I’ll bet you have a personal peeve.

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.

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Comments

  1. First, I am involved in politics and believe me, I am asked to donate to raffles and drawings ALL the time. It’s a fine line dealing with some really good people who do not see it as any form of gambling. I look stingy if I don’t participate and I certainly can’t use it as a platform to lecture them about it if I refuse to buy tickets.
    Second, I said something in RS years ago about a long time tradition in the church and one lady left in the middle of the meeting to find out if it was “official church doctrine”. I NEVER said it was but she came back and whispered in my ear that she asked the Bishop and I was “wrong”. (It was regarding taking the Sacrament with your right hand.) I raised my hand and volunteered a correction right on the spot. Subject finished, I thought, until the the next week, when the RS Pres. brought it up and said she wanted to make sure we didn’t try to preach our personal family traditions as church traditions. There wasn’t a lady there who had been at the meeting the week before who didn’t know who was getting publicly chastised. It was while before I made any comments to a lesson. (It was especially hard because the RS Pres. had been inactive for years because someone offended HER and shortly after reactivation was made President.)

  2. Once again, a wonderful post. Never did I expect that pointing out the incorrect use of terminology would result in such an outpouring of responses. (if anyone read – to understand – my first comment they would have seen that I was not equating this with what a raffle usually is. It was just the word, not the sentiment behind it. I expected a “yeah, Prize would have been a better choice of word”, not what we got. Glad you thought it was “fun”. At lease it provided something to think about.)

    Brad, you are usually (nearly always) so spot on, and this time a little slip should not have caused such an avalanche. Being such a public forum I felt it needed clarification, it was not meant to be “judging” as such, but one thing it did do was show how many people are stumbling over that (or those?) particular stones: raffles and judging. We are all walking the same path, we just stumble over different stones. And when we have mastered the art of avoiding certain stones, let’s hope we can continue on our path lending a supporting hand to those who haven’t, and hoping for the same in return as we stumble over those others have learned to avoid.

  3. I always enjoy your posts. I admire your take on things and how you back up your words with those of our leaders. It makes me sad though that all of this was generated because people wanted to be kind and compassionate in helping you replace your laptop. You on the other hand wanted to make it fun by offering the chance for a prize. I think I have a good understanding of what gambling is and I think the true gamble is when you try to do something nice. or be on the receiving end of that, there will always be someone who will be critical of that gesture. I hate that you feel you had to justify your action, or feel chastised because of it.

  4. Missionary open houses are not to be held after sacrament meeting. I always understood that the principle involved was to keep the Sabbath Day holy and not interfere with anyone going to the rest of the meetings of the day, not as not having something at all. With a lot of family and friends wanting a chance to say goodbye or give good wishes, why not have something at another day or time?

    Am I reading it wrong?

    “We hope also that holding elaborate open houses after the sacrament meeting at which the missionary speaks will not prevail. Members of the family may wish to get together. We have no objection to this. However, we ask that there be no public reception to which large numbers are invited.”

    1. Our local authorities have taught, after training from area authorities, that it applies to any open house type event, wherever, whenever.

  5. On my mission, I discovered that what I disliked in my companions was usually something I didn’t like in myself that I needed to change. Life was easier when I focused on what I needed to change. 🙂

  6. We discussed keeping the Sabbath day holy and how exactly we do that. As the discussion went on, I had the distinct impression (reminder) of Elder Ucthdorf’s talk, when he said: “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.” I remember the feeling I had as he said those words and did some serious self-reflection to see where I was in the whole “judging” department. Having seen my husband serve as a bishop and then as a Stake President, I am fully aware that certain mortals have been given that responsibility (and I would add, weight) that comes along with those types of callings. But as a regular, go-to-church-every-week Christian, I need to be constantly on guard that I don’t make snap judgments about others. This mortality gig can be difficult some days but I’m grateful that when I fall short, I can start over again. (PS…I honestly have never participated in a raffle where I even remotely thought I would win…it was always more of a “charity” kind of thing trying to help out a good cause – someone who just lost their dad to cancer; a sports team trying to buy new equipment in a school district that’s out of money…those types of things.). Good post as always.

  7. I don’t think you did hold a raffle. None of your donors were expecting anything in return, they were not gambling by donating to help you buy a new (old) laptop. All you did was to draw one of your donor’s names out of a hat at random to prevent showing any kind of favouritism, and, one could argue, to allow God to show you who to bless. As for any sin, I will let you work on your own sin, I have enough of my own to contend with. God bless.

    1. Of course he didn’t hold a raffle, he was just trying to show appreciation as those of us who donated were showing our appreciation for all the wonderful blogs. It was the miss-use of the word ‘raffle’ that was objected to and which needed to be cleared up in case anyone reading the blog thought that that was really what Brad was doing (not all followers are members, I bet, and some just look for excuses to point fingers. Which is what a lot of us have been doing lately.) Either they can’t understand the difference or they don’t want to.

  8. Well I think you missed an opportunity to go with a classic quote from Elder Uchtdorf—Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.
    All in all, great reminder to be slow to point fingers.

    1. Isn’t the difference between a “prize” and a raffle obvious to anyone else? Raffles are based in greed regardless of your reason for partaking (the ends does NOT justify the means), “Prizes” on the other hand are sometimes rewards (for talents/skills), other times just blessings, something you get ‘just because’ (door prizes, Macca’s, whatever).

  9. My friend used to say, “everyone has their favorite sin”. I think Satan will play whatever hand he’s dealt (see what I did there?) We are in danger if we think our sins aren’t as bad as anyone else’s, just as much if we think our sins are worse. I’ll work on the beam in my own eye while all others can work on theirs. However, factor in the the equation that those who have stewardship over you may be prompted to motivate change in you. Also, I’ve admired your humility in taking criticism head on in a public way. That sir, earns my respect.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)

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