When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

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DarkJedi
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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by DarkJedi » 28 Dec 2013, 12:26

GBSmith wrote:
Tim wrote:A painless path forward is to quietly remove it from the TR questions. This would relegate it back to a word of wisdom.
I don't think it will ever happen. It's one of the things that sets mormons apart and if it was done away with it would be another move towards assimilation. People need to feel special and called when they come into the church, something that's over and above belief in Christ. It's one of the reasons, I think, for the temple and all that goes with it. If you can get a recommend you've shown that you're willing to be one of the faithful and that will always include the WoW. The WoW is not the same as in the early days of the church but then not much is anymore.
I've learned of late not to say never, even when it comes to the church. I wouldn't have thought the church would ever release much from the secret archives, but they have. I would have never thought they would make such a atatement about the priesthood ban, but they have. I never thought the church would come to an understanding (or at least admit it) that homosexuality is not a choice. Before the lifiting of the priesthood ban, most people thought it would never be lifted (and GAs said so from the pulpit).

I understand your point, GBS, that the WoW sets us apart and I agree with that point. But I think it can set us apart without being part of the TR interview. I believe the much more valid questions are the ones that deal with testimony of the Godhead, the Savior, a living prophet, and dealings with your fellow men. I believe God has always, to some extent, cared about those things. However, for thousands of years he did not care that his people drank alcohol.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Ann
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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Ann » 28 Dec 2013, 13:17

dash1730 wrote:I mostly agree with the sentiment express here that moderation in interpretation of the WofW would be preferable. But it would be to jarring for many members who see the WofW as emblematic of our being a "peculiar people”. Personally, I will have an occasional glass of wine for medicinal purposes just like I would take cough syrup (which likewise has alcohol). But I don't think that is an issue for qualifying for a temple recommend.
dash - I'm glad your surgery went so well. :thumbup: Maybe this is obvious, but I just want to clarify, if you're comfortable answering. Have you or would you state in a TR interview that you keep the WoW while having an occasional glass of wine? I'm curious - for those with access to the handbook - what it says about this question. Where do they draw the lines? Is it a leader's discretion-type question? I'm asking partly because of my old bugaboo - garments - and trying to figure out what I can define for myself. I think I feel comfortable, although I don't wear garments 24/7/365 saying that, yes, I wear them. And on to the next question.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Ann
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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Ann » 28 Dec 2013, 13:29

Alex wrote:
There's always more to the story than we can put down in words here; and this posting it's coming from my perspective, not hers. But the significance of recounting this is that the WoW plays a central role in the ending of my marriage. I know that I could--or could have, as it may be too late now--completely repent, get counseling, etc....I have a role in this. I play a part. But she feels, perhaps correctly, that I'm untrustworthy and put her through mental anguish these last few months to the point that there's no going back. I see it as a faith crisis and unwillingness to be dishonest again, while she sees it as the last straw.

There has got to be some good that comes from this. "All experience is for our good," as we've heard. I know that I'm more than just someone who breaks the WoW--I've otherwise been a good husband, father, provider, and neighbor. But that is what's defining me in the eyes of my wife.
Alex - This has to be tough and I'm sorry for what you and your wife are going through. I hope you'll keep in touch here, and maybe we can all learn from whatever good comes of it. I can't help but say that I hope the trauma of having gotten this far into an estranged relationship might bring it back around. Best wishes.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 28 Dec 2013, 13:38

The questions are worded as yes/no questions. There is no need for clarification or explanation in the structure of the questions.

Now, if a leader is aware that someone has a . . . unique . . . perspective on any particular question, or if a leader knows, for example, that someone beats their spouse and/or children, I can understand trying to dig further (although the latter example shouldn't lead to a temple recommend interview in the first place), but, ultimately, the interview is worded as it's worded. Each person has to answer for himself or herself, according to their personal understanding.

As long as you are being honest with yourself, theoretically, there shouldn't be any issue.

For example, if someone pays tithing on gross or net or "increase" or after absolutely essential expenses are paid or monthly or annually or every time new money is received or in any other way, as long as they sincerely believe they are paying tithing, that should be enough. If, however, the person pays no tithing at all, not even a tithe to charitable causes, I can't recommend they answer yes to the interview question. There's a line, and, to me, it's sincere honesty and a real attempt to follow the spirit of the law, as understood by each person.

If an interviewer asks something like, "I can't believe this amount is a full tithing," an adequate response is, "It is." If a leader says, "I don't see you in all the meetings every week," and adequate response is, "I attend every Sunday meeting I am able to attend." Short, simple, non-confrontational, etc. If someone says, "I know you don't wear the garment all the time," an adequate response is, "I respect and honor the principle of the garment and wear it as much as I can." That sort of additional response isn't necessary, but it is adequate - and, again, if a leader has a concern like that, it ought to be handled outside the structure of a formal temple recommend interview.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mackay11
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When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by mackay11 » 29 Dec 2013, 17:29

Alex wrote:This thread may be about to take a turn because of what I'm about to say...I hope not, but it's relevant to the topic and recent comments. Feel free to move on and keep things on topic regarding the question asked by the OP.

A couple days ago my wife asked me for a divorce. Yes, it was on Christmas Day. The biggest reason is that I've had difficulty keeping the WoW.

Over the years I've made the choice to consume beer, usually on a business trip but sometimes privately at home. Ultimately my wife asked me or discovered discarded cans and I told her the truth--I felt ashamed, sad, and like a terrible person. I wasn't honest with her when I slipped back and I was breaking the WoW commandment. I could go many months, then the opportunity to have a beer would come and I'd make the choice to have a few.

A few months ago admitted to her that I had consumed beer. She was upset. But trying to be more honest, I admitted that I could never say I wouldn't drink again....and that I almost certainly would. She said she just wanted honesty and she could live with that. I even brought home a six pack and drank a couple in front of her.

About this time I also discovered the history of the WoW--it's enforcement, as a policy, and changes over time. It's been well documented on this forum so I won't rehash it. I became angry that I had felt so ashamed and it had put a strain on our marriage...the only thing I have been dishonest with her about. Other things (like service in the bishopric) challenged my faith and I've been in a classic crisis ever since.

During that time I've distanced myself from her emotionally. I've been coming back, slowly, but she's had enough. I've apologized and want to stay married, but I also know that I feel liberated by my honesty with her and don't want to make promises that I can't keep or believe in. What I didn't realize was that she was distraught.

There's always more to the story than we can put down in words here; and this posting it's coming from my perspective, not hers. But the significance of recounting this is that the WoW plays a central role in the ending of my marriage. I know that I could--or could have, as it may be too late now--completely repent, get counseling, etc....I have a role in this. I play a part. But she feels, perhaps correctly, that I'm untrustworthy and put her through mental anguish these last few months to the point that there's no going back. I see it as a faith crisis and unwillingness to be dishonest again, while she sees it as the last straw.

There has got to be some good that comes from this. "All experience is for our good," as we've heard. I know that I'm more than just someone who breaks the WoW--I've otherwise been a good husband, father, provider, and neighbor. But that is what's defining me in the eyes of my wife.

That's all. I'll be fine and life will go on. Thanks for letting me share bit of sadness, it's therapeutic at this moment for me.
I'm really sorry to hear this Alex. I hope you guys can work something out. A faith transition for one person in a marriage is scary for the other person too. I can remember almost getting to where your wife is when I was the "TBM spouse" to a transitioning spouse.

I don't want to impose any advice either. I only hope you can both work out what's best.

dash1730
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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by dash1730 » 30 Dec 2013, 22:06

Ann asked:
Have you or would you state in a TR interview that you keep the WoW while having an occasional glass of wine?
IMO the question is not, nor can it ever be a black and white answer that is always true, with absolutely no exceptions. Instead, the issue is whether in my mind there is whether there is a problem whether alcohol consumption, or wearing G's. How do you think a person should answer if he unwittingly ate a chocolate with a rum center? Or a professional runner who trains and competes in clothes that don't allow for G's? What if he's only a recreational runner, does that make a difference?

One of the questions asks: Do you belong to any organization person who teach or have practices contrary to those accepted by the Church? I have on occasion answered "Yes, the Republican Party." That usually wakes up the interviewer. But taken seriously, that answer would apply to any human individuals, groups or large organizations. The words Any, Always, Never and other such absolutes just don't apply in the TR interview. One instant of an offense that doesn't harm you or someone else does not forever condemn you to second class sainthood. And that is before you add in repentance. It is You who is responsible deciding whether there is a problem, and if so, if this is the proper time to raise it. And a recommend is signed by three people: the bishop, stake president, and you. You have equal "voting" right to them.
I may not walk the straight and narrow, but I try to cross it as often as I can.
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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 31 Dec 2013, 13:22

Alex wrote:This thread may be about to take a turn because of what I'm about to say...I hope not, but it's relevant to the topic and recent comments. Feel free to move on and keep things on topic regarding the question asked by the OP...A couple days ago my wife asked me for a divorce. Yes, it was on Christmas Day. The biggest reason is that I've had difficulty keeping the WoW...Over the years I've made the choice to consume beer, usually on a business trip but sometimes privately at home. Ultimately my wife asked me or discovered discarded cans and I told her the truth--I felt ashamed, sad, and like a terrible person. I wasn't honest with her...A few months ago admitted to her that I had consumed beer. She was upset. But trying to be more honest, I admitted that I could never say I wouldn't drink again....and that I almost certainly would. She said she just wanted honesty and she could live with that. I even brought home a six pack and drank a couple in front of her...During that time I've distanced myself from her emotionally. I've been coming back, slowly, but she's had enough. I've apologized and want to stay married, but I also know that I feel liberated by my honesty with her and don't want to make promises that I can't keep or believe in. What I didn't realize was that she was distraught...
That's too bad; it is definitely not easy for many TBMs to understand and tolerate differences in beliefs and behavior like this very well especially for their spouse and children that they already expected to continue being on the same page as them indefinitely. If we are constantly insisting that we know we are right in a uncompromising way and emphasizing a very narrow definition of what it means to be worthy and how important this supposedly is then does that really sound like an ideal recipe for getting along with others in relative peace and harmony? Only if people already happen to go along with almost everything the Church teaches, otherwise it looks more like a recipe for serious disappointment, self-righteous indignation, and family strife. Personally I think many Church leaders got used to seeing members typically make a clear choice whether they wanted to be in or out before they were married and then generally continue to be relatively content to endure to the end after they had committed to the LDS way of life. So we mostly hear about a few major milestones like full time missions and temple marriage and then it is supposedly happily ever after and the end based the impression given by many messages in the Church. However because of the internet exposing problems with the Church's story we are now ending up with more mixed-faith marriages than in the past and the Church culture hasn't adapted to this lasting change very well yet. Rather than expecting disaffected members to re-gain their testimony and repent I think Church leaders should consider what will happen if many of them never go back to the way they were before repeating some of the same divisive and unrealistic ideas in conference talks, official lessons, etc. People are suffering on both sides of the traditional belief spectrum largely as a result of forces beyond their control and I don't see the Church doing that much to help the situation.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 31 Dec 2013, 13:28

GBSmith wrote:
Tim wrote:A painless path forward is to quietly remove it from the TR questions. This would relegate it back to a word of wisdom.
I don't think it will ever happen. It's one of the things that sets mormons apart and if it was done away with it would be another move towards assimilation. People need to feel special and called when they come into the church, something that's over and above belief in Christ. It's one of the reasons, I think, for the temple and all that goes with it. If you can get a recommend you've shown that you're willing to be one of the faithful and that will always include the WoW. The WoW is not the same as in the early days of the church but then not much is anymore.
It is a fairly common idea that a few things like the WoW and garments that mostly sound like an inconvenience on the surface to critics actually serve the purpose of establishing a distinct and separate identity as practicing Mormons as well as making people feel more invested in the Church. There is probably some truth to this but I wouldn't go so far as claiming that people need to feel special as if the Church's future absolutely depends on any one current characteristic like this. To me the more accurate observation would simply be that people like to feel special but this is only one of many possible ways to keep them coming back for more. For example, it looks like people are fairly likely to continue in the same faith tradition they were raised in mostly due to family/social ties and/or because it's what they are already comfortable and familiar with regardless of any special selling points or differences to distinguish their religious group from others. If people do end up changing denominations it seems like it is just as likely if not more so to be mostly because they like the message preached, music, environment, etc. there better rather than going out of their way to select a church that tells them what to wear and what they shouldn't drink.

If the WoW was really such a magic formula for success then I would have expected the LDS Church to gain more ground versus other churches by now especially considering other mostly unrelated factors that have also contributed to its growth and retention of members so far like temple marriage, large families on average, and aggressive missionary work. Instead there are still more Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians that self-identify as such than Mormons in the US. Even the JWs don't prohibit alcohol and they have been growing more consistently in Europe than the LDS Church has recently. It sounds like most popular churches in the US also originally supported the temperance movement but most of them moved on from this pet cause after the prohibition experiment failed without any visible negative impact and the main difference in our case is simply that the leaders claim to be prophets, seers, and revelators so that's what has made it easier to add and defend new rules and routines than to question any established traditions. So is the WoW really an essential distinguishing characteristic of Mormonism or primarily just a tradition left over from a time when it was easier to get away with requiring this that has now become a major limitation that greatly restricts how many people the Church will ever appeal to?
Last edited by DevilsAdvocate on 02 Jan 2014, 11:26, edited 1 time in total.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 31 Dec 2013, 13:32

DA, that is an issue right now with every religion and denomination in first-world countries. Seriously, I have a lot of friends in other denominations, and they all are struggling with how to adapt. It isn't uniquely a Mormon thing - in nature or approach.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: When Does Word of Wisdom get disavowed?

Post by Alex » 31 Dec 2013, 15:05

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. A short update if permitted:

My wife would say that it’s “her standard” and I must respect that. She didn’t marry someone who broke the WoW, which I didn’t for almost 12 years; she also didn’t expect to go through a cycle of finding out, being disappointed, and me promising to never drink again.

I’ve been to counseling and it helped a great deal. Now I’m prepared to do what is necessary to save my marriage; however, even a commitment to keep the WoW accompanied by counseling, a rehab program, AA—anything I can do—doesn’t resonate with her. She just doubts my commitment too much and doesn’t want to be hurt again.

I ask her if this one flaw is enough to end a marriage. Apparently it has hurt her enough that the answer is “yes.” She told my oldest daughter what is going on, who said “I’m ashamed you are my father” and “I would divorce you, too.” It was shock to hear that. My parents contemplated it when I was a teenager and told us kids, but didn’t share the details. So I’m a little hurt with what my wife did. It’s as though no other good I’ve done as a father, husband, and person is evident. I really am a good person—a professional with a six-figure salary, respected, and kind to others. And with enough self-esteem to know that I am more than one flaw.

And I love my wife enough that if she will be happier not being married to me because of constant doubt and worry, I want her to have that opportunity. It’s keeping me sane and happy knowing that I can hold no anger toward her. We have been married a couple decades but are both youthful, attractive. I don’t know exactly what that means except to say I doubt, if either one chooses, we will be alone in the future.

I made a serious error sharing all of my doubts with her. I resisted sharing at first and it caused her more worry wondering “what” was going on in my head. So I shared too much…as well as distancing myself too much as I tried to sort out my doubts. I think that I’m figuring out things now, but it seems too late.

This post is about a little more than the WoW but I wanted to share.
I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm, and administering to the poor and dividing his substance, than the long smooth faced hypocrites. I don't want you to think I am very righteous, for I am not very righteous. God judgeth men according to the light he gives them. (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 204 – May 18, 1843)

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