Monday, July 11, 2011

Answers to Questions

To the anon questions in the comments:

First, about what is the official Mormon or LDS Church position on the death penalty or in other words capital punishment? I found this statement put out by the leaders of our church on that subject to the media.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the question of whether and in what circumstances the state should impose capital punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed processes of civil law. We neither promote nor oppose capital punishment."

As to the second question about why being LDS makes me feel different especially in light of the "Mormons are just like you and me" aspect of the current "I am a Mormon" campaign:

Yes, Mormons come in all shapes and sizes and from a wide variety of backgrounds. We have members from every race and culture I can think of. And in most ways we are just like everyone else. But we are also a peculiar people in that we do have some common doctrinal and cultural standards that somewhat define us as a people. BYU has long been voted the number one "Stone Cold Sober" university for a reason. :)

I don't drink alcoholic beverages, tea or coffee or smoke or do drugs. I don't even drink sodas with caffeine. I don't have tattoos or body piercings (other than a single earring pierce in each ear.) I don't cuss or watch R rated movies (or even many PG 13). I go to church every Sunday for 3 hours. I have almost always have some church job or other that I spend a good amount of time and energy fulfilling. I believe that Jesus Christ appeared in the Americas to the natives here after his resurrection and that He and His Father personally appeared to a 14 year old boy in a grove of trees to answer his prayer to find out which church to join. I spend one night a week with just my family. I don't go to birthday parties or sporting events or shop or go to dinner on Sunday. I live in Las Vegas and have never pulled a slot machine or played any gambling game. I don't even know how to play any of them. And I love green jello ;). 

All these things are part of me because of my religion either by way of doctrine or just culture. This is not to say there aren't great Mormons who drink Coke have tattoos. There are. And there are lots of Mormons who are not perfect in keeping the commandment not to smoke or drink or do drugs. We all have things we are working on. 

But the reason I don't do those things is because of my Mormon beliefs AND the Mormon culture in which I was raised. And it is fairly common to find most if not all of the same list above from another Mormon who goes to church. On the other hand, I think it is pretty rare to find someone who is not Mormon who can even say they don't drink, smoke, drink coffee or cuss. Not to say it is impossible, I am thrilled to meet such people when I do. But I find it to be rare from my experience in this world. 

So these cultural and doctrinal norms for me make me feel different from the rest of the world. Does that make sense? I hope so.


Unknown said...

All of this is perfectly clear and understandable and much the same way that I practic my own Christian faith. However, I am curious about one thing and hope you can explain.

I believe with Jesus Christ appeared in the Americas to the natives here after his resurrection and that He and His Father personally appeared to a 14 year old boy in a grove of trees to answer his prayer to find out which church to join

I am curious where in the scriptures this belief has been derived from.

Mindy said...

I particularly liked the green jello plug. :) But pray tell, do you eat it with shredded carrots in it? ;)

John said...

AND....doing all of this actually brings true JOY and HAPPINESS. It's wonderful and I am happy to follow the guidelines set in our church.

Anonymous said...

Just curious--Doesn't no caffeine=no chocolate too?

Jonathan Waite said...

Non-Mormons always like to bait Mormons with that question. The simple fact of the matter is that our Church never said "no caffeine". As my wife said, these things are a part of her "either by way of doctrine or just culture". A "no caffeine" belief would be the latter. The official church doctrine is no "hot drinks" (as stated in Doctrine & Covenants), which was further clarified to mean no coffee or tea.

Stephanie Waite said...


Yes no caffeine would mean no chocolate. But I refer to my husbands answer as to the doctrine vs. culture thing.

I would add that "no caffeine" is NOT even a part of LDS culture. Very few Mormons I know do not eat chocolate. But there is a culture that leans toward no "caffeinated sodas or energy drinks" as an extension of the doctrinal no "hot drinks" ie. coffee or tea. There are lots of LDS people who don't drink caffeine sodas or energy drinks.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous with the chocolate question. Thank you both for your responses. Although I am non-Mormon (my husband is actually a United Methodist pastor), I assure you, Mr. Waite, that my intention was not to bait your wife. I was just curious. I grew up in an area where the Mormon trail went through, and my parents took us to various Mormon points of interest throughout childhood. Between those experiences and interacting with the Mormon children of some of our own church members, I didn’t remember ever hearing the caffeine belief (now clarified as no hot drinks instead). I apologize if my question came across as confrontational.

Jonathan Waite said...

Dear Anonymous,

Just by way of background, i have had this question posed to me about a half dozen times. EVERY TIME this was more or less how the conversation went:

person (with some interest): So you Mormons don't drink coffee or tea, right?

me: yep, that's right.

person (with somewhat more interest): you don't drink caffeinated sodas either right?

Me (ready to explain): Usually no, but that depends...

person (interrupting, with sly, sarcastic look of gotcha! on the face): so if you don't consume caffeine what about chocolate?!?

me (rolling eyes): well I think i read in the New Testament where it said that chocolate was the root of all evil...

OK maybe i didn't say that last part -- usually just discussed how we essentially believe in taking care of our bodies. Anyway, I wasn't trying to be confrontational (sorry about that) -- just relating my past experience.

Emily in Wonderland said...

I am not Mormon, and I do not do any of those things. AND, I grew up in Southern California. lol

Stephanie Waite said...

That is so funny! I am going to guess you were raised in the OC. Am I right? Did you find that you are different from most others in this regard? Or do you have lots of other friends who also choose to live this way? Do you feel these standards you have set for your life help define you and make up part of your own self identity? I am curious.


Lisa said...

Hey, I just stumbled upon your blog! I'm not Mormon (not even religious) but I was staying with a Mormon family for almost half a year in Utah as a foreign exchange student some time ago. I really did enjoy my stay there, experiencing and admiring that peace that everyone seemed to have found in his religion despite all the incontrariness and problems obviously being there all over this world. I'm open minded, eager to learn about and even understand other's ways of thinking and behaving and really do tolerate and often even envy people with other beliefs than my boring secular view of the world (I think cultural diversity is a great thing that makes the world a more exciting and- surprise!- diverse place) but... I never came over how they didn't drink tea, acting like it's something bad for you. This may sound simple considering all those discussions between different religions out there in the world but it really IS something bugging me!
I mean I can totally understand the coffee-part but seriously... tea?! No black tea is unerstandable as well but what about all those thousands of other different teas? They are only hot water and harmless herbs/plants/fruits like peppermint, roibos, fennel, lemons, rose hips or whatever, sometimes even yummy spiced up with vanilla or other spices, often even helping when you have a sore throat, a stomach ache or other problems... what is the problem?
The explanation I came up with was simply ignorance, because there is not such a deeply rooted tea culture as we Europeans (or also Asians) have, that they just heard about caffeine or similar substances in tea (which is really only in black tea and SOME others) and therefore don't drink any of it- but it obviously didn't really satisfy me.
Here is the 1st time I hear about hot beverages in general though (only heard: we don't drink coffee or tea before). But we even drank hot chocolate during church activities! And what about hot milk? Sorry but I simply don't get the reason for it. Maybe you can help me out of this misery- this has gotten quite a novel! =)

Lisa said...

By the way, I don't drink alcohol, smoke, take drugs, drink coffee, watch R rated movies, have piercings or tattoos either. Only thing is occasional cussing... but I have to admit a good cuss is such a good medicine sometimes! =)

Stephanie Waite said...

Dear Lisa,
I think some clarification is in order. The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom, the LDS code of health, is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.

Hot chocolate is not designated as a harmful substance by this doctrine.

The Word of Wisdom also states: "And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving."

Members of the church are left to decide for themselves where herbal tea falls (as an herb or a tea). I know some who drink it and some who do not.

Basically, it comes down to this. The substances in what we Mormons call the "word of wisdom" (ie no coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs) were given as counsel to the members to benefit their health. It later was designated a commandment for all baptized members.

So when a person is baptized into our church they are making a promise to God that they will live His commandments and this Word of Wisdom is one of the commandments they are taught that the Lord has given us in modern times. So they are promising to abstain from these designated substances when they get baptized.

So maybe one drink of tea a week or an occasional glass of wine won't do much damage to your body. Some may even say it is good for the body. But once you have made a covenant not to partake of these things, a drink of tea or a glass of wine will damage you spiritually because it is breaking your commitment to the Lord. Such an action requires repentance, more because of the breach of the promise than the actual "evil" of the substance consumed.

Does that make sense?

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

Thanks for the answer and your time, I really appreciate that!
I totally do understand (and actually understood before) the fact that it's not all about the physical but mostly about the spiritual health. But what sense does it make to forbid tea? I simply cannot understand that at all. There doesn't seem to be any reason behind it!
Sorry for being such a pain in the neck about this but I can't help it. I think it is a lesson given to us Germans by history that we seem to have severe problems doing things without clear reasons and really understanding why, just because we are told to... Me included!
I think I probably can't be helped in this matter after all but many thanks anyway.=)