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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Suggestions vs. Commandments » Suggestions vs. Commandments

Suggestions vs. Commandments

Christian J - January 30, 2007

When me and my wife were married, the sealer repeated to us some counsel given by David O. McKay to Thomas S. Monson: Never go to bed angry at each other.

Having heard this counsel on many occasions and then on our wedding day, I took it to heart. It wasn’t long before we had the chance to implement this counsel and I was particularly vigurous with it. So much so that the counsel itself created its own arguments. You see, I’ve had the blessing of marrying a very reasonable and understanding woman. 95% of our anger is the result of issues outside the home which then creates impatience, irritability and agitation within our relationship. For us the best solutions to these bits of contention is often a good night’s sleep. It’s usually the next morning that the feelings have left my mind and heart. In short, this counsel that I treated as doctrine, has proved to be a very good suggestions that just doesn’t work for us personally. This experience has made me think more about the counsel we are given and try to discern the commandments from suggestions.

I’ve been wondering about a few gray areas and would appreciate your input. Feel free to present any of your own.

No tattoos- ?
No piercings for men- ?
Only ear piercings for women(one in each ear)- ?
Write your congressman in support of a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage- ?
Don’t get cremated when you die- ?


  1. No tattoos- Commandment.
    No piercings for men- Commandment.
    Only ear piercings for women(one in each ear)- Commandment.
    Write your congressman in support of a constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage- Commandment.
    Don’t get cremated when you die- Commandment.

    I hope that clears things up.

    Actually, I’ve only personally heard the third being said by the Prophet. Unless the first two were also mentioned in the same talk, and I’ve forgotten. Which probably means I have actually heard the others and forgotten those too.

    I hope that clears things up more.

    Seriously, though…it depends on what you mean by “commandment.”

    Comment by Susan M — January 30, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

  2. Love God with all your heart etc., Love your neighbor – both commandments. Everything else is fluff!

    Comment by Don Clifton — January 30, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  3. Bishop to young man – “shave your beard” – bad suggestion NOT a commandment
    Stake Pres. counselor to member – get a different job – bad suggestion – NOT a commandment
    Bishop to family – your daughter needs to be in a foster home – bad suggestion – NOT a commandment
    Apostle to membership – pay a generous fast offering – good suggestion – not a commandment
    Stake President to membership – go to the temple monthly – good suggestion – not a commandment
    Enough ranting!

    Comment by Don Clifton — January 30, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  4. It has been a while since I looked, but I think the lastest edition of the Handbook of Instructions has dropped, or substantially modified, the previous objections to cremation.

    Comment by Mark IV — January 30, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

  5. The cremation item was always couched so as to defer to local laws anyway.

    Comment by Bookslinger — January 30, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

  6. I should have known the cremation one would cause a detour.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — January 30, 2007 @ 6:40 pm

  7. LOL! My husband and I NEVER follow the “don’t go to bed angry” thing…Two red personalities –not to mention first born children –not sleeping? Yeah, does NOT fly.

    My parent’s version is don’t go to bed without Praying together. That one works better. How can one stay angry when praying? Wish we implemented it better, though.

    I don’t see why suggestions in the “gray” area need to be debated, though. Yeah, some counsel may be wrong counsel at the time. But what if it’s good counsel at the right time? Yeah, changes things just a tad. I’ll put it this way: If someone feels they can pass their Temple recommend interview and take the Sacrament, then they are probably obeying the “commandments” and probably even following some “gray” counsel as well. But how easy is it to see some counsel as “gray” and realize too late that it should have been followed, gray or not?

    It really comes down to personal revelation/confirmation. Especially if the counsel does come from a Bishop or Stake leader. Maybe even an Apostle. But the Prophet? I doubt there’s much “gray” there…Perhaps that’s why he’s the PROPHET?

    (Okay, sorry. I really didn’t mean to be sarcastic! Just feeling this a little stronger than I had anticipated).

    Comment by cheryl — January 30, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

  8. The ONLY commands come directly from God. You and I have a right (and a responsibility) to confirm with God any “commandment” given by the arm of flesh.

    Comment by Daylan — January 30, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  9. All good “counsel” here. In combining what Daylan and Cheryl said, I’d say that anything the Prophet (or anyone else for that matter, but we’re talking about from our leadership here, right?) speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost is commandment. It’s up to us to figure out when he is speaking by that power. From my experience, anything a prophet says from a pulpit is probebly commandment UNLESS he says something like “I believe” or “I think,” etc, etc. A good (somewhat) recent example is when Pres. Hinckley said he didn’t believe hurricane Katrina was from the Lord.

    Comment by Bret — January 30, 2007 @ 9:35 pm

  10. I don’t consider any of those things commandments. I find tattoos and piercings ridiculous, but wholly without spiritual ramifications. And I have about fifty more important priorities about which to write my congressman.

    Comment by Bill — January 30, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  11. I think sometimes it actually helps to go to bed angry. Trying to force a resolution of an issue when anger is fresh just makes the problem worse. But that’s just my take on it.

    I also find that sometimes a good night’s sleep helps us wake up with a fresh perspective where the seemingly huge issue that existed previously is really not such a big deal after all and love conquers all.

    Of course my wife and I have never ever had an argument, so I’m speaking here purely from observation of all those other awful dirty evil people. Can’t we all just get along?

    Comment by danithew — January 31, 2007 @ 7:43 am

  12. Commandments versus suggestions. I think of the temple recommend interview. I don’t see anything about body piercings and tattoos included in those questions. I agree with Bill that tattoos and piercings look ridiculous (not to mention painful) but there are many things acceptable by today’s fashion standards that I find ridiculous (I guess I’m just old).

    I had some experience with the cremation issue when I served as bishop. The stake president told me that it is based on local custom and law – some countries require cremation. But if someone is cremated in a city or state that allows burial I don’t think their salvation is in jeapordy.

    Comment by lamonte — January 31, 2007 @ 11:13 am

  13. If we took the counsel not to go to be angry, I would have missed a years worth of sleep….well, maybe not quite a year. Sometimes when feelings are strong or hurt it takes time to heal, or change. Sometimes when we have tried to resolve a situation and forced that resolution it has only escalated.

    We reserve the right to not like each other’s points of view without hating the person.

    Our temple covenants and commitments of love to each other have brought us thru many a disagreements.

    And, heaven forbid, our kids have even seen us argue/disagree…and they’ve seen us resolve it too.

    Comment by Don Clifton — January 31, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  14. …and I’m seriously psychologically damaged by it.

    Comment by Bret — January 31, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

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