"And when we do meet to worship God, I like to see us worship him with all our hearts. I think it altogether out of place on such occasions to hear people talk about secular things; these are times, above all others perhaps, when our feelings and affections should be drawn out towards God."
In the course of our discussion of this particular teaching of President Taylor, I mentioned my puzzlement over a related issue. To my mind, one of the mysteries of Mormonism is the commandment found repeatedly in the Doctrine and Covenants and elsewhere that we avoid loud laughter and light mindedness.
D&C 59: 15.
15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
D&C 88: 69.
69 Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.
121 Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.
When I turn to the Topical Guide, and read the references cited under "Levity" I gain some insight from this:
34 Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.
Even Joseph Smith seemed to think that "levity" was a sin:
28 But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been.
Further, I see these scriptural admonitions reflected in our church culture. Our hymns are thought unusually solemn by other churches. Mormons are frequently accused of taking themselves too seriously. And not a few have remarked that many Mormons don't seem to have much sense of humor.
I grew up outside the Church largely among Jews in the Omaha Jewish community. I have long been impressed with how well developed a sense of humor the Jews have. Indeed, many of our best professional comedians are Jewish. And while living among American Indians at BYU I noticed that most Native Americans are almost as funny as Jews. But as a group, the Mormons are a deadly serious people. At least that is the way it seems to me.
So is cracking jokes a sin? If not, then what do these scriptural passages mean? In D&C 88:121 we are actually commanded to cease "from all laughter." What is the reconciliation? Or must this remain a mystery to me?
John W. Redelfs [EMAIL PROTECTED]
"There is no place in this work for those who believe only
in the gospel of doom and gloom. The gospel is good
news. It is a message of triumph." --Gordon B. Hinckley
All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR
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