Friday, March 7, 2008

Moral paradigm

[From another conference]

That raises an interesting question, since I wasn't thinking of our Word of Wisdom discussion as a worthiness issue at all: how do you (generalized "you" here) view the commandments? Why do you do the things you do? (I apologize to Orin if I'm running off in a direction he hadn't intended to imply.)

See, I keep the Word of Wisdom (to the extent that I succeed in doing so) because I believe in it, independent of Church policy. I don't _like_ people touching my brain while I'm using it. There are other commandments that I keep out of sheer obedience[1] (I don't watch R-rated movies because President Hinckley ordered me not to--that wasn't in a Church-wide meeting so most of you weren't there and don't have to pay attention, but I take it personally), but even there, there's no fundamental separation between my will and the Lord's. I'm obedient because I consider it a point of honor, having pledged obedience, to make good on that pledge. However, there are plenty of other commandments that I just plain believe in. I wouldn't use foul language even if the Lord didn't care about it at all, although I was quite relieved as a kid when I realized that the Lord felt the same way I did, even though other people didn't.

I don't see morality as a thing which should or can be imposed by an external force, so the "goodness" or "badness" of a thing in a moral sense rarely comes up as a consideration in my world. It's mostly "good idea" or "stupid" (or neither), with the implicit understanding that everything the gospel says is bad comes under "stupid" when you understand how things really work. (D&C 93:24.) That said, there are a lot of things which are non-stupid and perfectly fine.

This isn't to say that I don't worry about what the Lord thinks, because I do. In some cases it matters tremendously to me that I'm doing things he approves of. However, this is less out of fear of censure than because I relate to him and admire him--he's exactly the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. My concern is based on the quality of the relationship and the nobility of his character, which is the way a father & son relationship should be, IMHO.

So, what's your moral paradigm?


[1] In the sense that if the commandment were revoked I can imagine circumstances where I would do them. There are some movies that I think the MPAA rated incorrectly which I would probably watch if it weren't a point of honor.


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

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