I recently e-heard someone say that in the LDS church, things are always "all right" or "all wrong"- no gray areas.



Alyosha said...

I don't get it.

Tristin said...

I strongly disagree. The only people I know that think in black-and-white terms are generally unpleasant people. The majority of people I know have no problem recognizing the uncertainty of most situations. In fact, the best leaders I know answer just about every question with, "Depends."

Steven and Wendy OBryant said...

Ugh - I think there is too much gray! Often times I wish for a more definitive black and white for what I'm going through... or any color for that matter. Why does it have to be black and white anyway? Why can't it be White and Red with a pink area? Just sayin.

~j. said...


Just like in life.

Good one.

Ru said...

There are some things that are all right, and some things that are all wrong, but obviously quite a bit of gray. I think it's very dangerous to promote this all wrong/right idea, because when people inevitably learn things that don't jive up with that dichotomy, they find themselves forced to conclude "all wrong."

I once read a book where a character joked, "No one is perfect. Well, there was this one guy. But we killed Him." If people can't accept that imperfection is part of the human condition -- meaning every human's condition -- then they set themselves up for disappointment.

Hillary said...

Ha! Yeah, right. Take Prop 8 for example. The Church was extremely active in getting it passed, holding firesides in which members were encouraged to vote for it, and bishops were told to organize members to go door to door supporting it. However, the Church released a statement saying that members were free to disagree. If things are all right or all wrong, that just wouldn't make sense. All right and all wrong connotes a one-size-fits-all mentality that completely belittles personal revelation and the importance of gaining one's own personal testimony.

Tiffy J. said...

false. there is a world of gray areas.

Ace said...

Every faith finds things to be either "all right" or "all wrong". What would the be if they didn't?

Brandi said...

Funny, because I recently had a discussion with friends about how they're almost ALL gray areas in our church. There are very few clear cut, black and white, no room for interpretation right and wrongs.

And actually, the discussion was about how the people who claim that there is a definitive right and wrong for EVERYTHING in the LDS religion are the ones who make us want to go inactive.

A few examples we talked about: Tithing (our bishop says we don't need to pay on our military housing allowance, the stake president says we do. Both say it's really up to us to decide with the Lord. GRAY AREA). Sabbath activities--one friend is O.K. watching movies as long as it's done as a family and the movie is "moral." One friend is O.K. with her family jumping on the trampoline together because it's the only day of the week their doctor father is home to do it with them. We allow neither in our home on Sundays simply because we know our kids and we know any shred of reverence we have managed to get from them would be gone in an instant. So, who's right? If we were to ask the bishop he would tell us it's a decision we need to make prayerfully for our family based on what we know about our family. GRAY AREA!
Word of wisdom--some of it is very black and white (no coffee, tea, alcohol, illicit drugs or tobacco) but some of it--the part regarding eating healthfully, is not as clear. I used to weigh 300 pounds. In a temple recommend interview, when it got to the WoW question, I said no. Sure, I obeyed all the "big ones" like no coffee or alcohol, etc... but I didn't weigh 300 pounds by eating well and treating my body like a temple. The bishop didn't know what to say. He agreed that I probably wasn't following the nutrition part as well as I could, but that it was a GRAY AREA and he gave me a recommend anyway.

O.K., sorry. My comment is now 5 times longer than your post. Apparently you touched a nerve. :)

The bottom line is, we are supposed to live our lives as closely to the way that Christ lived His as we can. Heavenly Father has given us some really good guidelines through scriptures to base our decisions on, but He also left a lot of it for us to decide for ourselves. Just like we, as Earthly parents, are supposed to teach our kids the really important things in life, but also allow them the freedom to make decisions and grow and learn on their own.

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

I have to call some all-right, some all-wrong, lots of gray -- but the real problem is that what is gray for me (swearing, for an innocuous e.g. in my mind, since I do way too much of it), is not gray to others. So it's not even very helpful to say that there are gray areas, unless you are respectful of other peoples' gray areas.

MJ said...

I just had a discussion with my youngest SIL this morning. She was talking about this group of kids in her high school that boast being friendly with everyone, just expect that if you hang with them, you maintain their LDS standards, including to not cuss.

Sounds good, right?

Only the last scavenger hunt they had, on the list was "pic of a guy in a bikini, extra points if he's not wearing his boxers" and "kiss a complete stranger, extra points if it's on the mouth".

So they don't cuss (cuz that's black and white), but modesty and morals are a gray area for them.

I'll stick with my foul mouth, thankyouverymuch.

While we're on the subject of things frequently said in/about church, I also dislike the "everyone's on a different rung of the same ladder" analogy. It's not the same ladder. There are 5.2 billion ladders all heading towards the same place, but just because I've conquered something you might be struggling with, that doesn't mean I'm ahead of you, or better than you. That tends to piss me off, too.

Sarah E. Reynolds said...

1) Joseph Smith himself said, "Teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves." That is how there are some families that get into their PJs the minute they get home from Church on Sunday and then they watch TV, while others stay in their Sunday best all day and only watch BYU-TV. Who's wrong and who's right? They're both right. They're governing themselves.

I guess black and white can mean "you're following the Spirit" or you're not. Everyone's entitled to personal revelation on how to live their own life.

amanda said...

If so, I am screwed.

ExMormonLesbian said...

Personally I've found that official church doctrine seems to be presented in a pretty black and white way...and than it is up to the members to choose how they personally interpret those teachings and incorporate them into their lives.

Piper said...

The first thing I think of is when the Lord commanded Nephi to slay Laban, even though he gave the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill".

I'm pretty sure that sits in the gray area.

But I believe the gray area is beautiful because that's where a relationship with your Heavenly Father begins. When you have to ask questions and struggle for answers, and listen to the instruction that comes just for you. Plus, that shows just how much your Heavenly Father knows you, personally.

Chi-townRawlins said...

Barging in here.

It's all black and white based on what you receive as your PERSONAL revelation. Trying to make everyone receive the same revelation is where people mess up on this one. Heavenly Father left a lot of "gray" on purpose so that we would seek Him to find the answers. Otherwise what would be the point of our being here?

Does that make sense?

Stephanie said...

haha, yes chi-town rawlins, it makes total sense. i also love your quote sarah e. reynolds. feel free to treat yourself to a snickey and strawb.

Tiffany Fackrell said...

I think there are definitely black and white underlying principles. but when you start discussing the details that is when the gray comes in! like keep the sabbath day holy, that is pretty clear, but then you get into the don't watch t.v. or stay in sunday best, or don't play outside...see the details are the gray area. also Word of wisdom, pretty black and white, but then you get into the diet and nutrition and the caffine in pop and the details start becoming gray. prophets cousil us to be stay at home moms, but you always have an exception and we have to make choices, therefore the details start becoming gray. that's how I feel about it. we all have our free agency. we have to be able to make choices or there wouldn't be a point in all of this!

Emily said...

I disagree. I do believe that in some areas the church teaches in black and white- no alcohol is a pretty obvious one. But overall I'd say that whenever there is free agency there is gray area. (And along with that thought, I think it's the people who see everything in black/white that give us a bad name, throwing judgement where-ever they see fit.)

Nik "the BoyWonder" said...

only the Sith deal in absolutes!

noyb said...

some of the membership take the black and white(law of chastity for one example)and just blend it all together to make and icky grey mess. the over 30 single adults seem to do this with amazing proficiency-and if you appear to be anything but grey, they hold you in suspicion and mock you for your "self righteous" behavior.

Mrs. Clark said...

Sooo...nobody talks about Jesus Christ's exhortations to love others--regardless?

Liked what other people said. Thanks! My gray area may be a black or white one for you, and vice versa. What's the quote about having to be commanded in all things?

Thanks for the thought-provoking comment, MCB. Goes to show you're a great teacher!

Mrs. Clark said...

Oh, and Emily, I don't know if the alcohol one is black and white. I know of a woman who wouldn't eat boeuf bourgignon at a dinner party (probably embarrassing the hostess) because of her stance on the WofW. I happen to cook with (cooking) wine, but I don't drink it. And some people won't even use vanilla or other extracts (check the label--they're mostly alcohol) even though the alcohol cooks out and there is no chance of becoming addicted to it--which, as I see it, is the point of not using alcohol, caffeine or drugs.

Hilary said...

Ummmm... on prop 8 they never sent out a letter saying you were free to disagree.
I know this because i sweated like a pig while 14 weeks pregnant hauling my other 2 kids around to houses while I was being yelled at.
However, I do think there are blacks and whites in the church's stance.
How we apply it to our lives is the grey area.
Don't work outside the home. I do, so we can stay off welfare. It works for us, and I feel like it might well work for God too. :)

Stephanie said...

Hilary, respectfully, I disagree.

The church did send out a news-release aknowledging that many members would disagree on Prop 8, and that voting on these issues should happen on an individual basis based on an individual's "own unique experience."

Here is the exact quote:

"Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments, the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.
Even though the democratic process can be demanding and difficult, Latter-day Saints are profoundly grateful for and respect the ideals of a true democracy."

To me, that suggests that the church was aware that the decision was an individual one, and that all voters would still be considered members in good standing regardless of their political position.

Queen of the Castle said...

I think that Hilary pointed out some gray area, and that it has a shadow in the Garden of Eden.
Hilary said that she works so that her family doesn't have to live on welfare. Okay, so the two things she is talking about, are self sufficiency and the mother being in the home. Sometimes these are in direct conflict with each other. Hilary and her family made a choice to be self sufficient, at least in a monetary sense, because they don't want to be on welfare.
Another family might choose to forgo self sufficiency to have the mother stay home.
They had to choose, both made good decisions. Both had to decide between two conflicting, at least for them, doctrines of the church.
It is my opinion that we can not have only black and white when there are situations that arise that make it so that you have to choose which counsel you are going to adhere to. And, it's been around since Adam and Eve, the not partaking of fruit of the tree vs. having children and progressing.

Brooke said...

You must have been talking to my parents. Their black and white attitude can border on just stubborn.

James McOmber said...

I'm curious as to whether this person was a member or not - whether it was a "this-is-how-all-believing-Saints-should-be" or "those-crazy-Mormons" kinda thing.