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CHAD - I'm trying to understand the WofW better, and I've read your other entries about it. It appears that the word of wisdom is a "guideline" for healthy living. My understanding is that drinking alcohol once in a while (maybe once a month) can keep you out of the temple, but does it also keep you from wearing garments? holding a calling? or taking Sacrament? or exercising the Priesthood for blessings? or performing a baptism?
I understand that we are all on different levels of adherence to the laws and guidance of Heavenly Father, and drinking every now and then may keep a person out of the temple (and shows a lower level of commitment to the gospel), but my brother has a long way to go. I would love to tell him to come back to church even before he stops all his habits, and give up his habits as soon as he can. I'm hoping that through association with good church goers, he might give up his habits sooner.
In addition to the idea of a semi-active member, trying to return, having problems with drinking from time to time (not even habitually), what about an active member, that struggles with it from time to time? I know several people that drink on Saturday and come to church on Sunday. They don't talk about it with their bishops, but I'm hoping they're trying to get past this phase in their life while keeping active, rather than going away from activity to indulge deeper & further into that lifestyle. I know a member that never drank, then at a funeral gathering had a drink of alcohol as part of a family toast to the deceased, he never drank before or again. What are your thoughts? Thoughts on how some of these people should proceed from the points they are at, when it comes to dealing with their various levels of failing to keep the word of wisdom and their desire to stay in church or come back to church?

JOEL - The Word of Wisdom is not the whole gospel of Jesus Christ; it is simply an indication of our faithfulness and desire to obey God's commandments. I think because of its peculiarity in our religion people place more importance on it than perhaps they should.
When it comes to adherance to the word of wisdom one needs to be as honest as they can with God in regards to what they can or can't do in the church if they are struggling with it. Generally speaking anyone who is not able to control their appetite for alcohol or tobbaco should not participate in temple ordinances or officiate in priesthood ordinances. But because everyone's situation is different I really can't give an answer that would cover everyone. Each individual must evaluate their own behavior and heart and go to his or her Bishop and work out the repentence process. The Word of Wisdom is a guideline for healthy living but latter day prophets have also taught that those parts dealing with abstinance of alcohol, tobacco, black tea, and coffee constitute a commandment that God asks us to live. How our Bishop is inspired to help those struggling with this commandment might be different for different people. For instance my grandmother was a member but was pretty much hooked on coffee and because of that could not get a temple recommend. After months of trying to quit it was evident that her old body was not going to allow her to completely give it up. The Bishop finally told her that if she could cut down to just one half cup per day he would give her the recommend. She did so and he gave her the recommend.
There is nothing wrong with your brother coming back to church even with his habits. Generally speaking a member should continue to take the sacrament unless their Bishop specifically tells them not to. Of course the bottom line is that the member must speak with his bishop to find out what he needs to do. One might suggest this to someone struggling with these habbits but other than that it is really none of our business. It is something that they must resolve to do on their own.

CHAD - I love my brother very much and I know that he has a testimony. I just want to inform him that he doesn't have to wait until he feels perfectly worthy to come back... if we were all waiting for that, the chapel might be empty! :)
I once had a bishop hear complaints in the foyer from some older members that the chapel "smelled like cigarette smoke" that Sunday, and the bishop said, "If the chapel doesn't smell a little bit like smoke, then the missionaries aren't doing their job." :)

JOEL - I had a bishop tell me something similar. The sweetest smell to him was that of smoke on a member's church clothing. The fact that they were still coming to church meant that they were trying.

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