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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

But I'm a Good Person!

How often have I heard this an other defenses of the Mormon church! "But I'm a good person/we're good people!" "But we have high standards." "But we have good family values."

And I say...so what?

Being a good person or teaching high standards and being family focused are good things of course...but they do not make something true, nor do they provide a good excuse to keep following something untrue.

For instance, the argument that "we're good people." First of all, not all people within a religion or worldview are good. I've known two active Mormons who were unrepentant rapists. While some religions may be better and some worse in things like this, there are bad people in all religions and worldviews--whether their belief is necessarily sincere or not is another question. I know that at least one of those rapists sincerely believed in the Mormon religion. Second, there are good people in the majority of religions and worldviews. Mormon, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Wiccan, and so forth--it doesn't matter. There are good and bad people in pretty much all of them.

Second, good is a relative term. If we're talking about good on the world's standards, sure, many Mormons are good. Many people in general are good on that standard. But what about God's standards? Are people good on God's standards? Let's consider this. Have you lied? Lusted after someone not your spouse? Stolen? Used God's or Jesus' name(s) as a cuss word (blasphemed)? Coveted? Disobeyed your parents? If you're honest, you probably have to say yes to most of these, and most of us would probably have to say yes to all of them. This means that in God's eyes, you are not good.

Romans 3:12 All have turned away,
   they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone."

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Having high standard is good, but does not prove a religion right or true. You could say Muslims have high standards--but does that make it true? Does it change that their violence and extreme sexism is wrong? Not at all. Sometimes, high standards go overboard into legalism, and Mormons fall into this category, creating guilt for those who fail to meet the standards (even if they're a good person focused on God) and pride for those who meet the standards (even if they're self-righteous pricks more concerned about themselves than God). You can get good standards from many different world views. Even atheists can have pretty high standards--many are humanists.

Family values are also good, but again doesn't prove a religion right or true. In fact, Mormons take family to the level of idolatry. Eternal family, family values, and family focus are taken to such a high level of teaching and focus that it is often put over God in their daily lives. Family is is most certainly something people should focus on--a Christian is certainly admonished to raise their children right. But it should never be put above God.

So, when all is said and done...yes, maybe that's true. But does that make your religion right, or does it mean you should stay it in if its not right? Definitely not.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jesus Didn't Follow the Word of Wisdom

Jesus drank alcohol. No, really. He did.

Some will say that the wine of that time was just grape juice, but that's not precisely true. First, I'm pretty sure they could tell the difference between fermented and non-fermented drink. They did not have refrigeration like we do, so drink would ferment fairly quickly if it was not drank right away. While its likely that they didn't always let it ferment as long as we sometimes do for wine now (e.g. a few years), there still would have often been at least a little fermentation, and therefore a little alcoholic content. We also know from the Bible that people did get drunk off of the wine, obviously an indication of alcoholic content.

Genesis 9:21
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
 Leviticus 10:9
Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
(Note this is not a prohibition against alcohol at all times, but specifically for going into the tabernacle.)

1 Samuel 1:14
And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
 Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Luke 5:39
No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
(Older is more fermented and often better, as a connoisseur will tell you.)

 There are also plenty of accounts of Jesus eating and drinking with sinners. In fact, his first miracle was to make good wine for a wedding!

Luke 5:30
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luke 7:34
The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!

John 2:10
And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. (After Jesus turned water to wine for his first miracle at a wedding feast.)

Now, the Bible most certainly speaks against drunkenness, and its easy to consider why when you hear of (and probably personally know) people who cheat only when drunk, or who harm themselves or others when drunk, who make stupid decision they wouldn't otherwise make, or who become addicted to it.  None of those things are what a person of God should be doing with themselves.

But drinking not to get drunk? Well, yes, the Bible does allow for that, most certainly...it just said not to have excess, or too much.

Ephesians 5:18
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
1 Timothy 3:8

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
 Titus 2:3
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

However, as Christians we must be conscious of when we drink and with whom, as well as how much.

Romans 14:21

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Notice this verse does not prohibit drinking wine anymore than it prohibits eating meat or anything else--it just says not to do it if it will make someone else fall. So if you're with someone who is an alcoholic, current or recovered, It is probably not a good idea or good example to drink in front of them or especially to offer them a drink. A person like that should not be drinking because they do so sinfully. Does that mean we have to lie to them about the fact that we might be okay drinking occasionally? No, lying is a sin. But we should not tempt those who shouldn't drink or put a stumbling block in front of those who are uncomfortable with it, even if we explain to them why it is alright for some to drink.

The Word of Wisdom's complete ban on alcohol was a product of Joseph Smith's times, just like his ban on coffee and tea--and it was not even presented as commandment, but as a guideline. Its still phrased as a guideline, in fact, and interestingly it allows for wine for sacrament (communion). As we can see from all of the above, the Mormon idea that drinking is wrong for everyone all the time, period, is not Biblical at all. Jesus is the best example of that.