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If I Didn’t Believe, Part III: Living a Non-Latter-day Saint Life


Word of Wisdom

I accidentally drank beer once, and found it gross. I’ve been told that it’s kind of an acquired taste, so given the harms it does I probably just wouldn’t acquire it even if I didn’t have any religious scruples about doing so. 

However, I like new experiences, so I’d probably try everything short of really hard drugs (heroin, crystal meth, etc.) at least once. Given the data on mental health issues and marijuana or psychedelics, I haven’t been convinced that the benefits outweigh the costs for routine use, so I’d probably more or less follow the Word of Wisdom. 


I don’t understand tattoos. I have a hard time seeing why tattoos have become so fashionable, and the idea is kind of queesy to me with or without the Church. Occasionally I’ll see people who get tattoos of the names of their children on them; if I’m going to carve something into my flesh for all eternity it would have to be something almost existential along those lines (flesh of my flesh?). Similarly, I kind of get it if I was Maori and it had some traditional, genealogical significance.


To paraphrase and modify Carl Sagan, “extraordinary demands on people require extraordinary justifications.” Occasionally secularists want to reconstruct some kind of boundaries and norms for sexuality beyond just consent, but given how powerful those forces are for most people, I just don’t see it happening without the God of Israel/Buddha/Allah telling you so if doing so goes against your disposition. More to the point, the justificatory onus for restricting a sexual practice that isn’t directly hurting anybody is quite high, and outside of a faith I don’t think I’d see anything that would meet that requirement. 

Religious Practice

I mentioned in the last post in the series that if I wasn’t a member I doubt I’d be able to settle enough in a faith to really practice it, and this also extends to Mormonism. I’m surprised at how many prominent Latter-day Saint intellectuals seem to think that the Church could downplay its truth claims while still retaining its vibrancy and activity, but I think this perspective is patently absurd (“Bishops, we all know this is all based on a fabrication, but we’d like you to get your sacrament meeting attendance up”). 

Life Philosophy

My guiding life philosophy would probably be something along the lines of “have fun while not hurting others.” The justification for this deals with fundamental questions about meaning, purpose, and morality in a Godless and/or Church-less existence, which I’ll address more in-depth next time.


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