Monday, July 16, 2012

The Strong Need to Be Charitable Toward the Weak - in All Areas of Differing Strength

There is no way to know, unless someone explains, why someone follows the Word of Wisdom - whether it is out of strength or weakness - charity or necessity. I believe deeply that those who are strong in an area should exhibit that strength in meekness by not offending or risking harm to the weak - in areas that the strong don't see as critical to their eternal salvation.

I use the Word of Wisdom and the Sabbath as prime examples - and I am willing to bet that many members know they could be "responsible social drinkers" but don't drink socially in order to support the communal standard and avoid creating an environment in which the weak would become alcoholics or simply drink to excess. I believe anyone who follows the Word of Wisdom out of a sense of concern for the weak is exhibiting charity - and those who fight the Word of Wisdom SIMPLY because it is inconsequential to them are not being charitable in this regard.

I could say the exact same thing about taking an R-rated movie to a house where the people there abstain from watching such movies -- or serving pork to your Muslim friends -- or refusing to take off your shoes in the house of Japanese friends who follow that custom -- or serving Coke and Pepsi at a ward party in some units -- or wearing a french-cut bikini to a ward pool party -- or insisting on watching porn at almost any religious gathering - ad infinitum. I believe it is the responsibility of the strong to prove their strength by not flaunting it in front of the weak - no matter the level of their commitment to any religious organization. (I also will add that if someone can't do this with regard to a particular issue, perhaps they aren't as strong in that area as they believe.)

In the Bible, Paul urges members to establish their own moral compass internally - but then he says to respect the moral compasses that those around them have established, as well. Notice, he said that it is the responsibility of those who would partake to abstain with those who would abstain - not that those who would abstain should partake with those who would partake. That is an important distinction in Paul's words - that the strong need to sacrifce for the weak, not the other way around.


ji said...

One can read Paul's thoughts on this important matter in Romans Chapter 14 -- very powerful teachings that should be read and pondered by every Christian. I hope I never put a stumbling block in front of my neighbor.

Matthew said...

I agree to a large extent, but (and I think I have said this before), it is a two way street: If we really believe in eternal progression, then we need to be improving our weaknesses all the time. It can very easily become a case of the weak holding the strong hostage (women not being permitted to go out in public without a male relative, for example) because the weak refuse to learn, grow, or be willing to look at other viewpoints. (And since we all have both weaknesses and strengths, I apply this to everyone, myself included.)

There is a place for correction and teaching in all this, I think. I also think that there are ways to make the point about some of the things that we idolize without being a jerk about it - particularly with regard to fighting the irrelevancies. The more we engage adversarially, the more relevant we make them appear.

Papa D said...

ji, I really like that part of Paul's writings. It truly is profound.

Matthew, I also agree that we need to be trying to change and grow (repent) - that we can't just rely on the strong in areas where we are weak, and I really like the point of your last paragraph.