If a system of beliefs, morals, ethics is to be effective or meaningful in an individual’s life, it has to Start with a Basic understanding of good-bad, right-wrong concept(s).
If one starts with detailed instructions on specifics, people will undoubtably quibble about definitions, exceptions, etc. They will tend to hang onto leaders’ senses of right/wrong rather than develop (grow) their own values & sense of guidelines as to conduct & behavior. Leaders will quickly be lulled into micro-managing people’s situations, both as to the Concepts of right/wrong, and the petty details as to application in everyday experiences.
While it might be flattering & ego-building for leaders to have people clinging to them for guidance of each & every decision that people face, it soon becomes a burden (for both sides of the equation).
Over time, people’s ability to understand basic fundamentals of good-bad, right-wrong, will likely become eroded and may almost become negligible (case by case basis).
For example, Catholics in the US formerly had a prohibition regarding eating meat on Friday. I had some Catholic friends who would wait until just past 12:01 Saturday morning to have any meals that included meat… What did that teach? Did it teach ‘the spirit’ of any concept-principle, or just that people had to be living a minute-by-minute obedience? Jews, on the other hand, live their sabbath from sundown to sundown… there’s a small bit of built-in flexibility/ambiguity to the situation.
In this, the scriptures we have give us a lot of information, but (to some degree) they’re ‘hidden’ in a lot of the day-to-day things of life; some of these are of human origin, some from God.
Examples of Basics:
Don’t do anything that harms others: Stealing, Lying, Adultery, Murder.
Don’t do things that offend God: Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, honor the sabbath, don’t covet thy neighbor’s goods, etc.
Don’t do anything that harm others: “Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm.”
In all cases of right/wrong, God teaches principles-concepts. He gives us a pattern.
How we apply the pattern to our everyday lives ‘in the final analysis’ is… up to us individually.
LDS are taught that consuming ‘hot beverages’ (coffee & tea) are ‘against the word of wisdom’.
I remember that from my childhood.
Recently, however, some wrinkles have crept in: ‘the Devil’s in the Details’!
What about herb tea?
What about de-caf coffee?
What about iced tea (iced coffee)?
What about hot chocolate?
A long time ago, the FP sent out a letter saying (at least suggesting) that de-caf coffee was OK. Where’s that letter today? Has anyone else heard/seen it? Is it filed somewhere in the Bishop’s office where members (& visitors) can look it up to refresh their memories, help clear up any questions?
It seems like the letters from LDS leaders don’t have much of a shelf-life; they’re read Once in church, then they disappear into history. They aren’t accessible to members, we’re supposed to hear them ONCE, memorize them, (and pass them on to future generations?)
What’s up with THAT?
Any departure from basics is compounded in the LDS experience. Many, many cultural shadows exist in the presentation that reaches people (members & visitors) who attend SM, Sunday School, F&T mtg. etc.
One of my favorites (more historic now, but still has current application) is the practice that the LDS church had of forbidding females from wearing pants at church colleges. In the LDS centered communities where these were located, there was some overhang that private colleges & schools also copied that policy-practice.
Have the peripheral matters of faith or culture ‘officially’ become distractions?
Has LDS focus on minutia eroded the motivation – ability of members to develop a functioning sense of right-wrong?
It is my thought that the highly- complex & legalistic LDS presentation of things has reached the point of being harmful; in application if not facially.
How about…’teaching correct principles, letting the people govern themselves’?