Are we the church of the WoW?

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Rumin8
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Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by Rumin8 » 22 Jul 2019, 12:12

Full disclosure: I do not keep the word of wisdom as it is interpreted currently in the church. I do not hold a temple recommend. I attend church each week and have a calling.

On to my question/comment. Recently I have been attending a lot of different wards as I have been participating in the missionary homecoming/farewell circuit of family members and friends of my kids. I have noticed of late a LOT of over the pulpit talks and testimony from people about the WoW. Since I have been keeping track (the last six months), the WoW has been mentioned at least once in a lesson or talk each and every Sunday. In all of the missionary (coming or going) talks in other wards it has also featured prominently. Along with the atonement. Often they are lumped together as an example of "sin" and redemption. Perhaps it is because this is a hot button to me (as a non-adherent) but I'm struggling with the fact that Jesus would suffer through the atonement for someone drinking a cup of coffee today. What about 100 years ago? What about in the times of pre-WoW enforcement? Did he suffer for that person too? It seems pretty easy for a tee-totaling 19-21 year old to go into the home of a stranger and tell them their drinking habits are an affront to god and require sincere repentance, particularly when said missionary has no literal experience with such substances (nor should they). If I take this analogy further, Jesus Christ suffers through the atonement for people breaking rules that other people made up (or had "revealed" to them from God). Sometimes these rules are rules. Sometimes they are suggestions. Sometimes the rules don't exist. On the face of it, using the atonement for this type of "sin" seems... odd. And trivial.

After making some notes in my phone after being triggered by the latest example of this "sin," I started to wonder about our fixation on this issue. Ironically it seems unhealthy. It seems like we talk more about it than about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Or about the core principles of the gospel. Or more about loving our neighbor (despite all his faults) or serving others? Lets talk about how we can come together in fellowship instead of fragmenting into political and economic tribes? Instead, it seems like all we want to talk about is a so-called health code that also serves as a very public obedience test. We talk about talking about Jesus. But is seems like that's as far as it goes.

Apologies to those that have strong affirmative feelings for the WoW. My intent is not to diminish your beliefs. I apologize if this came across as too much of a rant, or if I trivialized the sacredness atonement for some of you. That said, I had the need to put to words these thoughts that have been floating around in my brain for some time. I'm fighting tooth and nail to keep a relationship with the church so that I can maintain my heritage and my sense of community. But this WoW overemphasis and hypocrisy may not be something I can continue to shelf.
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be excellent to each other." - Abraham Lincoln to Bill & Ted

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Cadence
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by Cadence » 22 Jul 2019, 15:20

It may be that Mormons like to distinguish themselves from other sects. This is one very observable way to do that.

Also members tend to look for markers of their obedience. This is any easy check mark for some, so it is touted

On the spectrum of concerns Jesus has I am not sure this registers.


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Roy
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by Roy » 22 Jul 2019, 16:05

WoW is also a solid and tangible example of how living God's commandments protect us from addiction.

It becomes a physical metaphor of the spiritual chains that that Satan uses to subject and bind the unwary.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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DarkJedi
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by DarkJedi » 22 Jul 2019, 16:52

I can't really say I hear much about the WoW in my area, especially not as a SM topic. Maybe that's just a product of where I live - the "liberal" Northeast has its advantages.

I spoke in SM yesterday and I shared this quote from Elder Quentin Cook (Oct. 2016):
When we elevate any principle in a way that lessens our commitment to other equally important principles or take a position contrary to or which exceeds teachings of Church leaders, we are looking beyond the mark.
In addition, some members elevate causes, many of which are good, to a status superior to basic gospel doctrine. They substitute their devotion to the cause as their first commitment and relegate their commitment to the Savior and His teachings to a secondary position. If we elevate anything above our devotion to the Savior, if our conduct recognizes Him as just another teacher and not the divine Son of God, then we are looking beyond the mark. Jesus Christ is the mark!


My point actually was that last sentence. I did not share other details from Cook's talk, but he did specifically mention the WoW. I would propose that your area might be experiencing exactly what Elder Cook was talking about.

Cook's full talk: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... s?lang=eng
And a previous Ensign article he wrote on a similar topic (and to which he refers in the talk): https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... k?lang=eng
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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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Jul 2019, 21:04

The Church of the Word of Wisdom? No. (Maybe, The Church of the Traditional Family)

The Church of a Strong Emphasis on the Word of Wisdom? Sure.

However, like DJ, I haven't heard a talk from the pulpit about this topic for a long time.
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.

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nibbler
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by nibbler » 23 Jul 2019, 06:54

Are we the church of the WoW?

It certainly forms a part of the cultural identity.

The WoW doesn't come up very often in SM talks or F&T testimonies where I'm at. That said, earlier this year there were several mentions during PH of coffee specifically. Stories of investigators that just couldn't kick the habit so they could get baptized. Things like that. Although not stated directly, I imagine the uptick in the mentions of coffee resulted from members reacting to all the rumors that the ban on coffee and tea was going to be lifted during April '19 GC. It was on people's minds.

It may come down to the dynamics of a church unit. I was in a unit where the WoW was a semi-frequent theme, but over half of the people belonging to that unit had been members of the church for less than 10 years. SM themes were often based on things from the missionary discussions and gospel essentials manual. Themes to solidify church teachings to a congregation of converts.

I could also imagine a scenario where a BP makes the WoW a semi-frequent theme because he sees a lot of members of this ward coming to him with WoW issues.
If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.
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felixfabulous
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by felixfabulous » 23 Jul 2019, 08:25

This is my hobby horse, so I must chime in. I feel like the WOW has been the marker of our cultural identity in the modern Church (since polygamy). It has served several purposes: 1. A very tangible, outside marker of obedience and group identity; 2. A way to show solidarity with and one up other teetotalling denominations (southern baptists, etc.) and showcase our love of clean living; 3. A purity code to distinguish the holy from the unholy and have a defined, observant inner circle; 4. A legitimate way to avoid addictions to alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

In our ward, we have an investigator who is trying to stop drinking coffee to get baptized. I drink coffee and feel really weird about the whole thing. I think it's good that people are rallying around and supporting her. It just seems so ridiculous and unChristlike that we are so fixated on her stopping coffee drinking (which is healthy and very enjoyable) and switching caffeine intake to soda or energy drinks. Jesus was very critical of the purity codes of the time and the tribalism and legalism they fostered. The WOW is no different. Of the purposes I've listed above, I think only #4 is worth keeping and will hold up. I think alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation by some people, but can really ruin the lives of people who can't control it. I don't think it should be a test of fellowship, but I think keeping the cultural norm of clean living is worthwhile and we can all lend support and help those who either want to drink less or stop altogether.

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felixfabulous
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by felixfabulous » 23 Jul 2019, 08:34

I also think you bring up a good point that we are much more comfortable with an Old Testament God who is a God of requirements, obedience, rewards, chosen people and codes of living than we are with the Jesus of the New Testament who was very critical of this type of religion and pointed out the problems with the system. We often don't know what to do with the Jesus of the New Testament and we tend to focus on the parts of the narrative that have him instituting and clarifying the rules and restoring the truth that was lost with the apostasy of the church at the time. I think it's pretty clear that he was critical of the ideas of a chosen people, worthiness and obedience culture. As Richard Rohr has said "we've never been ready for Jesus."

Roy
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by Roy » 23 Jul 2019, 10:16

The SDA's have a similar health code that can include everything in the WoW and vegetarianism to boot. On thing that I admire about how they do things is contained in this phrase "if you feel called to live a certain principle then it is a commandment of God unto you." This allows for individuals to start where they are and still join themselves to the body of believers. People can drink coffee or eat meat and not be sinning. Over time as they become more prepared and accustomed to the gospel culture one might expect converts to take on some of these cultural markers. Many of the dishes in any church gathering are vegetarian out of a respectful nod to the many vegetarians in attendance but dishes that contain meat are fine as long as they are labeled as such.

I see this as an option for keeping the WoW but moving back towards the original intent.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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felixfabulous
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Re: Are we the church of the WoW?

Post by felixfabulous » 23 Jul 2019, 12:50

Roy wrote:
23 Jul 2019, 10:16
The SDA's have a similar health code that can include everything in the WoW and vegetarianism to boot. On thing that I admire about how they do things is contained in this phrase "if you feel called to live a certain principle then it is a commandment of God unto you." This allows for individuals to start where they are and still join themselves to the body of believers. People can drink coffee or eat meat and not be sinning. Over time as they become more prepared and accustomed to the gospel culture one might expect converts to take on some of these cultural markers. Many of the dishes in any church gathering are vegetarian out of a respectful nod to the many vegetarians in attendance but dishes that contain meat are fine as long as they are labeled as such.

I see this as an option for keeping the WoW but moving back towards the original intent.
I love this interpretation and would welcome a move in this direction.

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