"What would God have me do?" vs. "How much can I get away with?"


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I am convinced it is our mindset as much as our actions that will either help us on our eternal journey or else condemn us forever.

A popular diversion among religious people is to name some certain action and ask, "Is this a sin?" Conversation then revolves around whether the action can be justified in various situations, whether it is actually specified in holy writ and either approved or prohibited, or some other such evidence of divine approbation or censure. Such a question makes sense for those religions that Pharisaically view God as an infinitely smart lawyer who parses the law most carefully to see whether you were clever enough to keep it.

It would be nice to say that such questions never arise in an LDS context; sadly, we have daily proof, both on this forum and in the larger public sphere, that Mormons seem just as foolish as anyone else when it comes to playing this game.

As the title of this thread suggests, I believe the question, "Is this a sin?", is in almost all cases the wrong question. I think the right question in all cases is, "What would God have me do?" To answer that question, we have been given inspired leaders called of God, scriptures containing a history of God's dealings with our ancestors, and most importantly, the gift of the Holy Ghost. In the end, we will be left utterly without excuse, and our careful parsing of divine law will be of no more moment than spitting into the wind.

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I believe that many of the memorable (to me, anyway) procedural changes in the Church in more recent years are designed to teach this very lesson.  Specifically: Handbook 2, Come Follow Me style lessons for the youth (and now rolling out for all), Teaching in the Savior's Way (in support of that style), Ministering, Councils in RS and Priesthood meetings, 6-months of the same 4th-Sunday lesson, combined Priesthood meetings, and GC scheduling.

IMO, all of these take us further from the "Right & Wrong", "Law of Moses", and "To Do List" style of living our religion and more toward, frankly, the Savior's way.  Parents who help their children to not rely on rote structure, but instead on the Spirit and developing personal interaction with God are doing those children a great service.

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I have seen what you mean when people try to walk the fence. I call them “fire insurance Christians”.

The question we should ask ourselves isn’t “Is this a sin?” It should be, “Does this bring me and others closer to Christ?” And then act accordingly. 

Elder Holland once said, “You can everything you want in this life or you can have something better.”  Sadly, many choose the former. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don’t worry so much about whether or not this or that is a sin. Most of those items are self evident. But when it comes to more mundane actions like watching this TV program or having that conversation I like to ask myself, “Does this draw me and others closer to or further from Christ?”

A camping trip with family - most likely closer. 

That R-rated movie - most likely further

when I keep the above in mind I find that I am more patient, much less likely to come across as being judgmental, and generally more likely to stay on the right path with my walk with Christ. 

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I think one of the problem is that people try stuff and think it is okay.  Thus it become that which defines sin is the stuff I (referring to first person) do not do.  But if someone else does it there is a problem or a sin.  Let me give an example.  There is a long line to something desired - near the front of the line one spots a very good friend - there is no sin or problem to go stand by the friends and get sooner access.  But if the same person has been standing in the front of a line for a very long time - it is not good of a sin fi others (especially in very large numbers) come and stand with their friends for early access.

If it is something that if everyone did and it improves the world - it is likely not a sin.  But if something gives you on selected other advantage over others - it is usually not a good idea.


The Traveler



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On 7/25/2018 at 8:55 PM, Vort said:

...As the title of this thread suggests, I believe the question, "Is this a sin?", is in almost all cases the wrong question. I think the right question in all cases is, "What would God have me do?"...

Here's an example we can contemplate:

Since humans are not perfect it is natural that "typos" can appear in a person's written posts on a forum. The questions then are - Is it a sin for a person to not proof read their post? and Is it a sin that if they do proof read and notice all their typos, that they react with indifference and not bother to correct those typos? Another one that relates to this is - Is it a sin to be really annoyed by this type of behavior (not correcting typos)?

This is not to say that I found Vort's thread with typos, typically Vort is very good about not having typos. I just found this thread convenient for me to point out my pet peeve with trying to read some posts on this forum. It's not like it's an all or nothing system on this forum. The great people that created this forum gave us the handy "Edit" tool to use. It's a magic tool that can be used for good. If you wish to communicate your thoughts in written form, it really helps if the words and sentences make sense.

To those of you who rarely use that Edit button but who should, stop and ask yourself:

What would God have me do?


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