To those who don’t follow closely, you might have missed out on some fun this past week: My wonderful friends and readers supported me by helping me get a new (old) laptop to replace my old (dead) one. Much kindness was on display, for which I am deeply appreciative.
As a way to say thank you, I offered a BonaFide Box to a random donor via a raffle. (By then way, the winner is…David Overly. I’ll be in touch)
Unexpectedly, I got called out by some for holding a raffle which is sort of gambling. And, I hate to admit, those people were correct on principle.
For those who don’t know, gambling in any form is frowned upon by our faith, and by it’s leaders. While they rarely mention raffles in particular (Never in General Conference) the idea has been linked to gambling by none other that President Dallin Oaks in a talk given back in 1972. He stated:
“The Church has been and now is unalterably opposed to gambling in any form whatever. It is opposed to any game of chance, occupation, or so-called business, which takes money from the person who may be possessed of it without giving value received in return.”
Then adds this: “What I have said about gambling should be understood to include playing cards for money, betting on horses and athletic contests (including office pools on the world series), casino gambling in all its forms, lotteries, raffles, bingo for money, and dice.” (Link)
In a way of self-justification for myself and friends, I would point out that most donors donated with little expectation of something in return, but mostly out of generosity. (Hopefully, you feel that you are getting something in return.) Still…
I will probably not do it again in the same way, just to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) I figure that what I did was on the lesser end of the gambling spectrum, yet still counts as gambling.
I DID find it interesting that Elder Oaks called out office pools for sports as one of those things to be shunned. March Madness brackets anyone?
Pooling money and betting on things which we have no control over is a textbook example of gambling. I know it is really common – and fun – to fill out brackets, but this is food for thought, since it is that time of year.
There were a handful of people who called me out on the raffle, and it was apparent that to some of them, gambling is a very important issue – a sort of “trigger” sin that really sets them off. Personal enough to call me out on it, both in private and in a public forum.
To me, that is the more interesting question, having stipulated that raffles, are, indeed, gambling.
A lot of us have specific sins that we notice more than others. While March Madness brackets have never been something I’ve gotten uptight about, there are other things that really cause me to sit up and take notice. Want to know what one of them is?
Missionary open houses. Back when President Hinckley was prophet, he called on the members of the church to stop having open houses for departing missionaries, beyond family members. It wasn’t just a suggestion, it was part of a talk given in the Priesthood Session of General Conference. (link)
From my perspective, you would never know he asked us to stop. It bugs me. I never attend them, and it bugs my EC that I have dug my heels in on such a seemingly small thing. She has a valid point, yet I can justify my feelings with the words of a prophet, however ignored they may be.
President Boyd K. Packer once said “Some members of the Church who should know better pick out a hobby key or two and tap them incessantly, to the irritation of those around them.” (link)
I would suggest that my feelings about open houses count as a “hobby key” from my family’s perspective. It doesn’t make me wrong – just irritating. Are there certain sins, behaviors or mistakes that feel like fingernails on a chalkboard when you see them? If so, then here are a few thoughts to consider when someone sets us off.
Question 1: Is that a bad thing?
I’m not sure. I think it plays into my individual degree of hypocrisy that I can spot a mote at a mile away, even with the beam in my own eye. I also think that it means I am paying attention.
Question 2: Are we supposed to ignore what we see?
I don’t believe so. I think when we see behavior that does not align with what the Lord has asked of us, and asked of us through his servants, we should take notice. We need to be vigilant, and aware of what is going on around us and how it can impact our lives and those we are responsible for.
Question 3: Isn’t that “judging others?”
Yes, but that is okay, and even necessary. It is not a final, or ultimate judgment. I cannot condemn someone to a fiery eternity, even though I would like to, on occasion.
This question is best answered in the extraordinary talk by President Oaks called, “Judge Not and Judging.” If you haven’t ever read it, please do. It makes mortality just a little bit easier to navigate. It will also make you slap your forehead when people pull out the “Don’t judge me” trope.
Question 3: If we see someone doing something wrong, do we call them out on it?
I believe that depends on our relationship with and our stewardship regarding the person. For example: If one of my kids is smoking in my backyard, you know he’s gonna hear about it. If some random kid is smoking outside the convenience store, I’m not saying a word.
If my friend Ralph has an open house for his missionary, I am hardly going to walk up to the stand and call him out for it in public during testimony meeting. Nor will I call him out in private, unless we have a relationship that has a foundation for those kind of discussions. What he does is between him and God. How I let it impact me is also between me and God.
That is why being called out by strangers is such an odd thing for me. I know my public visibility plays onto that, especially since most of what I write is based on religion. Yet, as I have publicly confessed, I am far from perfect, so to have someone I don’t know tell me how disappointed they are in me felt…weird. (However, had my wife called me out, it would have felt normal, because that happens all the time.)
I am also loath to admit that I have called people out before on social media for things I perceive as wrong, and it never turns out well – for the relationship, or for the way I feel inside afterwards. I have also never heard a speaker in General Conference stand up call out a specific person for a specific sin. I often hear them come down hard regarding principles and doctrines, but not any of us by name – Phew!
President Nelson taught an idea that I think applies here as well:
“Teach of faith to keep all the commandments of God, knowing that they are given to bless His children and bring them joy. Warn them that they will encounter people who pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the cafeteria approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith.” (link)
We shouldn’t use the cafeteria approach to pick and choose which commandments we keep and which we ignore. Likewise, as we look at ourselves and each other, I don’t think we should have personal peeves that we are hypercritical of. You and I are the sum of more than one behavior, to single out one note and to play it incessantly would drive us all to distraction.
In summary, I suggest that as I go through life, I do need to pay attention to what others are doing around me – but not to pass eternal judgment on their souls. If I notice something amiss, I should use that observation to evaluate my own behavior and see if I might need to make some changes.
In our observations of others, and out personal behavior, we need to play “all the notes” on the piano that are available, even if we don’t play very well. To pick at one personal peeve benefits no one – especially not ourselves.
We do need to keep plugging along. As Elder David Bednar said, “If today you are a little bit better than you were yesterday, then that’s enough. And, if tomorrow you are a little bit better than you were today, then that’s enough.” (link)
Note: This post was typed on my new (old) laptop. It was, in a word, groovy.