Monday, December 20, 2004

yum....the taste of O'Douls

I have a question that has recently been nagging at my taste buds. A few of my friends down here have been having trouble with the word of wisdom-mainly drinking. Obivously we have been taught that this ordinance was put into place to help protect our bodies, and to also protect those around us that may suffer from our actions-drunk driving..ect. However, they justify it and say that everything in moderation is good and the it was only put in place because, face it, some people don't know when enough is enough. The Church isn't going to put a declaration saying, "You don't have to obey the Word of Wisdom, as long as you can control yourself."

So, I'm curious, where does breaking the Word of Wisdowm rank on the sinning scale? Is it really that bad to break this law as long as you don't let it out of control?


At 12/21/2004 10:39:00 AM,

From a logical perspective, violating the Words of Wisdom doesn't seem to be anywhere near as grave as committing murder, theft, or sexual relations outside of marriage. After all, it was not even revealed in the Old or New Testaments, where it would have had an audience of billions, instead of a relatively small, obscure denomination begun 1800 years after the birth of Christ.

I joined the church about ten months ago (I've mentioned this before, of course, but I wouldn't necessarily expect the folks around this blog to remember me or my religious history). And when I was in high school and college, I drank with friends on a regular basis. There were a small number for whom alcohol seemed to be addicting and degrading to their overall lives, but for most of us alcohol was just supposed to loosen us up and help us have fun.

When I graduated college and began to investigate the church soon afterwards, I didn't give a lot of thought to alcohol because most of my new friends didn't drink, and I still enjoyed their company even if they seemed, well, a bit prudish. And as I got to know the Gospel better and began to realize that it was true (and not just wishful thinking!), I decided that giving up alcohol would be definitely worth it in order to join the church.

It has now been 361 days since I had my last drink, and reflecting back upon the times when I did drink, I've come to the following conclusions:

1. Alcohol, in itself, was never something that made me happy. There were a number of times when I had alcohol in conjunction with happy events, but it was not the source of happiness.

Corollary: Any event that can't be amusing without alcohol is a terrible waste of time. (E.g., watching major league baseball.)

2. Even when I didn't drink enough to get drunk, I often said or did things to good friends that I seriously regretted later. I know now that Satan's plan is to trick men into making bad choices that bring them away from God and towards Hell. Alcohol unquestionably facilitates making bad choices that one wouldn't normally make, especially bad choices that are sexual in nature.

3. Drinking brought on feelings of self-loathing. Somehow, it helped me remember all the ways in which I felt I was inadequate. I'm not sure why, and that probably doesn't apply to everyone who drinks, but I do know that Satan wants us to think we are unworthy, pathetic, and incorrigible, thereby sapping our will to improve ourselves.

I've saved my two most heartfelt arguments for last. The first is that if we choose not to obey the Words of Wisdom, we can't get a temple recommend. I for one am deeply grateful that temples have been restored to the earth after so many centuries of having none at all. Within these temples, worthy Saints can perform some of the most important work that we can do in this lifetime - work that will bless the objects of the work AND those that perform the work.

Finally, I've personally come to know that God doesn't give us commandments to be annoying or arbitrary - he gives us commandments because he loves us, and because he wants us to follow these commandments in order to have happiness both here on earth and in any worlds to come. Now, I don't always understand the reasoning for every individual commandment given to the world, but I have been trying to follow the commandments even when they don't make sense. When I have done so in the past, I have felt and seen multitudes of blessings in my life, and I feel strongly that I must follow the Lord even when I do not understand. That's a major part of what "faith" means to me. 

Posted by Chris Potter

At 12/23/2004 12:56:00 PM,

WoW is one of the most 'obvious' commandments... by which I mean, it is one that other people can often observe. Nobody else usually knows whether someone pays tithes, cheats on their spouse, etc. But the WoW is out there for everyone to see.

This is especially true in the military, where I spent a chunk of my time recently. The main things that made me, as an active LDS person, stand out from a bunch of Marines were that 1) I didn't swear, 2) I didn't look at porn, and 3) I didn't drink alcohol.

While deployed with the USMC, nothing would make me more depressed than to hear "Oh yeah, doc, I had a buddy in boot who was Mormon. But he drank beer with me and banged a LOT of girls. Why the @#$% won't you?" It happened more than once. I would find myself thinking "Thanks a pant-load, pal." On the other hand, I also had three Marines and Sailors step between me and a half-cocked Sergeant who was determined to MAKE me drink a beer, saying "Doc said he doesn't @#$%-ing DRINK, Sergeant." I suppose I couldn't have drank that night if I had wanted to.

I agree with Chris Potter's statements as to the deleterious effects of breaking the WoW. Hey, it obviously isn't just the military, either -- alcohol is woven into the fabric of society.

In the interests of complete disclosure, I can't come at this from the standpoint of "yeah, I've been there." For whatever reason, I never tried alcohol, (although I fostered a raging Dr. Pepper addiction for a while... make of it what you will).

I believe that the most important reason to keep the WoW is simply because God asks us to. It is important enough to Him for it to be a pre-req for temple attendance. He has His reasons, and they take precedent. Sometimes the spiritual conscience just has to be stronger than the social conscience. 

Posted by Cugeno

At 12/27/2004 01:07:00 PM,

I see the word of wisdom as similar to the jewish idea of "kosher." It's not so much a health code (though I believe that is an added benefit) as it is a sign of our seperateness. Jan Shipps has emphasized that after polygamy ended, the leaders of the church cracked down on the Word of Wisdom. (Before the early 1900's obeying the WoW wasn't quite what it is today; I mean Brigham had his occasional drink, etc.) The point is that, like polygamy, the WoW came to serves as a mark, something that outwardly distinguished LDS church members from everyone else. And for most people who don't live in Utah, this is still true. Every time I go out with friends to a bar and sheepishly order a $5.00 coke, I'm reminded of my being different and so are they. In my view at least, that is the real purpose of the WoW.


Posted by Chris




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