Can you be in good standing in the LDS church and ___________?


There seems to be a lot of confusion out there whether it’s cultural or doctrinal.  Is it against the church to do this or to drink that?  I write this simply to get discussion going.  I understand that we are agents unto ourselves and make decisions based on how we choose to live the gospel but I think it’ll be beneficial when discussion is started to better understand each other. At the same time upholding doctrine and practices are key in living the Gospel.  So here it goes.

Can you be in good standing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and:

1) Read anti-Mormon literature

“Knowledge is power” is one of my favorite quotes by the Prophet Joseph Smith. It’s certainly necessary to have knowledge for one cannot be saved in ignorance.  But anti-Mormon, deep doctrine in my opinion doesn’t bring us closer to Christ.  I’m not saying you wouldn’t be in good standing if you do, but it’s certainly dangerous.  Anyone?

2) Have a tattoo

This one shouldn’t be too difficult but I still think it’s important to address.  I know many people who have tattoos and are in good standing in the church.  It’s not one of the temple worthiness questions.  So where did the idea that Mormons can’t have tattoos come from? Well Latter-Day Prophets strongly discourage tattooing of the body.  So from what I understand it’s more of an encouragement not to get one, rather than a more strict guideline such as not consuming alcohol or coffee.  Thoughts?

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3) Ingest Caffeine

This seems more for those not of our faith and even some within, but the intake of caffeine is a personal choice.   In the 1996 General Conference talk, “The Word of Wisdom: The Principle and the Promises,”There are many habit-forming, addictive things that one can drink or chew or inhale or inject which injure both body and spirit which are not mentioned in the revelation. Obedience to counsel will keep you on the safe side of life.” We should evaluate ourselves and ask I am addicted? Do I have to drink energy drinks or soda to keep me awake? Do I rely on them to keep my mind going? To simply state, there is no restriction on caffeine. It is a personal choice.

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4) Have same-sex attraction

From Handbook 2, 21.4.6 it states,

“While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.

If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances.”

The behavior is contrary to the law of chastity.  The thoughts are unrighteous. But those who do have same gender attraction are in good standing and may enter the holy temple if worthy.

5) Support Ordain Women

For Those that don’t know, Ordain Women is a group that is fighting for the women’s right to the priesthood.  They use social pressure to attempt to sway the Church’s stance on who can hold the Priesthood. Questioning is not a problem, but disrupting general conference and speaking against the church IS a problem. Kate Kelly the founder of OW was even excommunicated.

blasphemy

What do YOU think?

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12 thoughts on “Can you be in good standing in the LDS church and ___________?

  1. My daughter and son in law have tatoos and I have one question that all shoukd think about………..would rather have your family member close and beable to see them and know they are there with you. Or push them away because you dont like what presenting and doing to there PERSONAL body.
    GOD had said ….judge not that ye be judge….. so please think about your family and friends before you jump and judge to fast.

    “TO EACH HIS OWN”

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  2. I would like to address the tattoos.. I feel its a very personal thing to get a tattoo. tattoos go way back and in most countries its a culture belief to have a tattoo.. many feel the need to express themselves in different ways .. its not just the way Mormons disbelieve , but also how many faiths disbelieve.. I myself see it as a way to express.. I know many with tattoos, some are beautiful some are a little much. although its not my call or anyone elses to judge!

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  3. When resurrected will a tattoo still be there? If it is gone will people run to the celestial tattoo parlor to re-ink the tattoo that was lost? A tattoo on a perfect celestial body? Now that being said, that’s my personal opinion and I don’t think anyone should have to live to be worthy of my opinions. Unless someone has something like two people copulating tattooed on their forehead I think tattoos and temple worthiness should have nothing to do with each other.

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    • I enjoyed your thoughts! But don’t worry tats and temple worthiness do have NOTHING to do with each other, and serving a Senior Couple Mission in a hot climate (one of the 108 missions just listed where Elders no longer having to bring a suit even to the MTC) I have seen Missionaries on P-Day with tats. Although they do need to cover them up when teaching, So if they are on their forearms they do have to wear long sleeve white shirts. The Church employed facilities manager where we serve does have some tats. He has been working for the Church for many years, will probably retire next year.

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  4. One of the largest, if not THE largest anti-Mormon collections is in the Harold B. Lee library at BYU. Yes you can be in good standing and read anti-Mormon literature. My problem with reading it is that I tend to get angry when I read Anti-Mormon lit because I know and understand the strategies they use. One example is they will get their information from open sources, such as articles in the Ensign from the 1970’s (Polygamy) and then claim that because the Church leaders don’t discuss it every Sunday in Church they are “hiding the truth.” But we all know where the spirit of contention comes from. So while I agree knowledge is power, is the “knowledge” we get from Anti-Mormon Lit, really power or is it just the philosophies of man masquerading as something of worth?

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  5. As for tatoos, I do not think if you have One or if you have many that you will not be welcomed in the church, however, in President Gordon B Hinckley’s talk in the January 2001 Ensign First Presidency Message, his specific words are “avoid it”. If the Savior himself came and said avoid it, would we think that it was ok?

    As for caffeine, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote in his book “Mormon Doctrine” in which book is used as a guideline for Mormons and their teachings and beliefs that caffeine and cola drinks are indeed against the word of wisdom.

    The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and just because man decides to make his laws seem like they are insignificant does not mean that they are.

    I have children with tattoos and that drink caffeine and substances that are not appropriate and I love them still just as the Lord loves us. This still does not make it ok to justify anything.

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    • Let’s not forget, though, that Mormon Doctrine is not an official publication of the Church outlining official Church stances on all those doctrines. It is simply Bruce R. McConkie’s personal understanding of and opinion about them. It is his opinion that “caffeine and cola drinks are indeed against the word of wisdom [sic],” but that is not the official stance of the Church.

      I am not arguing that it is or isn’t against the Word of Wisdom, just that the teachings in Mormon Doctrine are beliefs of one man, not the official doctrine of the Church. If it was specifically against the Word of Wisdom, I believe the Sunday School manuals and lessons we all learn would teach that. It’s between you and the Lord – that’s why it’s left open to interpretation.

      I personally believe that caffeine CAN BE against the Word of Wisdom, but is not INHERENTLY against it. I believe it’s all in how you use it. If you take Excedrin (one pill has more caffeine than a can of Mountain Dew) for a headache every once in a while, does that make you unworthy to go to the temple? I personally don’t believe it does. If you down energy drinks every day because you don’t function properly without them anymore due to addiction, does THAT make you unworthy? Maybe.

      Again, I believe it’s between you and the Lord, and we are not in a position to be able to accurately or righteously judge another person’s interpretation of it unless it actually contradicts prophetic revelation. Do I think you’re wrong since my opinion is different than yours? No, I think since you believe that, that it is wrong for you and you would become unworthy by going against that belief, even though someone else may not become unworthy by doing the exact same thing.

      To sum up, not every rule/guideline/restriction applies to every person in exactly the same way. Many do, but not all. I believe we need to be careful in applying our interpretation of things to other people, especially if that application makes them lower in our sight.

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  6. we all have choices to make that’s why we came here. if you want to do what the prophets have said then do it if you don’t is that the best choice? all our levels of knowledge in the church vary but the answers are everywhere we have scripture, the holy ghost, and the prophets if we want to obtain celestial glory i don’t think we have room to live for ourselves. life really isn’t about us that’s why i absolutely hate this generation it’s about the lord. Are you going to be the best representation of the lord? Are you going to be valiant in your testimony? i don’t think there’s much room for error when we’re not valient in our testimony. there’s a place for everyone-don’t sell yourselves short.

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  7. (I hope that this doesn’t sound “high and mighty,” because I don’t want to be judgemental. I have struggles with temptation, just like anyone else. During my life, however, I’ve found some answers that have helped me, and I want to share.)

    During monthly zone meetings with my Mission President, he’d always open the discussion for questions. There was a lot of “Is it against mission rules to______?” I noticed that he always said the same thing: “Use your best judgement, Elder.” He trusted us to seek for answers and do the right thing, and repent when we messed up.

    Through those meetings, I learned that I need to ask MYSELF whether or not it’s a good idea. Then I need to ask God if it’s okay with him. (D&C 9:8-9). God doesn’t spell out everything, because He trusts our judgement and wants us to decide for ourselves. (Mosiah 4:29-30).

    Most likely, none of the things listed here would affect your membership in the church. But if they lead to addictions, the spirit of apostacy, or breaking your sacred covenants, they will become MAJOR problems. I think that “Can I be a good member of the Church if I _____” is not the right question. I think maybe we should ask “If I _______, where will it lead me, and what may be the consequences?”

    Just my opinion- I hope it doesn’t offend.

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  8. People with tattoos who are becoming members cannot help what was already in place before they converted so that’s one thing, However, the person who is ‘born again’ is spiritual man, regenerated from the man who lives after the manner of the flesh and so has gone beyond the need to “improve” on God’s work, both spiritually and physically. The person who is ‘born of the water and of the Spirit’ has reconciled their will to God in all things. The human body needs no embellishment of its beauty and in my opinion, based on what I’ve seen, there is no tattoo I have ever seen that did not take away from the beauty of the body it was on. If our bodies needed the embellishment of tattoos to make them more beautiful, I would think an all-wise Creator would have provided it. But its clear He hasn’t. Engravings on gold plates is one thing. Engravings in living flesh is quite another.

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  9. Matteo!

    I told you I would respond to your blog so here it is, hopefully it is good for continuing a conversation and I am interested to hear yours and others thoughts. I only wanted to expound on anti Mormon literature and I got off the topic of good standing because I think you can be in good standing. I just wanted to provide a more nuanced idea of what anti-Mormon lit is and see if it resonates with anyone or if anyone as other ideas and thoughts on the subject. Once again though, great blog and this isn’t meant to be critical I swear! Ha.

    First, I think Joseph would have loved school house rock because they also believe that “knowledge is power”! Alright for reals though…

    Topic number one: “anti-Mormon” literature…

    I feel that I need to place the term “anti-Mormon” in quotes as a precursor to a discussion on this topic. I will start with the obvious… there is literature out there that is very blatantly aimed at disrupting/challenging ones testimony. This literature may contain many valid statements but also might quote d&c 184 (I’ve seen that before). Some literature may be purely vitriolic and only aim to demean believers and/or leaders, and can be full of accusatory statements, anger, and errors. I feel like this is the most common definition of what is thought of as anti-Mormon literature.

    Different view of anti-Mormon literature: In my experience I have read many statements and revelations from past prophets, Joseph smith, Brigham young, Gordon hinckley, etc., and when discussing them with members have been told that what I read was anti-Mormon literature or had been misconstrued and/or misquoted for the purpose of bringing down the faith. In these instances I was reading from the journal of discourses, general conference addresses, and at times biographies of these leaders as published by the church or Deseret book (I know that biographies aren’t the best source). The same has been said to me about things that I have discussed from recent church essays. Because of this I feel like “anti-Mormon” literature/information in some cases may be more of an accusation made by someone about information that may have been previously unknown to them or that might contradict or challenge their previous understanding of church policy or doctrine. In these instances I feel like the member labels the new information as “anti-Mormon” as a way for them to protect themselves from having to research or come to grips with the fact that there are “issues” in both doctrine, culture, and policy that need to be, or have been dealt with. I think it is also used as a label that provides fear of any literature that may present information on the church that does not support the churches truth claims, even if the statements, quotes, and information is objectively verifiable.

    Following that train of thought, it really interests me that you equated anti-Mormon literature with “deep doctrine”. It’s also intriguing that you stated that deep doctrine could be dangerous. I feel like if the doctrine truly is from God, and has been given to us through a prophet, then one should not worry if it will hurt their testimonies. I mean are we just supposed to all go to primary and gospel principles our whole lives and make sure that we only read the scriptures on a surface level? (Although I would be down for the treats you get in primary, or heck nursery for sure, graham crackers and milk for days). Are the “revelations” that God has given to his children going to hurt Them and their faith and push them farther away from Him if he really is the origin from which they came? Should people avoid searching for answers to their deep heartfelt concerns about race, sexuality, polygamy, priesthood, the kingdoms of glory, revelation, ect., as it had been revealed by “God” out of fear of what they might find? I agree that people can’t be saved in ignorance and that maybe people should take time to go slowly through the material/”deep doctrine” so they can digest it well instead of being consumed by all the new things they may be learning, but I that feel to preach that it is “certainly dangerous” is only perpetuating the fear of searching and studying the doctrine. It may also dissuade people from even contemplating it as well. Another possibility is that those who read and study “deep doctrine” may labeled as radicals or on the edge of losing there testimonies, heck or even as anti Mormons if judged harshly.

    Anyways, there is that point and then you and I discussed my feelings on the label “same sex attraction” so I won’t go there in depth in this comment.

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  10. For those think they reading anti-mormon material to learn how to “defend” the Church, please know that reading from the Holy Scriptures will do a much better job of preparing you to defend the Church of Jesus Christ. It will be His spirit that can testify of what you can do.

    For those who really think that pushing to get women ordained is a good idea, perhaps you need to rethink your vows in the Holy Temple. if you have been there. The Atonement works, when you believe Jesus Christ. When we try to change God’s mind, we have been tricked and need to repent quickly.

    As for “deep doctrine”. You only obtain what you are worthy to receive. Stop pushing the cause, and get back in the boat. None of us want you to drown. God can only help when you do what you are to do. If you are not comfortable reading, then don’t read. But if you want to know what God thinks, then you need to read and listen to what our prophets are telling you.

    I have heard too many people who are members of the Church say, “I am not going to do that. It would take away my free agency.” Get serious people. Your agency was sure not free.

    Just my 2 cents.

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