Saturday, April 13, 2013

Can't or Don't

I'm not sure why but something I've heard every now and then, spoken in a joking, lighthearted manner, really bothers me.

"I can't, I'm Mormon."

The 'can't'  in that statement implies there is something physically stopping you or some irrational mental process going on that is causing you to physically be unable to act.

Here's an example, because sometimes these help people understand things better.   I don't sled because I have an issue with it. Physically I could do it. Mentally, it is not going to happen. (There is a rational reason behind this, trust me.) I can't reach the top shelves in the kitchen because I'm the size of your average 11 year old. 

It's that you 'don't' because you are Mormon, you have a choice and saying you 'don't' or even 'won't' shows that you are exercising a very important ability you have. An ability that is pretty central to doctrine in the Mormon church.

It's called "Agency". Meaning the freedom to choose for yourself what you do or do not do.

You can drink alcohol, you just don't. You can swear like a sailor, you just don't. You  can drink coffee or smoke or do illegal drugs, you just don't.  You can go out and have sex before marriage, you just don't.

I just wonder if some of the misconceptions about Mormons and the way the Church is run may be tied to the use of the term "I can't", because that really makes it sound like the Church is forcing you to do something. And that really isn't the plan. It's also really not the way Jesus Christ would run the church if He were here today. Since it is His church, we should probably try to portray it accurately in all we do and say.

So please, say "I don't, I'm Mormon" instead of " I can't."

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