Saturday, March 8, 2008

On Building Heges and Fences Around Laws

One of the things Latter-day Saints like to do is to build hedges or fences around laws. We don't watch R-rated movies, we don't date until we are 16. Mission rules are a good example of this and yes even the Honor Code. It is my personal opinion that these hedges or fences mirror those Laws of Moses that were given when the children of Israel were unready or unwilling to accept the law.

Is there something wrong with ALL R-rated movies? Of course not. Are some 16 year-olds emotionally mature enough to handle dating? Of course there are, there are many I think that are more mature than a lot of adults I know.

Interestingly enough when the current version of "For the Strength of Youth" was released R-rated movies was changed to movies that portray themes that are counter
to the gospel.

It has always amused me that BYU would have to rewrite the Honor Code to "make it more clear." What on earth is unclear about the fact that acting on urges is a sin and promoting anything that does encourage doing so is prohibited"

Notice I didn't even mention homosexuality here. I said urges and sin. I think that general statement applies to anything that would lead to sin. Lets change the word urge to temptations. Are there some temptations that we feel we can handle? That general statement should eliminate the specificness that should ALREADY be understood if you understand the Gospel. Avoid temptations that lead to fueling urges that lead to acting on sins. That's pretty simple. But isn't that what they taught us in Primary?

Do I need the church to rewrite the commandments so that I know the letter of the law when I attend a non church school? I would think those blessed enough to attend BYU on a sacred scholarship - BYU is funded by tithing, SHOULD be keenly aware of what is church doctrine. The spirit of the law should be what leads those students to want to be faithful and not look for loopholes. Many of those have served two years preaching this doctrine. Aren't these supposed to be the best and brightest young minds the church has brought up. Why does it need to be further clarified to them? Why do we need to build additional walls and hedges around laws that are already well established?

Or are we like the children of Israel, unready or perhaps unwilling to accept a law for what it is? Do we need the walls and hedges that often become substitute laws and often become what people feel is the law? If missionaries could be trusted to live the law I think except for a few circumstances there would be no need for mission rules. And I think most do. If a few BYU students would just accept the law they
wouldn't need to have the hedges or fences rebuild for them. Do we need to have the law rewritten so that it makes us feel better about ourselves? Why can't we just accept that certain things are sinful and just not do them?

It's the same with this pamphlet. We know what is and what isn't a sin. We really shouldn't have to have it spelled out for us. The Lord gives His children knowledge "line upon line, precept upon precept. What this tells me is that apparently the Church isn't ready for the whole law because we already have issues with the portions of the law that we already have and need these hedges and fences to
keep us from breaking it.


[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

It has always amused me that BYU would have to rewrite the Honor Code to "make it more clear." What on earth is unclear about the fact that acting on urges is a sin and promoting anything that does encourage doing so is prohibited


Because they were kicking people out and placing on "spiritual" or "moral" probation (or whatever they call it) simply for revealing that they were gay (or struggled with same-gender attractions if you prefer). Not because they were doing anything, breaking any commandment. Not only that but they would dicipline someone they only suspected - say if his roommate went to the honour code office and reported him as being "gay". This has happened to many, many people. In fact people have been excommunicated simply for having these feelings, not because they did anything.

That's why it need clarifying.

Not very funny if you ask me.

Not funny at all.


You know I've heard horror stories. But when you really look into them you find in almost every case these innocent victims aren't really as innocent as they seem. In almost all the cases they knew what they were doing was wrong and were upset that they got caught. Or even better since they no longer felt what they were doing was wrong they felt they should no longer be held accountable and that BYU had no right to ask them to follow something that they promised they would do.

I know of no cases where someone was kicked out because they were struggled unless they had fallen or had done something that really was an honor code violation and attempted to hide it.

At any rate the first few contacts with the Honor Code office are warning. If they person being contacted heeded the warning and didn't repeat the offense then they had nothing to worry about.

An no people are not excommunicated simply for having these feelings. They were excommunicated for acting on them or for expressing that these feelings are natural and God approved which goes against the gospel This is apostasy and that is grounds for excommunication.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

And have you looked into all of them? I'll admit I haven't, but I know of specific cases and specific people that were unjustly punished, not having done anything wrong. That can mean dismissal from the school or being put on probation because of suspected, but unproven allegations, or simply for being gay.

And Yes, people have been, though aren't anymore, excommunicated for identifying as "gay". This practise hadn't been done in some time, but it was once not unheard of.

That is why the change in language was both good and necessary.

Not only that, but there is little policy in place, though it is getting better, that clearly regulates what action the Honour code office/students' ecclesiastical leaders can or cannot take. Its very much on a case by case basis, with the same actions eliciting often very divergent responses.

A CROW'S VIEW said...

Do you mean not doing anything wrong in your opinion or in the opinion of the Church or the Honor Code office? Again I think the two hold vastly different opinions of what is and isn't wrong.

Again the first action the Honor Code office does is warn. If the warning is heeded then the problem is fixed. The problem is that those who do end up being punished resent the Honor Code for enforcing a Code that they had previously agreed in an interview with their bishop and by signing the document to live.

I think that you are using unverified stories as evidence is telling.

The specific cases that I know of in which action were taken, yes I'll admit that those people felt they were being treated unjustly. And yes their activist friends felt the same way. But if you removed the prejudice of friendship from the situation and looked at what they had done, which after they left BYU they finally owned up to and in some cases admitted doing far worse things, honestly their actions were worthy of the actions against them. What they were upset with was that they were caught.

As far as church discipline is concerned the requirements of justice do weigh in more depending on the covenants and promises you make. Those who have been through the temple are held to a higher standard because they have covenanted before God to keep those promises made their.

Every situation is unique and church discipline isn't punitive its restorative. It provides two things, one a chance to be released from the covenants that you made so that if you continue in your apostasy or sin you won't be held as accountable, which I believe is very merciful. Secondly if you choose to repent you can do so with a clean sleight, being rebabapstized and able to make new covenants. Its not a punishment. And lets face it. Those who are excommunicated have lost the Holy Ghost by their actions and not by any ecclesiastical action.

I think its very merciful and once we lose the pride associated to it and see it for what it is a blessing.