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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Doctrines, Opinions and What Doesn’t Apply to Me! » Doctrines, Opinions and What Doesn’t Apply to Me!

Doctrines, Opinions and What Doesn’t Apply to Me!

Don - February 24, 2006

On my last post about what women wear to church, Natalie and Bret made comments that got me thinking about the difference between Doctrine, Personal Opinion and what applies to me.

First we could have a whole post on what constitutes Doctrine.  Everything from whatever the Brethren say when moved on by the Holy Ghost, to whatever they say, to whatever my local leader says when moved on by the Holy Ghost, to whatever he says acting in his particular office.  That line is probably drawn in a different place for each of us.

Here’s my problem: I’m a straight arrow – letter of the law type guy for the commandments / doctrines I like and a push the envelope – it really doesn’t matter for the ones I don’t like.

Case in point – our mission rules didn’t allow us to go out of our district (as Disrtict Leaders) with our cars unless on specific instructions from the prez.  We got a media referral for a BOM to a lady in a little village north of our district, not really covered by any other Elders close.  It so happened that the village was one I recognized as being in my genealogy.  Since it was a considerable way to drive and out of the district (and I wanted to check out the genealogy connection) I disconnected the spedometer cable and we drove up to see the lady.

Of course she wasn’t home and no luck on the genealogy either….bummer

But I find myself doing it in other areas too.  Doing my Home Teaching, going to stupid meetings, what I wear to church, raising my hand to help the new family move in or out, reading the BOM by the end of the year (I did that…peer pressure), listening to or reading general conference talks, attending general priesthood meeting….can I go on, yes and on and on.

Of course I’m justified, at least in my own mind.  If I wasn’t I wouldn’t do it.  But where do we drawn the line?  When is it Doctrine, when is it a commandment, when is it opinion and no matter where you draw the line – are you a straight arrow or an envelope pusher?


  1. You did WHAT?!?!?!? You are a bad man, a very very bad man.

    Comment by Eric — February 24, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  2. Uhhh…Don. I don’t think that mission experience was following the letter of the law; you still went outside your district without permission from the mission president.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 24, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  3. I was having this discussion with a friend of mine last night…It all depends on who I’m with.

    With my roommates in college, I was more the straight-arrow guy. When I moved to Vegas and hung out with a whole new group of people, I was the envelope-pusher.

    So yes. I think we all play the game to where we think everything should be drawn, but how ELSE would you play it?


    “Obedience is the first law of heaven” my eye!

    Comment by Bret — February 24, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

  4. I’m reminded of the following from the movie “Office Space”:

    STAN [the Boss]
    I need to talk about your flair. [random buttons and things that waiters are required to wear as part of their outfits]

    JOANNA [Waitress]
    Really? I have 15 buttons on. I, uh, (shows him)

    Well, ok, 15 is minimum, ok?


    Now, it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Well, like Brian, for example, has 37 pieces of flair. And a terrific smile.

    Ok. Ok, you want me to wear more?

    Look. Joanna.


    People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, ok? They come to Chotchkie’s for the atmosphere and the attitude. That’s what the flair’s about. It’s about fun.

    Ok. So, more then?

    Look, we want you to express yourself, ok? If you think the bare minimum is enough, then ok. But some people choose to wear more and we encourage that, ok? You do want to express yourself, don’t you?

    If church leaders want us to wear white shirts or anything else as a uniform, they should just call it a uniform. But instead we claim that we don’t have any uniforms, and then subtly pressure and judge people who wear things we don’t approve of.

    Comment by ed — February 24, 2006 @ 6:31 pm

  5. Did you mean odometer? That’s illegal, you know.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 24, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

  6. Amen. This is a topic that so should be explored.

    I think as our church continues to grow, we are going to get some crazies in high places and we will have to decide this very issue. Not saying the general authorities, just others. Shutting up now.

    Comment by annegb — February 24, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  7. The paisley tie and denim skirt stories in previous posts are amazing – especially when you consider that this is a world-wide Church, and there are people in other continents who would be LUCKY to have a paisley tie or a denim skirt. Anything different to change into for Church, to them, would be a blessing. I know, we’re not living in third-world countries, but for some reason the Sermon on the Mount keeps coming to mind: Blessed are the meek… blessed are the poor… The Saints in those places are probably living the gospel more fully and dressing more “reverently” than the average Saint in the States, simply because they have no other thought in mind than worshipping the Savior and keeping the commandments.

    By the way, Don, what a naughty missionary. Did you go swimming later that day? :)

    Comment by Natalie — February 25, 2006 @ 1:01 am

  8. I’m like Bret – To my inactive family (and sometimes to my active husband) I’m the “white sheep.” But I’m also the envelope-pushing friend to quite a few straight arrow sisters in my ward.

    Here’s a word fraught with controversy: Starbucks. Hubby goes there frequently and buys hot chocolate with his coworkers, who buy coffee. Obviously everyone walks out of the store with a Starbucks cup in his hand. While some who know him might judge Hubby for what COULD be in his cup, he and his coworkers know what he’s actually drinking. A sister in my ward upbraided us about this, for not avoiding the very appearance of evil. Thoughts?

    Comment by Natalie — February 25, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  9. Annegh, thanks, you’ve found the core of this post.

    D. yes better said, it was the odometer (but it was the speedometer cable, and it did disconnect the speedometer too)

    Comment by don — February 25, 2006 @ 2:08 am

  10. anniegb,
    That is probebly very true. That is why I love the fact that the church is true no matter who gets into high places. (Official Declaration 1 makes a good statement on this)

    We just need to remember to separate “the church” from “the church.” The church in a doctrinal/revelatory sense is incorruptibly true. The church in a corperate/man-run organization trying to do the right thing makes mistakes…many of them, which is to be expected.

    Comment by Bret — February 25, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

  11. Natalie and Bret, me too! I don’t feel like I fit anywhere. I’m too religious for a lot of people and not enough for the rest of them.

    It’s kind of a lonely place.

    Comment by annegb — February 26, 2006 @ 2:47 am

  12. Natalie: The sister in your ward is the one with the problem, not your husband. There’s no commandment about drinking hot chocolate. There is a commandment about judging other people.

    Comment by Copedi — February 26, 2006 @ 10:57 am

  13. Copedi, I go back and forth on that…it’s kind of like going into a bar and coming out with a drink of Sprite in a Budweiser cup. We could get into a whole discussion about “stand in holy places” and obviously a bar is different from Starbucks… or is it? The sister in my ward carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. Everything she says, she says sincerely. I feel bad for her because she worries about everyone so much.

    Anne: I think we’re all “lonely” in that way, aren’t we? No one’s perfectly good or bad, and no one wants anyone else to know our dirty little secrets. There’s a lot we hide from each other, which I think is usually a good thing.

    Comment by Natalie — February 27, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  14. Don, thanks for the candor. You ain’t any more an arrow than I am. Perhaps it’s a facade of conformity you put up living there in happy valley, a kin to the facade I put up in my church life so as to enjoy callings and keep temple privileges?

    Comment by Steve EM — February 27, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  15. No, Natalie, I don’t think everyone feels that way. I think it is a peculiar kind of lonliness. The best thing for me in finding blogging is finding that I am not alone.

    I felt the same way when I found Al-Anon.

    Comment by annegb — March 2, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  16. Speaking of wackos:

    My sister was in a ward in Orange County, CA, where the deacons and priests were required to wear gray pants, white shirts and a dark (navy or black) jacket to participate in the sacrament. Maybe the tie color and pattern were also prescribed.

    The only other thing they needed were rockers and chevrons on their shoulders.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 2, 2006 @ 11:13 am

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