Purity, Rules and Allergies

Childhood allergies like hay fever are linked to an absence of contact with fecal matter in their early years. [1]  In other words, their houses were too clean for them to develop immunity. [2] When antibodies have no real threats to fight off, they’ll pick the next best thing – dust, pet dander, and pollen. [3]  I’m pretty sure it would make my mother proud that my hay fever is a byproduct of her obsessive cleanliness.  Perhaps this phenomenon also explains why Mormons are prone to creating extra rules on top of our already high standards.  Let me explain.

One of Jonathan Haidt’s 6 moral foundations is Purity.  An example of a purity violation from another culture is the use of the left hand.  In many Muslim and Hindu cultures, the left hand is considered impure.  People do not touch others with their left hand or use their left hand for retrieving food from communal bowls.  The left hand is used for washing oneself in the toilet, hence its association with impurity.

Purity in Pop Culture

Many multi-cultural and multi-religious societies don’t have as many clear cut purity prohibitions that are obvious to us, but we do have them.  In fact, Seinfeld plumbs them for comedic effect routinely throughout the series. You may remember a few of these:

  • George Costanza takes an art book into the bathroom at a bookstore, he is told he must buy it, and then the store won’t let him return it because it’s been flagged.  (“You get your toilet book out of here, and I won’t jump over this counter and punch you in the brain!” yells the cashier.)
  • George finishes a half eaten eclair he finds in the top of the garbage at someone else’s house.  (“Adjacent to refuse is refuse,” Jerry explains).
  • Kramer asks if he can borrow Jerry’s swim suit.  (“I don’t want your…your boys down there.” Jerry whines).
  • George double-dips a chip.  (“That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!” rages Timmy, the younger brother of George’s girlfriend).
  • Jerry won’t eat pizza made by restaurateur Poppy because he sees that Poppy has not washed his hands in the restroom.  (“Even if you’re not gonna soap up, at least pretend for my benefit. Turn the water on, do something,” Jerry says to George later.)
  • Kramer makes a salad in the shower by installing a disposal in the drain.
  • Everyone in NYC begins to eat candy and donuts with utensils to keep their hands clean.  (“I am eating my dessert,” George sneers when Mr. Morgan asks what he’s doing eating a candy bar with a knife and fork.  “How do you eat it–with your hands?”)
  • Elaine returns a babka with an impurity.  (“You sold us a hair with a cake around it. We’d like another one.”)
  • Elaine is offended that co-worker Peggy uses a seat protector in the bathroom since they are the only two women on their floor.  (Jerry defends Peggy while obsessively cleaning up his own place, “Well, maybe she just practices good hygiene.”  Elaine eyeballs him:  “Yeah, you’re probably right. She’s probably one of those neurotic clean freaks.”)

We often consider people who are hypersensitive to impurities to be borderline mentally ill.  We call them germphobes and say they have OCD. [4]

The line between purity and impurity is often personal.  My mother was always a bit of a germphobe like Jerry.  She had a strong distaste for drinking from the same glass or eating food someone else (even in the family) had touched or eaten from.  She has always locked the bathroom door, and she insists that house guests clean and towel dry the bath tub immediately afterward if they shower in it.

Purity:  The Moral Foundation

When doing his research on moral foundations, Jonathan Haidt used a few scenarios to help people identify their revulsion towards impurity by removing all of the other moral objections (Harm, Fairness, Loyalty and Authority) from the scenarios.   Subjects who were asked to explain why they considered the scenario objectionable had difficulty providing a logical basis for their revulsion.  Here are two scenarios that illustrate a violation of the Purity moral foundation [5]:

  • “I have some fresh orange juice, into which I have dipped a sterilized cockroach. The roach was bought from a lab supply company, raised in a clean environment. It has been stored in alcohol, but just to be certain, I sterilized it again in an autoclave, which heats everything so much than no germs can survive. Would you drink the juice?”
  • “A family’s dog is killed by a car in front of their house. They have heard that heard that dog meat is delicious, so they cook it and eat it for dinner.  Was it wrong for them to eat the dog?”

In the above situations and others listed shared in Haidt’s examples, my own reaction is a full body dry heave.  Can I justify why these things are wrong?  Not really.  But they are icky, icky, icky.

Mormons:  The Pure in Heart

So what are some examples of Mormon impurities?  A person is said to be pure when his or her thoughts or actions are “clean” in every way.  We talk about no unclean thing being able to enter into God’s presence, and we sing a hymn about our hearts and hands being clean and pure.  We also find things morally repugnant that “defile” people.

In Matthew 15, verse 11, the Pharisees have called Jesus on the carpet because his disciples aren’t washing their hands properly according to Jewish law before eating.  Jesus says, “Not that which goeth into the mouth adefileth a man; but that which cometh out of the bmouth, this defileth a man.”  No wonder Jesus was so popular with all those damn dirty hippies in the 1970s!

Food prohibitions are common purity hallmarks of religious practices.  Many of them originated for safety reasons.  For example, eating shellfish while wandering in the desert for 40 years with no refrigeration is a sketchy proposition. [6]  Joseph Smith introduced the Word of Wisdom in the early days of the church, and Bushman theorizes this is so that members would purge their minds and bodies to make themselves pure vessels ready to receive revelation.  During prohibition, women involved in the temperance movement used to say, “Lips that touch wine will not touch mine!”  Keeping specific substances out of our bodies creates a feeling of purity even if those substances are not inherently harmful.

In addition to food prohibitions, many religions (including Mormonism) are obsessed with cleanliness.  In Balinese Hinduism, menstruating females are prohibited from entering the temple.  [7] And in ancient Israel, women who were menstruating were considered unclean and separated until they underwent specific post-menstrual ablutions.  Likewise, there were prohibitions that involved post-coital ritual cleansing before participating in spiritual rituals.  The rite of baptism, washings & anointing, and foot cleansing all have significance in the LDS faith.  Throughout the ancient world, water figures in to ritual temple worship, also creating a purification for those who enter.

#6 seems awfully hard to self-police.

The color white itself is viewed as a symbol of purity, both in and out of the church.  White clothing in particular symbolizes personal purity.  White shirts that are clean and pressed are somehow more pure than colored shirts or those with rolled up sleeves for those who bless and pass the sacrament.  White is worn in the temple.  And the Book of Mormon conflates white or fair skin with purity.

Purity in Perspective

On the flip side, we run the risk of focusing so much on the outward appearance of purity that we lose our grip on other aspects of morality.  This is something Jesus cautioned against.  He was constantly on the hook for purity violations – hanging out with the outcasts of society, not washing his hands when eating, eating out of the same sop dish at the last supper (alright, maybe not that one, but it is kind of gross, right?).  His willingness to break purity taboos when they conflicted with other more important moral foundations are a lesson for us all.

Do we judge some sinners more harshly than others because we consider some sins more impure than others?  Do we have a stronger dislike of sins that have a physical component rather than just a spiritual one?  Do we more readily accept impurity that is ideological or unseen than that which is physically apparent?

  • Would you be surprised to know that people are not turned away from the temple if they have a valid recommend, regardless of what they are wearing?  And yet, how often are people judged harshly in ward meetings for what they wear?
  • Do we judge people who smell of alcohol or cigarettes more harshly than we judge those who gossip and backbite or tattle on other members to the bishop?  Yet who is doing more harm to others?
  • Are sexual sins, including homosexual actions, considered more serious in part because they are more “icky” than other sins?
  • Are tattoos and piercings associated with making the body impure and therefore considered a visible manifestation of internal sin?

Our Pure Environment

Are Mormons especially prone to hypersensitivity about ideological impurity because of the sanitized environment in which we intentionally live?  We isolate ourselves from not only sin, but even the appearance of sin.  We not only censor our own behavior, but also censor what we watch, listen to, and often the types of people with whom we associate to the point that we have no tolerance for the stuff of life.  Art majors at BYU do not use nude models.  Some Mormons will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid using profanity.  I met engaged Mormon girls who were unfamiliar with the basics of how sex worked. [8] Many members won’t cook with alcohol, eat coffee ice cream, or drink herbal tea (which isn’t even tea – look at the box!).  Enterprising Mormons have made a living “cleaning” up the objectionable parts of movies so that members don’t have to witness anything unseemly.  In some ways, we’ve created a second Eden, empty of the growth and progress that only comes with exposure to grit – with a knowledge of both good and evil.  But we’ve also been able to make sins of things that aren’t inherently sinful, like wearing flip-flops in the chapel.

What do you think?

  • Does lack of exposure to life in all its gritty glory prevent or enable spiritual development?
  • Does self-censorship lead to increased purity or just intolerance for imperfections in ourselves and others?
  • Are Mormons the fussy arms-length Jerry Seinfeld equivalent of obsessive spirituality?  Or are we simply demonstrating our commitment to the highest standards?

Discuss.

_____________________________________________

[1] “What really causes allergic reactions is your own immune system. It mistakes these innocuous allergens for a serious threat and attacks them. The symptoms of an allergy are the result of a body’s misguided assault.” from http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/chronic-allergies-causes.  Other known causes are genetic predisposition and timing of exposure.

[2] Feel free to use this as justification for not cleaning your house.

[3] Or in my kids’ case, chores.

[4] And of course some of them do have OCD.

[5] For more reading on this topic, see Jonathan Haidt’s two excellent books:  The Righteous Mind and The Happiness Hypothesis.

[6] Likewise at Red Lobster.

[7] According to the book Mysteries of Godliness, early Mormon temple worship had a similar prohibition.

[8] The word “doo-doo hole” was used by one girl in my BYU ward.

Comments

  1. “doo-doo hole”

    That happened. That happened?

  2. This is only tangentially related to the OP, but I’ve been called a germophobe many times for my near-absolute refusal to share food or eat off others’ plates (my family and friends knew it was true love when I granted exceptions for my then-future wife), but it’s not about the GERMS–the actual microscopic organisms that live all around us–it’s about the COOTIES, the fictional contaminants that exist solely in my mind, the irrationally of which I am fully aware. Anyway, Haidt gave a pretty useful explanation of that phenomenon, so I recommend his book for that and other reasons. Otherwise, I basically agree with the OP as it applies to excessive Mormon avoidance of the “impure”. But maybe I just want to justify the rated R movies I like so much…

  3. It seems to me that the right answer (and the cop out) to your question is “It depends.” There are spiritual giants and weaklings who have seen it all and some who have seen almost nothing.

    But I lean toward the side of “purity”. There is nothing inherently wrong with avoiding much of what you call “the stuff of life”. I grew up in a home where I could watch just about any TV show or movie available. I also work around several people who swear angrily constantly. I don’t see how either one of these influences have ever helped me become a more spiritual human being. In fact I would say that I might be a little more spiritually focused without those influences than I am with them. The saying “knowledge of sin tempteth to its commission” is a true warning.

    I agree that there can be a tendency for members to become Pharisees about many of the examples you list (herbal tea, cooking with wine, etc.) lest we make the mistake of calling something a sin when it really isn’t.

  4. I believe in purity, conceptually. However, I agree that our collective obsession to avoid anything that might possible be seen as impure can cause an illness that actually results in a real instance of impurity.

    One of our biggest issues is a terrible misunderstanding of the concept of abstaining from all appearance of evil. We have taken it to mean avoidance of anything that looks like it might be wrong (especially to an observer who might judge us, even if that judgment is incorrect) or might tempt us (to any degree) to do wrong, instead of avoidance of actual evil no matter what it looks like. Thus, we have injunctions against things (even charitable, Christlike things) for no other reason than it might give someone the wrong impression (like going into a bar as a Home Teacher if that’s the only place where someone will allow a discussion to occur). This misunderstanding also leads too often to avoiding people who are doing things that we deem to be bad (since their badness is contagious) – and to avoiding anything that might be tempting to someone, somewhere (like giving someone of the opposite sex a ride if they are walking in a downpour). We obsess so much over not being of the world that we refuse to live in the world.

    We also have narrowed the definition of purity to matters of sex so much that we have lost sight of the broader, purer meaning of the word – the comprehensive concept being the word. If the Jesus’ life teaches us anything, one thing it ought to teach is a better understanding of what it means, conceptually, to be spiritually pure – but, just like our mutated communal definitions of “modesty” and “virtue”, we have a ways to go before we can talk about “purity” properly. First and foremost, we have to free it from the exclusively sexual definition in which it currently is trapped.

  5. Reminds me of the time I was told to lend my favourite green tights to my younger brother who was playing Peter Pan. I was only 7, but I just couldn’t like my tights after that.

  6. Angela, have you read Perfection: A Social Criticism and a Theological Alternative by John Durham Peters (Sunstone, May 1987)? The quote that I remember most is this:

    “Perfectionism, with its zeal to eliminate all flaws, runs the risk of ending up with goody-goody goodness and self-righteousness. When one diligently shuns all that is bad in a perfectionist quest for flawlessness, one can no longer cope with the full, flawed world as a whole. Two main paths follow from this quest, one militant and one passive. The militant approach, whose epitome is Nazism, seeks to rid the world of imperfections by whatever means necessary. Nazism took the perfectibility of mankind to an extreme, but chillingly logical conclusion: human beings are the main sources of chaos and imperfection, and death is the only perfect and flawless thing. The second approach, though less sinister, is still potentially crippling: it removes imperfections not from the world but from our experience thereof. Ignorance, not violence, is its weapon. It occasionally takes such forms as book-burnings or tirades against “humanism,” but its preferred mode of operation is blithe middleclass ignorance. The quest for flawlessness can thus culminate in a spiritual provincialism, when the quest for purity of behavior turns into a quest for purity of experience.”

  7. Art majors at BYU do not use nude models. Some Mormons will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid using profanity. I met engaged Mormon girls who were unfamiliar with the basics of how sex worked. [8] Many members won’t cook with alcohol, eat coffee ice cream, or drink herbal tea (which isn’t even tea – look at the box!). Enterprising Mormons have made a living “cleaning” up the objectionable parts of movies so that members don’t have to witness anything unseemly. In some ways, we’ve created a second Eden, empty of the growth and progress that only comes with exposure to grit – with a knowledge of both good and evil.

    There is enough grit in the world, and it will always find its way into our lives — we shouldn’t invite even more in, and rejoice in the grit for its learning or inoculation possibilities. No, let us be clean, let us try to be perfect. Let’s not happily wallow in the mud and then rejoice in the cleansing power of the Atonement. For all those in the quoted paragraph above who are trying to do right, may God bless them. Other Latter-day Saints should not make fun of them.

  8. Louis Gardner says:

    My thought is this, and it’s based on my understanding of concepts and reflecting on my own experience: sin is unavoidable, even if we try with all of our hearts, might, mind and strength to avoid it. No matter how “good” we become at “living the commandments” we are still unprofitable, right? King Benjamin taught that in the Book of Mormon. I used to think my main mission in life is to live the commandments as best as I could in order to qualify for the grace which comes only after all I can do. However, as I get older (41, now), I am beginning to think mortality, with all of it’s sin and grace, is a period of experience designed to push us further, or for us to learn something we couldn’t in our previous state of existence. Sin is part of that experience. My greatest times of learning are when I recognize patterns of behavior or thought which may be sinful or less than ideal that I’m immersed in (whether or not I’m consciously aware of being in that “state”). We’re given weakness to learn humility, are we not? I hope this makes sense. What do you think?

  9. Mark Brown says:

    Louis Gardner, I think you’re right. As fallen mortals we are prone to sin,, and we need to remember that Jesus reserved special condemnation for the whited sepulchres.

  10. “There is enough grit in the world, and it will always find its way into our lives — we shouldn’t invite even more in, and rejoice in the grit for its learning or inoculation possibilities.” Ji

    As an member of the church and also a member of AA, I stand with alcoholics and addicts every Monday night at a beginners meeting. Here, those of us who have been sober for a while stand with those who are trying to, some with success and some going in and out of the program. I have also attended LDS family services sponsored “AA” meetings, but the environment is much more sanitized and frankly needs a bit more grit. Christ left his disciples and went to the well and spoke to the woman who represents not only an unclean culture but also moral impurity. (John 4:4-27.) Even Christ’s disciples didn’t get it… sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone and meet people where they are at. If you come with an attitude of better than because of your purity, you missed his teaching and you missed an opportunity to be an example to others through your character of being”…honest chaste, benevolent, virtuous and doing good to all (wo)men. ” (Article 13)
    The risk of being confident on one’s purity goals opens ups up the tendency that we all have of judging our own progress by weighing our behavior against those behavior is different. If you avoid all situations where you feel your purity will be compromised by someone’s else lack, you have missed an opportunity.

  11. The church is obsessed with avoidance. True purity comes about through the mighty change of heart not by perfect obedience, it is through the transcendence of the natural man not the control of him. Striving for purity can help bring about the spiritual connection that leads to the mighty change of heart when the goal is to achieve that connection or to achieve the mighty change and purity is viewed as a means to that end but when purity is seen as the goal itself striving to achieve becomes dysfunctional idol worship. Today finally we know thanks to the prophet Newsroom that Coke is not an unforgivable sin and avoiding it is not living a higher law.

    Great post Angelia, I’d like to suggest that those with the greatest disgust often become societies most outspoken moralists who often amplify their disgust by adding shame to it with the formula pleasure = shame therefore all but the most Pollyanna pleasure is to be avoided. This path is just phobia, not purity. So the goal of purity easily corrupted and perverted by both idol worship and phobia. You might say the purity path is not pure.

    Avoidance teaches little beyond saying to a child don’t touch the hot iron because you might be burned. Murder probably carries very long term negative implications and should be avoided at all cost but sex outside of marriage certainly isn’t an unforgivable sin nor is it next to murder, read Alma 39 and you will see that this conclusion is arrived by taking it out of context to frighten us away from that choice. Fear is easily manipulated into the reason you need elect a Republican President to save us from the threat of terrorism or a Democrat President to save us from global warming and fear is also used to unite (rescue) the saints (victims) against evil (persecutor) and to defend ourselves (attack) from the world (which we reject as impure) that seeks to persecute us for our beliefs (freedom). But Christ is our example, did he use fear or shame or disgust to spiritually lead people?

  12. This is a great post. And the allergy analogy is awesome!

    I agree with Louise Gardner above. And I had the same thought as Mark Brown about white-washed tombs (whited sepulchres). I wonder if, as a community of saints, we might be moving in the wrong direction.

    In his book “Celebration of Discipline” (a book about foundational Christian disciplines that promote ongoing spiritual growth – disciplines such as, prayer, meditation, fasting, service, etc.) Richard Foster makes an intersting observation: “When the disciplines degenerate into law, they are used to manipulate and control people. We take explicit commands and use them to imprison others. Such a deterioration of the Spiritual Disciplines results in pride and fear. Pride takes over because we come to believe that we are the right kind of people. Fear takes over because we dread losing control.”

    In some ways, especially in my neck of the woods on the the Wasatch Front, I feel we may have lost the meaning and purpose of the basic practices of discipleship and burdened ourselves with rules. Steve Robinson does a wonderful job of illustrating this point in another way in “Believing Christ.” Our LDS “list of things to do that get us to heaven” has replaced learning to live in a state of grace, surrounded by impurities and imperfections which are part of life and which have value in keeping us humble and which, ultimately compel us to seek Christ: the only one who can make us pure.

  13. I also love what Alexandra J. says above about missed opportunity.

  14. Cynthia L: that was probably one of the ten weirdest conversations I have had at BYU. I say probably because I had quite a few very weird conversations there.

    gomez: I haven’t read that book, but it’s a great quote and very salient, so thanks for sharing.

    ji: I appreciate your perspective, and I’m glad you share it for balance. I don’t personally agree because I think that if we spend our lives avoiding grit we don’t gain enough empathy to be effective missionaries. But I do appreciate your ideals and the fact that too much grit may not be ennobling. Personally, though, I think some grit is necessary and even good, and that not all we call grit is gritty.

    Howard: I think you are right that avoidance is the core problem. We avoid things due to fear, which can lead to the Karpman Drama Triangle as you point out (seeing everyone as victims, rescuers, persecutors in a self-sustaining drama of our own creation).

  15. I tend to be of the opinion that much of the Church’s understanding of gospel principles is too far away from embodiment. Perfection, purity, goodness, etc. are reduced to some sort of list. I think this post highlights that.

    Less swearing, less r-rated movies, less sexuality=more purity. We focus on propositions, rules, laws, and such while ignoring the messiness of physicality and all the emotions and irrationality that comes with it.

    We came here to have physical bodies. We probably didn’t know what we were getting into; but it seems to me that if our whole goal of undergoing this earthly experience was to obtain a physical body, we shouldn’t be so quick to reject the messiness that comes with them.

    I’m still trying to work out exactly what that means, because I obviously don’t think we should only chase physical pleasures, but maybe we’re not supposed to completely deny them or ignore them, either. I don’t know.

  16. All I can say is if this is true, my children will probably never have allergies. That, and I find it difficult enough to do the big things right. If my house is a mess but I’ve been treating my children well, I consider that a success.

  17. Angela, you are perpetuating a misunderstanding of the white shirt and its relationship to those who are called upon to participate in providing to the congregation what is perhaps the most sacred thing we do each week. While white may represent purity it does not represent the purity of the individual but instead sets them apart and helps them recall the purity of He who first provided the sacramental supper and instructed us to remember Him for His sacrifice on our behalf. And it helps the Priesthood bearers who participate reflect on their importance of their actions as representatives of the Savior.

    The whole connection to the white shirt today likely stems from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in his General Conference address from October 1995, This Do In Remebrance of Me. Elder Holland stated the following where he specifically calls out that there is no uniform and the intention is to avoid any formulaic or pharasaic expectation while at the same time recognizing the power of dress to convey a message.

    May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions.

    That simple suggestion is not intended to be pharisaic or formalistic. We do not want deacons or priests in uniforms or unduly concerned about anything but the purity of their lives. But how our young people dress can teach a holy principle to us all, and it certainly can convey sanctity. As President David O. McKay taught, a white shirt contributes to the sacredness of the holy sacrament ( see Conference Report, Oct. 1956, p. 89 ).

    Elder Holland was simply channeling President McKay and If we jump back to 1956 and reflect on the message that President McKay offered concerning those who participate providing the sacrament to the congregants, he too emphasized the importance of not becoming caught up in the color but instead recognizing that where possible, an ideal should help teach a proper lesson:

    Young men who are given the Priesthood, the importance of which we have heard tonight, are asked to give the congregation the opportunity to make that covenant, and the two priests who are to bless it, or the four who are to participate, should be instructed regarding the importance and sacredness of their calling. No whispering should be engaged in by those boys. All preparation should be carefully made before the hour of the sacrament meeting, and those young men should at least refrain from conversation, even if they do not contemplate the responsibility which is theirs.

    I am not going to say much about the dress. We are not a people who look to formality, certainly we do not believe in phylacteries, in uniforms, on sacred occasions, but I do think that the Lord will be pleased with a bishopric if they will instruct the young men who are invited to administer the sacrament to dress properly. He will not be displeased if they come with a white shirt instead of a colored one, and we are not so poor that we cannot afford clean, white shirts for the boys who administer the sacrament. If they do not have them, at least they will come with clean hands, and especially with a pure heart.

    I have seen deacons not all dressed alike, but they have a special tie or a special shirt as evidence that those young men have been instructed that “you have a special calling this morning. Come in your best.” And when they are all in white I think it contributes to the sacredness of it. Anything that will make the young boys feel that they have been called upon to officiate in the Priesthood in one of the most sacred ordinances in the Church, and they too should remain quiet, even before the opening of the meeting.

    White sets these young men apart for the purpose of the ordinance. As both leaders said, the more important consideration is the purity of the heart and hands of those who take on this responsibility. The white shirt is a request – and should not become a stumbling block – to help focus for the young priesthood holder to not distract from the meeting and for the congregation to reflect on and remember the sacred nature of the ordinance and what it represents. If members have misunderstood this expectation and conflated it to something greater is an error that should be corrected by recalling the correct instruction and resetting expectations.

  18. I don’t believe the OP is perpetuating the myth of white shirts and sacramental purity. I think this article points out that our cultural over-emphasis on outward appearance is wrong, and that the color of the shirt a 16 year old priest wears is a prime example.
    Shortly after Elder Holland’s talk in ’95, my branch president attempted to make white shirts a requirement for blessing and passing the sacrament. That was the only time I have sworn (out loud) in a leadership meeting. The branch president’s mandate was ignored, and we survived with a variety of colored shirts.
    The current handbook’s requirement that white shirts NOT be required is an indication that leaders in SLC recognize that we continue to judge inappropriately on the pharisaical uniform. We assume that a colored shirt or sneakers are an outward indication of some internal deficiency of spirituality, instead of just being happy that a teenager can sit quietly for the first half of sacrament meeting.

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