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    If you prefer to insist on it being that way, that’s fine. Can’t imagine why you would, though. Any distance between us and God is our own doing, as you yourself said just not. It’s our fault. That is what I am trying to say, and you certainly agree with me, but insist on using language that puts God as the culprit.

  26. Brandon
    July 6, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    To Jeff and/or Kevin:
    It’s unfortunate that you assume I or my immediate family drinks alcohol. We don’t and never have. I was referring to my Mormon pioneer ancestors who helped settle southern Utah and helped construct the Saint George temple. You see, it was not that uncommon for Latter Day Saints of the time to drink alcohol. My point, similar to Kevin’s was that I think God cares more about our willingness to follow his council than he does about actual substances (You were referring to the obligation of LDS to follow WOW, I was referring to the rest of the world).

    Basically, I don’t think my neighbor is sinning by drinking alcohol. If he had a conviction that God didn’t want him to drink and he did it anyway, then you could call it sin. But otherwise, I don’t think he is sinning. Also, I don’t particularly care that you think Elder Oaks disagrees with me. That is part of life, people disagree, and just because he is an apostle doesn’t mean I have to agree with every single thing he ever says. You insinuate that because he said it, it is God’s will. I guess you and I have a different interpretation of how God reveals his will.

    My feelings about this subject were motivated by an experience I had with a man I was teaching as a ward missionary. He was near to his eighties and had been smoking his entire life. He fell in love with the gospel and desperately wanted to join the church. However, try as he may he couldn’t quite seem to kick the habit and as a result he wasn’t allowed to be baptized. For some reason it just rubbed me wrong and the more I thought about it the more I realized I disagreed with the idea that consuming alcohol or smoking prevents a person from having God’s spirit. And if in fact it does disqualify them from his spirit or from entry into his kingdom, then I have a hard time believing in a God that would be that rigid and ruthless with his creations. (Please don’t argue that he could quit if he just had enough faith, I don’t believe that one either).

    I am obviously not as orthodox as others; I simply have developed my own opinions about my relationship with God. Many of them fall in line with commonly accepted orthodoxy and many don’t. But in the future I would ask that you refrain from suggesting that I am disagreeing with or contradicting God himself. That is merely your opinion.

  27. Jeff T
    July 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    You insinuate that because he said it, it is God’s will. I guess you and I have a different interpretation of how God reveals his will.

    “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

    It isn’t merely my opinion, it is scripture.

  28. Kevin Henderson
    July 6, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Brandon,

    I’m not sure how you got from my comments that I think you or your immediate family drinks alcohol.

    As to your point about smoking, I’m curious to know how and where you draw the line? If the 80 year-old man had been cohabitating for 58 years with his girlfriend (principles of common-law marriage aside), would it be wrong to keep him from being baptized because he just couldn’t bring himself to marry her, for whatever reason? What about if he had been a “union thug” for 58 years and just couldn’t kick the “breaking-peoples-kneecaps” habit he had been entrenched in for 58 years? Would it be okay to baptize in that case?

    Those are obviously extreme examples, even silly perhaps, but I honestly wonder how you differentiate between which commandments must be rigidly kept and which ones don’t? What gives you the right to say that God isn’t rigid on the WOW, but is rigid on adultery (or maybe you don’t think he is rigid on adultery…I guess that’s my question).

    Also, just to make sure I understand where you’re coming from in the future, am I correct in understanding that you see sin as having a conviction of something as a commandment and then not doing it? I see it as simply not doing God’s will, regardless of whether you have the conviction or not (hence the reason those who aren’t members of the Church still need to be baptized for the remission of sins). Am I correct in interpreting your view?

    As to Jeff’s previous post, I didn’t use language that makes God the “culprit.” Christ used that language when he gave those revelations to Joseph Smith. But I guess I don’t see those scriptures as making Him a “culprit.” I just see Him as one who doesn’t look upon sin with the least amount of tolerance, and, thus, will withdraw Himself (and His spirit) when we sin. Take a look at D&C 19:20, another instance where Christ says that HE withdrew His Spirit from Martin Harris (I think it was Martin Harris – I could be wrong, I haven’t looked it up) when Martin sinned.

  29. Brandon
    July 6, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    To Kevin:
    My comments about family drinking were directed towards Jeff, when he said:

    It seems as though your argument has been, “Well, I do it, and my parents and their parents have done it, so it can’t be that bad.”

    Also, I agree with you, you’re examples were rather extreme and not entirely applicable. I don’t consider thuggery and adultery on par with smoking. For starters, both of those examples are not lifelong addictions. Secondly, the so called “Union Thug” would be engaging in violence towards other people, which to me is a big no no. Thirdly, I am not sure about the co-habitation example. Since they have been together for nearly 60 years, maybe the person does not see the importance of having a government validate that which he has already lived his entire life. I’m not sure why God would care that much either in that case.

    Most importantly, if having the gospel in our lives is such a big blessing, shouldn’t we want to bring everyone into the church, whether they sin or not? Why must overcoming a lifelong addiction be a requirement for entrance into his church? I don’t think it was a requirement for previous generations of saints, why now? (Aside from telling me that the prophet said so, I am looking for some logic)

    As far as sin, I think you more or less got the gist of what I was saying. I think that you can do things that are contrary to God’s will without being aware of it, but I don’t see it on the same level as sin. Of course, there are exceptions in my opinion, but I mostly restrict those to extreme behavior. I would hope that any open-minded Mormon would be able to acknowledge that many of our commandments, customs and rules are rather arbitrary and trivial. I have a hard time believing that God cares about what color shirt I wear to church, or whether I have a tie or facial hair. Does he really care about someone drinking coffee or watching a football game on Sunday? Or rather, does God place more emphasis on how we treat one another? Do we treat others kindly? Are we generous with our possessions and with our mercy? These are the things that I find most important. That doesn’t mean that I think we should all just disregard all of the cultural norms or temporal commandments, I just don’t feel compelled to convict all non-believers as wicked sinners based on their non-compliance with our rules.

    To bring it all back to the original post, given that I don’t view drinking as a sin for non-LDS, I don’t see a problem with Kirby being in a commercial that happens to be for a beer company.

    To Jeff:
    You got me. While I appreciate your obvious skills with scriptural references, I guess I was hoping for some reasoning. I found this somewhere on Connor’s blog and I know it has been discussed in depth elsewhere:

    “President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and
    we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or
    utterances are revelations from God; and when `Thus saith the Lord,’
    comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their
    eyes and take it down like a pill.”

    – Apostle Charles W. Penrose
    Millennial Star, v. 54, p. 191

    I appreciate Elder Oaks words on the subject, I just don’t agree. Call me a sinner, accuse me of contradicting God, I don’t really care. I take the time to find the answers myself. He and I just came to a different conclusion on this one issue.

  30. Jeff T
    July 7, 2008 at 10:07 pm #

    Brandon,

    Should I just dismiss everything I hear from General Conference I don’t agree with? Should I just pick and choose which counsel from God’s representatives I should follow? Why have prophets at all if we don’t follow their counsel, except that which we already agree with?

  31. Brandon
    July 7, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    Jeff,
    I don’t think you need to dismiss the things you disagree with, though I find it hard to believe you would disagree with anything so long as it was spoken in conference. You have avoided addressing the quote I included. I didn’t make that one up, it came from an apostle. Maybe you’re the one who is disagreeing with apostles?

    Why have prophets at all if we don’t follow their counsel, except that which we already agree with?

    To that I would say, why have a mind, intelligence and agency if God expected us to just follow anything the church leaders said without question or reasoning? I have “investigated” the issue at hand and feel strongly about my beliefs. You haven’t responded to my explaination with anything other than insinuation that I am wrong because Elder Oaks said so. If that is going to be the depth of the conversation, then I think that I am done. Best Wishes.

  32. Carissa
    July 8, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    At the beginning of Card’s article he says:

    I wrote an essay a few weeks ago about how we all had to find our own place to draw the line between what the world asks of us and what we believe is consistent with being a good Latter-day Saint.

    Okay, that is very true- sounds like a good article. Then later he says:

    I would have thought only a crazy man would turn that down [acting in a beer commercial].

    So if he sees someone else who would make the opposite career choice due to their own personal revelation as being “crazy”- who is he to be upset about others making judgments the other way? Or maybe it’s okay to call people crazy, just not unrighteous. I found that kind of funny (not that I agree we should be condemning anyone for their personal decisions, we shouldn’t).

    I have enjoyed the discussion about principles, however. It has made me think- where would I draw the line, what would I feel good about? And I think that is the type of productive discussion Connor was aiming to have. Maybe others have approached it differently and it deserved some satire. The overall tone from his article, though, seemed to be that if you strive for ideals in our world you are unrealistic, extreme and “holier than thou”- oh yeah, and crazy. That is a shame.

  33. Clumpy
    July 10, 2008 at 2:06 am #

    Carissa, the “crazy” Card referred to is the conversational “crazy” that means something much less severe. Besides, it’s a subjective applied to a hypothetical person anyway so it’s not much of a personal judgement :).

    Sorry I twisted your passage a few days ago, Brandon. I was thinking that the Church is damned if they do and damned if they don’t regarding the liquor/restaurant rule. Whether they enforce LDS standards upon others or decide to permit alcohol they’re open to criticism. I think the Church’s statement (the one with “in matters of public policy”) is a perfect middle ground – not a middle ground between right and wrong but an affirmation of LDS values that still respects personal freedom. I recognize that your intent was not to criticize the church.

    Your point is absolutely right that basic human dignity and respect is the foundation of the gospel – that’s where so many of us fall short while straining at the gnats of others. Nevertheless, I think there’s room for a code of conduct that goes beyond Golden Rule-type standards. Lack of discipline won’t remove you from the Spirit as long as you do your best to get back on track, but a lackadaisical attitude toward commandment might.

    There’s a lot of balance and personal choice in religious matters – we do our best to follow the Lord’s chosen while recognizing that they are human beings and everything they say may not be strictly, literally true. We understand conceptually that certain commandments are more important than others, while doing our best to follow all of them. I think that’s pretty much the test we’re taking, and it’s better when we apply it inwardly than outwardly.

  34. Carissa
    July 10, 2008 at 7:59 am #

    the “crazy” Card referred to is the conversational “crazy” that means something much less severe. Besides, it’s a subjective applied to a hypothetical person anyway so it’s not much of a personal judgement :)

    You’re right, of course. But… the tone still implies that there would be no admiration or respect for the action of choosing a “higher” standard- at least when it comes to making money. That is fine if that’s how he feels but I still think it’s a shame. I know for myself, I at least admire people who do better than I do (well, as long as they’re not self-righteous about it). He seems to think it extreme to strive for something higher than the “bare minimum” as Connor put it. Well gee, no one wants to be called an extremist. We’d better just settle for normal, that’s good enough for God and the world. If you try to live any better than that, you’re just unrealistic. That’s the message I took from what he said.

  35. Helaman
    July 10, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    The connotation put on extremist doesn’t fit in a spiritual relm. I mean am I an extremist if I’m striving for the “best” out of the “good, better, best”?

    I don’t think so, nor do I think are trying to be superior by standing by the “best” when making statements that someone should have made a better decision.

    My wife isn’t an extremist, elitist, or does she have a superiority complex when she suggests that maybe I’m not doing the “best” I can or vice a versa.

    Everyone should be heeding the counsel of Dallen H Oaks and listen to his words “As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all. and not be settling for the bare minimum.

  36. Clumpy
    July 11, 2008 at 4:20 pm #

    Yeah. . . that’s pretty much the spirit of the law that we’ve been discussing. That’s why we do things like try to control our anger/frustration, be a good example and show respect toward others – all crucial aspects of LDS beliefs but not technically a specific commandment with clear borderlines. Here we have the positive of making money for your family and expanding your portfolio, taken with the negative of indirectly endorsing a product that your church’s standards forbid.

    So, though he remains within the technical law of the church (and it’s probably fair to say that the ad will encourage consumption of the specific product over other brands of alcohol rather than driving those who haven’t drunk in the past to try beer), I’d say that the negative in this case outweighs the positive, even when leaving out the social consequences that he will face. A simple overview of the effects of this type of rationalization among LDS actors as well as the effects of acceptance of certain aspects of the lifestyle as a necessary evil should serve as a strong caution if anything.

  37. Carissa
    July 11, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    That was well said

  38. Carissa
    July 11, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    btw Clumpy, your name just makes me want to giggle because it’s so funny and yet you are so articulate!

  39. doug
    July 14, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Orson Scott Card’s article is bizarre. He usually presents much more reasoned arguments in his op-ed pieces. This one, however, was simply a litany of poorly thought-out analogies.

  40. Marc
    July 14, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    Brandon said this:

    While I agree with this in principle, it has some practical limitations. We live and work in a world that does not believe the same things we do. Very many of our people would have to go hungry if they refused to work in any job or industry that had some element that violated their own personal beliefs or that God wouldn’t explicitly bless.

    This is nonsense if we have faith that the Lord can make miracles happen when we chose standards over expedience. Case in point, when i returned from my mission I was offered a good paying job that required sunday attandance. I considered it and then said “no thank you”. I knew that working on sunday would lead me to inactivity in the church and it also violated the lords command to keep the sabbath holy. I had faith that things would work out for me for being obedient and it did. The next week they called me back and offered me an even better paying job that was mon- fri.

    Saints that put expendience over standards and the commandments lack faith in my opinion. Words of a hymn: “Do what is right let the consequences follow.”

  41. Marc
    July 14, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Orson Scott Card is a loon anyway. I could care less what he thinks. I lost respect for him after reading his silly arguments in support of the bogus war on terror and his support for the clearly fascist Bush regime. This latest piece in support of justifying something that is clearly wrong shows his true colors.

  42. Brandon
    July 14, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Guilty as charged, I lack faith. You’re so righteous!

  43. Marc
    July 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    Guilty as charged, I lack faith. You’re so righteous!

    Brandon, i didnt mean to say you didnt have faith. I was just making a general statement. I’m sorry you took offense here. I’m not saying i’m righteous here either. I am just trying to share experiences i have had and how they grew my faith. Really i am very shocked that the saints cant understand this principle and defend Bro. Heyborne actions. Him being in this commercial is indefensible in my mind. Having said that, his actions are between him and the lord, but that doesnt mean i cant judge for myself if i would have done the same or if what he did was in keeping with the standards of the church. To make a judgement doesnt imply i have holier than thou status. If i ran into Kirby i would treat him with respect and love knowing that he took this action to be in this commercial from some limited perspective that tainted his judgement. Hopefully next time he will make a wiser choice.

    Did you hear about the return missionary that was excommunicated for printing a “return missionary” “beefcake” calendar? The church asked him to stop printing it because it reflected negatively on the church. He refused to stop the printing and was exed’. I guess the church was just being holier than thou? Some may say that this is different than the heyborne issue, but to me it is the same. When you get baptized you take Christs name upon you and your actions reflect upon him as a member of his church. So wether you are printing soft porn missionary calendars or promoting beer, you are setting a bad example for others and becoming a stumbling block.

    Do what is right and just have faith that the lord will make it up to you. He will!

    Think about what Satan says (in the temple) about money and what you can buy with money in this world. Think about Adam being asked about selling certain sacred things for money. To me this is about wether or not we sell our integrity for money. The higher law is that our integrity is priceless.

    Did you know the actor who played Jesus in the testaments film was asked years ago to play a gay man in a stage play? He thought about it and then said no. He said that he was really desperate at the time for money and it was very difficult to turn down the cash. The lord made it up to him and other opportunities came his way. The 1st presidency wanted him to play the Savior in the Testaments film and they asked him specifically if he had ever played a gayman as an actor. He was able to say no and got the part in the film. What an Honor for him to portray the Savior in that powerful film. It would have not happened had he traded his birth right for a mess of pottage.

  44. adamf
    July 15, 2008 at 6:37 am #

    The calendar man was inactive and was going to resign anyway, apparently.

    “could care less what he thinks. I lost respect for him after reading his silly arguments in support of the bogus war on terror ”

    This is interesting… you don’t agree with Kirby’s beer commercial, yet you’re against the war and the “Bush regime”? How do you balance that? Interesting. :)

  45. Marc
    July 15, 2008 at 8:34 am #

    This is interesting… you don’t agree with Kirby’s beer commercial, yet you’re against the war and the “Bush regime”? How do you balance that? Interesting

    Adamf, i dont get your point here. I fail to see how the 2 items are linked. It sounds like you are one of those who have been decieved and believe in the “fruits of warfare”. Have you read your BOM lately. Do you know what it has to say about the causes of war and under what circumstances it is justified? Please do your research from pure sources like the BOM before you believe in the sophistry put out by the media and the government.

    Check out Connor’s excellent piece on this topic here.

  46. Allie
    July 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Is this a discussion about how much you can judge someone else’s sins before it’s not okay?

    I personally would not act in a beer commercial. For me, I would think it inappropriate.

    However, I am not Kirby Heywood. I don’t know what it feels like to be him, or any of the experiences he has had that make him who he is. I agree with Brandon- if he has done anything wrong, it is between himself, God and perhaps his bishop.

  47. Allie
    July 15, 2008 at 2:37 pm #

    The RM beefcake calendar is not so different- it’s not our place to judge.

    If the Church feels that kirby’s commercial reflects poorly on the church, THEY can take it up with him. I don’t see them doing anything about it however, because the commercial does not have anything to do with the church unless you know the actor is mormon. I personally don’t know the religious affiliations of actors (except for Tom Cruise, and all the “famous Mormons” that I hear about through email forwards).

  48. Carissa
    July 15, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    it’s not our place to judge.

    It’s not our place to judge people, no. But we need to internally judge actions (whether real or hypothetical) or how else would we learn things for ourselves? There is a fine line in doing so, though, that can be easily crossed when discussing specific actions of a specific person.

  49. Allie
    July 15, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    If by judging actions, you mean that we say to ourselves, “that is not a choice I would make”, then I agree.

  50. Carissa
    July 15, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    Yep, that’s what I mean (I may also discuss the situation with my kids and let them think it out too- it could be a good learning experience so long as you teach them respect for the actual person). We have a lot of practice with this in our family. One set of grandparents that we and the kids love dearly and spend a lot of time with are alcoholics. We have to talk about their actions and it has not hurt their relationship with them or made them love them less one bit. We are very clear about drawing the line between judging people and judging their actions.

  51. Allie
    July 15, 2008 at 4:11 pm #

    I think there are things like that all around us. My kids see someone driving a motorcycle without their helmet and get all worked up over it, because they know that when you ride motorcycles (or bikes) you wear a helmet. We have to talk about how other people get to decide for themselves whether they will wear a helmet or not, but that we have decided that it is important to wear a helmet because it helps keep us safe, but we are not in charge of whether other people wear helmets or not.

    Same thing with people smoking.

  52. Carissa
    July 15, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    Exactly. It’s just part of life and how you learn and grow. Some things seem obvious and others take some deeper thinking and sometimes discussion with others to figure out for oneself. That’s how I view this situation, though I’m sure some have taken it too far. I don’t think Connor has- the way I interpreted his post.

  53. adamf
    July 15, 2008 at 11:39 pm #

    Marc–lol sorry about that. I was being a little sarcastic, which obviously doesn’t come across well online. :) For the record, I have been against the war in Iraq since the beginning.

    As for “linking the two” I assumed (perhaps mistakingly) that more conservative types would be more likely to support the war and judge Heyborne, while more liberal types would be more likely to be against the war and hold to the idea that we should not judge others. Hence, you broke my benighted stereotype with some views that fit into different categories for me. That was all. I need to work on being more clear. :)

  54. Helaman
    July 16, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    JST Matt. 7: 1-2 Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.

    Then Alma goes on to say…

    Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.

    While this more addresses my judgment made on Kirby, I also said it here because it seems like some get this fearful idea about making judgments on anything – which in my mind leads to other problems within our church. We should be making them based on our Gospel and counseling our brethren in a loving manner about it.

  55. Carissa
    July 16, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    you broke my benighted stereotype with some views that fit into different categories for me

    Isn’t it frustrating how some people refuse to fit into the polarized political molds society has set up for them? They need to stop analyzing each issue separately and just pick a side… we’re at war here! It’s the conservatives against the liberals. There is no place for the uncommitted “thinkers” :)

  56. Marc
    July 16, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    Adamf,

    No problem, I understand your position now. For the record i am very conservative in my views. I believe being against wars is a conservative principle and a sound doctrinal principle too. Glad to hear you are awake.

    Allie and Carisa make great points too. Yes we can judge the persons actions but should not judge the person. I’m sure Kirby is a great individual, im not sying he isnt. I’m just saying i would not have chosen the same path he has by acting in a beer commerical.

  57. Allie
    July 16, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Whether I judge others to be “sinning” or not has nothing to do with fear Helaman.

    The difference between Alma’s righteous judgement is that he was in a position of authority over others. It is the place of bishops to act as judges over the members of their wards, thus if he sinned (which I’m still not sure I’d say he did, even thought it isn’t something I would choose myself) it’s between him, God, and his bishop.

    I guess it also depends on how you define righteous judgement. I view it as judging what is or is not acceptable for ourselves or our families. The righteous just becomes self-righteous when we try to start judging other people.

    And Marc- you sat it exactly right (in my opinion), you wouldn’t do it yourself, and that’s where the judgement ends. We need to focus on ourselves and making sure we have a good relationship with God, and worry less about whether other people are sinning or not.

  58. Connor
    July 16, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    It’s been interesting to read some of the comments in this thread that illustrate the idea that Helaman mentioned regarding judging others.

    I see this as one effect of moral relativism. Rarely will somebody take a stand and say “X is wrong”. Instead, the common and socially acceptable thing to say is now “I wouldn’t do X, personally”.

    To be sure, some actions are in a gray area, and thus it’s harder to stand up on a soapbox and say that the action is always wrong for everybody. I’m not referring to Kirby’s beer ad here, but instead of moral issues at large. I think that we as Saints need to take a firmer stand and boldly declare what is right and wrong. Capitulating and refusing to hold others to a moral standard that they should hold themselves to does them a disservice.

    We can still be perfectly loving and Christlike while being against whatever action they’ve committed. Doesn’t God have to deal with this with all of His children?

    Yes, this boils down to the cliché “hate the sin, love the sinner”. While overused, this principle is dead on. I can’t imagine God saying “I personally wouldn’t do X”. He loves us in spite of our sins, but affirms His divine disapproval of certain things. I don’t think that we as Saints are out of line if we incorporate that into our own judgment. In effect, we’re simply judging as God would judge (at least in those things that He has commented on directly or through His prophets).

  59. Allie
    July 16, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    I think Connor, that way back there somewhere we agree, and the issue is perhaps more of a semantics problem. Maybe.

    Of course God can judge. He’s God. You are not. (And neither am I). Therfore it is not appropriate to judge others. Saying “I wouldn’t do it” in no way shows approval for an action that you find inappropriate.

    A person’s relationship with Heavenly Father is very personal, and who are any of us to try to define what other people’s relationships ought to be? We in the church, especially Utah, make life so difficult for others by being so judgmental. We should care for each other and look after each other, and leave the judging to those who have the authority to do so.

  60. Connor
    July 16, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    A person’s relationship with Heavenly Father is very personal, and who are any of us to try to define what other people’s relationships ought to be?

    I think that our relationship with God is mostly defined by our obedience to His commandments. We can claim to love Him and be His friend, but unless we do His will, we have no formal relationship. Covenants (part of the obedience process) are what create that relationship, allowing us to come closer to Him.

    Thus, we might easily say that if person A commits action X (X being against God’s commandment), we can say with surety that person A should not commit action X (regardless of A’s claims to having a personal relationship with God that we should consider).

  61. Allie
    July 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    You are correct, except it’s still none of your business.

    :)

  62. Carissa
    July 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Although, how could missionary work be justified if it is never our business to try to define what other’s relationships with God ought to be? Essentially, that’s what missionary work is- helping others to have a good relationship with God. Granted, it should be done out of love and not condemnation, but that’s what it is. Isn’t it?

  63. Connor
    July 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    Essentially, that’s what missionary work is- helping others to have a good relationship with God. Granted, it should be done out of love and not condemnation, but that’s what it is. Isn’t it?

    I see missionary work as helping others to know the path that leads back to God—what covenants we must make, what commandments we must follow, etc. If an investigator says “I have a good relationship with God, and He doesn’t mind that I fornicate”, then we can respect that, but we wouldn’t be able to baptize them, nor would we agree with them…

    I do believe that our relationship with God can exceed mere formalities of whether or not we’re obeying His will and following His commandments, but I think that those things relate to personal circumstances and experiences, not necessarily the application of certain moral issues (since moral issues apply to all of God’s children).

  64. Allie
    July 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    Missionary work isn’t supposed to be about judging or defining, it’s about sharing what we have, and letting the individual decide for themselves whether they accept it or not.

    The big difference is just what you said Carissa- it is done out of love, not condemnation.

    I think people get too carried away with their righteous judgment that they forget what righteous judgment is supposed to be.

  65. Carissa
    July 16, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    I just found this from lds.org under the topic “judging others”

    Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that we should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, we will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives.

    Our righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for us and our families. We should approach any such judgment with care and compassion. As much as we can, we should judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, we should refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. And we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide our decisions.

    I think that sums it up pretty good.

  66. Allie
    July 16, 2008 at 12:54 pm #

    “…refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts.”

    Yes.

    I also think that there is a difference between judging and making judgements of things or people as they relate to ourselves.

  67. Marc
    July 16, 2008 at 1:01 pm #

    I need all your advice here. You see, I have this great opportunity to make some money. It’s enough to pay my familie’s bills for half a year. I got offered this part in a soft porn film (I’ll be playing a prison guard). I figure its ok since i’m not actually engaged in any immoral acts myself and for my part as the prison guard I am actually trying to get the fornicators to stop fornicating. I have prayed about it and the lord says it ok. I was originally offered a very small sum and i didnt figure it was enough to sell my soul for so i turned it down. But then the studio countered with this really great offer, so i’m thinking i’ll do it.

    What do you folks think i should do?

    PS: I also got a part in a g rated movie where I have to be shown drinking a coke. Man, that is really going to Irk the lds crowd! lol

  68. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 12:07 am #

    I see this as one effect of moral relativism. Rarely will somebody take a stand and say “X is wrong”. Instead, the common and socially acceptable thing to say is now “I wouldn’t do X, personally”.
    … I think that we as Saints need to take a firmer stand and boldly declare what is right and wrong. Capitulating and refusing to hold others to a moral standard that they should hold themselves to does them a disservice

    Connor, my brother tells me I have a problem with moral relativism, but frankly I am not so sure there exists a moral absolute. The church has taught me that any commandment can be changed by God. Polygamy was considered wrong when the church began, then God revealed that polygamy was good, and then later he revealed that the practice of polygamy violated his will (also consider Jacob in BOM). That doesn’t seem to be an absolute. Killing is considered one of the greatest sins, unless God commands you otherwise, as he did with Nephi. How is this much different than moral relativism? If morality changes based upon the will of God, is this not the same as saying good and evil are not absolute? The morality of polygamy and murder are relative to the revealed will of God at any given time.

    As far as holding others to a moral standard, I think I will leave that to those more qualified than myself. Frankly, I am not interested in having Baptists, Buddhists, Muslims or Mormons hold me to their interpretation of moral standards. I would rather make that choice (regarding morality) for myself and ask others to concern themselves with their own salvation.

    While I understand the zeal of those on this thread that want to hold every Mormon to their standard of worthiness, I agree with # 59

    We in the church, especially Utah, make life so difficult for others by being so judgmental. We should care for each other and look after each other, and leave the judging to those who have the authority to do so.

    How often do you see openly sinning people in Mormon churches (you know, the kind of people who really need God in their lives)? Not very often, as far as I can tell. I believe it is because they do not feel welcome. This attitude of “it is our duty to judge everyone else’s actions (righteously)” does not create a very inviting atmosphere. Honestly, I would rather worship with a bunch of beer drinking smokers who are sincelerly seeking after God than a whole army of “righteous” men looking down their noses at anyone who doesn’t conform to their interpretation of God’s will.

    Back to the issue of acting in a beer commercial, maybe Kirby doesn’t believe that non-Mormons drinking beer is a sin (which I believe). If so, he has not acted contrary to his beliefs. Now, if you think it is a sin for non-Mormons to drink, than you shouldn’t act in a beer commercial. I don’t know if Kirby is right or wrong and I don’t think any of you do either. Unless, anyone has had a revelation they would like to share with the rest of us?

  69. Marc
    July 17, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    Brandon,

    I think most of us have made it clear that we dont judge Kirby on a personal level. We all admire his talent and think he is a really great person. I for one would love to hang out with Kirby and shoot the breeze or whatever. Some us of just think that what he did was selling his integrity and good name for money. I have done this same thing in the past as have all of us at some point. We have learned from our own sorry experience that selling out does not bring the lords blessings. I am sure Bro. Kirby at some point will learn this lesson too. In the meantime we are all his friends and hope he has success and happiness.

    I have noticed that there are alot of LDS in the limelight these days. This is the blessing of the lord and a way for him to bring the church out of obscurity. Those in the limelight will be tested to see if they will maintain their integrity or sell it for money. The ones who sellout will bring shame upon themeselves and upon Christ and His church. Those who stick with the standards will be guide to those seeking the truth and will play the part the Lord intended for them, to be light to the world.

  70. Allie
    July 17, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    “most of us have made it clear that we dont judge Kirby on a personal level.”

    “Some us of just think that what he did was selling his integrity and good name for money.”

    Okay.

  71. Carissa
    July 17, 2008 at 8:59 am #

    How is this much different than moral relativism? If morality changes based upon the will of God, is this not the same as saying good and evil are not absolute?

    Brandon, to this I would say that God occasionally changes practices– sometimes for reasons we do not understand, but that in no way means that the principles behind them fluctuate. And it certainly does not mean good and evil don’t exist and cannot be identified or defined. There are most definitely absolute truths we can use to guide us.

    As far as people who could benefit from coming to church not feeling welcome… I believe in many cases you are right and this is a terrible shame. We can all do better at having more charity and trying to see people as God sees them- regardless of their sins or shortcomings. I pray I can be better at doing this; there is certainly a need for it. At the same time, I also pray that I can clearly discern right from wrong and that it never becomes blurry.

  72. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    Allie,

    Do you see a contradiction in those sentences? I don’t. The first is about the person, the other is about his actions. The first is about “Kirby” and the other is about “what he did.” If we can’t make that distinction, we are helpless when it comes to evaluating which actions are good and which are not.

  73. Allie
    July 17, 2008 at 9:08 am #

    I did see a little bit of a contradiction. To say that he sold his integrity, to me, feels like a personal judgment. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. It’s none of our business.

    I guess what I would like to see in this case, is for us to stop worrying about “what kirby did”, and by replying to this post, I’m not helping.

  74. Connor
    July 17, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    Polygamy was considered wrong when the church began, then God revealed that polygamy was good, and then later he revealed that the practice of polygamy violated his will (also consider Jacob in BOM). That doesn’t seem to be an absolute.

    As you relate this historical “flip-flopping”, as it were, to moral aboslutism, I think it should be noted that my definition of morality is akin to Joseph Smith’s:

    That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill’; at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)

    Morality is a standard defined not by man, but by God. He can change the rules whenever he wants and for whatever reason. What is important is that we know the standard we have been commanded to follow, and then follow it.

    Moral relativism, then, is the failure to apply that standard to ourselves and to others. Claiming that person A can do X if he thinks it is okay for him (and fits in with his personal relationship with God) subverts any divine standard and replaces it with personal preference and justification.

    (I’d finish this thought, but I have to run out the door this second – more later.)

  75. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Connor,
    If your post had been an attempt to support moral relativism I would’ve been convinced.

    That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

    You are arguing that God gets to decide what is moral, other people argue that man gets to decide what is moral. No matter who is making the decision, the fact remains that which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. I always thought that was the definition of moral relativism. Did I misunderstand it?

  76. Carissa
    July 17, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    Moral relativism implies that there are no universal truths upon which to base decisions about morality. God, however, is a universal truth. Basing what’s right or wrong on His word is different than basing it on culture, society, or personal opinion.

  77. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    It’s different and yet it’s the same.

    God, however, is a universal truth. Basing what’s right or wrong on His word is different than basing it on culture, society, or personal opinion.

    Since God is unprovable, and must be believed in, how is basing your morality in his”word” different that basing your morality in society or personal opinion (which also must be believed in)?

  78. Clumpy
    July 20, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    Thanks for the compliment, Carissa! Sorry that it took me so long to respond :).

    My name is an inside joke with one of my friends. I was brainstorming for potential e-mail addresses and it’s the first thing that he said. I think that he was sort of surprised that I went with it. In retrospect, it sort of conjures images of congealing substances and medical conditions, though it’s become part of my identity so I’ll have to take the bad with the good, I suppose.

    By the way, did you know that Carissa (a very nice name as well) also refers to a genus of shrubs? I just found that out.

  79. Carissa
    July 21, 2008 at 7:23 am #

    Yes, it has pretty white flowers! My husband told me about it and he used the flower image to make my logo on our computer. I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can grow one someday? I’m a plant-a-holic.

  80. Alexis Anne
    November 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I’m not a latter-Day Saint, although my father’s parents converted from Catholicism to Mormonism when he was a child;his parents and most of his siblings are still Latter-Day Saints. i’ve attended my share of meetings, and have undergone a couple of ordinances that I will not detail at this time.

    I contend that the act of publicly dissecting Kirby Heyborne’s choices here falls into the category of unrighteous judgment as described in the seventh chapter of the Book of Matthew. We as individuals have no responsibility to evaluate the righteousness or lack thereof concerning Brother Heyborne’s actions unless one of us happens to be his spouse, his bishop, or his stake president. Even if a person holds one of the aforementioned positions, his or her responsibility to righteously judge Brother Heyborne’s actions or behavior would not included doing so by way of an Internet forum. Proper channels exist through which an ecclesiastical authority or spouse may exercise necessary judgment; said proper channels are inherently private and confidential.

    If a blogger who might previously haveheld Brother Heyborne up as an example to Zion’s youth decides that Brother Heyborne’s actions are of sufficient concern that he or she can no longer resoundingly endorse the actor as a role model, so be it. If a person chooses no longer to watch movies or other productions featuring Brother Heyborne because of his or her personal convictions pertaining to Brother Heywood’s professional choices, that, too, is acceptable. Any public discussion of Brother Heyborne’s choices, however, whether in a Sunday School class, in a forum, or in a social setting, does not fall within the boundaries of righteous judgment.

    Within one’s home, for the purpose of imparting values to one’s children, a discussion of the responsibilities of a Latter-Day Saint in making wise choices as to what products he or she promotes commercially is appropriate. Furthermore, if one’s minor child were to voice the ludicrous argument that he or she should be allowed to consume alcohol because Kirby Heywood, who appears in LDS movies, has appeared in commercials advertising alcohol, only the most ineffective of parents would be so lacking on judgment to be swayed by the child.

    The idea that “righteous judgment” of Kirby Heywood is analogous to dissection of the actions of individuals in the scriptures is beyond ridiculous. The scriptures were given to us as a guide for how best to live our lives. Using their actions and the consequences of said actions as examples as inspirations in our own lives, the lives of our children, and the lives of others we are charged with teaching. Short of taking upon ourselves the God-like responsibility of assigning scriptural pro-and antagonists various after-life stations depending upon one-s assessment of his or her righteousness or worthiness, unrighteous judgment of those whose lives are detailed in the scriptures is probably not even possible.

    The first amendment to our nation’s constitution gives us every legal right in America to express our opinions concerning Kirby Heywood’s choice to appear in commercials promoting the sale of alcohol. Nothing, however, gives us any moral right to do so publicly. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself or herself.

    P.S. Is Bunko considered sinful in LDS circles? If so, on what grounds?

  81. jimx
    November 19, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Connor,
    Thank you for your post #74. I would agree with other posts that it does sound very morally relative. I am a bit shocked. The original foundation of Mormonism sounds like it has been changed. Most Jews and Christians go by the idea that god is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Hes supposed to be unchanging in every way, and have eternal standards.

    For clarification, you are saying that the Church changes standards based upon what they think god has told the leadership that the current standard is? Its not based on what the individual thinks is right or wrong. Otherwise, one might end up with the statement made by aleister Crowley. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’. One step removed from that is “Harm none, do what you will” part of the wiccan reede. Either statement is not part of any christian creed as far as I know.

  82. Alexis Anne
    November 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    jimx, I’m not sure i understood the statement, but were you saying that an individual following the dictates of his own conscience is a mere step from following the Wiccan creed? I’m not trying to synthesize anything, but rather, trying to understand your point of view.

  83. jimx
    November 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Alexis,
    Following the ‘dictates of his own conscience’ sounds remarkably close to either the wiccan rede, or the statement made by Aleister Crowley of the Golden dawn, “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”. Does that sound like your understanding of that statement?

  84. Alexis Anne
    November 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    i suppose it could mean that, but it could also mean adhering to a code of right or wrong as he or she interpreted a holy scripture, including the Bible. I’m not LDS, so my view is that parts of the Bible are open to interpretation by the reader and not necessarily just his ecclesiastical leaders, although the big picture is pretty clear. I also think that in today’s world, one could do much worse than to hollow a creed stating “do no harm.” If everyone strove to do no harm, the world would be a much nicer place than it presently is.

  85. jimx
    November 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Alexis,
    Thats a very good thought. I would like to think that most people would rather not do harm, it makes ones life a lot easier that way. Any ideas on how this could be achieved more effectively?

  86. Alexis Anne
    November 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    I wish I had ideas. Some believe in nothing and think there’s no consequence for bad behavior, whether the consequence might have been Karma, eternal damnation, less exalted status, or whatever. Even among the “religious,” many are content to do harm and then to repent at leisure. In a more perfect world, people would strive to do no harm regardless of creed from a pure sense of right versus wrong. It seems like an increasing number of people have no moral compass. They’ve probably always been around, but as the world seems to get smaller with increasing population and more connections though technology, such people are easier to find.

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