Comments about ‘Are we just ‘this much better’ than the world?’

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Published: Sunday, April 24 2011 4:00 a.m. MDT

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Roseburg, OR

Is our goal to live certain standards, or to be "better than the world". What is with this "better than", or should I say "holier than thou" attitude. The Lord was very specific that those who follow Him, and not those who belong to a certain group, ie. the church, will inherit the kingdom. Yet the attitude seems to prevail within the church that "because I am Mormon" or "because I have higher standards" that I am somehow superior to my neighbor. This is what President Benson was talking about in the Pride speech. "Beware of pride"..."wo to those who say all is well in Zion"...words to live by. By the way, Happy Easter!

Montesano, WA

One thing to point out is standards never change. just like a basketball rim will always be 10 feet off the ground no matter what leauge you play in. The world has no standards thats why its always shifting and moving. we have a standard and we stand fast in it as the world pulls away we look as if we are moving but were not its the world that does.

Robert Jolley
Newport Beach, CA

The author of this article touched on some valid points regarding the differences of standards within and outside of the church. Measuring church members' level of righteousness or ones own level of dedication to the gospel against that of what the world appears to deem good or evil, is really a waste of energy. Those comparisons will always come up short and constantly elicit the holier than thou attitude as was expressed in this editorial. I'm not sure where the belief that the 1950/1960's era was a terrestrial state of existence? One only needs to do a little research into what was happening in world affairs outside of Utah and the inter mountain west to realize that this planet and it's inhabitants have been dwelling in what the author refers to as a telestial world since as early as recorded history, and most likely long before that as well. If "questionable movie content" and semi-revealing prom dresses are the most significant stumbling blocks to our progress, then we have this thing called life totally beat. It's all good.

very concerned
Sandy, UT

Maybe I'm reading Robert's posting wrong, but just to point out, if "'questionable movie content' and semi-revealing prom dresses" were our only concerns, we'd be lucky. However, that is not the case. We deal with very weighty moral issues these days, including extramarital sex, which is almost universally accepted as OK, despite the spiritual, physical, familial, and societal consequences of extramatital sex. There are serious issues here. To name a few more, divorce and it attendant affects, dishonesty and it's consequenses, child exploitation of any kind, teen pregnancy, etc. All these things are serious issues of our current day.

Cedar Hills, UT

Just wondering, who is more self righteous - the person who calls for living high standards of holiness, as Christ and every church leader has done, or the person who tries to club that person down with shouts of "stop the holier-than-thou attitude!"

I didn't read where the author said anything about a person with high standards being better than their neighbors. Seems to me she was saying that if you live higher standards today than you lived yesterday, you have improved YOURSELF, and removed yourself further from the stains of this world. Further, it seems she's saying all is NOT well in Zion because we often don't separate ourselves enough from the world. If you don't think the world is in moral decline, and that our standards should be significantly higher than the those of the world, well you just don't believe our prophets.

I just really don't understand the need of some people - especially people of faith - to demean decent people who call for good living. To me, the first commenter seems considerably more self-righteous and judgmental than the author of the opinion piece.

Provo, Ut


From the article:

"Recently our Mia Maid class chose to have a 24-hour fast as the mid-week activity, which we all concluded with a testimony meeting and a meal to break the fast together. The world would be hard-pressed to find a group of young women who would choose to fast in order to grow closer to their Heavenly Father as an activity. They are definitely not just "this much" better than the young women in the world."

her Mia Maid class was compared generically to "the young women in the world", and ranked as being spiritually superior. It is in fact strictly an article expressing holier-than-though sentiments. A great much of what is emphasized to the young women as "modesty" is actually quite idiosyncratic. Bearing ones shoulders, for example, can yield a Mormon qualification of "immodest". "Immodest" is Mormon talk for "slut". Just because Mormons insist on stressing personal worth (particularly to the females) on the basis of "purity", doesn't change the fact that women are still judged based on their sexuality. It's still sexuality that defines a woman for Mormons, they just call it "modesty"!

Somewhere in Time, UT

Generally people call others "self righteous" because they are uncomfortable with someone who lives a higher standard. The article is excellent and reminds us that we need to live the gospel standards regardless of how far away they continue to grow from the rest of the world. We are in the last days and we need to realize that and do our best to live the commandments no matter what the rest of the world thinks or does.

Cedar Hills, UT

Mormoncowboy - so, do you really dispute that you would be hard-pressed to find a group of young women who would engage in a mid-week fast and end with a testimony meeting? Let's hear all your examples of young women in the world who would do such a thing.

Maybe it's that you don't believe fasting and sharing testimonies increases spirituality or brings one closer to Heavenly Father. If so, you clearly do not believe one of the standard tenets of LDS faith, which, of course, is your right. I just don't recall the author making any claims that girls who wear off-the-shoulder attire are sluts. But, I'm not inclined to make such harsh judgments of people making simple encouragements - TO PEOPLE OF THEIR OWN FAITH - to live higher standards than the world at large. This same message has been given by our own prophets, and they are figuratively stoned by people just like you as being self righteous.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Truth or Consequences, NM

"As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10

We should never compare our righteousness to any other person or groups righteousness. We need to compare our righteousness to that of God's. God will not judge us based on how our righteousness stacks up against non-Mormon righteousness, or how our righteousness stacks up against any other person's righteousness. He will judge us based on how our righteousness stacks up against His righteousness.

I'm sure we all admit that compared to the perfect holiness of God we fail miserably. God views our righteousness as "filthy rags" (IS 64:6). It is only through Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross that we can be declared righteous (Rom. 4). We need to trust in His righteousness, not our own (Acts 16:31)!

Eureka, UT

Interesting, this article and most of the comments about "standards" or "morality" or even "holier then thou" attitudes all revolve around sex. As if sex is the only standard that seperates LDS from the world.

I think LDS, who say they are followers of the Savior should look at all the standards He talked about and see if we really set ourselves apart from the world. He talked about how we treat our fellow man, our enemies, those that are different then us. He gave parables of conducts about the Good Samaritian, the woman at the well (he didn't condemn her either), and a city on a hill.

The point I want to make is there are many standards that should set us apart like like our views and actions on immigration issues, health care, welfare, and war. Of course we should also treat the opposite sex with respect and not flaunt our sexuality but we should also not be racist.

I think the standard that should set us apart should be much broader then just our views on sex. That is the real challenge we have in setting ourselves apart.

Cedar Hills, UT

@Instereo - what are you talking about? Of the 10 comments, only 2 focused primarily on sexual standards.

Provo, Ut


Any place you can find religion, you will generally find an ethusiastic body of youth eagerly trying "please God". I'm not convinced however that this is the standard that ought to be encouraged - because as the sectarian divide clearly demonstrates, know one really know's what it means to "please God". Still, the author may have been speaking to the people "OF HER FAITH", as you put it, but she did so by dichotomizing her Mia Maids against the "young women of the world". A bit disingenous I think, and really her compliment does anything more than advance a sense of religious arrogance. Which is okay I suppose you would say, so long as she is just witnessing her faith. I personally am persuaded however, that such an argument is a valid defense. However you spin it, religious arrogance is still arrogance. Your stoning metaphor is quite interesting, as I could just as easily cite this article as the first stone cast against the non-Mormon "young women of the world".

Enough said, as you have already noted - I don't share your faith, so you'll understand why I am not enthusiastic for this bit of cheerleading.

Holladay, UT

There are only two choices to choose from in this world. The Lords way, truth and light or the adversaries way, which leads to darkness. We do not create our own special third way, and man is not here on this earth to come up with the best way. Jesus Christ is the only way and has been since the beginning and will always be. We pick one or the other. Light or dark. True disciples of Jesus Christ that seek Him are not holier than thou, but see the difference clearly between the two different influences in the world. Families, and societies are falling apart... Crazy that prophets that Christ has called Himself have been warning us of these things for a very long time. Yet as a society we dont listen because we don't feel the need to, we are to smart to fall. We are here on this earth to prove ourselves to Him and to make our choice. Don't get the voice of the majority confused with the voice and will of God.

Salt Lake City, UT

Why is it always considered a worst society than before? 200 years ago slavery was legal in the US, 100 years ago women couldn't vote, 50 years ago segregation was in force. Yeah you can point to things that are worse now but there are things that are better now too. It's like older generations always want to assume they're better than the younger ones. Are we worse? I don't know but what I do know is that there isn't a clear-cut answer to that.

Salt Lake City, UT


"do you really dispute that you would be hard-pressed to find a group of young women who would engage in a mid-week fast and end with a testimony meeting? Let's hear all your examples of young women in the world who would do such a thing. "

Most people have no belief in there being a reason to fast therefore they won't do it because that's not how they would go about spiritual activity anyway. It'd be like a Catholic group of young women going to confession together and then having some observer take a smug attitude and say that you'd be hard-pressed to find a group of young women who would go do that.

Wendover, UT

Wonderful article! The author's ideas were very well stated. I do see and have heard those who will say, "Well, at least I don't do that!" and think because they aren't doing "that" they are doing okay. The idea here is that we keep our sights set on the right goal. We read the scriptures, and follow our prophets and the Savior's example, we treat others as we would be treated, and we strive to a higher standard. Somehow that has become the wrong, nerdy, uncool, or self righteous thing to do in this day, to have a higher standard. That's only because others are uncomfortable with the idea that there is a true right and wrong. They mock and make fun of those who are trying to do the right thing. They say there is no real right or wrong. Life's experiences and the consequences of our actions will show that this is not true. It's sad to see so many who refuse to face that until the consequences of their actions come back to haunt them.
Thank you for being a champion of better choices and higher standards!

Las Vegas, NV

There are many non-members out there that have good morals. Just as members who can be immoral.
The point being that every group has it's good members and it's not so good members.
If a group wants to be proud of it's good attributes, there is nothing wrong with that. But you can be proud of your good attributes without comparing yourself to others. It's like politicians. It's so refreshing to have a political candidate try to win by simply talking about the good things he/she could do, without having to belittle his opponent in the process.
It also sounds very sheltered to suggest that everyone outside of your group holds themselves to a lower standard.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

As ha been told the time will come when the world only has two religions. The followers of Christ and the followers of Satan. This is becoming more and more true everyday. What used to be morally wrong is now the accepted norm. Christ himself said that we needed to be part of the world but not of the world. If our standards sets us apart from the rest of the world, then so be it. That is the way the Lord would want us to be. It isn't a holier than thou attitude but being disciples of Christ. That is what is meant by taking the name of Christ upon us. That is why we take the sacrament every Sunday to remind us of the covenants we made when we were baptized, to always remember him (JESUS CHRIST) that we may have his spirit (HOLY GHOST) with us continuously. We must set ourselves apart from the rest of the world as the world declines into what was transpiring at Sodom and Gomorrah.

Indeed as others have stated we are in the last days, the Gospel has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and we have prophets today.

Provo, UT

Who is this "the world" that every LDS person seems to compare themselves against? Saying you are "that much better" than some nebulous, undefined, group of inferior people with "low" moral standards "out there" is pretty vain and delusional. It is the epitome of "self-righteous" arrogance.

Whatever "the world" might be, it certainly is not a unified entity about which anyone can really know anything, much less an LDS author who has done no research, surveys, or collected any data about the moral standards of "the world".

Characterizing "the world" by reference to select magazines, television shows, movies, etc. is so naive and self-serving. "The world" is also filled with many good magazines, television shows, movies, etc. Why select only the bad ones and then judge "the world" based on that biased selection? Because it makes us look good by comparison. And it motivates more "righteousness" by giving us an "enemy" to rally against: "The world and its evils are coming! Prepare for battle! Gird your loins!"

The sooner we stop this simple-minded demonizing of "the world", the sooner we will stop being accurately described as "self-righteous" and "holier-than-thou" (whoever "thou" is).

Bedford, WA

I think the author is measuring spirituality with the wrong measure. She is grading the spirituality of people based upon trivial things such as the length of their dresses, whether they have green tea in the morning, whether they express their love through intimacy with their lover while not legally wed (a third party does not need to validate love, in my opinion) or if they can skip eating for 24 hours every now and then (and lots of people, nonreligious, actually do this, and for longer periods of time).

If there is a God then I will be very disappointed if he actually cares about trivial things such as those that were beloved by the Pharisees. I'm sure the Pharisees thought they were exceedingly righteous because of the things they did too, and that they were better because their nonbelieving neighbours didn't do them as good or as often as they did.

Spiritual fulfillment and perfection are found on a more solemn path: through inner reflection, learning about the self from past actions, acceptance of the self, love for both self and for others, to name a few.

Don't judge, lest ye be judged.

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