From the Archives: What is the Purpose of the BYU Dress and Grooming Code?

March 8, 2006 | 91 comments
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BYU is often ridiculed for its dress and grooming code. The basic argument is that it is silly. It places undue emphasis on essentially trivial issues of facial hair and hemlines. A more telling critique claims that by focusing on trivialities it actually affirmatively stunts real moral development.

I think that all of these criticisms, while perhaps true, miss the REAL genius of the BYU Dress and Grooming Code. Their basic mistake is that they assume that the purpose of the Code is for students to follow it, when, in reality, the whole raison d’etre of the Code is to be violated!

Kids entering college are in a naturally rebellious mood. They are getting their first taste of real independence and are as of yet unencumbered by real, adult responsiblities. In short, this is the time to violate social norms!

The problem is that many social norms serve important functions and their violation can be self-destructive. Thus, college kids who act out against recieved wisdom and the pressures of society by using drugs, engaging in binge drinking, or indulging in anonymous, half-sober sexual “hook ups,� frequently find themselves facing the tragic consequences of such behavior.

Yet the norm-violating energy must go some place. An this is the cunning genius of the BYU Dress and Grooming Code. It provides a big, pointless, ham-fisted norm against essentially harmless activity. For example, while I was at BYU I would regularly engage in such wild misbehaviors as going to my freshman dorm cafeteria in running shorts that were TOO SHORT! I would sometimes skip shaving, particularlly during finals, brazenly walking past the honor code police in the library with two days worth of post-adolescent scruff. Needless to say, I felt that I was quite the daring individualist. And I know that my behavior was not isolated. I dare say that there were many readers of this very blog who took a secret (and not so secret) pleasure in pushing the envelope of the Code. We were young. We were crazy. We were rebels with a cause: scruffiness and true moral awareness!

We were also utterly harmless. What was the result of all of this rebelliousness on our part? What horrific consequences did I suffer as a result of my flirtations with social anarchy? Why nothing at all. I, and many of my friends, were able to largely exhaust our purile post-high school rebelliousness on…not shaving for two days!

The cunning of it!!

91 Responses to From the Archives: What is the Purpose of the BYU Dress and Grooming Code?

  1. Kevin Barney on March 8, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    Excellent observation, Nate. I was such a Mormon goodie two shoes in high school, that when I went to college I was ready for some serious anarchy. So I pushed the envelope of the honor code my freshman year by wearing my afro (hey, this was the late 70s, so cut me some slack) long–but technically it was “over my ears,” because it went out, not down. It was my way of “sticking it to the man” as they say in the cellphone commercial.

    Actually, violating certain mission rules gave me the same sense of rebellion. I would occasionally listen to my surreptitious cassette tape recordings of Styx or Supertramp or Blondie or Heart. Major rules violation. I have to admit, I enjoyed the reputation I got as a real bad [expletive deleted] on my mission for what in the greater scheme of things was nothing but silly fluff on my part. The bar on behavior had been set so high that I was able to rebel without really rebelling. Ultimately I didn’t do anything truly antisocial, and I came out of that whole time in my life relatively unscathed, and ready to be an honorable and law-abiding citizen of the kingdom once again.

  2. Paul on March 8, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I like this idea, but I think it fails. Maybe your post is all tongue-in-cheak, but degree of rebellion depends more on the rebel than the rules. I did not go to BYU, happily, but I was still a fairly harmless rebel at my school. I did basically the same things you did if not exactly the same.

  3. Nate Oman on March 8, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Paul: This post is completely serious. I am curious, however, about what other college one could attend where not shaving for two days is a signal of James Dean-esque contempt for the status quo.

  4. gst on March 8, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    I too remember rebelling against BYU’s dress and grooming standards because it gave me the thrill of taboo. Also, I murdered hobos.

  5. Frank McIntyre on March 8, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    I can’t believe you used the word “hobo”. What a neanderthal.

  6. Paul on March 8, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    That should read, of course, tongue-in-cheek. That’s what I get for blogging while I should be billing. Nate, a conservative university in the South. I even painted my toenails once. My institute teacher was not happy.

    Going along with your logic, do you think that is why Pres. Hinckley came out with the one ear piercing rule for girls — so that second ear-piercing would be so taboo and still so harmless?

  7. Jeremy on March 8, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve often wondered the exact same thing, Nate. I know in high school I relished the incongruity and devil-may-care recklessness of guzzling a Dr. Pepper from the vending machine as I crossed the street to attend seminary. (I couldn’t stay awake otherwise.)

    Still, this could pose problems in that it can foster a sense of “cosmetic morality” (not my term, but one I like) that bleeds over into “real life.” How many missionaries and members freak out when their new convert falls off the wagon and –gasp– indulges in a cup of Sanka, and then the new convert feels stupid and stops showing up? Likewise, how many rebellious teenagers didn’t perceive the “wink wink” that, according to your post, is supposed to accompany such superficial rules as facial hair restrictions, and thus failed to draw the distinction between trivial rebellion and apostasy and went seamlessly from one to the other?

    In other words. I think you might be right. But if you are, it creeps me out a little.

  8. Jeremy on March 8, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    It also makes me wonder if, assuming you’re right, there are other “buffer” commandments that are meant to break our fall from grace and keep us from the “real” sins. Ear piercings? Word of Wisdom? Seems like a slipper slope…

    Still, I think many of us find our own little ways to “safely” rebel. I, for example, swear a little more than I should, and it makes me feel cool, but I draw the line at the “F word” and the Lord’s name.

  9. s p bailey on March 8, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    Having studied where not even most women shaved, I got all counter-cultural by sustaining my missionary ‘do and shaving habits long after my mission. Sticking it to the man is for hippies. I preferred sticking it to my pointlessly grungy contemporaries. (Ernest Wilkinson smiles on the other side.)

  10. Nate Oman on March 8, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    “In other words. I think you might be right. But if you are, it creeps me out a little.”

    Oh well. I guess you take what you can get. I have also heard the objection that it leads to serious sins because people think that “Hell, I’ve already been caught scruffy in the HBLL, I might as well embarked upon a life of debauchery and fornication.”

  11. Sara R on March 8, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    Miss Manners has made a similar argument (in one of her books…somewhere). She’s said that parents who take the attitude of “nothing shocks me anymore” are making a big mistake. Teens and young adults need to think they are shocking you, and if you can get them to think they are shocking you by, say, wearing white shoes after Labor Day, so much the better.

  12. Talon on March 8, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    My experience with the dress code goes back to the early 80’s when I was between 10 and 12. My dad attended summer school for several summers for his Masters.

    I remember very well the first time I was thrown out of the Wilkinson center video arcade for wearing shorts. Imagine my disillusionment when after years of being told I was a good Mormon boy by my parents, I was equated with the spawn of satan by a church institution I had been brought up to revere.

    A streak of rebelliousness was born, and I resolved to try and get thrown out of that place as many times as possible….and I did (being explicitly shown the “No shorts Allowed Sign” each time on my way out).

    This and cheating on the last hole of mini-golf (by sticking my hand up inside and throwing the ball in the free game hole) became my favorite passtimes.

    Sometimes when I teach Gospel Doctrine I think to myself…”If they only knew the real me!”.

  13. Jason Kerr on March 8, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    You are probably right about the real reason for the dress and grooming code. But a more interesting question is what is the real purpose of the Honor Code? It seems to me that the real reason for the Honor Code is the cultivation and encouragement of rats. Not the animal kind, the human kind.

    For example, if a BYU student accuses his roomie of smoking, the accuser is given a pat on the back, a hearty thank you, and is sent on his way. The hapless roomie is then brought before the BYU Inquisition to answer charges (of course his accuser need not be present). The burden of proof is effectively on the accused and he has little or no way to defend himself. If it turns out that the accused is merely the victim of a jealous roommate angry that the much better looking accused stole his girlfriend, the accuser is not punished. That is despite the fact that the accuser has broken one of the ten commandments–you know, don’t bear false witness. Oh no, the accuser gets exactly what he wants–the Inquisition tells the accused to find other digs.

    Why not punish the false witness bearer? Well, the Inquisition wants to encourage rats. How else are they supposed to find out about the Sunday-sluffers, MTV watchers, and R-rated movie goers? Then what would the members of the Inquisition do? Find real jobs?!?!? You must be kidding.

  14. Anon on March 8, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    “Having studied where not even most women shaved, …”

    Boy, did I ever mis-read that the first time through.

  15. Anon on March 8, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    ” the accuser is given a pat on the back, a hearty thank you, and is sent on his way. The hapless roomie is then brought before the BYU Inquisition to answer charges (of course his accuser need not be present). The burden of proof is effectively on the accused and he has little or no way to defend himself. ”

    Sounds like a lot of mission experiences, where Inquisition = MP.

  16. Paul on March 8, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Nate: Do you think the false rules are a good thing?

  17. Porter on March 8, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    If only the bureaucratic adminstrators of BYU were so cunning! I think you give them WAY too much credit.

    If there was really some conspiracy in the church to promulgate “false rules” then it would make it much easier to justify breaking them. They aren’t real anyway.

    On the other hand, if I was to accept your thesis as true then why not apply the same reasoning to many of the other commandments in the Church? Take the Word of Wisdom for instance. Having a class of wine is also utterly harmless (in fact its good for you). So why exactly should it disqualify one from entering the temple?

  18. Paul on March 8, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    Porter, your slippery slope has already been raised, and, like most slippery slopes, it is a gross overstatement. There is a difference between a beard and a beer. And not just the obvious physical charactersitcs. For some reason, a beer keeps one out of the temple and a beard does not. But, a beard does get one in trouble at the Y. Why? Nate’s reasoning seems as plausible to me as any I have heard before.

  19. Veritas on March 8, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    “why not apply the same reasoning to many of the other commandments in the Church? ”

    The phrasing of this scares me, and I’ve seen it a couple of times above. Do people think the BYU honor code are like unto CHURCH COMMANDMENTS that all should obey?

  20. Jeremiah J. on March 8, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    “I can’t believe you used the word “hoboâ€?. What a neanderthal”

    There’s nothing wrong with the term, Frank. I own it quite proudly. My daughter wrote a whole story of my long history as a hobo, jumping trains, doing odd jobs and all, until I eventually became president of the hobo nation. She was asked to read her biographical report to her second grade class.

    In case my vote counts for anything, I’m quite attached to my beard and yet I have and am willing in the future to shave if I ever come under a faculty grooming code again. I have seen first hand, however, how administrators (at, in my case, SVU) can worry all day about dress lengths and beards but get glassy-eyed when someone is breaking the honor code. Energy that is supposed to direct toward real moral order can be directed well or badly just as much as norm-violating energy can.

  21. Hans Hansen on March 8, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    #12. “wearing shorts in the Wilkinson Center arcade”

    Ha! When I showed up at BYU as an innocent freshman from California in 1967 I headed to the Wilkinson Center hoping to shoot some pool. I was rudely informed that playing pool was “evil” and that Pres. Joseph F. Smith had condemned playing billiards as being the refuge of those who smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol! I guess that guy Mozart must have been evil too since I have heard that he was quite a good billiards player.

    So I ended up going to a local Provo billiards hall where I was surrounded by people smoking and drinking alcohol!

  22. Edje on March 8, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    Nate: I think you underestimate the code’s genius. As you note, it provides a (relatively) safe target for norm-transgressing energy. It can also have community and confidence building functions.

    Common experiences (like trying to find kosher shorts at an outlet far away from Utah), common sufferings (like wearing shoes when you’d rather be barefoot), and dressing alike are all powerful “us”-ifiers for BYU-ites, just like they are for the military (with different efforts, sufferings, and uniforms, of course).

    The nascent community is reinforced by deviants: nothing says “I am part of a whole” quite like looking askance at the top of a patella and knowing that thousands of other BYU-ites–including you–live the higher law–unlike Brother Oman there in his running shorts; may God have mercy on his heathen soul. (Participating in social censure of deviance enhances the code’s utility for controlled deviance–they more deeply I buy into the idea that The Man told me to shave and that everybody accepts it, the more satisfied I will be with my not-shaving-for-a-day as rebellion.)

    Further, it can do a psyche good to have a list of relatively easy things to do, especially if that list can be imbued with eternal value–obedience, goodliness of report, etc. (whether the imbuing is accurate is beside the present point). A freshly-shaven but insecure lad looks in the mirror and thinks (subconsciously, I hope), “The prophet told me to shave and, by golly, I did it. I am so mature.” Here also enter the rat and the gestapo, who can find feelings of validation, connection, and higher purpose in telling on the nominally wayward. Again, it’s like the military–learning to do simple, arbitrary things well–like drill–builds confidence.

    So, besides providing a (mostly) consequence-free way for individuals to indulge the urge to rebel, the code also helps create an instant community that goes above and beyond the commonality of being mostly church members. If the code doesn’t ask for things the student wasn’t already doing, i.e., if it doesn’t go beyond temple recommend requirements, it doesn’t work as a campus unifier (or as the controlled norm-violation outlet; you can still violate Norm, but it’s not controlled if the code matches temple recommend requirements).

  23. mullingandmusing on March 8, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Having attended BYU and having some association with it in my post-college life, I am a huge advocate of the codes and standards. Students who spend their time finding ways to push the envelope truly don’t belong there anyway. There are plenty of campuses where kids can go if they don’t like the expectations. (Ah, but then it wouldn’t be fun anymore, would it? So, how is it that such a cavalier attitude of the students is somehow BYU’s fault? Talk about a scapegoat….)

    The standards at BYU provide a unique atmosphere that (among other things) 1) is beneficial to the learning environment, 2) teach the students the value of integrity and of the potential for good of seemingly “little things,” 3) set BYU apart from other schools and catch the attention of unsuspecting visitors and 4) underscore the importance of standards in our religion and give opportunities for simple obedience. The fact that they are so easily belittled here just suggests that there is a lack of understanding about their importance. It also shows a lack of respect for those who create and support these standards, which includes members of the Board of Trustees. That kind of attitude drives me nuts.

    I’m not ignorant to the challenges of enforcing the Honor Code and dress standards, and of the challenge of communicating the purpose and not just the rules, but those problems do not negate the benefits for those willing to live by them and see them. Besides, in the end, what’s the big deal? Students are asked to dress modestly, to live morally, to live the Word of Wisdom, and to think about the message they are sending by how they look. So? Are these not good principles? Are they not, in principle, taught to ALL of us as members of the Church? Can they not serve a purpose, not only for the culture at BYU, but for the students’ future lives? Slovenly appearance and a tendency to push the envelope certainly doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run, and doesn’t do anything in the development of character. On the other hand, willing adherence to something voluntarily agreed to and committed to is a sign of integrity, which is a key element of these standards. If students want to push the envelope or don’t like the Honor Code, why on earth do they choose to go to BYU where these standards are openly expected? Just because students at that age “naturally want to push the envelope” doesn’t mean BYU should expect something else. I think it is the argument presented in this article, not the Honor Code, that is plain silly.

    There are plenty of students who live by the standards and recognize their value (as listed above). They also don’t think they are that big of a deal. Such standards really are just part of their life anyway, so….

    Like someone said, why not take issue with other standards, such as the Word of Wisdom, post-temple dress standards, or other guidlelines and/or commandments we as members of the Church are expected to live? Why are those any less silly or trivial? Does wearing “beach attire”or colored shirts to Church really matter? Well, prophets have said that it does. They have also endorsed the dress code. Our job is to seek to understand the doctrine and reasons behind these seemingly small things. Discovering those truths is actually exciting. Give it a try. Just for fun, look up “Honor Code” on BYU’s devotional archives site. You will see this is anything but silly and dealing with trivialities to those who understand the purpose and value of BYU’s standards.

    Or read what Elder Bednar said to BYU students last year about the aforementioned “one earring only” issue. These issues are sometimes about obedience, integrity, humility and moral character (following through with commitment) as much as they are about the specifics of the standards (although who can argue about the benefits of no alcohol and premarital sex at college?) At some point, our characters are on the line if we adopt a cavalier attitude about standards expected of us (and especially if we have willingly agreed to them). Students who dismiss the Honor Code and dress and grooming standards are revealing a lack of character and integrity, are cheating themselves of the benefits of adherence, and are also affecting others around them. Lack of adherence to BYU standards is NOT harmless. It may not always have lasting effects, but sometimes it does. And it does have short-term effects that should not be trivialized. Read Elder Bateman’s talk from this past Sunday about the importance of the college years. Are college-age choices harmless? Hardly.

  24. Jeremy on March 8, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    I didn’t mean to suggest that I perceive a slippery slope between beards and beers, but I think there are certainly Mormons who do. I know several members of the church for whom my cola habit is just as bad, or bad in the same way if not quite to the same degree, as an alcohol habit would be. This is what worried me — members seriously freaking out in a detrimental way about minor infractions.

    My speculation about other “buffer sins” was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

  25. Costanza on March 8, 2006 at 8:14 pm

    You must have been quite a charmer Nate. I was NEVER allowed past the beard monitors–not at the testing center, not at the cafeteria, not when I went to pick up my hard-earned janitor money. After I graduated I grew a beard and have kept it ever since. Maybe I am secretly living my rebellion to this day. Yikes.

  26. S. on March 8, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    This reminds of the “broken window” theory for the drop in crime in New York City—namely, that by rigorously keeping things clean and enforcing little rules you ensure that people won’t bother breaking the big ones. But as far as I know (having read Freakonomics and one or two articles, I consider myself an expert), the data don’t support this explanation for the drop in crime.

    On the other hand, there is (so I hear) some military evidence that uniforms and drills and draconian enforcement of lots of meaningless rules all help to foster unit cohesion, bravery, and unquestioning obedience under fire.

    But I suspect the real reason for the rules is to deter certain people from coming to BYU at all—i.e., the sorts of people who find the thought BYU’s rules so oppressive and stifling that they go to U. Utah instead are precisely the kinds of people BYU doesn’t want poisoning the intellectual atmosphere.

    Either that or some random administrator just happens not to like beards.

  27. Kevin Barney on March 8, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    BYU accounts for why I wear a beard today.

    My last year at the Y, when we went away for Xmas vacation, I decided to grow a beard for those three weeks. I had never grown one before. When I got back after vacation, I went to church right before going back to school, and fully half of the men in my married student ward had done the same thing and were wearing beards. It was really a funny sight.

    Well, it turns out that my wife really liked my beard, and I figure that on this topic her vote counts more than anyone else’s in the whole world. So I shaved for my last semester, but once I graduated I promptly grew the beard back. And I’ve worn it ever since, over 20 years now.

    Ironically, without the ban on beards at the Y there is a good chance I never would have bothered growing a beard in the first place and would be clean shaven to this day.

  28. Hans Hansen on March 8, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    And then there are some of us who remember going to BYU before there was a grooming code (pre-1969); a time when beards were tolerated, when sideburns could extend below the ears, and when moustaches could extend below the upper lip. Returning from my mission in 1970 I found the place had changed and a very oppressive atmosphere, keeping an eye out for the Dress and Grooming Thought Police, etc., was now on campus. I stuck around long enough to find my wife and then immediately transferred to the U, where I grew the beard that I wear to this day. The University of Utah was like a breath of fresh air, especially the Music Dept.

  29. jinnmabe on March 8, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    A beard, a beard, my kingdom for a beard!

  30. gst on March 8, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    I’m guessing that “mullingandmusing” never murdered a hobo.

  31. Matt Evans on March 9, 2006 at 12:07 am

    Quick data point regarding facial hair: a man in our ward shaved his moustache of 15 years last week because it was required by his calling as a veil worker. Don’t know if that’s from the church or the president of the DC temple.

  32. Jeremy on March 9, 2006 at 12:25 am

    I know other temple workers who have been asked to shave and/or cut long hair, so I don’t think it’s exclusive to the DC temple. On the other hand, one guy I know worked in the temple for a couple of years before finally acquiescing to the requests that he cut his chin-length hair; I don’t think they put lots of pressure, but months and months of gentle nudging. (He’s no longer a temple worker, although he remains a regular temple attender; he’s since grown his hair back out.)

  33. cc on March 9, 2006 at 1:22 am

    My husband has a food allergy and ended up with a rash all over his face one week during finals in college, so he could not shave. The sad part was he could not take finals until he got a “beard card,” which allow you to have facial hair for medical reasons…only in Provo

  34. Roy Grant on March 9, 2006 at 9:16 am

    #23 mullingandmusing :

    “On the other hand, willing adherence to something voluntarily agreed to and committed to is a sign of integrity, which is a key element of these standards. If students want to push the envelope or don’t like the Honor Code, why on earth do they choose to go to BYU where these standards are openly expected?”

    I’ll second that.

  35. JWL on March 9, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Sorry to go against all of this high-powered theorizing, but the BYU grooming code is simply an outmoded historical artifact that has become bureaucratically entrenched. It was instituted in its current highly restictive form as a direct reaction to the perceived excesses of 1960s youth when long hair for men and miniskirts for women became symbols of counter-cultural protest. Now I’ll allow that there may be some separate justification for rules based on modesty in clothing, but for the most part the purpose for the hair rules for men has long since become obsolete now that you can find plenty of beards on Wall Street and Main Street and at conservative think tanks and NASCAR races. However, like the ban on black men holding the priesthood, the BYU grooming code now has the power of institutional inertia behind, and will not change until the powers that be are confronted with a compelling need to change.

  36. Talon on March 9, 2006 at 11:21 am

    I’m guessing that “mullingandmusing� never murdered a hobo.

    LOL!

  37. zoobie on March 9, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    I wonder if Brigham Young would be allowed into his own namesake university with the beard he so rebelliously cultivated. Perhaps he and other prophets of this dispensation somehow received clearance from their physicians to obtain the coveted beard cards.
    Seriously, though, what kind of a social statement is being made in this day and age by sporting a beard? Does it increase sex appeal and should therefore be shunned? Does it somehow say “I am anti-establishment.”? Does it mean I am affiliated with hippies or, worse-yet, fundamentalist Islam?

  38. Nate Oman on March 9, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    “Nate: Do you think the false rules are a good thing?”

    It is not at all clear to me how a rule can be true or false…

  39. Beijing on March 9, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    I think “false” is being used to mean “phony” rather than “not true.”

    Kind of like parents will get a toy cell phone and act like it’s real, so that a young child will think she’s getting to play with daddy’s cell phone when actually all she’s got is a false phone. The phony phone, as it were.

    If there are a bunch of rules, and most people in the community act like it’s a moral infraction no matter which rule you break, but only some of the rules have real moral weight…is that a good thing?

  40. Jim F. on March 9, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    JWL (35): Amen

  41. Sara Steed on March 9, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    I really appreciate M&M’s comment. While my views very closely mirror hers, I do feel that the Honor Code and its means of enforcement are not ideal. I was working in the library when an article was published accusing HBLL of not enforcing the Honor Code. There were so many conferences and special meetings with the staff and students to talk about how to enforce the HC in our respective departments. I honestly was sick of hearing about the HC and wanted to throw my shoe at people who kept pestering the HR dude with trivial hypotheticals. But, it also made me realize that perhaps the HC is so explicit because there has to be some standard out there that everyone should adhere to.

    Personally, I don’t mind the BYU Honor Code (I’m a current Cougar)…and I don’t think that most students do. And if they do, I don’t believe it’s a matter of the HC being ridiculous, but a matter of the lifestyle they are wanting to adopt.

    (And by the way, I don’t think the HC police are THAT efficient…walking around campus is proof enough for that. Plus, I know a girl who models as a Pamela Anderson look-alike (you can imagine what ALL that entails) and still has not had anything said to her.)

  42. jinnmabe on March 9, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    Yeah, my BYU experience was similar to Sara’s. I had a beard for a whole semester, because I was in a show, and although I had a ‘beard card’ I was never asked by anyone, including the Testing Center Arm of the Honor Code Enforcement, um, Force, to show my card. I think people assumed I wouldn’t actually grow one full like that unless I had the card, so they didn’t say anything. Which just goes to show that much of success in life can be attributed to acting like you know what you are doing.

  43. mullingandmusing on March 9, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Beijing: There are two levels to this issue — one is the rules themselves (which, of course, fall on a continuum of seriousness and “moral weight”), but the second level is about the commitment that is made by the students. When that commitment is ignored and broken, that itself IS a moral infraction, regardless of the relative “moral weight” of the rule that has been broken.

  44. Mathew on March 9, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    M&M,

    Isn’t the moral seriousness of breaking my commitment to follow a code of conduct is directly related to the moral weight of the conduct itself. When I am given driving privileges, for example, I agree to abide by certain rules, some of which I see as very serious and some of which I, being a scoff-law, scoff at. Does my propesity to exceed the speed limit mean I’m morally adrift? Frankly your approach to the question reminds me of what I occassionaly found irritating about the dress code–the apparently intentional decision to conflate arbitrary grooming decisions with matters of honor.

    I don’t have a problem with BYU having a dress code per se–I don’t think I even attempted to violate it while I was there. The problem arises when it is represented as a moral code of conduct.

  45. Beijing on March 9, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    [i]When that commitment is ignored and broken, that itself IS a moral infraction, regardless of the relative “moral weight� of the rule that has been broken.[/i]

    I don’t think that ignoring or breaking a commitment is necessarily a moral infraction in itself. What if I made a commitment to join with others in committing a terrible crime, then didn’t go through with it but instead turned the others in? Would you chastise me just as harshly for the “moral infraction” of breaking that commitment and being disloyal to the others, or would you take into account the “moral weight” of the underlying commitment?

  46. Kevin Barney on March 9, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Sara no. 41, your friend must be one popular girl!

  47. Ben S. on March 9, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    In support of #35 (and this may have been quoted on the earlier thread)-

    Elder Oaks first talk as President of BYU, 1971

    “he rule against beards and long hair for men stands on a difficult footing. I am weary of having young people tell me that most of our Church leaders in earlier times wore beards and long hair, which shows that these are not inherently evil. Others argue that beards cannot be evil because they see bearded men enjoying the privileges of the temple. To me, this proposition seems so obvious that it is hardly worth mentioning. Unlike modesty, which is an eternal value in the sense of rightness or wrongness in the eyes of God, our rules against beards and long hair are contemporary and pragmatic. They are responsive to conditions and attitudes in our own society at this particular point in time. Historical precedents are worthless in this area. The rules are subject to change, and I would be surprised if they were not changed at some time in the future. But the rules are with us now, and it is therefore important to understand the reasoning behind them.

    There is nothing inherently wrong about long hair or beards , any more than there is anything inherently wrong with possessing an empty liquor bottle. But a person with a beard or an empty liquor bottle is susceptible of being misunderstood. Either of these articles may reduce a person’s effectiveness and promote misunderstanding because of what people may reasonably conclude when they view them in proximity to what these articles stand for in our society today.

    In the minds of most people at this time, the beard and long hair are associated with protest, revolution, and rebellion against authority. They are also symbols of the hippie and drug culture. Persons who wear beards or long hair, whether they desire it or not, may identify themselves with or emulate and honor the drug culture or the extreme practices of those who have made slovenly appearance a badge of protest and dissent. In addition, unkemptness-which is often (though not always) associated with beards and long hair-is a mark of indifference toward the best in life. As Elder Sterling W. Sill has observed:
    A let-down in personal appearance has far more than physical significance, for when ugliness gets its roots into one part of our lives it may soon spread to every other part. ( The Quest for Excellence , p. 38)

    A young bishop of my acquaintance can testify to the impact of unkempt appearance on those around us and its relationship to the drug culture. One evening last June, Bishop E. Wayne Nelson of the South Shore Ward in Griffith, Indiana, received a telephone call from a jailer in an Indiana city, fifty miles from his home. The jailer was holding two Mormon boys who were charged with possession of narcotics. Bishop Nelson made several visits as these young men waited in jail for their cases to be heard. He learned that both were from Utah, the sons of active Latter-day Saint parents. Both had tampered with drugs in this state. Both had adopted an unkempt appearance, including shoulder-length hair. Soon after they arrived in Gary, Indiana, to look for work, and while they were walking down a street, a peddler of narcotics approached them and invited them to make a purchase. Faced with that temptation at that time in that place, the boys chose not to resist. Soon after this transaction they were arrested and charged with possession of the drugs they had purchased. After the bishop heard their story in jail, he asked them, “Why do you think the peddler approached you?” One boy responded, “I guess it was our appearance; we just looked like users.” These young men had taken upon themselves the badges of the drug culture, and they were easily identified and approached by those who sought to profit from their weakness. ”

    Available in entirety here

  48. jjohnsen on March 9, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    Does anyone look at someone with a beard and think “hippie drug user” anymore? That talk only reinforces the idea that the beard rule is outdated and unnecessary.

  49. Adam Greenwood on March 10, 2006 at 11:01 am

    (1) “I don’t think that ignoring or breaking a commitment is necessarily a moral infraction in itself.

    (2) “What if I made a commitment to join with others in committing a terrible crime, then didn’t go through with it but instead turned the others in? Would you chastise me just as harshly for the “moral infractionâ€? of breaking that commitment and being disloyal to the others, or would you take into account the “moral weightâ€? of the underlying commitment? ”

    These aren’t addressed to the same point. Obviously we favor breaking immoral commitments (for the record, though bearded myself, I don’t see that a commitment to shave is immoral in some way), but that doesn’t mean that breaking that commitment or any other has no moral weight in itself. That’s why I believe the Savior told us not to swear to things, because its a serious matter to have to break your word. So, yes, breaking a neutral commitment is much less serious a moral infraction than breaking a positive one, but its still an infraction.

  50. yossarian on March 10, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    The code has long outlived it’s paranoid purpose. It is time for it to go.

  51. Jesse on March 10, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    I have attended three different universities, BYU, Penn State and George Washington, as a student, and visited a handful of other campuses. I am convinced that the dress and grooming aspects of the honor code at BYU make a positive difference in how students approach their classroom experience. Don’t have any data to offer, of course, and it is simply a subjective expression, but I believe it nonetheless.

  52. Beijing on March 10, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    I agree that the commitment to shave is a neutral one.

    “So, yes, breaking a neutral commitment is much less serious a moral infraction than breaking a positive one, but its still an infraction.”

    Assuming this is true, is it then moral to treat unequal infractions equally?

  53. spencer bingham on March 10, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    Not everyone that wants to go to a church school can I heard Elder Bednar say at Ricks college if you dont want to keep the honor code here dont come. I wonder if dress and grooming is a way of weeding some people out of the school.

  54. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 10, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    #50: What “paranoid purpose” is now not applicable? If an organization wants to maintain a certain environment, culture and/or look, it will often require certain dress and grooming standards. Walk into Target and you see nothing but red and tan. Walk into our local grocery store, and you see a color scheme as well (and they also have a certain grooming standard as well). In addition, BYU wants to uphold the moral standards of the Church. Exactly what do you see as “paranoid”?

    #44 & #45:
    You didn’t take me up on my challenge, did you ? :) :) :) This concept of commitment and moral integrity, etc. is not something I came up with. There are six pages of talks listed in the BYU devotional archives that address the honor code. Following are some quotes that state what I have been trying to say.
    (Note Pres. Kimball’s clarification that there is nothing wrong with not wanting to go to BYU and sign on that dotted line…but once the person signs, the choice to comply has already been made.)

    From the BYU devotional archives:
    “I believe adherence to the Honor Code, including the provisions related to dress and grooming, is a matter of integrity. Simply put, to sign your name in support of one standard and then to live another is just one more example of lying or promise breaking….
    “Let me mention our Honor Code briefly. It is often portrayed…as a set of rules. Although it does contain specifics with respect to honesty, appearance, and general conduct, it is really much more. It is an attitude. It is a personal commitment to live life in congruence with gospel principles. It is our recognition of the importance of others in our university circle and the respect we have for them and their sensibilities, as well as for their rights and property. It is the chalk line we draw around our conduct and our thinking.” [From a talk on integrity.]
    Pres. Samuelson (Sept. 2004)

    Elder Tingey (last year to graduates): “When you sign the Honor Code, you enter into a commitment that might be compared to reaffirming certain covenants you have made. In the words of the scriptures, it might be compared to making oaths.” (Both he and Elder Samuelson used Karl G. Maeser’s quote about not crossing a chalk line if his word of honor was given that he wouldn’t, using that as a model of what integrity and moral commitment.)

    Pres. Samuelson (in the same talk as quoted above) quoted Pres. Kimball: “I make no apology for returning to that theme, because integrity (which includes the willingness and ability to live by our beliefs and commitments) is one of the foundation stones of good character, and without good character one cannot hope to enjoy the presence of God here or in the eternities. In this institution students and faculty commit themselves explicitly to abide by a code of conduct which includes both living by the moral precepts of the gospel and conforming to a dress and grooming code. Some purport to accept the moral standards as important and denigrate the other as trivial and as intruding on their freedom of choice. These people fundamentally misperceive the question, which is not whether the . . . code is wise, but whether they should consider themselves bound by a promise. It is not that such a code is forced upon anyone; there is free choice to come here or to go to some other institution which makes no such demands. . . . There is no disgrace in making that choice; it is a wholly legitimate option. But once having elected to come here and to participate in this community with its special calling to represent the Church and its highest standards, you must not compromise your integrity by promising what you will not do. By taking covenants lightly, you will wound your eternal self.” [Spencer W. Kimball, BYU devotional, 4 September 1979, “Integrity: The Spirit of BYU,â€? 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year (Provo: BYU, 1980), 162]

    Pres. Lee
    “Our honor code and dress and grooming standards are an integral and essential part of this unique environment. They in fact involve more than just environmental considerations. They are anchored in principles of morality and good citizenship. Some of those moral principles are found in revealed truth, such as our sexual morality and Word of Wisdom standards. Others are based on considerations of cleanliness, modesty, and general appearance, but all are grounded in morals, because they are standards that we committed to keep as a condition of our being here, and keeping commitments is a moral issue of the highest order.”

    “At BYU, disciplined appearance represents an external aspect of a much more important and sacred inner discipline. Perhaps good grooming and modest, clean clothing are for BYU what some religions speak of as symbolic sacraments–‘an outward sign of an inward grace.'”
    [Then] Pres. Holland

    [Then] Pres. Oaks: “Another aspect of honesty and truthfulness for students and employees of Brigham Young University is the matter of adherence to our Dress and Grooming Standards. This becomes a matter of honesty and truthfulness because each student admitted to Brigham Young University promises in his or her admissions application to abide by the principles of the Code of Honor and the Dress and Grooming Standards, and that commitment is renewed each registration. Students who are in deliberate violation of the Dress and Grooming Standards are therefore promise breakers, and when that violation is continued through the promises of another registration period, the violators are liars in addition. If that word seems harsh to you, how would you fairly characterize such behavior?”
    He then goes on to read from a letter which implies that those who don’t adhere to the standards “detract from, rather than support, the special environment that thousands of others create and rely upon.”
    [This talk is interesting to read — he dissects the dress and grooming standards and explains reasons for those relating to long hair and beards for men (amon several others). He may have said there is nothing inherently wrong with a beard, but nevertheless he was pretty clear about saying it mattered at BYU to be clean-cut and clean-shaven — just like Target or my grocery store or any other company that expects its employees to look a certain way.]

    “Because of that commitment [to the Honor Code and standards], you have been admitted to the university. It is a serious pledge because your honor is at stake. How you keep your word defines who you are. The fastest way to lose your good character is to break the pledge
    “If we live honest, true lives, the attribution is to everyone. If some lack honor and integrity, it reflects on all of us as well.” [I included this one because it explains one reason why the standards matter…it’s not just a personal decision — it affects the whole atmosphere on campus.]
    -Marilyn Bateman

  55. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 10, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    #52: Who is “treating moral infractions equally”? Infractions of the Honor Code are enforced equally (as far as I know), so what are you trying to say?

  56. Brad Kramer on March 10, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    M&M:

    I don’t think, at least in the minds of students, that it is only a question of honesty/promise-breaking. I recognize that that’s technically what it is, but honesty is still in the eye of the beholder. It seems like you’re also arguing (esp in earlier posts) that short hair and clean-shaven faces are in themselves signs of virtue and representations of proper church standards. I think that nate’s explanation along with #35 account for the fact hair length and facial hair have persisted as part of the HC in spite of their obvious obsolescence. And notwithstanding the honesty factor, I still think their is a major difference in the minds of even faithful LDS college students between adherence to rules and adherence to commandments (I know, I know, honesty is a commandment). Breaking the word of wisdom and not shaving are not the same and will never be the same in the minds of Mormons. Would you really want them to be? I think that equating the moral force of the two will severly diminish the seriousness of the w of w (or the law of chastity) in the minds of church members. And no one has argued that casual sex is as harmless a form of rebellion for BYU students as shaggy hair. And you can’t reasonably argue that BYU students are under greater obligation to obey the w of w than non BYU students or that non-endowed BYU students are under the same obligation to obey the law of chastity as endowed ones. The fact will always remain that not shaving will not keep non BYU students out of the temple. You can’t simply justify or explain away all the honor code rules by saying they merely reflect existing standards. The only existing standards many of them represent are blind obedience and honesty. The kind of push-the-envelope students Nate is talking about, I think, have a difficult time distinguishing between the two in the case of seemingly arbitrary HC rules, and are more likely rebelling against the concept of blind obedience than against honesty/personal integrity. To me, this is much more understandable and justifiable than the kind of eyes-wide-open defiance you’re preaching against.

  57. Mathew on March 10, 2006 at 11:00 pm

    M&M,

    I recant.

  58. mullingandmusing on March 11, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Mathew,
    Does that mean I win? (that was a joke…..)

    Brad,
    I don’t recall arguing here that clean faces and short hair are a sign of virtue in and of themselves, nor do I recall trying to “explain away all the honor code rules by saying they merely reflect existing standards.” There are other points made in your comment which I feel misrepresent what I have tried to say. My argument has been against the idea that the standards BYU chooses are silly, outdated or trivial. A few of the standards (such as the beard and hair length ones) are related to BYU’s desired culture and are not moral in and of themselves. But they are still required, and students know that before they come. The argument about “blind obedience” holds no water with me because students know about the standards and can choose to go elsewhere if they, for example, want long hair or a beard. If students attend devotionals, they are regularly told WHY the standards are important as part of BYU’s code of conduct. It is the mis-labeling of standards as “silly, trivial and outdated” that creates problems. So, I (obviously) get vocal when people want to dismiss them in this way.

    Think about it. It doesn’t make sense that BYU gets ridiculed for something (dress and grooming standards) that shows up in many organizations. (I already mentioned some…and think of the armed forces! — they make BYU’s dress and grooming standards look like nothing..and yet, “rebellious” college-age students comply because they know it’s what’s expected before they join; it’s just a known and accepted part of the culture. I have a hard time thinking army leadership has to hound on this topic as often as BYU leadership does.)

    Maybe the BYU HC office needs to implement a push-ups punishment program to enforce the dress and grooming standards….

  59. mullingandmusing on March 11, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Mathew,
    Does that mean I win? (that was a joke…..)

    Brad,
    I don’t recall arguing here that clean faces and short hair are a sign of virtue in and of themselves, nor do I recall trying to “explain away all the honor code rules by saying they merely reflect existing standards.” There are other points made in your comment which I feel misrepresent what I have tried to say. My argument has been against the idea that the standards BYU chooses are silly, outdated or trivial. A few of the standards (such as the beard and hair length ones) are related to BYU’s desired culture and are not moral in and of themselves. But they are still required, and students know that before they come. The argument about “blind obedience” holds no water with me because students know about the standards and can choose to go elsewhere if they, for example, want long hair or a beard. If students attend devotionals, they are regularly told WHY the standards are important as part of BYU’s code of conduct. It is the mis-labeling of standards as “silly, trivial and outdated” that creates problems. So, I (obviously) get vocal when people want to dismiss them in this way.

    Think about it. It doesn’t make sense that BYU gets ridiculed for something (dress and grooming standards) that shows up in many organizations. (I already mentioned some…and think of the armed forces! — they make BYU’s dress and grooming standards look like nothing..and yet, “rebellious” college-age students comply because they know it’s what’s expected before they join; it’s just a known and accepted part of the culture. I have a hard time thinking army leadership has to hound on this topic as often as BYU leadership does.)

    Maybe the BYU HC office needs to implement a push-ups punishment program to enforce the dress and grooming standards….

  60. mullingandmusing on March 11, 2006 at 12:29 am

    Mathew,
    Does that mean I win? (that was a joke…..)

    Brad,
    I don’t recall arguing here that clean faces and short hair are a sign of virtue in and of themselves, nor do I recall trying to “explain away all the honor code rules by saying they merely reflect existing standards.” There are other points made in your comment which I feel misrepresent what I have tried to say. My argument has been against the idea that the standards BYU chooses are silly, outdated or trivial. A few of the standards (such as the beard and hair length ones) are related to BYU’s desired culture and are not moral in and of themselves. But they are still required, and students know that before they come. The argument about “blind obedience” holds no water with me because students know about the standards and can choose to go elsewhere if they, for example, want long hair or a beard. If students attend devotionals, they are regularly told WHY the standards are important as part of BYU’s code of conduct. It is the mis-labeling of standards as “silly, trivial and outdated” that creates problems. So, I (obviously) get vocal when people want to dismiss them in this way.

    Think about it. It doesn’t make sense that BYU gets ridiculed for something (dress and grooming standards) that shows up in many organizations. (I already mentioned some…and think of the armed forces! — they make BYU’s dress and grooming standards look like nothing..and yet, “rebellious” college-age students comply because they know it’s what’s expected before they join; it’s just a known and accepted part of the culture. I have a hard time thinking army leadership has to hound on this topic as often as BYU leadership does.)

    Maybe the BYU HC office needs to implement a push-ups punishment program to enforce the dress and grooming standards….

  61. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 11, 2006 at 12:31 am

    yikes! Sorry for the repeat posting! It appeared my computer froze — it was stuck on the submit page. Sometimes I need to re-click a button when that happens, and…. Apologies.

  62. yossarian on March 11, 2006 at 1:12 am

    Mulling and musing-
    The paranoid purpose to which I am referring is the hippie movement which the dress and grooming standards are a direct reaction to. For me, the dress standards are childish but more acceptable. However, the grooming standards are in my opinion anachronistic and nonsensical. Few people are not capable of understanding that a persons hair length or facial hair do not inidcate the morals of that person. I will admit that there is some social stigma attached to these conditions for men but it is because of rules like these that those notions persist rather than some inherent “immorality” associated with open rebuke of the tonsorial arts.

    BYU is an institution that belongs to the church and its members, who all indirectly pay tithing to support it. Those who wish to have a different look should not have to conform to a notion of morality that was imposed in a bygone era. Is it really necessary to have a code that exceeds the standards of the temple? I have a beard and long hair but I am allowed to go to the temple, but I can’t attend BYU because my look is immoral?

    Finally, BYU certainly does have the right to set such rules. Why it should wish to exercise the right and in such an authoritarian fashion is beyond me. While I cannot empirically prove that the vast majority of the students there would abide by the honor code even if there was not the threat of sanctions, my gut and experience tells me that they would. In fact, I believe that most would groom themselve in the manner that the honor code prescribes even if it did not exist. So I will continue to foment the rebellion, with my blue shirt, because it is my church too. Not that I think anything will come of it.

  63. Carolyn on March 11, 2006 at 1:50 am

    I couldn’t agree more with JWL in #35. However, there’s one aspect of this that has been overlooked.

    The dress and grooming code also exists for PR purposes. The church sinks a lot of resources into BYU. An arguement can be made that BYU itself exists to promote and represent the church to the world at large. Hence the dress code. We must look shiny and perfect at all times.

    I was there for that whole silly MTV controversy in the 80’s — another example of this. It’s not all about appearances but it’s mostly about appearances. Shiny perfect young people.

  64. Wake Up on March 11, 2006 at 7:06 am

    I’ve visited BYU some times. My father is an alumnus. This thread makes me wonder what would happen if I were to pass out on some lawn there, at BYU. Not dramatically of course, just if I laid down casually and became unconcious. This thing becomes very diserable if everyone would be my brother, as they are and as the Honor Code may sometimes emphasize, but I don’t believe they would. I believe most people would look down upon me, passed out on some lawn, and consider me in violation of some code to not be unconcious upon the lawns of their fine university. That’s terribly sad.

    I support any thing that helps people allow me deep space. If this includes the Honor Code I support it. Unfortunately I think that the Honor Code instills permissive attitudes in all too few.

    I keep longer hair than most men and boys. I’m eighteen, I’d go to college, and probably BYU, if I hadn’t dropped out of high school. I hope divulging that makes you all think I’m stupid. I’d cut my hair to go to BYU. Although I’ve not experienced it myself, I think I understand the feeling being unshaven and stopped by the beard police. I think that because I believe I’ve been in at least what in my consideration are similar situations.

    For me it wouldn’t be as much of a thrill as it’s made out to be in this thread. It’d probably happen occassionally but I’d feel bad about it — I try quite hard to observe all commitments I’ve made. I know now, never having been a student at BYU but with hope that one day I will be, I’d have to cut my hair and shave my face. I know that I’d have to agree to shave daily. Breaking this agreement would make me sad.

    Rebellion perhaps is a natural desire, but we are not natural men. Maybe I should join the beard police if I ever attend.

  65. Adam Greenwood on March 11, 2006 at 9:37 am

    “Assuming this is true, is it then moral to treat unequal infractions equally? ”

    That would depend on the circumstances. For example, if I murder someone my employer would fire me and if I persistently violated my employer’s dress code and refused to do anything about it my employer would also fire me, but that’s not a statement of moral equivalence on my employer’s part.

  66. zoobie on March 11, 2006 at 10:28 am

    To quote Elder Oaks once more (#47) “The rules are subject to change, and I would be surprised if they were not changed at some time in the future.”

    Perhaps it’s time to change some of the rules. Perhaps the time has come to reevaluate the Honor Code. Perhaps it is time to address issues relating to the question: What are the symbols of immorality in our current society?

    Associating beards with hippies seems, to me, an outdated notion.

  67. Beijing on March 11, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    #55. I wasn’t referring to enforcement.

    #64. I agree that wouldn’t be a statement of moral equivalence.

    When I said “treating unequal infractions equally,” I was referring to the rhetoric. For example, the chalk circle example implies it doesn’t matter what you give your word to do (even just to stand within a chalk circle), the importance of keeping your word is of life-or-death moral importance, period. Is it moral to give that message to young people whose character you’re trying to build, when in fact the moral weight of breaking one commitment may be not at all equal to the moral weight of breaking another commitment?

  68. manaen on March 11, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    I remember the wonder time of my freshman year at BYU in 1969. Coming from SoCal, I would throw an elbow against the rules sometimes just because they were there. It felt very similar to what Nate posted.

    Another vestige from the counter-counter-culture is the counsel for males to wear white shirts to church. I remember when that guidance came in the late ’60s. I was puzzled as I began my mission to be asked 1) to avoid the appearance of evil, and 2) to wear a business suit, white shirt, and tie. In my immature view of the world, this was my own Eden: which of opposing commandments to obey? I learned later what surpasses the issue and now am comfortable with following the current/latest quirks in guidance — if it doesn’t matter, why not go along and focus on important issues? Or, does the color of your shirt actually matter *to you*?

    If I correctly understand Nate’s posting, BYU’s special rules are artificial — arbitrary instead of eternal — a straw man against which we can vent our rebelliousness and recover later without having violated eternal principles. BYU’s special rules serve as a school master teaching us obedience in ways that our errors aren’t eternally damaging.

    This sounds much like my Play Pen theory of our mortal life here: God put us into a controlled and walled-off environment in which he gave us toys (money, tobacco, decaying mortal bodies) to play with to learn eternal principles. However, our transgressions here don’t cause external eternal harm because we don’t have the power to do so and we have the atonement’s safety net. When we’ve become Godlike in nature, we’ll receive his full powers. But he carefully metes out the power he gives us here. Can you imagine having our temperment and God’s power now? Noah’s flood and BoM destructions were tempered by his temperment compared to the outburst we likely would unleash! (While slogging through a cloud of mosquitos one afternoon as a missionary, I told my companion that when I became a god, I was going to build a world, fill it with mosquitos, and blow it up. He asked me to let him watch).

    So, BYU’s special code is an arbitrary guide — within the larger arbitrary environment of mortal life — designed to for us to learn to temper our natures, subjugating our self-will to things that don’t matter so that we can set our hearts on the things that do matter. Jesus told us that what matters most is to love God and our siblings. We’re to use our experiences, callings, talents, etc. in this life are develop that love. BYU’s code prepares our inner selves to leave self-centeredness in order to reach out to others. It’s a place to enter to learn, then go forth to serve.

  69. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 11, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    yossarian and zoobie:
    I will say it once more. I agree that the beard thing itself is not a moral issue. The dress and grooming may have been a reaction to the hippie movement at one point, but just because it is still around doesn’t mean it has the same purpose. I believe it was actually begun by students, and was supported by Church leadership, and continues to be reviewed and endorsed by the leadership. The fact that the same standards exist for missionaries, for temple workers, for those who sing in Priesthood Sessions of Conference (at least it appears that is the case…someone I know shaved his beard to do this and then grew it back immediately afterwards) shows me that this isn’t just about BYU. For some reason, the leaders like a clean face for those who represent the Church. No one has said a beard is immoral, but it’s clear the leaders like a clean look in situations that provide exposure for the Church.

    Carolyn: So, tell me, what is wrong with trying to present a good image to others? Like I have said, MANY organizations do this kind of thing. If you are receiving exposure, you want to look good and put your best foot forward. I’m a business person. This happens *all of the time!!** in the business world (both at the individual and the company level)! BYU IS watched by the world. It’s crazy that BYU is criticized for something that is completely normal and common. In addition, the Church does this across the board – this isn’t just about BYU. Missionaries are to look sharp and clean-cut. The general leadership always is clean cut and looking sharp — and especially when in the public eye. See what I said above about singing in Conference. So, what’s the big deal?

  70. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 11, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    manaen:
    Interesting food for thought. I still think the standards have some value in and of themselves, and I think we should trust in that instead of just following what we *like* to follow, but this is interesting to think about. Thanks for sharing.

  71. Carolyn on March 11, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    m & m:

    There is nothing wrong with trying to present our best face to the world. But BYU is not a business. It is first and foremost an educational institution and as such should put the needs of the students first. The problem arises when more energy and focus is poured into keeping up appearances than addressing the real needs of the students.

    As an example, when I was at BYU I knew of more than one student involved with drugs. (Yes, there was drug use at BYU. Don’t all gasp at once.) I’m sure that a number of people including faculty members must have known what was going on. But as far as I knew no one reached out to these students or tried to intervene.

    As long as it was kept underground everyone looked the other way. But if one of those students had grown a beard or worn a short skirt there would have been an outcry. *That’s* what’s wrong with the policy. Too much focus on the surface. Not enough focus on what’s really going on.

    (Granted this was the 80’s and there was not as much info/understanding on addiction back then. People may not have known what to do.)

    As far as image is concerned, people are not fools. They can tell when policies are in place for the sake of appearance alone. Trying to appear perfect to the world turns off more people than it impresses because it’s not real. It also gives the impression that who we are on our own is not good enough. Somehow we have to put on an artificial exterior in order to impress.

    The sad part is that there is a lot of good at BYU. The vast majority of students are honorable and virtuous. Getting rid of an outdated dress and grooming code and letting their virtue shine would be much more impressive to the world at large. Paradoxically, it would more effectively achieve the PR goal.

  72. Adam Greenwood on March 11, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    “For example, the chalk circle example implies it doesn’t matter what you give your word to do (even just to stand within a chalk circle), the importance of keeping your word is of life-or-death moral importance, period”

    But honor is a question of life and death importance, though it sometimes has to give way to other things of life-and-death importance. (Mormons who believe are drowning in meaning.)

    Have you ever seen anyone defend the Honor Code by saying that it would be better to sin than to break one’s word? Don’t think so.

  73. Brad Kramer on March 11, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    I think that Nate’s argument along with Manaen’s are very instructive and thought provoking. According to the logic, the way I perceive it, it IS important to obey the “trivial,” “arbitrary” commandments because they provide you with an opportunity to achieve something greater than a hassle free college experience. Obedience engenders self-mastery. Unfortunately, we’re not perfect, and many of the infractions that derive from our less-than-complete self-mastery (adultury, murder, theft, etc) can have devastating consequences reaching into our eternal futures. So we have rules that hedge in the “important” laws, but with which we interact on a daily basis (physical appearance, dietary choices, etc). This allows us to screw up, learn from our mistakes, cultivate self-mastery through obedience and discipline while making it easier for us to avoid flirting with the Mother of all Harlots, as it were. My concern, though I can’t at the moment do a very good job articulating it, is that such an approach somehow diminishes the atonement by implying that we can use laws and learned obedience to save ourselves and protect ourselves from the kind of infractions that could permanently jeopardize our salvation. It makes laws like the HC into a kind of Schoolmaster. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not passing judgment here. Part of why I’m so concerned about the implications of this discussion is that I personally find Nate and Manaen’s argument so compelling. I’m sure some of you already know where I’m headed here, and I definitely hope that I’m way off base in my assessment, but this whole discussion is raising for me a serious question: does the Church really want to head down the road of Pharisaic faith in the power of law, rules, and outward appearances?

  74. Kevin Graham on March 11, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    I think this theory would be more convincing if it were not for the fact that similar standards are enforced in Temple participation and in the mission field. The irony of BYU is that it is named after a bearded man. I don’t think there was any intended “genius” behind it these rules.

  75. Kevin Graham on March 11, 2006 at 10:34 pm

    I also suspect a Muslim student could get away with it for “religious” reasons.

  76. Hans Hansen on March 11, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    #74. “similar standards are enforced in Temple participation” and “The irony of BYU is that it is named after a bearded man.”

    1. Temple participation only insofar as it applies to working as a Temple worker. I wear long hair and a beard and can still participate as a patron.

    2. Really ironic? How the Powers That Be have removed beards on BY statues and paintings at the Y! They haven’t done it yet though at the Los Angeles Temple where you can still see a great portrait of BY, with an exceptionally full and long beard, in the hallway going to the Temple chapel.

  77. Hans Hansen on March 11, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    #69. “I believe it (the Dress and Grooming Code) was actually begun by students, ”

    I am not sure about the students beginning the code, but I recollect that in the 1967-68 school year (before there was a campus Dress and Grooming Code) a code did exist on campus if you lived in a dorm. I lived in Helaman Halls and there was a section in the information handbook that included the restrictions but with this caveat: “beards and moustaches are discouraged, but if worn should be neatly trimmed.”

  78. Jay S on March 11, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    The thing that has been neglected is the impact of our dress upon behavior and attitude. This link is real. Is it “sinister”. I don’ t think so, but you may impute different motives. When people dress modestly, conservatively per the dress code, their behavior is modifed. More focused. I personally think a more conservative dress code could be beneficial for higher education (all hail the days of suit and tie?!)

    Its one thing for us oldsters to sit back and reason, but at 18-19, my reasoning at least wasn’t quite up to where I am now. Yeah, I was sooooo smart at 18.

    Also Carolyn, I don’t think the drug problem is as prevalent. Maybe I didn’t run in those circles, but I didn’t know anyone who had a drug/alcohol problem (at BYU, not including the surrounding area acquantances). I wonder if the increasing selectivity of BYU has had impact on this (IE the number of LDS parents who “Expect” their child to go to the Y).

  79. manaen on March 12, 2006 at 4:44 am

    70. mullingandmusing
    73. Brad Kramer

    Here’s an outline of the philosophy, mingled with scripture:

    The two main purposes of this life are 1) gain physical body and 2) learn to follow God’s commandments. I believe the second is done by becoming the type of person who obeys, that our natures become that. Then God gives eternal power, blessings, etc. to those who have so prepared themselves.

    These two purposes are interlinked in developing our natures. Physical actions somehow drive learning into our natures. That’s why we have physical commandments (WoW, tithing), physical ordinances, LDS trek to Utah and Israelite wandering in the wilderness. This comes together in: “And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. […] For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.� (D&C 88:15, 93:33-34) But, we also believe that “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.� (D&C 131:7-8)

    This life is the time for us to prepare to meet God (Al 12:24, 34:32). It follows then that God would arrange this life to do that. Gaining a physical body and learning to obey are the basic preparations and God gives us experiences to develop as he would have us. Obedience requires submitting our will to God’s; eliminating our pride (Al 5:28). The point isn’t to crush us, but for us to become the kind of person to whom God can entrust his full power and glory, we must yield fully to his greater understanding, trusting that he will create within us the person that will have fulness of joy.

    As Elder Oaks explained,
    “[…] we conclude that the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts–what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts–what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.

    “A parable illustrates this understanding. A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:

    ” ‘All that I have I desire to give you–not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.’

    “This parable parallels the pattern of heaven. The gospel of Jesus Christ promises the incomparable inheritance of eternal life, the fulness of the Father, and reveals the laws and principles by which it can be obtained.

    “We qualify for eternal life through a process of conversion. As used here, this word of many meanings signifies not just a convincing but a profound change of nature.� (Italicized words in original. GenCon 4/2000. Full text here.)

    RE: does the Church really want to head down the road of Pharisaic faith in the power of law, rules, and outward appearances?, I didn’t intend any such idea, nor do I believe it. Those things have no power to forgive, to convert, or to exalt. Rather than trusting in some supposed power resident in those things, I trust in God’s grace and in Christ’s atonement. All of us fall short of God’s glory. We can merit *nothing* through later obedience after sinning. (Jas 2:10)

    It is through God’s grace that:
    * full consequences of our sins are deferred.
    * we have the atonement through which full consequences of our sins can be avoided permanently.
    * we have a path – including the “artificialâ€? steps — that changes our nature as we follow it
    * that our natures can change with each step along the path
    * we are taught that path
    * we can gain a testimony of these things
    * our souls are healed today; we are converted

    The changes that can come from obedience to “artificial� commandments, like BYU’s HC, do nothing to cause God’s gifts to us. Rather, as Elder Oaks explained, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.� Having become that in no way earns or merits anything; without Christ’s atonement, we just would be changed and guilty. As Elder Oaks explained, these changes *qualify* us for God’s higher blessings, which is far different from somehow earning them or from the steps that bring these changes having the power to reward us. God gives, as gifts of grace, his powers and glory to those who have so qualified themselves. I see this perspective as putting greater focus on grace and the atonement and even less on Pharisaical thinking.

    From this perspective, obedience to seemingly trivial (HC), silly (white shirts), or even harmful (9% death rate among pioneers heading to Utah, foregoing single glass of wine with dinner) counsels and commandments is the milk-before-the-meat that brings us to the humility to submit to God’s plan to change our natures and to have the magnitude of gratitude that we should have for God’s grace in giving us his plan to become what he desires us to become.

  80. Beijing on March 12, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    “Have you ever seen anyone defend the Honor Code by saying that it would be better to sin than to break one’s word? Don’t think so.”

    No, not “better.” I did see people say that sinning and breaking one’s word on the honor code were equivalent; both of life-or-death importance. Common sense told them there were things that outweighed the importance of keeping one’s word to something neutral or negative, but they got confused by the rhetoric and started to doubt their inner moral compass. The obedient, non-rebellious types spent an inordinate amount of effort trying to convince themselves and others that the honor code held real, significant moral weight, which I think was a waste of time, if not a tiny step backward in their moral education.

  81. Carolyn on March 12, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Jay S: I didn’t say that that drug use at BYU was prevalent, only that it did exist and was largely ignored.

    I have also heard the arguement that conservative clothing improves performance. However, if that is the case then why are so many corporations moving toward business casual attire? Some even allow their employees to wear jeans. There are very few industries today that require a suit and tie — possible exceptions law and banking. The prevailing thought seems to be that people do their best work when they are comfortable.

  82. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 12, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Carolyn,
    I am not sure what your point is. (As an aside, there is the opposite happening in some places, like So. Cal, which is known for its casualness.) The point of the HC is not to be like the world in some way. Is the whole purpose of the HC to improve scholastic performance? Of course not. I think there needs to be more recognition that the Board of Trustees (read: prophets) think it’s still important. Nothing more really should need to be said.

  83. Kevin Graham on March 12, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    == 1. Temple participation only insofar as it applies to working as a Temple worker.

    And this in and of itself undermines the theory proposed above. The grooming standard is a typical Mormon theme that is not unique to BYU.

    == 2. Really ironic?

    Yep. Think about it. What would BY say if he were alive today? A University named after me, and no beards allowed? This is like the Tuskeegee Institute disallowing afros.

    == How the Powers That Be have removed beards on BY statues and paintings at the Y!

    I said nothing of statues or art, so I’m not sure what your point is.

  84. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 12, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    manaen: (with thoughts tied into many other posts as well…)
    I think I’m with you on *some* of this. I’m a big fan of Elder Oaks’ “becoming” talk. But, I think your philosophy doesn’t take into account the fact that the Lord says that none of His commandments are temporal — all things are spiritual unto Him. That means modesty, dress and grooming (even white shirts and “no beach attire” to church), tithing, WoW — things that may appear on the outset to be “temporal” or “physical” commandments — really aren’t. The gospel is a package deal, and these commandments have an important place. I don’t see that any of these things are trivial. Again, I am not denying there is a continuum of seriousness, but I don’t think we can deliberately ignore any of the commandments without it being to our detriment to some degree or another.

    Elder Nelson: “The Apostle Paul warned of the lethal wages of sin (see Rom. 6:23), but the Savior didn’t limit His caution to major transgression. He specifically warned against breaking ‘one of these least commandments’ (Matt. 5:19). His admonitions were meant to protect and preserve our precious integrity.” (Russell M. Nelson, “Integrity of Heart,â€? Ensign, Aug. 1995, 19)

    (This is also why I don’t agree with Nate’s theory that some rules are created to be deliberately broken. Deliberate disobedience and rebellion does not create a soul-environment that is conducive to the conversion about which Elder Oaks talks.)

    How do we become converted and changed? Elder Oaks says: “In teaching the Nephites, the Savior referred to what they must become. He challenged them to repent and be baptized and be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, ‘that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day’ (3 Ne. 27:20). He concluded: ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ (3 Ne. 27:27).
    “The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become. This spotless and perfected state will result from a steady succession of covenants, ordinances, and actions, an accumulation of right choices, and from continuing repentance. ‘This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God’ (Alma 34:32). This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason—for the pure love of Christ.”

    If you look at what Elder Oaks says about HOW to become converted, it is by DOING things for the right reasons — the right heart and desires. It is through *what* we do, and because of *why* we do it — not to add to a spiritual resume, but because we want to be like Christ (obedient, humble and submissive) and come unto Him. While you are right that our obedience alone can’t change us, obedience IS key to the *Lord* being able to change us. If we obey willingly, the Spirit can enter into our lives — and the Spirit is what changes our natures. The Atonement’s grace is activated in our lives through the Holy Ghost. We are sanctified through the Spirit. This is why I think it is impossible to imagine the leaders making a decision to create rules that seem to give permission for rebellion — because they know rebellion drives away the Spirit. Even with small things. And this is why I am such a supporter of students following the HC, because I believe even the small things, if done for the right reasons, can bring the Spirit into their lives (ESPECIALLY when their integrity is also involved). I also believe most of the HC is applicable to the Church in general (minus a few specifics on beards and hair length and such.)

    SO, we are converted as we obey — because that is what people who love the Lord do. We trust and obey the prophets because the Lord ordained them to guide us, even in the little things. We don’t dismiss those ‘little’ things as insignificant, or look for reasons not to obey, because almost without exception, they 1) help protect from more serious sin (e.g., modesty and WoW help protect against unchastity) and/or 2) help prepare for more significant obedience (e.g., tithing as a sacrifice helps prepare for consecration, and 3) they give us a chance to show our love to God and thus receive His Spirit and other spiritual blessings.

    So, if the leaders say, “White shirts at church” or “No beards at BYU” or “One earring for women, please” or “Move to Missouri” — WHATEVER they ask (“small” or “big”), we will obey because we love the Lord. Not because we want to put it on our spiritual resume, but because we want to show our love to the Lord. In return, He gives us His Spirit, who changes our natures.

    Nephi (in 2 Ne. 28) warns us that the adversary works by trying to get us to excuse little sins. He can only get us that way, usually, because most of us won’t just jump into a big sin. He cheats our souls by making us think that little things don’t matter. Elder Nelson: “We cannot commit a little sin without being subject to the consequences. If we tolerate a little sin today, we tolerate a little more tomorrow, and before long, a cord of integrity is broken. Sequential stress will follow, putting adjacent cords at risk….”

    So, you can see, maenan, that I am having a really hard time reconciling your beautiful testimony of grace (on one hand seeming to accept and acknowledge that *all* commandments have a place in the gospel process) with the minimizing of some commandments by labeling them as “trivial” or “artificial” or “temporal” or “physical.” Remember that all things are spiritual to God. I think it would serve us well to seek for understanding of spiritual purpose in even the seemingly smaller commandments in light of what He says about His commandments. Obedience (if done for the right reasons) at ANY level invites the Spirit, which, again, is the very key to becoming changed.

    Elder Oaks said that one way we can know if we are converted is that we would “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Elder Oaks then says, “I understand this to mean that persons who are proceeding toward the needed conversion are beginning to see things as our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, see them. They are hearing His voice instead of the voice of the world, and they are doing things in His way instead of by the ways of the world.” The Lord’s voice to His church comes through His prophets. The prophets help us see what the mind of Christ is…and that gives us something to work toward.

    In addition to inviting the Spirit, obeying prophets is a form of spiritual protection. “[It is a] fallacy…to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are….[T]he choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Finding Safety in Counsel,â€? Ensign, May 1997, 24)

    A couple more quotes:
    “If you cross to the devil’s side of the line one inch, you are in the tempter’s power, and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly, because you will have lost the spirit of the Lord.� (President George Albert Smith) Regardless of what law or commandment or even counsel is ignored or diminished or violated, we have reliquished a little of our agency to the adversary. That can put us in spiritual danger if not reversed quickly.

    I loved this from Pres. Kimball: “I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil and to know more than man knows. A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is (see D&C 93:1).” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Give the Lord Your Loyalty,â€? Tambuli, Feb. 1981, 36)

  85. Beth C. on March 13, 2006 at 1:08 am

    The usefulness of the Honor code, particularly the dress standards, is to visually separate BYU students from other universities and college students. Other Christian Universities have similar, and in some cases, tougher standards.

    What strikes me as curious is the great disparity between ‘little honor code rules’ at the Provo and Idaho campuses. BYU-Idaho honor code has some rules that are quiet ridiculous in my mind. However, I truly and fully admire and support my friends that strive to keep those rules.

    In response to # 35: I expect that in coming years there will be small adjustments to the Honor code, as there has been in the past. (When I was in Provo I used to think it would be cool to go up to Rexburg and have a bonfire of prohibited items on campus – shorts, overalls and such. But I decided that wasn’t the proper avenue for change at that university.)

    I used to wonder if positive change at BYU is squelched at it’s early stages for fear of destroying the sanctity of the University. This is a valid concern since many major Universities in the US have rejected the religious and theological backgrounds on which they were founded. Hopefully, as the BYU administration becomes more diverse they will be more willing entertain changes that are important to the students, whilst retaining the religious sanctity of the University.

  86. manaen on March 13, 2006 at 6:03 am

    #84
    M&M, your comments lead me to suppose that I haven’t conveyed clearly enough my meaning. Your comments mostly summarize what I’m trying to say.

    My second full paragraph in #79 makes the temporal=spiritual connection you expound. I’m not saying that any commandment is trivial but I’m saying that, in some cases, the reason they are not trivial largely is because of the spiritual effects on us of keeping them or not. I agree that wearing white shirts to church (which I do regularly) is important, but maybe the importance comes from how obeying this counsel helps to perfect our natures and *maybe* not because white per se matters in shirt color. I’m willing to consider that white may be important per se, but I’m grabbing this as an example of my point that the importance of some earthly commandments comes from the effect our obedience has, not their intrinsic validity.

    I did not seriously mean that BYU’s HC or any other guidance from the Church is intended to be disobeyed. Rather, I see these, and more important (Your quotation of Elder Nelson’s citation of Matt 5:19 “one of these least commandments� allows supposition of greater-than-these-least commandments) commandments as things which God in the premortal sphere knew we would disobey – which is why the atonement was included in the Father’s plan in the pre-mortal council. I dare to suppose that Church leaders, BYU administrators, parents, and the guy in the next dorm room also anticipate people will not keep perfectly the HC. I’m saying that our wrestling with the HC helps us to develop the nature that will keep greater commandments as well – part of that probation/repent/learn-to-obey thing in 2 Ne 2:21.

    I also agree with your analysis of how we become converted: that obedience alone won’t change us nearly as much as the Lord changing our nature through the Spirit as we strive to obey and plead for that change. I spent most of today thinking that was an important omission from my earlier posting.

    Your comments about obeying for the right reason – *not* to put items on a spiritual resume – echo what I intended to show by including Elder Oaks’s comment that, “It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account.�

    RE: your comment, “So, you can see, maenan, that I am having a really hard time reconciling your beautiful testimony of grace (on one hand seeming to accept and acknowledge that *all* commandments have a place in the gospel process) with the minimizing of some commandments by labeling them as “trivial� or “artificial� or “temporal� or “physical.� Remember that all things are spiritual to God. I think it would serve us well to seek for understanding of spiritual purpose in even the seemingly smaller commandments in light of what He says about His commandments. Obedience (if done for the right reasons) at ANY level invites the Spirit, which, again, is the very key to becoming changed,� I’m surprised that you took my comments to mean that. Again, my point is specifically that all commandments are important/spiritual because they’re given by God or his representatives, even those that would be trivial, artificial, etc if given by just me or by you. The fact that God so says makes an otherwise trivial matter important because this moves it from personal preference to bending our will to God’s, even when/if he gives something only for the purpose of teaching us to do obey him – think bathing 7X in the Jordan River instead of doing something that would appear more reasonable for a cure. This complements my comments about grace because both point to our own nothingness, which we must remember in order to be filled with God’s love and to retain a remission of our sins (see Msh 4:11-12).

    I appreciate the quotation from Elder Oaks about conversion. One of my favorites is from Marion G. Romney, “A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of truth. A moving testimony vitalizes faith; that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. Conversion, on the other hand, is the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience. […] [Someone] may be assured of it when by the power of the Holy Spirit his soul is healed. When this occurs, he will recognize it by the way he feels, for he will feel as the people of Benjamin felt when they received remission of sins. The record says, ‘ . . . the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience…. ‘ (Mosiah 4:3.)â€? (GenCon 10/1963, underline added). I like this because after repentance and renewal, it describes how I feel: my soul is healed by the Holy Ghost. It’s a deeper example of the change of nature that comes through the Holy Ghost as we strive to repent and obey even in the most *seeming* trivial matters.

  87. Hans Hansen on March 13, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    #83. “== How the Powers That Be have removed beards on BY statues and paintings at the Y!

    I said nothing of statues or art, so I’m not sure what your point is.”

    I know you said nothing about statues and paintings. Here is my point: the Powers That Be not only do not want a person to wear a beard, they want to rewrite history so that one who had no knowledge about Brigham Young would think that he was always clean shaven. Kind of reminds me of the Soviet Union rewriting history texts and retouching photos to either add or “delete” a person in historical photos, i.e., a person seen standing on Lenin’s tomb on May Day who would be erased from the photo in later editions of history books when they fell out of favor.

    Come to think of it, the Powers That Be did something like this to the Priesthood text on Brigham Young a few years ago, leading some people to believe that BY must have been monogamous!

  88. mullingandmusing (m&m) on March 13, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    manaen: You said “I did not seriously mean that BYU’s HC or any other guidance from the Church is intended to be disobeyed.”

    I know you didn’t say that. I was referring to Nate’s theory there.

    Thanks for your post. Helps me understand better. Sorry for misunderstanding. :)

  89. mack patten on March 16, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    in linz, austria, in 1961 our mission president announced at a lunch gathering in a public restaurant that he was going to order a coke to drink, and that he apologized to anyone from california because in california coke is against the word of wisdom.

  90. Hans on March 16, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    I’m from California and it certainly was not against the WoW to drink Coke in California in the 1960s! I have fond memories of Mutual swim parties with refrigerators full of the stuff.

  91. Hans on March 18, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    For more on beards and LDS reactions to them you can check out this old thread:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000990.html