In the comments of my recent post on the timing of the Second Coming, a Bloggernacle regular that goes by the handle Steve (FSF) made some interesting comments regarding the Word of Wisdom. Here they are:
The LDS church doesn’t even seriously try to spread the gospel in the most populous areas of the world. We put up ridiculous non-scriptural roadblocks like the WofW in the way of entrance into the Kingdom. How could the second coming be close when we aren’t seriously trying to do as commanded to spread the word in urgent preparation for it? The present non-urgent caretaker mode of our GAs is very telling…
…I know this is a tangent, but the WofW evolving into a requirement rather than remaining a good practice is a clear example of apostasy from which the church needs reform. Moreover, it’s only a portion of it that we require/emphasize. How come we can reform on Adam-G-d, King Follet sermon, etc, but we can’t fix this much bigger error that keeps believers out of the kingdom? Making the WofW a requirement has made it for us what circumcision and other Jewish good practices were for the early Christians before Paul reformed the church on those issues. Any arbitrary and questionable road blocks we place to entrance into the true church of JC is very serious matter that better have substantial foundation, purpose and rationale behind it. The WofW as a commandment doesn’t even come close.
I figured those comments deserved a response so rather than threadjack that post we’ll talk about it here.
First, let me point out the parts I sort of agree with. He makes a good point about how the emphasis on the Word of Wisdom has increased in the last 100 years or so. It is rather obvious even in the revelation itself that the Word of Wisdom is not an eternal principle. The scriptures are full of example of saints, prophets and even Jesus himself drinking alcoholic beverages (wine) for example. It is also worth considering that we only really emphasize a portion of the original revelation now anyway. The fact that section 89 doesn’t even claim to be a binding commandment makes Steve’s claims that we have gone overboard in emphasizing it as a Church at least worth looking at.
That said, I think most of the sentiments he expressed are misguided. I’ll try to respond to some of them topically.
Is our current emphasis on the WoW apostate?
I think the answer to this is an unequivocal “No”. The reason I believe this is because the very same keys that Joseph held when the original revelation was given have been passed down to all of his successors. The very authority that makes D&C 89 scripture was used by later prophets to tell the church that the ban on certain substances was no longer optional. Now whether God thought of that plan or his servants thought of it is moot because God backs up his servants. You don’t have to take my word on that though – you can verify that with God yourself.
Is placing barriers to entry into the church a bad thing?
I think Steve is completely missing the point with his complaints about barriers to baptism. There is nothing magical about baptism. It is a crucial ordinance to be sure, but the key to it all is sufficient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to lead to repentance and a willingness to take on covenants and obligations to be a real live saint and disciple of Christ. The Word of Wisdom is specifically adapted for the weakest of saints. If someone has not developed sufficient faith in Jesus Christ to change some habits that are physically bad for them anyway, what good would being baptized be to them? Joining the true church is not supposed to be easy. The real goal is to become exactly like Jesus Christ. If a person is not willing to deny some appetites up front that person is not ready to enter the gate anyway.
To put it more bluntly: God’s goal is not to get people baptized. God’s goal is to get people exalted. Barriers to being baptized will not keep anyone from being exalted. If a person can’t get past the easy hurdles up front then why join the true church? Why not stay in the minor leagues until they are ready to move up to the Bigs?
Reforming the King Follet Discourse?
I don’t know what Steve means with that. I consider the KFD one of the greatest and most enlightening sermons of all time. What has been reformed?
The present non-urgent caretaker mode of our GAs
What else are shepherds supposed to do while they await the return of the Good Shepherd?
Just a note to all: As far as I know Steve (FSF) is an active and faithful Latter Day Saint and his complaints are honest ones so please don’t bash him or anything. (And if you think he’s right don’t bash me either…) I just thought these were issues that were worthy of a response.