I start with some personal examples to try to ask questions without opening a forum of rock throwers . . . we'll see how it goes.
Growing up, my parents taught the importance of the physical body; that the body is a temple. I was taught not to desecrate that body with alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, immodesty, immortality . . . even caffeine and pierced ears. But on that same note, I do not ever recall my parents ever telling me that people who drank alcohol or smoked or had tattoos or drank Coke or had pierced ears were bad people. Never!
Yet, in my little girl mind I was conflicted. How could people not know that their body is a temple? Why would people choose to drink or smoke or get a tattoo? And were pierced ears really so bad?
So why is it that "elective" principles bring a lot of criticism to those who choose to teach them and live them differently in their families?
Here are some examples:
Example 1: In our family we have chosen not to drink caffeinated or energy drinks. That's right - no Diet Coke, no Mountain Dew, no Dr. Pepper. I know, harsh!
So imagine my surprise when I met a couple who had additionally chosen not to partake of chocolate of any kind. Yes, you read correctly: N.O. C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E.!
When I first learned about this part of me wanted to shake them into oblivion to let them know that EATING CHOCOLATE IS NOT A SIN!! The other part of me just wanted to sob uncontrollably for their earthly loss. And then there was that part of me that thought, for just a nanosecond, "Should I be giving up chocolate, too?"
Question: Why? Why do my feelings tend to be defensive when another's choice has nothing to do with me? Why do I think I should clarify for others that their choice is not "necessary" in gaining eternal life?
Example 2: In our family, we are very, very, extremely careful about the movies and TV shows we watch and bring into our home. If my husband and I don't get to watch a movie before our children, then we watch it together as family.
So imagine my surprise when a family I know and love does not allow their children under 13 to watch PG-13 movies. "What about Forever Strong or Courageous?" I asked in complete disbelief. "Nope!" She smiled confidently. "Not even Hoosiers or . . . 17 Miracles?" I choked. "Not until they are 13," she responded.
I was in complete shock. My first thought: Seriously?! Those are such good movies with such great messages. My 7 year old has seen every single one of them more times than I can count! My second thought: So, you thought you were careful with the movies your children watched? Are you really?"
Question: Why? Why would I first find a reason to mentally criticize when I know for a surety that that has been done to me about many of the choices/rules/procedures we have made in our family? And secondly, why would I question my own ability to set boundaries for my family?
Example 3: In our family we teach the importance of modesty, by adhering to the principles taught HERE. We begin this teaching at birth so that when our children are ready to make sacred, temple covenants they will not need to make any changes to their wardrobes.
Question: I know many families where tank tops/short shorts for girls and skinny jeans for boys are okay. They are good, wonderful families that I love. But since that is not how I teach my children, I want to know how has a less-strict dress code affected the way their children view modesty? How has it blessed their family? What have been the pros? the cons?
Finally . . .
In sharing a few personal examples, I am very aware that I could easily be viewed as 'highly judgmental.' I don't want to be. I'm trying to learn how not to be. And yet, I'm eager to learn other points of view without having to be stoned for sharing mine. :)
How can I learn from those who teach and believe differently than I do regarding "elective" principles? What can I do differently when others' "elective" principles are different than mine? How can peace and harmony be maintained even when there is a difference of opinion?
I'd love to hear your answers . . .and no rocks allowed!