Thursday, October 3, 2013

Being My Own Unique Self by Conforming to Communal Norms

Romans 14:13-21 says:

13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense.
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Applying this to myself in my own time and life, I am Mormon - and I agree completely with the apostle, Paul, that the each single detail of the Word of Wisdom isn't all that important to me, in and of itself. It's not central to the Gospel. However, it is central to the identity of LDS members and is very important to them. Thus, I am fine with the ideal being "adapted" to the "weakest of the weak" and not partaking personally of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, etc. Partaking simply isn't important enough to me to offend others and harm my relationship with them; worded conversely, my relationship with them is FAR more important than eating and drinking whatever I would if I lived as a hermit. I won't put food and drink above relationships, and there is no relationship benefit in my own life that will be better if I reject the Word of Wisdom - while there are lots of relationships in my own life that will be worse if I do that.

For me, it's that simple. Love beats physical pleasure and the need to make my own rules about such trivial things that have no bearing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Relative to this post, that means, at the most practical level, I am willing to "be myself" by conforming to this particular social marker - and I recognize the counter-intuitive nature of that statement. In this case, I express my agency by choosing to conform - and it's incredibly important to me, for myself, to make that gesture in support of others.

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