The CHI Says What?

By: hawkgrrrl
December 7, 2010

Today we have a joint post between jmb275 and Hawkgrrrl.

Now that the CHI (Church Handbook of Instruction v. 2) is published on lds.org, those members who have not previously read a copy of it may be surprised at a few of the instructions.  jmb275:  Previously, with only a select few having access to the whole manual, much of this was not common knowledge.  The only time you found out that the church even cared about it was if you actually went to the bishop and asked (and like we’ve said before, who would do that?).  But now it will become common knowledge that the church has an official position on a whole myriad of normal life minutia.  I wonder if some of these things may become a kind of righteousness measuring stick.  Hawkgrrrl:  I know there are a few things in there that when I first heard about them years ago, I thought, “Oh, there’s no way the handbook would be so specific.  After all, we’re not supposed to be commanded in all things.”  Then again, maybe we are.  Oopsie!

Here are a few things that might be a surprise (or maybe not), along with our discussion:

  1. Adoption and Foster Care -Members who are seeking to adopt children or provide foster care should strictly observe all legal requirements of the countries that are involved.  They are encouraged to work through licensed, authorized agencies. jmb275Ummm, what?  What spiritual value is there in this?  Was someone wondering whether or not they should obey the law and asked the church if it was okay to NOT obey the laws of the land? Hawkgrrrl: I have to guess the church made this stand because someone somewhere did something goofy in the name of the church.  Since the church runs a huge adoption agency, I guarantee you that’s what happened.  The church doesn’t want to be seen as buying & selling human flesh in disadvantaged countries.
  2. Autographs and Photographs of General Authorities and Area Seventies - Church members should not seek the autographs of General Authorities or Area Seventies…Doing so detracts from their sacred callings…” jmb275: The fact that this is a problem just kind of weirds me out.  They’re like rock stars!  Hawkgrrrl: What I don’t like about this one is the reason given, that it detracts from their callings.  How about the fact that if you do that, you’re kind of a nutjob, worshiping men instead of God or something like that.  Or maybe a simple “Get a life, people!”
  3. BibleThe most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical translation is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” jmb275IOW, we’re not interested in what the Bible REALLY said, we’re interested (like most religions, really) in whatever version supports what we’ve already concluded.  Because the entire field of biblical textual criticism is completely discounted in this one statement, literalists may feel justified in making pretty wild claims about how to interpret scripture that are universally contradicted by people who actually know what they are talking about. HawkgrrrlIt also seems a contradiction because BYU does use alternate texts in Bible courses.  But I will say, unless you are at least a novice Bible scholar, you probably don’t get much more “accuracy” from comparing texts, just different inaccuracies.  This statement implies that we study the scriptures to determine accuracy rather than to apply relevant principles, and the advised method of ascertaining translation accuracy is destined to fail (since known translation errors in the KJV are found in the BOM).
  4. Gambling and Lotteries - The Church opposes gambling in any form, including government-sponsored lotteries.” jmb275:  I must confess, I’m still a little perplexed why on earth we care so much about gambling.  I admit it’s stupid to do, but seriously, are we 5 years old? Hawkgrrrl:  Acting on faith could be considered a form of gambling. jmb275Insurance is definitely a form of gambling. HawkgrrrlSo is investing in the stock market.  Getting married, having kids, also gambling.  Some days, getting out of bed is a gamble.  So, we don’t really oppose gambling in “any” form.  Additionally, this one will be news to the stake presidents in Las Vegas who own casinos!  Or can you own an establishment, just not use it?
  5. Income taxesChurch members who refuse to file a tax return, pay required income taxes, or comply with a final judgment in a tax case are in direct conflict with the law and with the teachings of the Church. Such members may be ineligible for a temple recommend and should not be called to positions of principal responsibility in the Church. Members who are convicted of willfully violating tax laws are subject to Church discipline to the extent warranted by the circumstances.” jmb275: Why does the church feel the need to speak out on this?  I fail to see how the church and my taxes are linked together.  Hawkgrrrl:  Did someone do tax evasion on the basis of paying tithing?  Maybe we posthumously baptized Al Capone?  Is this to weed out really staunch libertarians?
  6. Internet -When carefully used, the Internet can help coordinate the work of the Church, strengthen faith, and minister to the needs of others. However, where feasible, members should ensure that electronic communication does not replace opportunities for in-person contact.” jmb275: Ummm, okay.  Thanks for the tip!  Hawkgrrrl:  This to me is another one of those grandpa moments, shaking one’s cane at new technology.  In my day, you had to walk over to talk to a friend, not pick up some newfangled telephone gadget!
  7. Members Use of Internet in Church CallingsIndividual members may create Web sites or blogs or make use of other appropriate Internet resources in their Church callings, provided they include a disclaimer such as “This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Members should also comply with the following guidelines:”…”2. The name and contact information of the member who is responsible for the Web site should be included.” jmb275: Wait, I have to list my name and contact information if I create a website that I use in my calling?  Weird.  No thanks.  Hawkgrrrl:  Are they getting flooded because Bro. Joe Blow’s cub scout troop 345 website has no contact info?  This one seems like another one of the Cider House Rules (see #19).
  8. Statements Attributed to Church LeadersFrom time to time, statements are circulated that are inaccurately attributed to leaders of the Church. Many such statements distort current Church teachings and are based on rumors and innuendos. They are never transmitted officially, but by word of mouth, e-mail, or other informal means. Church members should not teach or pass on such statements without verifying that they are from approved Church sources, such as official statements, communications, and publications.” jmb275That one is just funny!  I’m sure you heard plenty of quotes on you mission that were totally made up.  In my mission it was the one about all the spirits in heaven bowing down to those of us who lived when Pres. Hinckley was prophet.  This does need to be stamped out.  Hawkgrrrl:  Good luck, though, with stemming the tide of glurge, especially since the ones who can’t do a simple google search to see what’s what are unlikely to read the CHI.
  9. Temple Clothing and GarmentsThe garment is sacred and should be treated with respect at all times. Garments should be kept off the floor.” jmb275: I had heard this before by rumor, but I thought it was just a cultural thing.  Low and behold, we are commanded in where NOT to put our underwear! Hawkgrrrl:  Actually, IMO, garments or not, your underwear does not belong on the floor, mister!  Pick it up.  Take it to the hamper.  Put it in.
  10. CremationThe Church does not normally encourage cremation. The family of the deceased must decide whether the body should be cremated, taking into account any laws governing burial or cremation. In some countries, the law requires cremation. Where possible, the body of a deceased member who has been endowed should be dressed in temple clothing when it is cremated. A funeral service may be held jmb275: This is old news, but every time I read it I’m surprised that anyone even cares.  And I’m not going to be dressed in my temple clothing whether I’m buried or cremated.  I’m gonna go for jeans and a t-shirt.  Hawkgrrrl: This is a clarification from the old manual to include that some places require it by law.  When my mom first told me about it (because I said at one time that I wanted to be cremated), I specifically pointed out that it was a dumb rule because it’s against the law to bury in places where the waterline is too high.  She acknowledged that, but basically didn’t know what you would do if that was the case – ship the person’s body somewhere else?  Personally, I think this is all squeamishness.  Lots of people have died in fires and presumably will suffer no ill effects in the resurrection.  Dust vs. ashes – what’s the difference?  I think there’s also a belief that it’s disrespectful of the body, which isn’t how it’s viewed in cultures that do it.  Once you die, it’s all nasty business anyway.  Isn’t it disrespectful to let worms eat you?

  11. HypnosisMembers should not participate in hypnosis for purposes of demonstration or entertainment.” jmb275:  It’s probably good advice, but again, are we 5 years old?  Hawkgrrrl:  I gotta think this is because people might reveal temple secrets, show the garment or feel up their neighbor’s hot wife while “hypnotized.”
  12. Prolonging lifeWhen severe illness strikes, members should exercise faith in the Lord and seek competent medical assistance. However, when dying becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a purposeful part of eternal existence. Members should not feel obligated to extend mortal life by means that are unreasonable. ” jmb275:  I just think the language here is weird.  When dying is inevitable, I should view it as a blessing?  Has anyone at Church HQ actually had a loved one die?  My understanding is that few are prepared to view it as a blessing!  Hawkgrrrl:  Although I think there’s benefit in detachment, I do think this might sound tone-deaf to someone in the moment, depending on their frame of mind.  Surely, grieving is not a sin, adding insult to injury?  And don’t call me Shirley.
  13. Artificial InseminationThe Church strongly discourages artificial insemination using semen from anyone but the husband. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them. Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved. Single sisters who deliberately refuse to follow the counsel of Church leaders in this matter are subject to Church discipline.” jmb275If it’s really up to the judgment of the husband and wife, why bother saying anything? And I guess I just don’t understand the single sister clause unless it’s because the church supports a traditional family.  I mean do they discourage single sisters from adopting?  I don’t think so.  So why discourage this?  Not sure I follow, and church discipline is inevitable.  Pretty stiff consequence without a clear explanation.  Hawkgrrrl:  Actually, the church definitely discourages intentional single motherhood.   There are several admonishments in the CHI to specifically prohibit single sisters from choosing to become single parents.  This is the first.
  14. In Vitro FertilizationThe Church strongly discourages in vitro fertilization using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.” jmb275:  Ditto #13.  Hawkgrrrl:  Clearly this is alright if done via the Holy Ghost rather than just a doctor.  I actually believe this is a softening of prior policy.
  15. Occult Affiliation -Church members should not engage in any form of Satan worship or affiliate in any way with the occult. “Such activities are among the works of darkness spoken of in the scriptures. They are designed to destroy one’s faith in Christ, and will jeopardize the salvation of those who knowingly promote this wickedness. These things should not be pursued as games, be topics in Church meetings, or be delved into in private, personal conversations jmb275:  I think our worrying about satanic influence is a bit comical.  I don’t much buy into ghosts, evil spirits, ouji boards, etc.  Hawkgrrrl:  I don’t suppose it’s a very long distance from fearing Satan to worshiping him.  There’s also a lot of Satanic stuff that creeps into conservative Baptist towns.  Maybe it’s the other side of the same coin.  OTOH, are Satan worshippers likely deterred by this?  Are they scouring the CHI to know if Satan worship is OK?
  16. Single Expectant Parents -When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely due to age or other circumstances, the unmarried parents should be counseled to work with LDS Family Services to place the child for adoption, providing an opportunity for the baby to be sealed to temple-worthy parents. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses both the birth parents and the child in this life and in eternity.” jmb275:  I personally don’t see a problem with a more mature single woman keeping a baby.  Many single women want children, and between this, and the injunction against artificial insemination, what should a single sister do?  Remain non-married AND without children?  Ouch!!  Hawkgrrrl:  Perhaps the thinking is along these lines: 1) welfare drain, 2) do the same things that prevent a woman from marrying make her a less fit mother?
  17. Sperm DonationThe Church strongly discourages the donation of sperm.” jmb275:  Is it because porn is often used as a stimulus, or that masturbation is inevitable?  I’m assuming so (though it would be nice if it were stated).  Hawkgrrrl: I think it’s linked to the not knowing actual paternity of offspring (family sealing implications?) and your sperm being used by lesbians (okay, maybe I’m just making that last part up!)  Either way, it’s another strike against intentionally single mothers.
  18. Surrogate MotherhoodThe Church strongly discourages surrogate motherhood.” jmb275:
    I actually always thought this was a rather noble endeavor.  I think for some it could be very emotional, but some are probably capable of separating the issues and the fact that the egg and sperm aren’t their own or their husband’s.  Not sure on this.  Hawkgrrrl:  I think this is because of the legal issues that sometimes arise, and that it’s probably just ill-advised.  Either that or some might use it as a justification to “skip the middle man” and save money by just directly impregnating the surrogate.  (?)

  19. Surgical Sterilization (including vasectomy)The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.” HawkgrrrlIs being done having kids a medical condition?  The admonition to consult with your bishop is, IMO, an example of The Cider House Rules.  In that movie, there is a list of rules on the inside of the cabin, but none of the workers who bunk there can read.  I have to imagine there are very few members who would voluntarily consult with their bishop on whether or not to get a vasectomy.  In general, I think we should keep bishops out of our bedrooms.  They don’t want to be there anyway.

So, why are there such specific isntructions in there?  Some theories:

  • Holdover.  Some of these instructions are in there because they were in previous versions of the CHI.  In some cases, these have been updated; in other cases, they were just retained from the earlier version.
  • Global Church.  While some of these seem ridiculous in our US-centric view, they have far different implications in other areas of the world where abortion may be the most common form of birth control or where governments intervene in different ways than here.  Some of these guidelines only make sense in light of those differing cultures and regulations.
  • Somebody Somewhere Did Something Stupid.  Even if it’s pretty uncommon, the guidelines in here likely resulted from some action on the part of one or more members.  In fact, in a couple of cases, I could imagine very specific scenarios I was personally aware of where a member did something in violation of the guideline which had a detrimental impact to the church or was an example of a member trying to do an end-run around the church or a commandment for personal gain.

Here are some things we noticed weren’t included that (given the level of detail) perhaps could have been:

  • Overeating.  Surely gluttony is both unseemly and extremely common in the church.
  • Pyramid schemes.  Somebody save these people and their unwitting dupes from themselves.  (It is sort of alluded to in the instruction not to use the ward directory for non-church stuff).
  • Forwarding spam emails.  This should be added to the temple recommend questions.
  • Sharing pseudo-uplifting glurge in sacrament talks.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to enforce in some wards where members have a glurge addiction.
  • Being judgmental.  Wrinkling your nose in disdain when other people don’t obey the WoW, whether Mormon or not.  Similarly, if women have bare shoulders, members should not give them the “Slut!” stare of shame.  Ditto for men with facial hair. Or women for that matter.
  • Taking turns reading from the manual instead of actual lesson prep.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Attire for Dry Climates: Members in dry climates are encouraged to use sufficient moisturizer.  Members in sunny climates should use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and a hat as directed by their bishop.

Were there any instructions in the CHI that you found surprising?  Do you think these are necessary?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Discuss.

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90 Responses to The CHI Says What?

  1. Paul on December 7, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    My favorite thing in the new manual is support given to ward choirs. it tells bishops to discourage people from scheduling meetings during times that the ward choir is practicing. I am glad they stuck up for the ward choir director, who has no authority and must always spend social capital to keep a choir functioning.

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  2. Frecklefoot on December 7, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    I don’t think most of these directions are stupid or funny. Most of them seem like sound direction for Church leaders who are unsure about specific situations.

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  3. Last Lemming on December 7, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    Jeez, you guys (the original posters) are grumpy today.

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  4. Paul on December 7, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    I feel like I’ve been trapped on the last row of the classroom listening to the all-wise smart alecks. (Well, that’s a little harsher than I intended, since I’ve also been a smart aleck from time to time.)

    I think the other reason for these instructions is that bishops DO get asked and they need to know what to say. (That said, I do remember once several years ago that a friend who was a bishop mentioned he was considering getting a vasectomy. I referred him to his CHI, which he had not read on that subject. I have no idea what he decided to do in the end.)

    HG your comments on gambling are a little silly, don’t you think? Yes there is risk in our lives, but the “house” is not stacked against us as it is in lotteries and gambling. (Back row failed here, I think.)

    On income taxes, I seem to recall some goofs in Idaho or somewhere who were refusing to pay taxes on religious grounds and writing that on their tax returns. I suspect the statement you cite protects the church (and maybe it’s tax exempt status) in such cases.

    As for internet use — it’s valuable to remember that not every member is online. I get frustrated when people in priesthood talk about emailing announcements and I wonder about our older members who don’t do online.

    On your #12 — this is certainly not a case for not grieving. I have lost both my parents and have found great comfort in this particular section. This gave my parents permission to have a living will and to die with dignity. And it freed me from believing that I was sinning by honoring my parents’ wishes not to be kept on life support. (Back row failed big time on this one.)

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  5. Mike S on December 7, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    I think this shows that the Church (read: institution) gets bugged a lot about a bunch of trivial things that we should really be determining for ourselves with study and prayer and reflection. And in many of these, while there are general recommendations made, ultimately it’s up to each individual in most cases.

    Out of the millions of people in the Church, there are always going to be a few who want to be told what to do in every area of their life. If enough of them ask “up the chain” about some of these trivial matters, there it goes in the manual.

    I am glad that they made it online, however. It takes away much of the mystique about everything. It would now be nice if they actually gave an accounting of their finances – although we’d all probably complain about that as well :-)

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  6. Mr Q&A on December 7, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    #8 “approved church sources” I think this has wider implications, as highlighted in a later paragraph in that same section that refers to “…Personal notes are for individual use only.” It seems to me that the leadership would like to distance it’s self from statements and talks that raise key issues, Mark E. Peterson comes to mind.

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  7. AndrewJDavis on December 7, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    Re: Comment #1:

    Alas Paul, that same comment was in the old manual. And was ignored by nearly all bishops and stake level people too.

    Re: Comment #4: about bishops getting asked…

    I think as with most things in the CHI like what jmb and Hawkgrrl bring up, we shouldn’t need to be commanded in all things. So, if the bishop is asked about something, he should simply quote them that verse from the D&C, coupled with the quote about not judging others (for when the next couple decides that they will get the vasectomy), and send them on their way. It would make life easier for the Bishop, and provide much more opportunities for growth, thinking, and learning to communicate with God if we would actually decide things on our own, and not make the church tell us every detail of our life. I would not have made a good jew…

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  8. Mr Q&A on December 7, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Additionally, I would go as far as to say that point: 21.1.33 Recording Talks, 21.1.39 Statements made & 21.1.40 Symposia, all show the GA’s distrust of Mormon “Studies”.

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  9. Andrew S on December 7, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    I think point 5 is inspired. Maybe that’s because I just got through with an extensive research project on tax protestor civil fraud penalties related to failure to file tax returns and pay taxes (in numerous ways)…and I’m glad to see that the church has vindicated me.

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  10. Matthew Chapman on December 7, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Original Posters:

    Yes, a lot of the stuff in the “CHI” is -duh- and Why Bother? kind of stuff. This is probably one reason that it used to go out only to higher-up leaders as a reference.

    [Bishop: Oh, Brother X, you say you think it is immoral to pay taxes? Let's see what the Handbook has to say about that...]

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  11. salt h2o on December 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    I agree with 4 as to the tone of this post and the spirit with which it was written.

    Sounds like you’re giving some non-paid clergy who’s doing the best they can given the circumstances an unwarranted hard time.

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  12. jks on December 7, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    It all seems good to me and appropriate for the church to teach these things.

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  13. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Wow, I’m a little surprised at the response here. But I guess I need not wonder why our country and church continue to curb our liberty every chance it gets. It’s the will of the people after all.

    I feel like I’ve been trapped on the last row of the classroom listening to the all-wise smart alecks. (Well, that’s a little harsher than I intended, since I’ve also been a smart aleck from time to time.)…I think the other reason for these instructions is that bishops DO get asked and they need to know what to say.

    Why do they need to know what to say? If your argument holds then the manual should have details for even MORE things (like were listed at the end of the post). How about the bishop saying something like “Go pray and read your scriptures and figure it out for yourself.” What would be the problem with that response? Why is that an unrealistic response for a church that prides itself on preaching personal revelation?

    I think this shows that the Church (read: institution) gets bugged a lot about a bunch of trivial things that we should really be determining for ourselves with study and prayer and reflection.

    And ultimately, this is what bothers me about the minute details in the CHI. Why is the natural response to being bugged about something to put a prescription in an official manual? Nearly every entity does this (gov’t, corporations, etc.) but I don’t see why.

    I think as with most things in the CHI like what jmb and Hawkgrrl bring up, we shouldn’t need to be commanded in all things. So, if the bishop is asked about something, he should simply quote them that verse from the D&C, coupled with the quote about not judging others (for when the next couple decides that they will get the vasectomy), and send them on their way.

    I’m glad someone got the message!

    Sounds like you’re giving some non-paid clergy who’s doing the best they can given the circumstances an unwarranted hard time.

    Whoa, back the truck up. Who are the un-paid clergy here? The GAs are paid (at least the ones ultimately responsible for this manual). But that’s hardly the point. The tone and spirit of the post is to question the wisdom of putting an official prescription to a plethora of normal, non-spiritual life issues while at the same time claiming that it is ultimately up to the individual.

    It all seems good to me and appropriate for the church to teach these things.

    You have shown my point brilliantly. The church DOESN’T teach these things. It’s in a manual for leaders and represent OFFICIAL responses and positions, not dictations or suggestions for members.

    Growing up in Utah I had numerous friends whose positions on such issues were shaped exactly according to what was in the CHI. The official position of the church quickly becomes a righteousness measuring stick (shoot even suggestions like one earring in ear becomes such). In Mormonism many of us cannot distinguish between opinion, suggestions, etc. and commandments, righteousness indicators, etc.

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  14. GBSmith on December 7, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    These points come as a result of being in a church where things are black and white and there’s an answer for every question as regards what is sin and what isn’t. People aren’t raised to decide for or trust themselves so they want validation from their bishop or some other official source. The stuff quoted in the CHI has been there going back probably 20+ years and will likely stay until people stop asking about it. Personally I think the best approach is one we took with my second mission president, BKP. He didn’t tell me, I didn’t ask.

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  15. cantinflas on December 7, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    The church policy on income tax and guns on church property both seem rooted in the risk-averse nature of accountants, lawyers and bureaucracies in general.

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  16. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    jmb275: Why does the church feel the need to speak out on this? I fail to see how the church and my taxes are linked together. Hawkgrrrl: Did someone do tax evasion on the basis of paying tithing? Maybe we posthumously baptized Al Capone? Is this to weed out really staunch libertarians?

    Maybe because we have had, from time to time, pretty large groups of members get involved in this sort of thing. When I was in law school, one of my professors who was also a regional representative went home one week-end to excommunicate a stake president and his followers on this issue.

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  17. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Members should not feel obligated to extend mortal life by means that are unreasonable.

    Amen.

    I’ll say, having buried three children and been through other losses, this did not strike me as tone deaf. Your mileage may vary.

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  18. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Single Expectant Parents – statistically, singles do much, much better, as do the children, when the children are placed for adoption.

    There were very strong cultural “rules” that were against adoption. This statement is meant to encourage people to do what is best for children who are having children. Think pregnant fourteen year old here, not thirty year old single sister.

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  19. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Before you decide that someone else is person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer

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  20. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    jmb275 — no need to get so defensive.

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  21. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    As the bastard child of once single-expectant mother, who had a myriad of options in the willing-to-adopt-temple-worthy-parents category, but chose to stick it out herself – I say {Expletive deleted} #16.

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  22. Paul on December 7, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    13: “Wow, I’m a little surprised at the response here. But I guess I need not wonder why our country and church continue to curb our liberty every chance it gets. It’s the will of the people after all.”

    How is the church curbing your liberty? Where whatever color shirt you want. Have a vasectomy if you like. If you worry about the judgement of your fellow members, then I’d say that’s you issue, not the church’s.

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  23. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Re #16 Stephen
    No doubt. I do not doubt there have been problems like this. Again, the question isn’t about whether or not this is wise counsel, the question is why speak out this particular topic? It IS disturbing to me to think that if I don’t pay my taxes I could be ex’d. Isn’t it the gov’t's job to worry about that? Why not condemn illegal aliens as well? Could we not claim they are in violation of the laws of the land and in direct conflict with the teachings of the church? Why not subject them to church discipline? As a church, if we “turn the other cheek” to illegal aliens could we not be accused of enabling them? I’m sure it’s more nuanced than this, but if we’re really talking about obeying the laws of the land, then…

    Re #17

    I’ll say, having buried three children and been through other losses, this did not strike me as tone deaf. Your mileage may vary.

    I don’t want to appear insensitive. I can only imagine what it must be like. I recently read WVS story at BCC about his own child dying (found here). My understanding from the comments on those threads is that church teachings offer little in the way of comfort, particularly in the short term aftermath of the event. However, Stephen, my question is, why did that bring you comfort? Surely you did not need the CHI to tell you that? Surely you could have come that conclusion on your own? Is it the validation from something you believe in that provides comforts?

    Again, my question is WHY do we need validation, or direction on such matters? Is personal revelation insufficient (it better not be since that’s the basis on which one builds a testimony)?

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  24. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    The Church’s tax policy ought to be as simple as the 12th article of faith. If there were problems in the past, the Church should simply state a position that it encourages members to be law abiding and offers no tax advice members, period. Every other policy that get’s outside of the domain of Church membership she be answered with “no-comment”. Yes, some members are all too eager to get council, but by the looks of things, the Church also seems all too eager to provide council. All of the various fertilization and adoption practices should be strictly a matter between couples. Counciling with a Bishop before getting a vasectomy is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. As a good Mormon I should have to get permission from my neighbor to get a vasectomy – give me a break!

    Gambling – I don’t get it either way. I don’t get why people go to professional gaming establishments to give away their hard earned money, and I don’t get what problem the Church has with a group of people socializing over a game of cards with a $50 jackpot that collectively is cheaper than an evening of fine dining. However, there is a difference (as has been pointed out) between gambling and risk. Gambling is competetive and produces no real output. Investment in the stock market theoretically fuels business, and allows investors and the companies they back, again theoretically, to share in the return. Each are concerned with the same outcome. Each are theoretically interested in delivery a profitable service or good that improves some aspect of business or life. Gambling satisfies no productive ends.

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  25. brjones on December 7, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    #22 – Sure Paul. Following our rules is the ONLY way to get to heaven, but you do what you want.

    I wonder why people even worry about this stuff at all.

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  26. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Re Paul

    How is the church curbing your liberty? Where whatever color shirt you want. Have a vasectomy if you like. If you worry about the judgement of your fellow members, then I’d say that’s you issue, not the church’s.

    I knew someone would call me on that. We need not get into the details of organization, and cultural coercion, but even cults will say “how is the church curbing your liberty” while simultaneously encouraging a culture that condemns apostates, sets absurd rules, and demands obedience. I’m NOT saying the church is a cult, but this is a sliding scale, and just about every organization does this at some level. When one is born into a culture and part of an organization, social coercion plays a HUGE role in our behavior. You’re right it IS certainly different than civil law, but it can still play a very powerful role in our lives.

    And it’s ridiculous to say it’s MY problem that I’m worried about being judged. Have you ever lived in Utah county? Try to imagine what it might be like to have EVERY ONE of your neighbors and associates judge ill of you. It happens!

    Re Stephen

    jmb275 — no need to get so defensive.

    I’m not getting defensive…oh wait. Point taken.

    The post was not meant to be mean spirited, nor to suggest there aren’t good reasons for these things. It was meant to (using a bit of humor) prompt thinking as to whether or not these things SHOULD be in the manual, and what role they will play in our culture. The gov’t has great reasons for making all the laws it makes as well, but at some point they start to be a burden and limit our liberty.

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  27. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Re Cowboy

    As the bastard child of once single-expectant mother, who had a myriad of options in the willing-to-adopt-temple-worthy-parents category, but chose to stick it out herself – I say {Expletive deleted} #16.

    I am good friends with a young woman who chose to stick it out herself. I was in high school at the time, and I recall many judging her poorly (myself included). I feel very sad that I was so pathetic at the time. I think it VERY courageous to take either route.

    Oh, and I agree completely with your #24. Summarizes my view nicely. (obviously the gambling part was tongue-in-cheek in the original post).

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  28. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    jmb275 — I said it wasn’t tone deaf, not that it provided any lessening of grief.

    Surely you did not need the CHI to tell you that? — surely I did not even know the CHI said that. On the other hand, many people have a very difficult time with older persons not “doing things to them” rather than “doing things for them” (which is the dividing line on medical care, when it is “to” rather than “for”) and this section seems to help them.

    As to tax evasion being a felony of moral turpitude, a lot of people think that it is not. The same is not true of other felonies of moral turpitude. If it were not an enduring issue, they would not need to address it, perhaps.

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  29. salt h2o on December 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    This may be totally irrelivant but what the hell- I feel like sharing.

    A very good friend of mine while in YW was told in terms of morality ‘draw your own line’ she was never told where the line was, she asked and no one would tell her, so she drew her own line. It wasn’t until she was in a ward at BYU and it was spelled out for her what ‘The Line’ is that she realized she had crossed it unintentially.

    Was she stupid? Uninspired? Was she a mindless sheep? Could she find the answer in the scriptures? What about the leaders? Why didn’t they tell this beautiful 14 year old where the line was? Maybe they expected her to rely on personal revelation- get her answer for herself, she’d believe in it more.
    To answer jmb’s question: Is personal inspiration insufficent? For some, yes it is.

    Those that constructed this post are inadvertantly placing judgement on anyone that has needed the CHI to assist with these issues. Mock them as you may, these instructions were created for specific situations or specific people- obviously not for you. Strangely not all members are as brilliant as you two, nor do they have the same needs. If they don’t apply to you, for the love of Pete then don’t live them.

    The authors of this post are surprised that the Church cares about certain issues- I’m surprised the authors care about the handbook! If someone uses it as their measuring stick of righteousness because they’re in Utah and clueless- big freakin’ deal, how does that affect you? It’s their bag, not yours.

    I am grateful for this post in one regard; I wouldn’t have ever read the CHI myself and I’ve been telling my husband for 5 years to keep his underwear off the floor, now I have proof that I am indeed more righteous than him.

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  30. mh on December 7, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    to some degree, I think part of the reason the church takes a stand on so many things is the litigious society we live in. let me share a non-church ridiculous example.

    a few years ago, a student was cheating on a math test in my class. being a new teacher at the local community college, I asked the dept chair how to handle the situation. to my surprise, he asked if I had a cheating policy in my syllabus. I did not know, because I had simply copied the standard dept syllabus. lucky for me, there was a mention that cheating is not allowed. had it not been in my syllabus, I could have done nothing.

    so that is why there are some really silly things in the chi. I mean if I really have to write ‘cheating is not allowed in my class’ in order to enforce a cheating policy, I think that explains why the church feels the need to spell out everything. I guess we can blame some of this on the lawyers. (sorry steve.) :)

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  31. Alice on December 7, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    I think #12 is just saying, that end of life care can be really expensive, and emotional, so we shouldn’t feel guilty if we don’t go to extreme lengths to prolong a life that isn’t going to be quality life anyway.

    It’s okay to let people go when it’s their time.

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  32. Alice on December 7, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    With #19, having more children (I have 4) would seriously jeopardize my mental and emotional health. I just can’t do it again (though we have though about adopting).

    Continuing to take hormonal birth control isn’t so healthy either, so my Mister and I figure it’s his turn.

    It’s something that ought to be decided prayerfully, but I don’t feel the need to discuss it with my bishop. Maybe if I felt conflicted about it?

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  33. Tom on December 7, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    I enjoyed this, FWIW, and agree with the underlying premise. On the one hand we openly profess that we shouldn’t be commanded in all things, but then we turn around every time we’re faced with a problem and ask our “spiritual advisors” (church “leaders” – I don’t agree with the “advisors” label, but I’ve heard it more than once) for advice and counsel on what to do.

    Too many bishops (IMO) look to the handbook in all things (personal experience). I quite like what Toscano stated in his interview with Mormon Stories (part 81 – listen to the fist 10 minutes or so) about teaching morality from church pulpits. He feels (or perhaps felt at the time of the interview) that “morality is the enemy of religion.”

    “Morality is the enemy of religion. The more you talk about morality the more people sink into despair. … the more you judge, the more they sense you’re judging them. The more they’re always measuring themselves against what they think are other people’s expectations. The more despair they get – except for the real dumb people of the church who believe they’re living up to these moral standards and they become arrogant. So you generate a syndrome of arrogance and despair from which there is absolutely no escape, except the gospel of Jesus Christ … ” – Paul Toscano

    Worth the listen, if only for a different perspective.

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  34. Jeff Spector on December 7, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    I just love this post and the point-counterpoint. In here we find out just how liberal JMB really is!

    I have to agree that with most of these things, they are for adults to decide and perhaps use the Spirit as their guide rather than the handbook. But somewhere the questions was asked enough times, not just by members, but by leadership as well.

    As for the tax evasion stuff, I believe they call that “stealing.” It is one of the ten commandment even if the IRS code is not specifically included.

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  35. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Assuming the authority to judge what qualifies a person for heaven vs what “don’t”, turns out to be a bigger pill than most are able to swallow. Over the weekend my wife and I watched The Invention of Lying, which depicts this very thing quite well. Essentially the lead character fraudently asserts to know what happens when we die. It started as an innocent effort to console his dying mother, but ultimately explodes into world-wide movement. He tells the world that in order to get into heaven, a person must be “good” or do “good things”. Thinking that this should be enough, he finds he has opened a whole can of worms, when many in society, rightly press upon him to know EXACTLY what they need to do. Ultimately he finds out that the issues are much more complex and nuanced then his simple theology can account for. He then fabricates a three-strikes rule where a person can do three “bad things” and still get into heaven.

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  36. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    “I have to agree that with most of these things, they are for adults to decide and perhaps use the Spirit as their guide rather than the handbook.”

    I love the inherent dissonance here. If we assume that the Spirit had any influence on the CHI, why would we expect a different spiritual response? And if that happens, what are we to conclude? If the the answer to an issue is situationally dependant then why do we have such strongly worded positions from the CHI, such as:

    “The Church strongly discourages in vitro fertilization using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.”

    I don’t read anything in here that suggests there may be exceptions to what the Church discourages, just they won’t punish non-compliance ecclesiastically. Instead they leave it with an ominous “so-be-it-on-your-head” kind of warning. If the spirit guides a couple not to comply, where was the spirit when the Brethren got their strong distaste for the issue? If there are no exceptions then why leave the issue ultimately as a personal matter between the couple? If the answer to that is free-agency, then why not provide that clause on every Hand-Book parameter, or omit on every parameter?

    It sounds cut-and-dried to say something like “just follow the spirit”, but seeing as how the Church wrote a multi-volume book on membership policies, it just isn’t that simple.

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  37. Paul on December 7, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    #36: I think there’s another way of thinking about this. Rather than assuming that the church is just too anxious to dictate every jot and tittle of our lives, perhaps instead they hope to outline practices which are based upon principles that are based upon doctrines of the church.

    In the case you cite, the church has been pretty clear about the improtance of families, and that importance is reinforced throughout Handbook #2.

    Growing out of that doctrine comes the princple of the importance of traditional families and the relative likelihood that those will be better than alternatives. It does not mean alternatives won’t work, but that all else being equal, the traditional family is preserved.

    In that light, a couple with a non-fertile husband decides they’d like to have a baby. Their desire is strong and they see no reason not to proceed. This guidance makes clear that despite their departure from a traidional road, they should not be subject to church discipline or judgement.

    If the decision rests solely with the couple, then the bishop is not likely to receive inspiration on the correctness of their choice.

    This passage, then, protects the couple that chooses invitro using sperm or eggs from a donor from any sort of “behavior creep” in discipline.

    One might wonder why the church discourages this action. That might be a proper subject of contemplation for a couple facing this decision. But, again, the church leader using the manual is not given that answer, and a wise leader will not advance his own.

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  38. Jeff Spector on December 7, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    “I love the inherent dissonance here. If we assume that the Spirit had any influence on the CHI, why would we expect a different spiritual response?”

    It only says what it says, “The Church discourages….” So there is no dissonance there anymore than there is dissonance on anything that would not prompt official Church disciple. It is up to the individual to decide for themselves.

    That was made clear even to Adam and Eve.

    Some want to be led around by the nose on everything. Church advice is just that.

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  39. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Jeff – Adam and Eve were provided a choice with the expectation from a plan that necessitated them making the wrong choice. How does this compare?

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  40. jks on December 7, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    I think many of you are forgetting that there are converts, citizens of other countries, those who are less than average intelligence, and those without parents who have taught them basic things.
    I personally don’t want a bishop who gambles, donates sperm weekly, lets his BIL hypnotize him, attends his daughter’s occult Satan worshipping rituals, refuses to pay his taxes, and is paying some woman in India to have his baby. And if he starts a ward website, I would like someone’s contact info to be on there and someone taking responsibility for it.

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  41. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    “But, again, the church leader using the manual is not given that answer, and a wise leader will not advance his own.”

    With the couple remaining to either proceed in defiance towards a principle that has been “discouraged”, just not outlawed, with the expectation that “Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them”? And what responsibility is that? Responsibility for the baby, well duh! That seems a little too obvious to point out. Responsibility for knowing that the baby might not be an exact genetic match? Seem kind of obvious an moot, if we consider that in vitro is generally an expensive alternation for couples where “traditional” methods to breed your so-called “traditional” families (how far do you really want to take that topic?) haven’t panned favorably. I get the sense that the “responsibility” implied here is the accountability before God for engaging in a “discouraged” practice.

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  42. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    JKS – Are the Area Authorities who call dumb uneducated stake Presidents, who call even dumber and more neanderthal Bishops in this pre-historic mission field, also dumb and uneducated?

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  43. Jeff Spector on December 7, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    “Adam and Eve were provided a choice with the expectation from a plan that necessitated them making the wrong choice.”

    Did THEY know that?

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  44. John Swenson Harvey on December 7, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Volume 1 of CHI tends to be a lot more interesting. Since it has been a long time since I was either in a Bishopric or on the High Council I haven’t seen the latest versions but I’m guessing it still contains all of the nitty gritty stuff on actually running a ward or stake.

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  45. jks on December 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Cowboy, no. The Area Authorities call SPs and Bishops and tell them to read the CHI. It keeps individual wards from straying waaaayyyy too far from these policies and making up their own.
    Not only is it important what is in there, but also what is not in there.

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  46. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    Well, I guess I’ve lost this battle.

    In here we find out just how liberal JMB really is!

    I have no idea how to interpret this. Makes it feel like I have some sort of disease. What I find most remarkable is that there are comments on this blog where I’m called conservative, and ones I’m called liberal. Also not sure how the post makes me seem liberal. Maybe Jeff was joking? Not sure.

    Re salt h20

    Was she stupid? Uninspired? Was she a mindless sheep? Could she find the answer in the scriptures? What about the leaders?

    I absolutely do not see the relationship here. Chastity is pretty clear in this church. Particularly for the youth. Those are commandments. The stuff here, in the CHI, are NOT commandments.

    Those that constructed this post are inadvertantly placing judgement on anyone that has needed the CHI to assist with these issues.

    No, there’s no judgement here. We’re talking past each other. Okay, let’s start at the beginning. The church has commandments. Those are pretty clear. The church also has the CHI which has a lot of prescriptions on various topics and are NOT commandments. To those who need assistance with the issues that are NOT commandments, they should seek the spirit. Your example is flawed because chastity is a COMMANDMENT. There’s a huge difference between in vitro, and fornication. In vitro is a personal decision, you need not see your bishop for it, you need not wonder what the church’s official position is because it shouldn’t matter. What should matter is how the spirit directs.

    Strangely not all members are as brilliant as you two, nor do they have the same needs.

    This has nothing to do with brilliance. It has to do with seeking, searching, becoming more like our Heavenly Father. How can we become more like God if we look to our church leaders in every facet (non-commandment) of our lives? Not getting a vasectomy hardly progresses us toward godhood. But the PROCESS of figuring out what God’s will for us is on such an issue does progress us toward godhood. Having decisions made for us does not help anyone (past childhood anyway). It’s a crutch, an easy way out, and it abdicates personal responsibility (which is in direct opposition to church doctrine).

    I’m surprised the authors care about the handbook!

    Umm, I’m Mormon, and care about the church, why on earth wouldn’t I care about this handbook? I’m in the YM presidency and have a copy. Why wouldn’t I care?

    If someone uses it as their measuring stick of righteousness because they’re in Utah and clueless- big freakin’ deal, how does that affect you?

    I was born and raised in Utah, and the culture there has affected me profoundly. Most of the authors on this blog WERE NOT born and raised in Utah and have different views of the church. I know many many people who struggle mightily to fit in in Utah where their views are seen as heretical.

    I don’t understand your response. You’d think I was trying to tell you the BoM is a fraud and the church isn’t true. You claim to be a libertarian, and yet blow a gasket when I question the wisdom of more rules, more admonition. I have never met a libertarian who fought against the idea of having less intervention (in any part of their life, not just civilly).

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  47. Jared L. on December 7, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Gambling is an issue because it is nearly a direct opposite from living the United Order, which although we obviously don’t practice, it is still the ideal. When somebody wins a bet, it is at the expense of a brother.

    Is Vodou considered “Occult Affiliation?” http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/11/08/mormon-vodou/

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  48. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Re Jeff

    I have to agree that with most of these things, they are for adults to decide and perhaps use the Spirit as their guide rather than the handbook.

    Seems like we agree, so now I’m super confused.

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  49. Thomas on December 7, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I love Douglas Bader’s (famous double-amputee British aviator) line: “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”

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  50. Awwwshizzle on December 7, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    JMB….too bad you don’t get to decide what we dress you in when you die. ;)

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  51. Will on December 7, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Hawk/JMB:

    I liked the good cop/bad cop dialogue, you decided which is which. Gambling and Income taxes are the ones that struck me.
    Gambling is problematic or properly defined as gambling, when it is a zero sum game – one wins and the other loses. Investing, child rearing and insurance are not necessarily a zero sum game. In all of these, both parties can, and probably should, win.

    As for income taxes, I would settle for the statement “it is the churches opinion that governments the world over should keep their greasy paws off their citizens money. Governments the world over should follow the example of the church and have a flat tax of 10 percent to fund their operations. If they can’t live on 10 percent; then quit spending, especially on social programs”. If I were writing the policy (heaven forbid) that is what I would say.

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  52. jmb275 on December 7, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    JMB….too bad you don’t get to decide what we dress you in when you die.

    Oh SNAP! One of the disadvantages of being a corpse I suppose.

    Re Will
    As much as I agree with you on a flat tax rate and the gov’t having its greasy paws on my money, I would be concerned if the church said it in the handbook. Also, to many democrats the hallmark of gov’t is its ability and obligation to care for the poor. They see it as a moral imperative (even if they use force to achieve their goals).

    It’s interesting, so far on this thread alone there have been numerous guesses as to why gambling is problematic. I think the lack of a clear answer is very telling. While I agree it is different than insurance, etc. it has many similarities as well, particularly to term life insurance. You pay money each year for a payout you hope will occur if you die (of course you also hope to not die thereby hoping that you WILL in fact throw away tons of money wastefully). But the statistics, just like in gambling, favor the insurance company (that’s why term life is profitable and funds all the whole life insurance policies). To those who view gambling as nothing more than entertainment (not addicted), the comparison to term life insurance is even more startling. That is, you pay some amount of money in exchange for the thrill of hoping you MIGHT win (in term life you buy financial “security”). Either way the odds are stacked against you. While much of gambling is competitive, some isn’t (like slot machines). As in term life insurance there is no real output (unless you die).

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  53. Paul on December 7, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    52 – The insurance argument doesn’t work for me. I pay for my term insurance so that my family will be cared for in the event I die. There is no chance surrounding the payout. If I do my part (pay the premiums and then die) my family is paid. If I stop paying my premium, or if I don’t die, then I haven’t done my part.

    The payout in insurance is for my survivors, not for me. If I’m still around, I can provide for them and therefore do not need the payout. That’s generally why the accumulated policy payment is far less than the payout.

    In gambling the outcome is uncertain — I pay my money and who knows what will happen.

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  54. Stephen M (Ethesis) on December 7, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    You can always go to Albania for a low tax, libertarian paradise.

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  55. Tom on December 7, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    I think many of you are forgetting that there are converts, citizens of other countries, those who are less than average intelligence, and those without parents who have taught them basic things.

    Ah yes, the “they’re too stupid to know any better” argument. Sort of like when the church was restored and all of the members were new and stupid. Yet somehow, someway, they managed to supposedly see visions, receive the HG, etc. Oh, but wait, that thing about how the Holy Ghost will “teach [us] all things” has been replaced by the new and improved CHI, which now attempts to bring “all things to [our] remembrance. Is that correct?

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  56. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    “It’s interesting, so far on this thread alone there have been numerous guesses as to why gambling is problematic. I think the lack of a clear answer is very telling.”

    Are you kidding, the answer is and has been very clear consistently. Gambling is problematic because it’s an addiction, like eating or going to the bathroom.

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  57. Tom on December 7, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    P.S. Anybody who thinks they aren’t gambling when they “invest” in the stock market should share their foodstuffs, whatever they may be, with the rest of us. You need look no further than the high frequency trading outfits who run the show, or the insider class, or any number of variables to notice that the average investor (that, by definition, includes probably 99% of this audience, if not a full 100%) is playing against a stacked deck, if not worse.

    Sure, you can make a few dollars or more playing the game with your “retirement” funds (anyone read Luke 12:13-21 lately?), but the fact that you’ve made a few dollars doesn’t change the nature of the game.
    There are very few of us (myself included) who really understand the nature of the game. It may not be gambling in the same sense as sitting down at the roulette table, but don’t that that scale your eyes over to the facts of how Wall St. functions and operates.

    The credits to The Other Guys is actually worth your time.

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  58. Cowboy on December 7, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    Tom #55 – Interestingly, this is not a new argument. It was this very mentality that fueled the pre-reformation decisions to only allow the scriptures to be read in Latin.

    JMB275:
    I’m not so certain that the term life insurance works. I see it more as a socialist policy than anything else. Under a term life insurance policy, the policy holder is effecting a “transfer of risk” where for a small annual fee, their beneficiaries are protected against the loss of income and potential debt that could be incurred as result of the insured’s death. Statistically, if an insured’s risk of death has been properly underwritten, there somewhere in the neighborhood of a 2% risk of death which is spread among the premiums of hundreds or thousands of similarly situated policy holders. Provided that the policy paramaters due not invite adverse selection, the risk of death is shared by the entire group, each who pay relatively small premiums for this protection. For example, I have a 30 yr fixed term policy with a $500,000 death benefit, and pay 300 dollars per year. If I cary the policy the full thirty years without dying, this protection will have costed me a grand total of $9,000, or roughly 1.8% of the total risk transferred during a period of thirty years. When gambling in professional establishments, casino’s, etc, the odds are dramatically different and the trade of is zero-sum. I’ve never seen heard or read that term policies subsidize whole life policies. In fact, I would expect it to be the other way around as whole life policies, particularly variable products, accumulate cash value which can be a significant income source for insurers. They have been generally dis-advised by financial counselors/planners for the last fifteen years on principle of “buy term and invest the difference”. This strategy has generally proven to yield greater equity accumulation for policy holders because of the substantial differential in premiums between term and whole life, coupled with growth caps and limitations stipulated in whole life products.

    Gambling with friends is no different than couples game night, except it doesn’t have that stuffy Especially for Youth vibe to it. Rather than making everybody contribute to the standard Mormon desert bar, and requiring the event to be “presided” over, Poker at a friends house is no different – except instead every body just pitches in ten dollars.

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  59. Will on December 7, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    JMB,

    I’m with Paul on insurance.

    Guesses….I would say they are valid reasons not to gamble. Like honesty or chasity, different people have different reasons for supporting or opposing.

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  60. geoffsn on December 7, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    I think another aspect to the prohibition of gambling (besides the danger to those prone to addiction) is an historical one. President Grant made the Word of Wisdom compulsory during his presidency. The prohibition started 1 year into his presidency and it ended about halfway through his time as President. During that time the church also spoke out strongly against gambling and face cards (the primary means of gambling). They were seen as correlated evils. My grandfather to this day thinks jazz music is evil because it was also lumped into the mafia-(secret combinations)=moonshine=gambling=face-cards=jazz=nightclubs axis of evil. Since many/most of the leaders are from his era, they were children when this was being strongly and constantly preached from the pulpit. If it didn’t have the addiction aspect to it, I’d imagine it would the leaders would want it to fade into history, like the statements against hermaphrodite pantaloons.

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  61. Jon on December 7, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    I’m with jmb275 on the tax issue. If a tax isn’t voluntary it is theft. Compulsory taxes are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Matt 17
    24 ¶ And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
    25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
    26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
    27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

    Yes, we should pay are taxes because if we don’t we’ll up in jail or dead and then won’t be able to fend for our families. But the whole idea of compulsory taxes is immoral and it’s theft. “Thou shalt not steal.” We are taught that we should be respecters of people, i.e., people should have special rules for themselves but we should all be under the same natural law. How can one class of people live off the earnings of the other class but one class gets their earnings through voluntary means and the other class gets it through violence? This is not congruent to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The scriptures also teach us that when a government is corrupt we have the right to put off that government or that part of the government which does us harm. Did not the Israelites flee Egypt even though it was the law that they stay? Did not the nephites flee the lamanites even though it was unlawful for them to flee? Did not King Mosiah teach us to search for governance that would make us each responsible for ourselves (liberty)? It is imperative of a God fearing people to search for governance that gives each person liberty. If we did so would we not be murdering people around the world and would we not put off the worshiping of steal? This circumstance only comes from statism. Love your countrymen, not the state (referring to the state as in statism).

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  62. Jon on December 7, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    This sentence should read:

    We are taught that we should be respecters of people, i.e., people should have special rules for themselves but we should all be under the same natural law.

    We are taught that we should not be respecters of persons, we shouldn’t have special rules for certain classes of people.

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  63. dmac on December 7, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Loved this post! The responses were great. Particularly liked Hawks point on 9. :)

    I agree, it seems like a lot of effort to say ‘we care about these things but not enough to prohibit’. Still, I guess it saves us from the personal opinions of some leaders being handed out as a righteous decree.

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  64. hawkgrrrl on December 7, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    Well, interesting response, but I’m glad a few enjoyed it anyway. Can’t please everyone all the time. JMB and I were just having a bit of fun. The truth behind the jest is that I think we both feel that it’s always important to question 1) why some people seek instruction in trivial matters, and 2) why some people are always first in line to create detailed procedures for everybody to follow. Both of those tendencies prevail in the culture of the church and yet are in direct contrast to 1) seeking personal revelation or following the spirit, and 2) personal spiritual development (becoming independent spiritually on one’s way to godhood). Basically, both of us lean a bit more libertarian/unintrusive than your average Joe. Nevertheless, we did point out some solid reasons above that justify detailed instructions in the CHI.

    I do think it’s fascinating that the CHI is now public, finally eliminating the “Cider House Rules” effect, at least for those inclined to go out and read it.

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  65. Doug on December 8, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    HG – since you and JMB didn’t post it, I take it that there’s nothing about private bedroom practices of married couples. As it should be. However, I’ll do my own research (when with a ten-year old budding cartoonist to encourage I can actually find time for diversions like reading funky LDS-oriented blogs).

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  66. salt h2o on December 8, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    Re 46:
    I suprised myself that I cared that much about this post, for some reason the mystery science theater attempt struck an unexpected chord in me.

    “No, there’s no judgement here. We’re talking past each other…. To those who need assistance with the issues that are NOT commandments, they should seek the spirit…In vitro is a personal decision, you need not see your bishop for it, you need not wonder what the church’s official position is because it shouldn’t matter. What should matter is how the spirit directs.”

    You’ll find no bigger proponet of personal revelation than myself. But that is me. Obviously everyone is not like you nor I, so I’m not going to tell someone that they shouldn’t go to their religous leaders if they have questions on invitro- because that’s not my decision to make, it’s theirs. Apparently there are enough bishops out there that have had to deal with this and needed help.

    “It has to do with seeking, searching, becoming more like our Heavenly Father. How can we become more like God if we look to our church leaders in every facet (non-commandment) of our lives?”

    Maybe the difference here is that I don’t see the CHI attempting to tell me how to live my life, or thatI should be going to church leaders with every problem I have. I see it as a reference for leadership that has to deal with members day in and day out that come to them with random questions and the answer of ‘search ponder and pray’ isn’t enough.

    “Um, I care about the church, why wouldn’t I care about this handbook?’

    Because you wouldn’t go to the Bishop with questions about a vacestomy. I’ve never had a sunday school or RS lesson out of the handbook, but that could change- who knows, but as far as my life is concerned, no one has ever tried to tell me how to live it based on the church handbook.

    My understanding based on previous comments you had made was that you did not like the CHI because it was often used as a measuring stick of righteousness to which I maintain my stance of- ignore it, that’s someone elses problem.

    As to my libertarian beliefs contradicting my stance on this post, I don’t see the CHI giving me more rules and taking away choice, because I would not take such problems to my church leaders. Because the church does believe in personal revelation I maintain my right to live as the spirit guides me, and at the same time permit others to live their lives by the handbook, if they so choose. Who am I to decide how others should or should not live their lives? If they need the handbook, why should I (or you) care?

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  67. salt h2o on December 8, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    jbm-

    I have a live and let live philosphy.

    I would not refernce my church leaders, nor the handbook for these concerns, so the CHI does not impact my life.

    Should someone else choose to reference their chruch leaders or the CHI for these concerns, it’s not my life, I don’t care, who am I to judge?

    I don’t see the CHI taking away choice or giving more rules because it does not impact me personally, as I tend to rely on personal revelation on these sorts of matters.

    Should someone else want to rely on church leaders for insight into certain problems, I’m not going to tell them that they shouldn’t, I’m not going to take THAT choice away from them.

    In essence it is my libertarain beliefs that lead me to take issue with the post

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  68. Jeff Spector on December 8, 2010 at 4:44 AM

    JMB,

    Jeff was just giving you a hard time.

    I am mostly in agreement with you and Joseph who said, “Teach them correct principles and allow them too govern themselves.”

    I think I understand where the GAs are coming from with the handbook having some excrucating details but still we ultimately decide for ourselves. or should.

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  69. jmb275 on December 8, 2010 at 7:18 AM

    Re Jeff
    Thanks for the clarification. I thought that was the case.

    Re Cowboy

    Gambling is problematic because it’s an addiction, like eating or going to the bathroom.

    I guess so. I’m not so sure that’s the clear reason. See the official church reason here. It appears to me that the reason is that it’s motivated by getting something for nothing.

    Regarding your explanation as to the difference between term life and gambling, I think those differences are largely theoretical, and I do agree with your enunciation of the theoretical differences. However, practically, I think they’re much more similar than we want to believe. From the buyer’s perspective, term life insurance is buying security. It’s hedging against risk of death. In term life insurance, as in gambling, you are potentially getting something for little or nothing (in your case $500,000 for $9,000). Most people are in fact not addicted to gambling. They see gambling as entertainment. They are buying entertainment (including the thrill of perhaps winning). The odds of payout are small in either case. I think the biggest difference, practically, is the entertainment factor. Term life is seen as a necessary evil. Gambling is entertainment. But either way you’re throwing money out the window.

    Re Paul

    There is no chance surrounding the payout. If I do my part (pay the premiums and then die) my family is paid. If I stop paying my premium, or if I don’t die, then I haven’t done my part.

    I can see I won’t win this argument with you, but consider this. If you don’t win at poker, then you didn’t do your part. If you win at poker, you are guaranteed a payout. Playing poker is a skill, it’s FAR more than chance (kind of like not dying). Given this alone, it doesn’t mesh with the church’s view of gambling (getting something for little or nothing) since it takes great skill to win at poker.

    Ultimately, I agree with #59 geoffsn. I think the gambling prohibition is largely legacy leftover from earlier days. I do think it is dangerous as an addiction, and some do get addicted. But people get addicted to anything. It’s part of human nature.

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  70. Cowboy on December 8, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    My addiction analogy was obviously intended to criticize the modern mantra’s against gambling. I’m thinking Hinckley era Priesthood sessions. I agree with you that the gambling issue, as it pertains to worthiness is absurd. As it pertains to common sense, that is another matter. I generally see gambling, where there is an imbalance of odds, and the atmosphere is capitalizes on psychological warfare (no clocks or windows in a casino, as a small example) to induce compulsive behavior, as unethical. I can appreciate the Church’s decisions to refuse to benefit in any way from money that is gained from such an industry. At the same time, I wouldn’t level the ethics charge across the entire domain of “gambling”. Whether my friends and I want to get together and play poker at equal odds, as means of entertainment – then that is our business.

    As for life insurance, we have stated our position, but I think you are undervaluing the transfer of risk, weighted against probabilities. Secondly, the reason I see it as a socialist concept is because (theoretically) an insurer is just a third party that manages funds, and rates pool members. Essentially policy holders are each spreading the risk, or sharing it jointly in an equitable way. It’s more communal than anything.

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  71. Mormon Man on December 8, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    The Church discourages single motherhood because – contrary to current Western cultural ideas – fathers are crucial in raising children. The idea of intentionally depriving a child of their father is completely antithetical to the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation.

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  72. jmb275 on December 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Re Cowboy

    My addiction analogy was obviously intended to criticize the modern mantra’s against gambling. I’m thinking Hinckley era Priesthood sessions.

    Dang, I suck. Seriously, I’m just not reading things right these days.

    I agree completely with your first paragraph. I generally see gambling as foolish in any case (though to be fair, I’ve never tried it purely from lack of interest). I also see a lot of insurance policies as foolish too.

    As for life insurance, we have stated our position, but I think you are undervaluing the transfer of risk, weighted against probabilities.

    No, I think you’re totally right and I agree there is a difference. If you google for “insurance gambling” you’ll get a whole boat load of opinions. Many economists, psychologists, etc. see gambling and insurance as essentially the same (they seem to take the practical standpoint as I have). Many other economists, insurance salesman, etc. see a big difference (they tend to take the theoretical standpoint). I think the only real meaningful difference is that insurance claims to prevent against a loss that is naturally already in place (“pure risk”). Gambling is a form of potential loss that you purposely engage in (“speculative risk”). But it is of note that both are considered aleatory contracts but are regulated differently.

    At the end of the day, however, when we count the money, the gambler (whether you bet on your life or the outcome of a roll of dice) you will most likely lose. We are conditioned, in our current society, to believe (to the great joy of insurance companies nationwide) that insurance is wise and gambling is foolish. Gambling is certainly foolish, but then again, so are many insurance policies. It’s easy to scare people into needing all kinds of security.

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  73. brjones on December 8, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    #69 – I couldn’t agree more, Mormon Man. Especially compared to something like, say, leaving children to rot in foster care as opposed to being adopted by loving non-traditional families, which is apparently completely in keeping with the gospel and the plan of salvation.

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  74. rbc on December 8, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    If the Church’s proscription on gambling is bottomed on the gambler getting a reward with little or no work/effort, shouldn’t the proscription be extended to buying stock? Set aside employee stock options and compensation in the form of preferred shares or the other stock schemes used to compensate and also motivate employees of a firm and consider the average investor/gambler who buys a share(s) of XYZ corp with the hope the stock price will increase and she can then sell the stock and make a profit. What work has that person done to earn the profit on the stock price? Did she stay late every night and work weekends at the company to make it a better company? No, she doesn’t even work for the company. Rather, she sits back and hopes the employees work hard and the managers make good decisions that will benefit the company and customers will continue to buy whatever goods or services are provided by XYZ company. In other words she does nothing but hope circumstances beyond her control work in her favor, kind of like the gambler hoping the next dealt card won’t put him over 21. But,she stands to reap a hopefully large benefit with little or no effort. Should she tithe on the stock gains since she did no work to earn the profits, or IOW she gambled her money on XYZ company? Unless one considers tons of research into a company or sector as work, our investor/gambler has done nothing to “earn” her profit beyond gambling the stock price would increase. If research counts as work, then one would also have to admit that fantasy football is also work and not gambling. Take it from me, participating in a FF league were real money is at stake ($500.00 entrance fee and payoff of $1,500 to the winner)it takes a ton of research, or I mean “work” to pick the right player or defense at the right time. Should I tithe on my FF winnings?

    As to the resource allocation created by markets and the creation of additional wealth by markets, I would note most taxes generated by gambling revenues are dedicated to education, so they are, in theory, serving a public good. So, support education and spend some time in a casino or playing the lottery. Thank goodness there’s no tax on my FF winnings. Still unsure about tithing consequences, however. The CHI is silent on that.

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  75. hawkgrrrl on December 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    I too agree with Mormon Man on this one that a father is critical to raising children, and that the alternate view is problematic and on the rise; however, I think it’s been problematic for a very long time; the 1950s image of the emotionally removed father, coming home and demanding his pipe & slippers is just another version of absent fathers.

    Back to the “any form of gambling,” I am definitely taking the broad view of an economist. I don’t in fact disagree with the church’s stance against gambling, particularly if it’s a stance against getting something for nothing; if that’s the stance, though, then why not include pyramid schemes in the wording (which is a key failing among many LDS)? In my view all risk management decision making is a form of gambling (so the wording in the CHI “any form of gambling” is open to much broader interpretation by an individual leader so inclined, or a smart alec like me who just wants to quibble over word choice). We use this verbiage all the time when we say we are going to “gamble on” an idea, or we say “don’t bet on it.” When you get a credit card, you’re betting on your ability to repay timely and avoid higher rates. The card issuer is betting that a certain percentage of cardholders will carry a balance and have to pay that higher percentage. It’s the nature of business; as a capitalist, I understand the rules when I choose to play, and I decide how much risk I’m comfortable with.

    Likewise, in gambling, one could do the same, knowing the odds of the various games, knowing what the value of the activity is to the person for the time spent on the activity, etc. There’s a rational way to gamble that doesn’t involve addiction, or obsessively trying to get a very high return for a much smaller investment, but ultimately losing your shirt. Rational gamblers I know have set a low limit for their time (e.g. only gamble what you expect to lose, and get as much entertainment value as that offers).

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  76. Cowboy on December 8, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    I guess in light of all of the broad ways we can characterize “gambling”, Church membership is a gamble – particularly if it’s approached from a cognitive standpoint similar to Paschal’s Wager – or the infamous Gilbert Scharffs “Unbeatable Position”. In which case, faith by nature is in direct violation of the CHI.

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  77. hawkgrrrl on December 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    “In which case, faith by nature is in direct violation of the CHI.” Exactly. Similarly, JMB and me posting this was a gamble. Apparently, we lost! Getting out of bed today was a gamble. So far, I’m on the fence.

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  78. Alice on December 8, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    I kind of enjoyed the mystery science theater aspect. :)

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  79. hawkgrrrl on December 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    So another thought I had since JMB and I had this discussion / post is that in addition to the 3 reasons we gave above for this level of detail in the CHI (holdover, global church, the stupid person rule), there’s another one: to protect members from local leaders who would go even further in creating hedges about the law. Even though the CHI is creating hedges about the law, they are more reasonable ones than you may encounter if you are unlucky and there’s no guide to keep your bishop in line.

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  80. Tax Man on December 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    “Thank goodness there’s no tax on my FF winnings.”

    Of course there’s tax on your winnings, it’s just a virtually unenforceable tax unless you go out of your way to declare the income. So… just how much DID you win this year at fantasy football? :)

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  81. Paul on December 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    #74 — The CHI may appear to be silent on speculation but the brethren haven’t always been. There was a time when there was distinction between “investing” and “speculating” in “the market”. Generally, investing was seen as a longer term, inflation-hedging strategy rather than a get-rich-quick approach of day traders.

    To be sure there are those who do work to understand and carefully make investments, and I suspect they would say they’re rewarded for their work (and risk to which they put their capital). That some may be similarly rewarded for mastering the game of poker is an interesting argument.

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  82. jmb275 on December 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Re Hawkgrrrl

    to protect members from local leaders who would go even further in creating hedges about the law. Even though the CHI is creating hedges about the law, they are more reasonable ones than you may encounter if you are unlucky and there’s no guide to keep your bishop in line.

    Yeah, I thought about this too. From that standpoint even more detail would be better. I think they’re delicately trying to balance revelation at the local priesthood level and too much willy nilly needless church discipline.

    It’s a tough problem I admit, particularly given the constraints of our theology and the nature of the worldwide church.

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  83. Cowboy on December 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    As final comment from me, I don’t quite share the sentiments that investment in the stock market is akin to gambling, though perhaps the word “gaming” would be a better descriptor of gambling. Nor do I accept the idea that is an activity where something is earned without “effort” – I make exception for some particulars. Hawkgrrrl referred to multi-level marketing schemes, which I think do have a history of getting something for nothing, and also have a great history among Mormons. I also think currency trading falls into this category. It would be highly disingenous for the Church to prohibit gaming on the stated grounds, if the Church has benefited from currency exchange, where the exchange wasn’t to facilitate an exchange of goods, but just to take advantage of exchange rates. Problem is, I have a hard time seeing any corporation with the amount of holdings, and presumable management, that the Church has not having been involved in this non productive money getting activity.

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  84. rbc on December 8, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Re: 80. Fair point, but it was only a couple thousand dollars. I was more surprised at how much “work” it took to figure out which player(s) to use and which player(s) to sit. Burned off several Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons with my team co-owner setting our team. Funny enough we won the league two years in a row. One league rule was the winner had to be the commissioner the following year. However, my co-owner and I both work for different government agencies and there’s no way we could run a FF league from our government computers. We got a pass the first year we won but after the second year we took the money and then quit the league. Like the Church, my agency considers FF gambling. I respectfully disagree but am not going to test it.

    This season a member of our bishopric set up a league and asked if I wanted to join. When I asked how much it cost to join and how much I could win he turned white as a ghost. I declined the invitation before it was speedily withdrawn because there’s no way I’m spending that much time on FF for no possible financial reward.

    RE: 81

    I see no problem with investing/gambling in the stock market whether in the short or long term or a hedge or whatever. But to suggest buying a share and waiting for it go up to reap the benefit isn’t getting something for almost nothing or little effort is just wrong. Whatever profit/return one gets from stock, one has hardly performed any labor to receive it. It’s kind of like a lottery ticket with much, much better odds, but, at bottom, is a gamble pure and simple that requires little or no work in order to win.

    By the way, Wheat and Tares readers, any stock tips are much appreciated. Christmas is coming.

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  85. hawkgrrrl on December 8, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    The other thing that makes MLM like gambling, IMO, is that both require one “getting” at the direct expense of another, based on speculative behavior. Both have “marks” and require fleecing dupes (while giving them nothing very valuable to them in return) for money to be made.

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  86. mcarp on December 9, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    “Church members who refuse to file a tax return, pay required income taxes, or comply with a final judgment in a tax case are in direct conflict with the law and with the teachings of the Church. Such members may be ineligible for a temple recommend and should not be called to positions of principal responsibility in the Church. Members who are convicted of willfully violating tax laws are subject to Church discipline to the extent warranted by the circumstances.”

    A co-worker once came to me and said, “You’re Mormon, right? Can you tell me how to not pay income tax?”

    He had the assumption that Mormons were against taxes and had tricks to not pay and not get SSN for children.

    Having said that, there was a family in the town where my wife grew up that didn’t pay taxes, and it was pretty widely known.

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  87. Thomas on December 9, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    But to suggest buying a share and waiting for it go up to reap the benefit isn’t getting something for almost nothing or little effort is just wrong. Whatever profit/return one gets from stock, one has hardly performed any labor to receive it. It’s kind of like a lottery ticket with much, much better odds, but, at bottom, is a gamble pure and simple that requires little or no work in order to win.

    The “work” consists of (1) working to assemble the money invested, and (2) the consumption opportunities you forego by choosing to save rather than consume.

    The double taxation of dividends in American tax law has seriously distorted how we view investing. Time was, when you bought a stock, you did so not just in the hope it would “go up.” You saw yourself as buying a piece of a business enterprise, which would pay a part of its earnings to you in the form of dividends.

    Since the tax treatment of dividends is presently horrible, most companies don’t pay much of one, choosing instead to retain or reinvest the earnings (thus, presumably, adding to the value of the company, and therefore the value of each fractional interest represented by a share of stock). Unfortunately, government monetary policy has gotten so Calvinball, and accounting standards so fictitious, that a company’s market capitalization is often more a function of what the chessmasters at the Federal Reserve are doing with the currency, than a company’s inherent value. So to that extent — yes, there’s a gambling aspect going on here.

    But those things aside, buying a share of stock is like a farmer buying a wheelbarrow, to magnify the productivity of his labor. He’s increasing his capital stock — foregoing immediate consumption in order to increase his output per unit of labor in the future. And there can’t be anything wrong of that.

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  88. [...] thoughts on civil liberties, but the week’s topic trend on that side of the fence was LDS church [...]

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  89. [...] salt h20, commenting on hawkgrrrl and jmb275′s post “The CHI Says What?” at Wheat and Tares: I am grateful for this post . . . I wouldn’t have ever read the CHI myself and I’ve been telling my husband for 5 years to keep his underwear off the floor, now I have proof that I am indeed more righteous than him. [...]

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  90. x1134x on January 6, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    You hit the nail on the head with the “Overeating” observation. I find it hypocritical when these fat lards wax judgmental about drug users putting “junk” into their bodies.

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