From our friends in Rexburg

Presented without comment:

Exhibit A

Text:

Good Afternoon! I had the opportunity yesterday to get out of my office to visit the Constitutional Day display in the McKay quad. It was inspiring to see the flags and read the words of the prophets about the U.S. constitution. I am grateful for all the people who made the display possible.

While out and about yesterday I noticed that a few of you (and it was a few) may need a refresher or perhaps an introduction to three items in the dress and grooming standards. The three things that caught my eye yesterday were pants that did not make it down to the ankle (some hemmed off 4-8 inches above the ankle, some pants rolled up that far); faces of young men not clean-shaven; and shorts on campus (mostly BYU-I shorts – just remember to wear warm-ups).

You may wonder why the president of BYU-Idaho would spend time on these small things. Here is the reason: The dress and grooming standards are one of those small things on which big things depend. Obedience in the small things creates a spirit of obedience in all things. And obedience brings the blessings of heaven, to you individually and to the whole campus community. I hope you will help each other to be obedient in even these small, but important, things. I send my love and hope you will share this message with roommates and friends.

Discuss.

Comments

  1. Cray cray, like the youngins say. That means crazy, crazy, but rolled up four to eight inches above the ankle.

  2. He’s just trying to keep harlots like this off the campus:

  3. There is a special place reserved in the telestial kingdom for people who care about dress codes. And when did they add the rule about pants having to go to the ankle?

  4. Oh so now BCC is letting porn creep into their comments now. Great…

  5. “You may wonder why the president of BYU-Idaho would spend time on these small things,”

    Yes, in fact, that is exactly what I am wondering.

  6. And that special place, in case you’re wondering, is a table at a Golden Corral where they’re out of everything except Diet Mountain Dew. And nobody has genitals, because bulges are immodest.

  7. Do you think this kind of stuff will make its way way into the “Meet the Mormons” movie?

  8. It’s things like this that ensure that no one actually takes the honor code very seriously.

  9. “The dress and grooming standards are one of those small things on which big things depend”

    This… I mean…

  10. You want to know why my brother and I refused to even apply to BYU, and have pledged to discourage our respective children from attending any Church-owned educational institution? This is why.

  11. Wow, to go from being a Harvard professor to a hemline checker. Who says you can’t become whatever you want to be in America?

  12. Presented without comment…except you know exactly what kind of comments are going to be made.

    They have their reward…

  13. It’s Rat Out Your Roommate week. Sigh.

  14. I actually met Kim Clark on my mission–had Thanksgiving dinner at his house. (Fantastic stuffing!) He seemed like a super-nice guy. Hell, I’m confident he IS a super-nice guy. But this is nuts. Does Idaho just breed extremism? Neo-Nazis and Nazi-Mormon conclaves? This is really saddening to me, to be honest.

  15. Mpb I guess that’s fair. I went to BYU myself and I don’t have any inherent problem with dress and grooming standards. I am also ok with straining the gnats out of my soup.

  16. Little do people know the most tempting parts of the body are ankles and elbows.

  17. Oh, and seems he just gave every self- righteous prick on campus permission to write self-righteous pricky letters to girls whose prairie dresses are an inch above their ankles. Bigger sigh.

  18. The joke is on BYUI. They’re convinced that it is honorable to not show ankles or legs and to impose that standard as a test of “obedience.”

    They would indeed be right at home with the Pharisees.

  19. Serious question: Does BYU-I have facial hair exemptions for health/film production purposes like BYU Provo does?

  20. Serious question: what would it take to bring about a change to this “foolish tradition”?

  21. Jack of Hearts says:

    Setting aside the need/desirability of dress codes, I feel like this could have been so much better if them emphasis were on integrity. As in, “You chose to come here and abide by the rules, so please abide by your word.” It’s such a better message (again, setting aside the issue of dress codes as a whole).

  22. I don’t understand why BYU-I’s dress code says what it does. For example, it states that “Pants, slacks or jeans should not be patched, faded, frayed or torn and must be ankle length.” And, for women, “No capris may be worn on campus.” On the other hand, dresses or skirts are to be “knee-length or longer.”

    So, a woman can wear a knee-length skirt, which would obviously leave her lower legs uncovered, and it’s silly to suggest that the reasons for the ban on pants that don’t reach the ankle has anything to do with modesty.

    But whether the rule is silly or not (and I assuredly think it’s silly), it’s a standard that every student has agreed to. So the question for the students isn’t “Should you live by this silly standard?” but instead is “Will you keep your word?”

  23. “I don’t understand why BYU-I’s dress code says what it does.”

    Mark B., because “Hippies”. (It’s still 1968, ya know.)

  24. “You want to know why my brother and I refused to even apply to BYU, and have pledged to discourage our respective children from attending any Church-owned educational institution? This is why.”

    I’ve had similar thoughts. And then I compare the tuition there to other private colleges where I live, and I think that maybe my kids can learn to love long pants.

  25. I guess we should be grateful for this reminder from the President of BYU-I that the students are not keeping their word.

  26. The question is why does the former dean of the Harvard Business School care? Insane.

  27. What is really sad is that this likely reveals what President Clark really thought about students at Harvard — not flattering. Was he looking at the length of their pant legs, their facial hair, or whether their shoulders were covered (or whether they were wearing exercise shorts without sweat pants over them) instead of looking past that at their intellect and ideas, as would be his function as their professor? Or was he hung up on outward appearances, irritated that they weren’t whiting their sepulcres?

  28. Mark B., are silly dress codes contracts of adhesion?

  29. the narrator says:

    Thank you, President Clark, for reminding us all that what God cares about most is our clothing and obedience to arbitrary commands. I just don’t think we have enough commandments. If obedience to commandments brings blessings, then I want dozens or even hundreds of extra commandments to bring me even more blessings!

    After all, wasn’t this the whole point of Jesus’s condemnation of the Pharisees. Those overzealous Pharisees were way too concerned with things like serving the poor, befriending the sinners and outcast, welcoming strangers, etc. And Jesus was making it clear that what is really important to God is not how we treat the lowliest and most harmed in society, but in obeying seemingly arbitrary dress standards, curfews, and sabbath restrictions.

    I’m reminding of when Jesus saw that young prostitute, and when others were preaching forgiveness, he picked up a stone to condemn her for probably showing way too much calf.

  30. The honor code is basically the Jim Crow Laws of mormons

  31. Kim Clark seems like an unlikely nanny for modesty rhetoric. I’ll give him the doubt and imagine he’s just following orders outlined in the Pharisee’s Handbook from headquarters.

  32. Taliban

  33. “The honor code is basically the Jim Crow Laws of mormons”

    That’s the worst analogy I’ve ever heard. Truly. The worst. In so many ways.

  34. yeah, that really is a bad analogy — really disregards the incomprehensible suffering and permanent detriment (being visited into the third and fourth generations, probably beyond) experienced by those who suffered as the targets of Jim Crow.

  35. Well, this is awkward–I don’t usually expect myself to defend stuff like this. And it is silly. But so is the pile on. It’s not even good sport. Yes, Mormons have defined deviancy down to ridiculous levels. Yes, we can all agree that God probably doesn’t mind ankles or facial hair, but feeling smug and superior because we get the spirit of the law more than those dumb Pharisees is not exactly Christian.

  36. I liked the serious question. What can we do that might actually change this? Anyone have ideas? Because I can’t send my kids to this school. Sorry. Can’t. And that’s a shame, because a less crazy version of church school would likely be really good for them.

  37. Just as a fun exercise, I’m going to try to come up withe some worse analogies.

    President Clark is the Pol Pot of the Intermountain West.
    That guy with the shirtless missionary calendar is the Rosa Parks of Provo.
    BYU-Idaho is a gulag camp of higher education.

    Ok that last one actually isn’t half bad.

  38. I remember when I was at Ricks I went to an FHE Q&A with president bednar. Someone asked him why they don’t enforce the dress code (harp on it, yes, but enforce? Not really). Pres Bednar said it was because yes it’s a test (a personal one) of obedience if you’ll do what you said you’d do, but also another test to see how you’ll respond to those who aren’t obeying how you think they should. Will you judge and condemn them or live them where they are at.

    That’s always stuck with me, although lately I’m not sure he has remembered it :/

  39. PS yes there are health and performance exemptions from the no facial hair req, but you need a doctors note. I had an FHE bro who got his face slashed on his mission in a mugging that everyone would look down on cuz he had facial hair. He was pretty frustrated.

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    How can the style choice of Laura Petrie, beloved icon of 1960s family television, possibly be against any honor code? This anti-capris rule in Rexburg makes Provo look positively civilized.

  41. I wouldn’t put it above the school’s honor code office to release something in the President’s name. After all, who would pay any attention to the honor code office saying “respect my authority!”

    The funny thing about BYU-I’s dress code is that it doesn’t follow the same raison d’etre as BYU, which is theoretically a combination of temple standard plus leftover anti-hippie mentality from the 60s. (See below.) How do you go from that to, “don’t roll your pants up”? If you want to do a business-casual standard, call it that instead of trying to pass it off as morality.

    BYU President Oaks, “Standards of Dress and Grooming” in the Dec. 1971 New Era:

    The rule against beards and long hair for men stands on a different footing. I am weary of having young people tell me how 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.

  42. Beards and facial hair don’t have any if that cultural baggage anymore. It is a hard thing to bear in my marriage that my husband must shave every day.

    His skin would be healthier and our marriage would be stronger if he didn’t have to (two weeks growth, that’s all I ask!!!) I’ve been considering filling out an honor code exemption card for him and listing the reason “family proc, strengthen marriage.”

  43. They’re trying to cultivate a more professional/business-like environment which is why a knee-length skirt is fine, but knee-length shorts or capris are out, rolling your pants up, etc.

    I do not think Kim Clark is very far off on his “small things upon which big things depend” comment either. It reminds me this post by RJH.

  44. so much depends
    upon

    a red
    pant leg

    blazed with
    righteousness

    covering a
    white calf

    – William Carlos Willams

  45. I’m a little surprised by the commentators who say they refuse to send their kids to BYU-Idaho (or even BYU). Why not let your kids decide? They’re adults, or very close to it. You’re going to have to let them make their own decisions at some point, even if—gasp!—that includes deciding to agree to a restrictive dress code.

  46. Great link Bryan except that in this case it wasn’t billed as something conducive to a better learning environment but rather connected to obedience with implications of personal righteousness, thus making the length of pant legs something of eternal significance to impressionable minds who are affected by this obsession because they are the targets of it. If it were a dress code enforced with a view toward creating a learning environment like the dress expectations at the English private school Ronan mentioned, that would be entirely different. That’s not what this is about at all.

    As an aside, Capri pants are not unprofessional in office environments if they are professional looking. I would think President Clark would know that based on experience in the professional world, or at least based on his work as a business school professor.

  47. “thus making the length of pant legs something of eternal significance to impressionable minds who are affected by this obsession because they are the targets of it”

    LOL, whatever. He says obedience in small things cultivates a spirit of obedience in general. What a monster.

    Certainly he is orders of magnitude less judgemental than you have been in this thread.

  48. The dress code is indefensible. But by all accounts, Kim Clark was an incredible Dean of HBS. He’s just towing the line set by the higher ups.

  49. Are you suggesting that you don’t see a problem with inventing an extra and arbitrary commandment (no Capri pants) and then measuring overall righteousness (“obedience in great things”) based on adherence to such a “small commandment” that has no intrinsic moral import or cosmic significance (no rhyme or reason) of any kind?

    Also, you don’t see the difference between the dress code at the posh English private school in the link you posted and the objective it is explicitly meant to achieve, which underlies Ronan’s logic in that post, and this situation?

  50. The more rigid dress and grooming standards (capris), along with other traditions like students being asked/expected to hold up their scriptures during devotionals) were started by President, now Elder Bednar. Who would dare get rid of or change a policy initiated by someone who is now an apostle? This issue has little to do with President Clark, except for his eagerness to be a cheerleader for Rexburg’s rigid cultural expectations. What else can he do?

  51. john f.,

    Your characterization of Pres. Clark’s comments is ludicrous. You are literally putting words in his mouth.

    And no, I actually don’t see much of a difference between enforcing a dress code at a posh English private school in order to cultivate an environment of discipline and formality, and enforcing a dress code at BYU-I to cultivate a more professional and business-like environment.

    I think the idea that obedience in small things cultivates a spirit of obedience in general is quite similar to this comment in the post I linked:

    “In my experience, all this formality keeps boys on the straight and narrow… I can only cite the steadying influence a request to do-up a tie can have on a boy prone to misbehaviour.”

  52. Go Bengals!!

  53. Bryan, yes. A strict dress code that is rigorously enforced is an effective teaching mechanism. It can teach us to obey our leaders without question, no matter how silly or irrelevant the order may seem.

    Many people find that to be a positive trait.

  54. “What else can he do?” Not perpetuate ridiculousness.

  55. Bryan, President Clark did not connect the honor code dress rules that he singled out in the statement to cultivating a more professional and business-like environment. He connected it to obedience in great things, Mormon lingo for personal righteousness that ties into past general authorities’ teachings that obedience is the first law of heaven.

    I have put no words in his mouth — you did by creating this apologetic that his statement was in the interest of creating a more professional and business like environment.

    [edit: he connected it to obedience in general, not obedience “in great things’ — that’s the joy of typing blog comments on a mobile phone. JF]

  56. *apologetic argument

  57. Steve Evans,

    “It can teach us to obey our leaders without question, no matter how silly or irrelevant the order may seem.”

    LOL. Why not just go full Godwin’s law?

    “First they came for the capris…”

  58. Anon this time says:

    Living in Eastern Idaho, and being familiar with the sometimes extreme politics here, I read that first paragraph–the one about “Constitutional Day” and the constitution–and I started getting worried that his comment would turn into an ugly political one.

    So I was a bit relieved that his comments were just focused on their ridiculous dress code.

    And the whole “business standard” excuse for the dress code is silly. I’m pretty sure that a lot of the business outfits in the real world would be blatant violations of the BYU-I dress code. It’s not a business standard. My guess is that the rules exist in their current form because some people believe that if BYU-I has more stringent rules than BYU, that means they’re more righteous than BYU.

  59. As we exult in our lofty branches, there may be some relevant scriptural references and thoughts to keep in mind:

    “and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.”

    Am I closer to the position of one who is partaking of the fruit of the tree of lie, or am I closer to the position of one who is mocking someone that is partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, particularly given their manner of dress?

    “is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Wo unto such an one”

    Am I more like one who is filled with charity, or am I more like one who mocks and heaps persecutions?

    “the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.”

    Am I of the mindset that I would refuse to look at a staff with a serpent wrapped around it because there is simply no inherent righteousness in that act?

  60. Here’s another one for you at: “looking beyond the mark”.

  61. I really like those pants. I had no idea.

  62. john f.,

    He connected it to obedience in great things

    Wrong. He never uses the words you inexplicably put in quotes, “obedience in great things.” He connects it to “a spirit of obedience” which I suppose you could interpret as a great thing, but he certainly never uses it for “measuring one’s overall righteousness” or anything like that. You’re simply barfing back up the standard bloggernacle critiques on the topic whether they actually apply to his statement or not.

    I have put no words in his mouth — you did by creating this apologetic that his statement was in the interest of creating a more professional and business like environment.

    No I didn’t.

  63. I actually find it refreshingly honest to hear a leader say, in effect, “This rule is arbitrary and its only purpose is to exercise institutional control and gauge your submission to it.”

    I mean, it’s a horrible, awful, Pharisaical thing to say, but at least he’s honest.

  64. Bryan, is this a small thing or not? I’m not exaggerating much here.

  65. Usually, this is the point that I stand up and say “HEY EVERYBODY, I’M A BYU-IDAHO GRADUATE AND IM PROUD OF THAT.”

    Instead, I think I’ll shrink over here to the corner and mutter under my breath “you know, we’re not all crazy like that.”

  66. I’ve heard the reasoning around campus from some in administration is that there’s a big push on making BYU-Idaho look as professional as possible, hence some of the more stringent dress codes even compared to Provo. If he would have come out with something like that, I wouldn’t have liked it, but at least it would have been publicly acknowledged by the President of the University and somewhat understandable.

    But this?

    Seems like a bit of a reach.

  67. I take “spirit of obedience in all things” as meaning the same thing as obedience in great things particularly when it is contrasted to the concept that one should obey in small things because it will inculcate that spirit.

    As to your apologetic about the dress standards in the honor code that he highlighted being about creating a professional and business-like environment, you most certainly did put those in his mouth in your attempt to alter the thrust of his statement to something benign, logical, and reasonable, like a dress code in an English private school, which has nothing to do with righteousness or acceptability to God. But that’s not how the BYU-I dress standards are packaged.

  68. that’s a good one too, john f., thanks. Lest there be any confusion that I would think to advocate that there is inherent righteousness in covering ankles, “let me be clear”, I would not.

  69. And the whole “business standard” excuse for the dress code is silly. I’m pretty sure that a lot of the business outfits in the real world would be blatant violations of the BYU-I dress code. It’s not a business standard.

    No one said it’s a standard. I work at a tech company which doesn’t have a hygiene code, let alone a dress code. Sometimes I feel like I should inter-office mail someone a stick of deodorant. But a lot of places do have a much higher standard, and sometimes even elite students fall short:

    >http://dealbreaker.com/2010/10/columbia-reminds-b-school-students-to-brush-teeth-remove-tacky-cufflinks-before-interfacing-with-potential-employers/

    That stood out to me when I first heard about it because it recommended that businesswomen wear pantyhose, a standard which the church used to have for sister missionaries but has since been dropped.

    My guess is that the rules exist in their current form because some people believe that if BYU-I has more stringent rules than BYU, that means they’re more righteous than BYU.

    Yeah, that’s much more believable.

  70. Let’s look at a different view, then, Bryan. Is there any set of rules or orders that President Clark would issue where you’d be reluctant to defend him?

  71. For those saying it is about being professional, I’ve seen women wearing pants like in the photo in the comment thread at a top-flight law firm. If they mean professional, they should just say professional.

  72. Didn't Go There says:

    Want to change the dress code at BYUI? Get the alumni off their rear ends and yank as much funding and donations as possible until dess code changes are made. Otherwise all these gripes are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

  73. Business / professional attire justification = revisionist, folk explanations of the embarrassing doctrines of yesteryear.

  74. Anon this time says:

    Other BYU-I dress code violations that are common in suit-and-tie professional environments: sleeveless blouses, low necks on blouses…

    I’ve had the opportunity to be around two different environments that have big-time BYU envy–UVU in Orem, Utah, and BYU-I. At UVU, it’s all about being as good at BYU at academics–“This weeder class at BYU is super-difficult, so our class is just as difficult.” At BYU-I, it’s all about righteousness. The Honor Code, yes, but it’s more than just that…

  75. Let’s hope this is the work of an overzealous intern.

  76. Steve Evans,

    Bryan, is this a small thing or not? I’m not exaggerating much here.

    Is what a small thing? Enforcing dress codes? An idea which is perfectly fine and reasonable when one of your permabloggers endorses it but when the Kim Clark does it suddenly he’s conditioning an army of unquestioning minions? Yes, I think you are exaggerating quite a bit here, actually.

  77. Then, Bryan, I don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye here very much. Thanks for visiting.

  78. This kind of silliness is why BYU was never a consideration, and BYU-I couldn’t have offered me enough money to go there. It is also why I love that as an alumna of UAF, my children will have a less expensive option, with more tuition and scholarships given out, across the student population.

    We did have a dress code violation last week, although I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t been at the police station for an interview on another subject. All three young men were given towels, and forced to sit in a room until a friend showed up with clothing for them. Once they had clothing on, they were given a warning about hiking naked, especially close to the large animal research station. They were encouraged to bring a backpack, (with clothing in it) with them on the hike next time, so that their clothes and keys didn’t get locked in the car.

    My understanding was that someone from the large animal research station had called to report that the naked hikers were in an area that is not for general use. The campus police probably wouldn’t have responded to the situation if the keys hadn’t been locked in their vehicle.

    In a few months we will all be more worried about frostbite than nudity, and I have no problem with students who want to get in touch with their inner Adam or Eve, before they are faced with the challenges of keeping warm if you are allergic to goose down. ;-)

  79. Is this real life?

  80. Cynthia L.,

    Apparently saying just be professional doesn’t even work for Ivy League business students. See the link I posted in this comment here.

  81. Steve Evans,

    Let’s look at a different view, then, Bryan. Is there any set of rules or orders that President Clark would issue where you’d be reluctant to defend him?

    Of course.

  82. I, for one, am just glad that we’ve decided to create the Mormon version of Bob Jones University. That can only end well.

  83. I don’t this is the only examply of the BYU-I experience.

    I just spoke to a Rexburg property management. She said that BYU-I requires them to do “white glove” test in off-campus apartments every couple weeks. So, the students take a half a day every two weeks to get their apartment clean enough to pass. She said everyone stops studying and spends 4-5 hours preparing.

  84. Guys, I’m calling it. Mark my words. Clark is a former Harvard Business School dean, he’s no dummy. Clearly he wrote this trolling us and was hoping that it would go viral and the bad publicity (like what happened after the testing center debacle a couple years ago) would give him the leverage he needs to finally prevail on the brethren to change the policy and at least just align with BYU-P. Occam’s razor. The only plausible explanation.

  85. Lauren Donna says:

    IF these grooming standards were the kind of “small things” on which “big things” were dependent, wouldn’t the practice be adopted church-wide instead of limited to a small community of college students at a private university?? I wore flip-flops today… Is this going to have a profound influence on my eternal salvation? BYU-I can uphold whatever standards it chooses, but let’s not get it twisted…

  86. Kristine chides those who are critical of President Clark here as being unchristian (“feeling smug and superior because we get the spirit of the law more than those dumb Pharisees is not exactly Christian.”) Not so. Jesus directed his strongest criticism against the religious hypocrites who set themselves up over others, in part because of their religious garb. Sorry, Kristine, if you want a Christ who was always peaches and cream. Sometimes he delivered a good smack down. And this ain’t an area where you’re going to get a soft and fuzzy Jesus.

    Yes, BYUI has the right to have a dress code. Yes, they can justify it post hoc by an appeal to being business professional. But connecting exacting dress and grooming standards to personal righteousness? Eh, that’s where it starts to become problematic, and, well, unchristian.

  87. This should be titled “From our friends at Harvard” for that is where the leader comes from. Don’t pick on Rexburg. They were hoping for more sophistication from the East, but alas….

  88. If you think about it, above all else BYUI considers itself to be a “disciple training center” first before an educational institution. This reinforces the obey with no questions culture they are hoping to instill, I know right before bednar left his big thing was obeying with exactness. And I remember him talking about wearing church clothes all Sunday as a way to receive extra blessings as you’ll be given “commandments not a few”

    I just wonder where the whole heart of the matter is, yes he saw rolled up pants but did he see the student? Are we objects of obedience against which their success is measured? I know they have the kids who take the family proclamation class take a five page survey of their opinions on gender roles and the gays at the start of the semester and the end of the semester so they can measure how effective the class has been. It’s all very interesting, why are we here? Depends on who you ask.

  89. As a thought experiment try imagining the speaker as the superintendent of the Naval Academy addressing a group of new cadets concerning their uniforms. Would anyone bat an eye? It would seem the primary function of church schools is indoctrination with the end goal being unwavering devotion to an institution (as described by Holland’s recent address about loyalty). Learning about one’s chosen field of study as well as emulating Christ like ideals are probably important, but certainly secondary to the main goal.

  90. “Learning about one’s chosen field of study as well as emulating Christ like ideals are probably important, but certainly secondary to the main goal.”

    Um dude, did you mean to say that out loud?

  91. Out loud, yes. But not with capital letters. And I meant Midshipman (Midship-people?) as opposed to cadets.

  92. RE: Obedience in small things vs obedience in great things. It is one thing for the Lord to expect unquestioning obedience as a test of faith, and something else entirely when someone of lesser stature requires mindless obedience as a test of faith. When my daughter attended BYU-I (still Ricks at the time) some fifteen years ago, their dress code was ridiculously more rigid than the real BYU even then. Overalls were banned, apparently for fear that you might look like one of the locals. It’s the only reason I could come up with, because the school wasn’t giving any explanations.

  93. Also keep in mind that President Clark is more than likely the next apostle. We might have to brace ourselves for years of this over the GC pulpit. He and Bendar with his earring test will get along famously.

  94. Please BYU do not back down but create even more rules and expectations. Such rules are a necessary part of one’s education. It provides an opportunity to challenge authority and exercise civil disobedience—at first with little matters as we work up the strength and courage to defy authority when it really matters. We have to begin somewhere so why not at a place of higher education? I appreciated the rules at BYU that merited subversion if not outright civil disobedience. We are all disobedient, but it is the rules we choose to disobey that begin to define our character. It is in our disobedience that we begin to face that demons that caused us to be so damned obedient in the first place and one’s real liberation begins.

  95. “It would seem the primary function of church schools is indoctrination with the end goal being unwavering devotion to an institution.”

    I don’t agree with this even a little bit. A university, if it wants to be a real university and enjoy the advantages that come therefrom (accreditation, alumni with extensive knowledge and viable skills, etc. etc.), has to be devoted to the pursuit of truth. If it’s a church school, and you believe your church pursues truth wherever it is to be found, the goals of the church and the university should harmonize, and the end goal should not be unwavering institutional loyalty but rather a critically-informed and religiously infused devotion to the pursuit of truth.

    If you can’t handle that, if you feel that the goal of scholastic work is organizational self-affirmation above all else, quit trying to call yourself a university and quit trying to claim the advantages of being one. You’re a full-time Sunday School.

    Blessings come from obedience, yes — but from obedience to laws decreed “before the foundations of the world,” D&C 130 tells us. Not from obedience to made-up arbitrary rules used as litmus tests for institutional acquiescence. When we elevate obedience for the sake of rule-keeping above all else, regardless of the actual value or content of the rules, we’ve become idolaters of law, and we’ve distorted and diminished godly obedience to a pathetic and obsequious form of self-congratulation.

  96. Well said jot.

  97. We’re probably having a misunderstanding, but my personal views on what a university could or should be are fairly well aligned with what you’ve articulated. I do, however, find it worth noting that if an educational institution does devote itself to pursuing truth wherever it may be found – and winds up being nationally recognized for excelling in accounting, business, and law (all fields critical to the success of the institution ) as opposed to other fields of inquiry then that becomes a fairly good indicator of what is valued.

    The Naval Academy’s website is subtitled “Leaders To Serve The Nation”. That church schools serve a similar function as a training ground for future leaders shouldn’t come as a surprise, nor should the dress code directive when viewed under the prism of love = loyalty.

    Perhaps my view on what various universities are supposed to accomplish would change if you found a Berkeley grad in church leadership.

  98. Capris? Beards? Really?

  99. I usually find Hugh Nibley’s writings to be impenetrable nonsense, but since we’re talking about the origins and functions of universities as well as managers vs. leaders this seemed worth revisiting.
    http://bhporter.com/Porter%20PDF%20Files/Commencement%20Address.pdf

  100. Can I just point out teens are compelled to attend school, whether or not they wish to learn, and if a rigorously enforced uniform encourages them to buckle down and not disrupt the learning of others, as at my kids school, I’m in favour.
    A university, on the other hand, ought to be a whole different experience. These are adults, choosing to learn.

  101. This is pathetic!

  102. Cynthia L., maybe he is hoping it will go viral, but like a Wag The Dog situation where the attention has been turned away from the negative publicity that 19 year old BYU-I kid from Wisconsin is giving the university right now. I mean, you’ve got a BYU-I student using filthy language and slurs on public social media and you’re writing a note about cuffed pants? ??? I think we’re getting a redirect of some sort.

  103. The rules seem arbitrary and silly. But the students agreed to follow them, right? I think honoring commitments IS important. At least, reminding someone about previous commitments doesn’t necessarily make Clark a Pharisee.

    I agree we shouldn’t create silly arbitrary rules and bag on kids because they don’t follow them (if the kids didn’t agree to). But I also think we, as Mormons, rationalize disobedience too much because we think it’s a small thing.

  104. “Blessings come from obedience, yes — but from obedience to laws decreed “before the foundations of the world,” D&C 130 tells us. Not from obedience to made-up arbitrary rules used as litmus tests for institutional acquiescence. When we elevate obedience for the sake of rule-keeping above all else, regardless of the actual value or content of the rules, we’ve become idolaters of law, and we’ve distorted and diminished godly obedience to a pathetic and obsequious form of self-congratulation.”

    So, it’s more Christ-like to disobey the dress standards?

  105. Marc, wwjd?

  106. John Mansfield says:

    BYU-I at its BYU-Iiest, and BCC at its BCCiest.

  107. FWIW, the BYU-I classes that come out to the Northeast to visit are almost always overdressed and look out of place in the media companies and marketing agencies they’re visiting. But man, their resumes are works of art. (Seriously.) I’m thinking they’re just not quite in-step with what “professional dress” means nowadays.

  108. Marc: “So, it’s more Christ-like to disobey the dress standards?” Based on the NT, Christ routinely ignored stupid rules.

  109. Someone above asked, “wwjd?”

    If He voluntarily made a pledge or signed a contract to honor a dress code, He would be true to his word.

  110. Once in the Marine Corps, I was docked in a pre-inspection for an inspection (now there’s a jarhead thing for you) for “excessive nose hair.” 19-year-old me was incensed – whiskey tango foxtrot? Later I realized that, if that’s all my Gunny could come up with to criticize, I must have been pretty well squared-away – and, in fact, I came out of the actual inspection just fine.

    It may well be, to put as charitable a twist on it as possible, that things are going quite well at BYU-I, and this incredibly accomplished professional who has just been installed as president couldn’t find anything better than the campus equivalent of “excessive nose hair” to mention in his walk-through. Keep the troops on their toes, and all that – typical business school BS. I sincerely hope that’s it, since my son at BYU-I gets his five-o’clock shadow every day at about 10:30.

    In other notes, Nobody, it’s “toe the line,” not “tow.” You’re stepping up to it along with everyone else (like the aforementioned Marines) in formation, not dragging it behind you. Does no one read anymore?

    And I see many, many women in my conservative Lutheran company wearing capris in the workplace, very similar to the picture above, including one of our senior counsel. We also have VPs with neatly-trimmed beards, mustaches, and goatees. Standards even in the conservative business world, per the Elder Oaks quote above, are in fact changing. We should count ourselves lucky that endowed BYU-I students aren’t still required to wear wrist- and ankle-length garments.

  111. Voluntarily is a tricky word.

  112. Based on the replies on his fb post, you would think this is how The Lord judges “Who’s on the Lord’s side Who?” And it’s just my guess, but I think The Lord looks not on the outside, but on the heart. From the comments it sounds like many covering their ankles haven’t figured out how to obey the first and greatest commandment (love). Obedience in this big thing brings others to Christ.

    Also reading the comments has led me to understand why members of the church tell people who have different opinions than them “if you don’t like it, leave the church.” It seems sad to me that we would disinvite people from being somewhere they can feel the spirit because they are not living up to your standards of righteousness. We are not to create spiritual country clubs of obedience, but spiritual hospitals for all in need.

    This is not just a BYUI problem, it’s a cultural one. And the CES board of education sounds like they are the creators and purveyors of it.

  113. Marc: “So, it’s more Christ-like to disobey the dress standards?” Based on the NT, Christ routinely ignored stupid rules.

    Yep….and if BYU-I = the Pharisees and students = Christ then I guess it’s not a problem.

    I look forward to the day when they go to the registrar’s office to turn out the money changers.

    “Marc, wwjd?”

    I don’t know. I don’t think He would ban capris. But I don’t think he’d come down too hard on brother Clark for reminding kids of the standards they agreed to keep.

    To be clear, I thought his comment was silly. I just disagree with some of the reaction here.

    Side note: how do you do the thing where a quote appears set off in the middle of your comment? (See Bryan H’s previous comment).

  114. “Voluntarily is a tricky word.”

    No, it isn’t — not in this context. It’s very simple, very straightforward. And it is crucial to the matter at hand.

  115. “From the comments it sounds like many covering their ankles haven’t figured out how to obey the first and greatest commandment (love).”

    Do you really think this? Can’t we disagree about the egregiousness of Clark’s FB message without accusing each other of not understanding love?

  116. If you are looking for a scriptural reason to reject this kind of thing, here you go: “7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
    Pretty much says it all.

  117. Marc, use the HTML tag [blockquote], replacing the [] with .

  118. I think President Clark handled it perfectly. No one was criticized, threatened, nor sactioned. He asked them live up to their commitments, nothing more. Students can still play the rebel by wearing beards or shorts. Some other students will criticize them for standing out, which is exactly what they’re looking for. I’m happy for this rebellion/criticism thing to be played out on such trivial matters instead of those that could have lasting consequences.

  119. ji, I’m going to disagree with your view that the voluntary nature of the dress code is very simple and very straightforward. It isn’t. It’s simple if you look at the situation simplistically, I suppose.

  120. Is the dress code an adhesion contract? Of course. So are the dress codes at military academies and the covenants entered into in the temple.

    ji gets to the heart of the matter. If you make a commitment, you should be honorable enough to keep it, however silly the matter committed to might be. If you think that the school is silly for asking its students to make such a commitment (and that it’s important for some greater good to have it change its silliness), maybe you should write privately to Pres. Clark and share your enlightenment with him. I doubt that your public mocking of those standards while “walk[ing] in the light of your [own] fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled” will make much of a difference.

  121. Mark, there’s no reason to believe that either course would result in any change. Letter writing is a lost art I’d like to revive, though, so your plan has appeal from that perspective.

  122. Hunter (waaaaaaay upthread)–Jesus can (and presumably will) smack down whomever he wants. It’s dangerous to start thinking you’re the one who should do it for him.

  123. I didn’t say people don’t understand how to love (at all) f they agree – I do believe that in this instance we should react in love. I’m covering my ankles and see someone who is not. If I follow Pres. Clark’s advice no matter what and walk up to people and say, “if you can’t keep the rules, you shouldn’t come to BYU-Idaho.” or “I want to let you know you are doing it wrong.” Is that honorable? Or a loving response?

    And I’m also saying with an eye focused on the smallest things possible, we may miss the greatest – how to see others as God sees them and treat them accordingly. I would say the person doing that regardless of their dress is the most ‘honorable’ and ‘obedient.’

  124. I had a Bishop who would hold a Ward Priesthood meeting each year at the same time as the Super Bowl. It frustrated me, but I figured that was what VCRs were for. I went every year.

    Over time, I became part of the leadership of the Ward, and I found out the Bishop’s thinking on the matter. He knew what he was asking, and he deliberately asked so he knew which Priesthood holders he could trust to do what needed done.

    Elder Clayton talked about the earthquake lake disaster, and about the people who helped versus the people who fled. The defining characteristic of the people who did their duty in the moment of crisis was that they did their duty during times when there was no crisis. Those who showed up to set up chairs were those who showed up to rescue their brothers and sisters.

    Duty is learned in the doing. Same with obedience. Each of us will confront times of temptation in our extremity. Those who have learned obedience in the doing through the small things will have the capacity to obey in times of crisis. Those who have set aside the small rules in times of peace and safety may find themselves weakened such that they flee the Gospel the way many simply fled earthquake lake.

    I am not a student of BYU-Idaho, but I firmly support what the President is doing here.

  125. Founding Father says:

    Constitution, YAY!!!!!!

    Bare ankles, BOO!!!!!

    Freedom from tyranny, YAY!!!!!

    Disobeying arbitrary rules about pant length, BOO!!!!!

  126. I don’t know…doing stupid things my employer wants me to do seems to be the most important skill I actually use in the workplace.

  127. “Over time, I became part of the leadership of the Ward, and I found out the Bishop’s thinking on the matter. He knew what he was asking, and he deliberately asked so he knew which Priesthood holders he could trust to do what needed done.”

    Wait, so your bishop deliberately set up an extra church meeting to disrupt people watching a football game, and he did this as some sort of made up Abrahamic test?

    Wow.

    I’m all for setting up chairs and pitching in to do my duty.

  128. it's a series of tubes says:

    Blessings come from obedience, yes — but from obedience to laws decreed “before the foundations of the world,” D&C 130 tells us. Not from obedience to made-up arbitrary rules used as litmus tests for institutional acquiescence. When we elevate obedience for the sake of rule-keeping above all else, regardless of the actual value or content of the rules, we’ve become idolaters of law, and we’ve distorted and diminished godly obedience to a pathetic and obsequious form of self-congratulation.

    IMO, this comment wins the thread. Well put.

  129. “Those who have learned obedience in the doing through the small things will have the capacity to obey in times of crisis.. ”

    yep that’s the problem, people think if I roll up my jeans 2 inches I am not to be spiritually trusted and think that they can measure and judge my spirituality

    (sigh)

  130. What it should have said:

    While out and about yesterday I noticed that a few of you (and it was a few) may need a refresher or perhaps an introduction to showing more charity to our fellow human beings. The three things that caught my eye yesterday were 1) a young man who dropped his books in the quad, and no one stopped to lend him a hand. 2) a conversation I overheard where a group of roommates were talking in a negative way about another roommate, casting judgment on her choice of clothing. And 3) a young man openly berating with what I could only presume was either his wife or girlfriend.

    You may wonder why the president of BYU-Idaho would spend time on these small things. Here is the reason: Loving others in these seemingly small ways helps shape our character and ultimately how we treat others when big things are on the line. Loving people in the small ways creates a spirit of love in all things and toward all people. And love brings the blessings of heaven, to you individually and to the whole campus community. I hope you will help each other to love each other in even these small, but important, ways. I send my love and hope you will share this message with roommates and friends.

  131. If I follow Pres. Clark’s advice no matter what and walk up to people and say, “if you can’t keep the rules, you shouldn’t come to BYU-Idaho.” or “I want to let you know you are doing it wrong.” Is that honorable? Or a loving response?

    Of course not. But, in all fairness, President Clark never advised this.

  132. Kristine A says

    If I follow Pres. Clark’s advice no matter what and walk up to people and say, “if you can’t keep the rules, you shouldn’t come to BYU-Idaho.” or “I want to let you know you are doing it wrong.”

    You have constructed a shabby straw man–but, what other kind is there?–and have successfully knocked it over. Pres. Clark did not advise anybody to say either of those two things. And, the tone of your two hypothetical statements is directly contrary to the tone of his note.

    And, while you’re sighing, remember that your spirituality is judged by whether you wear an article of clothing that is generally unseen, even if you roll up your jeans two inches. It’s not the clothing that matters–it’s the willingness to keep your commitment.

  133. I really like Kim Clark (mostly because he was often snarky and combative during faculty meeting when I taught there). He is in a strange situation at an absurd place and he has embraced that absurdity. It is no more absurd than General Conference or much of what appears in our lesson manuals. I would not wish his job on anyone. I am just glad that Constitution Day reference was not followed by a quote from Ezra Taft Benson.

  134. Meems has a good point, alas!

  135. Chris speak truth :)

  136. also, if you read all the comments after his post on FB that is exactly what his defenders are doing: if you roll your pants up you should leave, etc.

  137. Kristine (not Kristine A): Yes, it can be dangerous to start smacking down people in the name of Jesus. But isn’t that what you’re doing here? You’re coming in and criticizing those who have an opinion contrary to the Clark missive . . . and you’re doing it in the name of Jesus. I just wanted to be clear that if you’re going to invoke the name of Jesus in this area, at least don’t do it in vain — read up on what Jesus actually said and did in the face of those who elevate dress and grooming standards to forms of worship and personal piety. That’s all.

    I repeat, BYU-I has the right to have a dress code. But to conflate the strictures of the dress code with God’s commandments is off base and non-scriptural. Clark knew what he was doing when he used allusions to scripture about “small things” and “big things” and bringing the blessings of heaven (Matthew 25:21). So, yes, it’s OK to call him out on that, no? President Clark is a big boy, he can handle it.

  138. Someone has probably already mentioned this but, I am trying to figure out why at BYU and BYU-H you can wear shorts on campus but, BYU-I you cannot? Flip flops and slippers are OK as well, only at BYU-I are shorts and things disallowed, why? Seems like we are reaching a whole new level of fanaticism in Rexburg.

  139. “I just wanted to be clear that if you’re going to invoke the name of Jesus in this area, at least don’t do it in vain — read up on what Jesus actually said and did in the face of those who elevate dress and grooming standards to forms of worship and personal piety. That’s all.”

    Kristine hasn’t read the words of Jesus??? Wow, if true.

  140. I have it on good authority, though, that Jesus has read the words of Kristine.

  141. Please tell me that the “Kristine” I’m currently preachifying to isn’t that certain Kristine . . . you know, editor of Dialogue . . . cause that would just be funny.

  142. “I have it on good authority, though, that Jesus has read the words of Kristine.”

    He reads the words of all of our hearts Steve.

    Rule suggestion: make moderators read the words of Jesus. This is a disturbing revelation to your readers.

  143. Rule suggestion: jump in a lake next time you suggest rules

  144. Hunter, you poor sod.

  145. Chris,
    No use in trying to exonerate Clark and blame this on some kind of local backwardness. On the contrary, this has been President Clark’s shtick from the very beginning. If anything its the locals (most faculty, I would say) who are left wondering how it has gotten to this. This is not a Rexburg thing. It is inherent in every institution of the Church.

  146. “Someone has probably already mentioned this but, I am trying to figure out why at BYU and BYU-H you can wear shorts on campus but, BYU-I you cannot?” Each campus has had control over these types of things going way back into Ricks College days. As silly as this is (and it is not horrible), we do not need anymore centralization.

  147. “No use in trying to exonerate Clark…”

    The faculty sucked up to him when he first arrived. He saw it as weakness…then he crushed. I wasn’t trying to exonerate him. I just appreciate that he is a complete jerk in meetings and he gets away with it. Mostly, I am just jealous.

    Oh, it is a Rexburg thing. That said, Rexburg and BYU-I cannot be viewed apart from larger LDS culture and institutions.

  148. Two of the three dress-code rationales I’ve seen in the comments have some obvious downsides.

    First, according to Dallin Oaks, dress codes are a kind of brand management. A generation ago people associated long hair and beards with youthful rebellion and the drug culture. OK, fine — but a lot of other people, then and now, associate rigid dress codes with authoritarianism and mindless conformity, and maybe this is why the Church now finds that it needs an “I’m a Mormon” campaign: to undo the PR fallout of collegiate dress codes.

    Second, and much more troublesome in my view, is President Clark’s claim that “Obedience in the small things creates a spirit of obedience in all things.” I don’t want to pin too much meaning on a single word here, but do we really want people to be obedient in ALL things? There’s at least one regrettable incident in Church history where a little disobedience would have been a very, very good thing.

    A spirit of obedience must always be tempered by a spirit of discrimination. We want people with the intellectual ability to tell when obedience is and is not called for, and the disposition to challenge instructions that are wrong. What we need, if scriptural warrant is needed here, is people like the Abraham of Genesis 18:22-32. Note that this passage dramatizes two of the key goals of a liberal-arts education: Abraham exercises independent ethical judgement, then argues rationally, courageously, and persuasively for his position.

    The development of such skills and dispositions are central to the mission of any university, as I trust President Clark understands.

  149. That is a great comment Dr. Doctorstein — could be the definitive comment of this discussion, among many good comments (including Bryan H.’s link to Ronan’s excellent post — which is so useful in this discussion because it casts the proper use of a strict dress code into stark relief against the BYU-I use of it to measure personal righteousness through willingness to “obey” a meaningless and arbitrary extra commandment (no capri pants) simply for the sake of obeying it, because someone who possesses a priesthood office told you to do it and for no other reason).

  150. Anon for this says:

    I probably wouldn’t mind the extremism of the BYU-I dress code (and to a lesser extent, the BYU dress code) so much except for the following:

    The anti-beard movement at BYU, once apparently a reaction to the hippie movement, has forever stigmatized beards within the church, even if the rest of the world has moved on. Beards continue to be frowned on–and not just in bishoprics and at church schools, but also elsewhere. In fact, a close friend of mine, who lives hundreds of miles from the nearest church school, was recently ordered by his single’s ward stake president to shave his beard. This friend had signed no dress or grooming code contract; he’s an active member of the church and in good standing. My friend was obedient, at least while he remained in the stake, but he also lost all respect for that stake president.

    That loss of respect is an unintended consequence for leaders who make and seek to enforce stupid rules.

  151. That loss of respect is an unintended consequence for leaders who make and seek to enforce stupid rules.

    That is a powerful observation.

  152. poetpoetpoet says:

    Angela C: You win. Everyone else go home now.

  153. “That loss of respect is an unintended consequence for leaders who make and seek to enforce stupid rules”
    This is probably the most important point made on this thread. I have seen examples of this in my children’s lives.

  154. While out and about yesterday I noticed that a few of you (and it was a few) may need a refresher or perhaps an introduction to the standard of always holding two eggs at all times, one in each hand. What caught my eye yesterday were several students holding both eggs in one hand, students carrying their eggs in small baskets, and some students not holding eggs at all.

    You may wonder why the president of BYU-Idaho would spend time on these small things. Here is the reason: the egg-carrying standard is one of those small things on which big things depend. Obedience in the small things creates a spirit of obedience in all things. And obedience brings the blessings of heaven, to you individually and to the whole campus community. I hope you will help each other to be obedient in even these small, but important, things. I send my love and hope you will share this message with roommates and friends.

  155. Thomas Parkin says:

    ” I am trying to figure out why at BYU and BYU-H you can wear shorts on campus but, BYU-I you cannot? ”

    This is an easy one. Because BYU-I is kind of like community college. It’s for semi-literate underachievers. It’s a place full of potential whiners, and far fewer winners and champions, as you would have at BYU in Provo. This group is something quite less than the cream of the crop, and so must be more closely observed and controlled in order that they don’t become a question mark on the efficacy of Mormonism to produce smiling, buttoned-up winners.

  156. Yeah, Hunter, it’s that Kristine. How hilarious.

    I’m not saying that the dress codes aren’t a gross and obvious instance of the kind of religious zealotry made infamous by the Pharisees. I’m just saying that the preening denunciation of them going on in this thread partakes of a similar smugness and Jesus isn’t really about which side of the great ankle-bearing divide you are on, but about how you treat the people on the other side of the divide. I don’t think Jesus actually articulates this quite as well as Paul (if prooftexts are required to demonstrate Biblical literacy, I’d suggest 1 Corinthians 8:9)

  157. “In fact, a close friend of mine, who lives hundreds of miles from the nearest church school, was recently ordered by his single’s ward stake president to shave his beard.”

    Really? I find this hard to believe. Maybe an aberrant stake president, or a friend who misinterpreted counsel or a request as an order? If the friend is among those Latter-day Saints who practice blind obedience, any error may have been mutual — the stake president’s for giving the order and the friend’s for blindly obeying and then feeling resentful afterwards.

    Many private colleges in the United States have dress codes — I did a search for college dress code, and saw the following at the very first link:

    The Dress Code is based on the theory that learning to use socially acceptable manners and selecting attire appropriate to specific occasions and activities are critical factors in the total educational process. Understanding and employing these behaviors not only improves the quality of one’s life, but also contributes to optimum morale, as well as embellishes the overall campus image. They also play a major role in instilling a sense of integrity and an appreciation for values and ethics. Hampton University, a HBCU (historically black college or university)

    Attending a college with a dress code is a choice.

  158. “I don’t want to pin too much meaning on a single word here, but do we really want people to be obedient in ALL things?”

    “We want people with the intellectual ability to tell when obedience is and is not called for, and the disposition to challenge instructions that are wrong.”

    So are the kids following dress standards lacking intellectual ability or discernment? I would think that choosing obedience, even when you don’t know the purpose of the rule, requires as much intellectual ability as choosing disobedience.

    “What we need, if scriptural warrant is needed here, is people like the Abraham of Genesis 18:22-32.”

    I’m not sure Abraham’s life is a great example of choosing not to be obedient in ALL things.

  159. Aaron Brown says:

    You all are gonna feel so stupid when you get to the Celestial Kingdom and learn that the dress code there is the same as it is in Rexburg. And then you’re gonna get ejected which is awesome for me because I don’t want to spend eternity in the presence of disheveled and sartorially-challenged hippies anyway.

  160. ji, don’t be oblivious. Many, many stake presidents and bishops Church-wide require men to shave their beards when extending them a calling, as a prerequisite to performing the calling. They do this because they have a vague sense that this is the “unwritten order of things” — they seem to remember that certain Apostles don’t like beards and have a reputation of speaking out against them (reinforced by the dress and grooming standards section of BYU’s “honor code”). So they add this commandment of man as a doctrine and restrict their members’ abilities to serve unless they comply with this entirely unnecessary Abrahamic litmus test.

  161. Let's take the F out of our LDS. says:

    The Marriott School at BYU-Provo jealously guards its rankings, which are partially based on strong student job placements. They struggle with some issues though. For example, how do they properly prepare students going into HR jobs not to embarrass themselves and their employers when tasked with organizing employee LGBT pride events (this was a recent case of concern to the deans)? How do they train male MBA students (most of them are male) to treat female colleagues with respect when some of them truly believe women shouldn’t work outside the home and many of them unconsciously believe women are intellectually inferior? How do they retain national accreditation with barely any female faculty? These are not hypothetical concerns (one ghastly anecdote involves a student asking a non-LDS recruiter in a group setting how she “justifies” working outside the home–it took some time before that major corporation was willing to send recruiters again…), and are serious concerns to major donors like the Marriott and Romney families, who want to support a top-flight business school, not a breeding ground for awkward weirdos.

    The BYU dress codes do create a good environment and help the images of the schools. Clean-cut, hard working young people are more employable. There are always dangers in going too far though. Producing graduates who are judgmental about inconsequential things like beards and capris is a disservice to those students, who at some point will need to join the real world. I find it hard not to see the BYU-I approach as extreme and likely to encourage creepers and weirdos, without much benefit to anyone from the additional restrictions vis-a-vis BYU-Provo. The same goals can be accomplished without the risk of having employers perceive the school as a home for religious fanatics.

  162. Thomas Parkin:
    I’m no fan of BYU, BYI-I, or even BYU-H. I would never choose to go there, and when I got a job in Provo and my wife attended the Big Yucky after having attended another university, it was the worst two years of her life. But, being out here in the mission field, I’ve seen some very, very impressive people get turned down for Provo and get accepted at Rexburg instead. One young woman had a 4.5 GPA, school leadership experience, managerial work experience, sports, seminary, and working with special needs children on the resume. I have no doubt she could have attended any Ivy League she may have wanted. I suspect that BYU-I is trying to raise the bar with her.

    That being said, my mission president was of this same mindset as many of these posters. His theory was that if missionaries follow mission rules, they will be blessed, so if there are more rules to follow they will be blessed more. This led to some inane and insane rules, like only reading mail on P-Day, eating boiled wheat kernels for breakfast, and regular grammar reviews from his wife. I used to think it was just an isolated bad idea, but I’ve come to learn that CES is indeed the fountainhead for this disgusting and damnable doctrine.

    I also have a tough time with it when the local stake youth leaders try to enforce BYU rules for events. “Well, they will have to learn to live under these rules later on anyway.” Then they wonder why I send my kid to take a regular for-credit university class during the summer instead of sending her to youth conference. They can choose to make any rules they wish, and we can choose not to participate. Anybody who complains about the rules or the narcs at a church school, well, you knew it was on fire when you laid down on it.

  163. Hey, Aaron Brown, read your scriptures much?

    31 He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.

  164. ji: I attended a ward in Las Vegas where a high councilman discussed his call to the high council by relaying the story of having worn a beard for years until his stake president approached him and said that he’d been called (this was relayed as a humorous anecdote) “to become a beardless high council member.” Of course the lesson was the importance of obedience. So two data points to not make a trend, but I suspect that lingering pogonophobia is more than an aberration :)

  165. Yeah, I know the requirement to shave your beard before a receiving a calling happens. Unfortunate, but true.

    I wish growing a beard could get you released.

  166. Producing graduates who are judgmental about inconsequential things like beards and capris is a disservice to those students, who at some point will need to join the real world. I find it hard not to see the BYU-I approach as extreme and likely to encourage creepers and weirdos, without much benefit to anyone from the additional restrictions vis-a-vis BYU-Provo. The same goals can be accomplished without the risk of having employers perceive the school as a home for religious fanatics.

    Very insightful and valuable comment there. Thank you.

  167. One yardstick I employ when confronting situations such as these is: How would a non-member with a nascent curiosity about our faith react? Would he/she be more likely or less likely to investigate our religion with a view of, perhaps, of joining? Stated differently, would I be enthusiastic about sharing President Clark’s letter with my non-member friends? I’m not saying that all such pronouncements from on high should be measured by this standard; nevertheless, asking this question can be a useful thought experiment.

  168. Last Lemming says:

    I used to think the best thing about BYU-I was that they dropped intercollegiate athletics. Now I wish they hadn’t so I could root for their opponents. This is as frustrating as no Utah-BYU football game.

  169. “[A] religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” — Joseph Smith

  170. Yes, so religions should seek to maximize silly rules.

  171. To say that this situation fails the Scientology Rule is something of an understatement.

  172. it's a series of tubes says:

    Jonathan, what if JS’s statement was construed to require sacrifice of certain of our various cultural assumptions and related judgemental baggage? Oh snap, son!

  173. Hey, Jonathan Cavender. Why hasn’t the church asked you to sacrifice using the Internet, eating lemons, wearing Adidas sneakers, and breathing yet then? Oh, because it doesn’t have the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. I guess.

    FarSide: awesome comment. I wish we could apply that principle across the board, especially in testimony meetings and gospel doctrine class comments. There have been many Sundays when I wouldn’t have wanted to stay friends with a non-member who came to church with me that day and wasn’t uncomfortabl . That makes me very, very uncomfortable. Like, how do I justify associating with antisemites, misogynists, etc…so far I can generally rationalize that the comments usually come from grumpy, disappointed old men raised in a very different time, but the fact that church discipline doesn’t even come into the picture after these incidents worries me. It just goes on and on with no censure other than the occasional counter-comment.

  174. Scientology Rule?

  175. Yes. Namely, if you swapped the word ‘Mormon’ with ‘Scientologist’ with respect to a given practice, would the practice appear cultish?

  176. Jonathan, how do you distinguish the approach you are taking from the idea of “obedience is good so therefore we should create tons and tons of extra commandments that have no moral or cosmic import just so people can obey more so they can be more blessed”?

    I don’t hold your statements to the latter position because I assume that you aren’t suggesting that. But how do you articulate the difference between the latter and your defense of President Clark’s statement and the BYU-I rule against capris pants?

  177. john f.,

    If what you say is true, it is regrettable. I haven’t seen it, but apparently some others have. But you know, a person could very politely decline the invitation to change his grooming habits, or inquire with the person extending the call about the basis for the supposed restriction. Then, if he decides to comply, it is his choice to comply. We seem to have lost sight that it is our choice to comply, or not, with what we see as an unreasonable demand.

    Here, I’m not talking about BYU-I. The students there voluntarily agreed to a dress code.

  178. It has always astonished and concerned me that the dress and grooming standards to be a student, staff, or faculty at any LDS institution of higher learning are different (and stricter, if that is the correct word) than those required to enter the temple.

    It has always astonished and concerned me that the Honor Codes at LDS institutions of higher learning focus so much attention on the dress and grooming standards and so little on academic honesty. Cheating at BYU, for example, will result in a slap on the wrist and perhaps failing an assignment (despite the fact that doing so is being dishonest, theoretically disqualifying one from being temple-worthy), while those who violate the dress and grooming standards face much harsher discipline.

    The focus on the external obedience to arbitrary standards of dress and grooming that have no doctrinal foundation at the expense of promoting obedience to eternal principles is highly problematic. This is an issue that goes beyond beards and capris. It reflects a culture of infantilization on LDS campuses that distorts doctrinal principles (vs. cultural expectations) and privileges obedience to authority–whether doctrinally-based or not–above anything else. That should be disturbing to anyone who understands the true meaning of the gospel.

  179. You keep using that voluntarily word.

  180. Were they forced?

  181. Well, they have an alternative: leave the University. Is that a realistic alternative for most students?

  182. I’m late to the discussion, but I can offer this tidbit from my days at BYU-Provo (late 90s). I had a professor who (I swear this is true) took 5 minutes one day to explain to the class how men should never be alone with female co-workers in an elevator.

    Me: But what if you get on the elevator with a bunch a people and everyone except you and one woman get off at the first stop?
    Prof: Then you get off too …
    Me: …okay …
    Prof: … and wait for the next elevator.
    Me: So what if the next elevator is occupied by only one person – a woman?
    Prof: you smile and say you’ll wait for another elevator.
    Me: Great. So what if you’re on an elevator with two women, one of whom gets off and the other stays. Do you stay with the one on the elevator or get off with the other? Either way you’re alone with a woman.
    Prof: Let’s get back to class.

  183. Dave K.–what if there’s a woman on the elevator whose ankles are showing??!!

  184. Let me see if I can respond to each:

    Steve
    “Yes, so religions should seek to maximize silly rules.”
    Was the Passover a silly rule? Looking up at the brass serpent? If the validity of a rule is dependent upon your recognition of the validity of the rule, then you are a law unto yourself. We are agents unto ourselves, not laws unto ourselves. Obey or not obey, that is the choice. What is happening is an attempt to create a hybrid — “I don’t obey but I am not disobedient because the rule is invalid.” It is no different than someone who believes in the health benefits of alcohol consumption in moderation excusing their disobedience of the Word of Wisdom by justifying their behavior in arguing that Joseph Smith lacked modern scientific research. No, if you drink alcohol, you are disobeying the Word of Wisdom.

    It’s a Series of Tubes
    “Jonathan, what if JS’s statement was construed to require sacrifice of certain of our various cultural assumptions and related judgemental baggage? Oh snap, son!”
    It absolutely does. Apart from your inability to see the irony of condemning me for my cultural assumptions and judgmental baggage, we are all to sacrifice everything not in harmony with God’s will and Truth — and that includes cultural assumptions. I dare say that you have them, and I know that I have them. It is not judging you or anyone else to point out that obedience is a positive thing, nor is it judgmental to quote Joseph Smith about the necessity of religion to have the power to require the sacrifice of all things in order to have the power to save.

    Owen:
    “Hey, Jonathan Cavender. Why hasn’t the church asked you to sacrifice using the Internet, eating lemons, wearing Adidas sneakers, and breathing yet then? Oh, because it doesn’t have the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. I guess.”
    Yes, it has not asked me to do that. It has asked me to do a great number of things I don’t agree with, find uncomfortable or difficult, and/or don’t want to do. As I have complied with them (to the best of my ability), I have found my life blessed for my efforts to obey (though I am far from successful in my attempts many times). My experiences with obedience have taught me that when the Church asks, I obey and I am blessed. The day the Church asks me to sacrifice the Internet is the last day you see me posting online.

  185. The elephant in the room here is that we have apostles who managed Ricks (BYU-I) prior to their call and are clearly ok with the rule. Presumably, most if not all of the other apostles are on board too. So if the Lord’s special witnesses support a policy, is there any insight to be gained in asking why they support it?

    Is it possible that by being attentive to small things we can perform better at big things? Could the spiritual intent of that statement have practical applications?

    Another thought I’ve had is the fact that the school is church funded and if you’re going to receive tithing dollars to subsidize your education, the church is going to put up various benign “barriers to entry” (of a sort) that demonstrate only those who want to comply to the fullest will merit that funding subsidy.

    Why does each BYU school have different policies? These local variations clearly suggest nothing “eternal” about the policy, but rather reveal the policy for what it is — at attempt to let students decide how to respond and be “blessed” for it. Do I think God is blessing them? Yes, and I think the apostles agree, otherwise they wouldn’t spend church funds on a university education & experience if they didn’t feel it was blessing the lives of those involved.

    Personally, I don’t get what all the fuss is about. It’s only discomforting if you take a fundamentalist approach and extrapolate a dress code at BYU-I to be some universal principle, which according to the church and BYU’s multiple dress code policies, clearly they don’t view it that way.

    So why do we have so many progressive fundamentalists taking this policy to be more than what it is?

    -ps, no I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shorts, bare ankles or dress codes where one is a quasi-exclusive recipient of funds that don’t belong to them. I wouldn’t think worse of someone for dressing contrary to this code, and I certainly don’t think worse of someone for encouraging others to follow their institutions benign dress code. For some fundamentalists here, that seems difficult.

  186. MProf:

    As a BYU faculty, I can tell you that when I refer a student to the Honor Code Office for plagiarism, things don’t end well.

    Meanwhile, I’ve never said a word to students about their shaving or hemlines. My understanding is they don’t get asked to change/shave unless they try to take a test or check a book out of the library.

    So from my personal experience, your wrath may be misplaced.

  187. James Patterson: I found your suggested rewrite of President Clark’s statement in your 7:56 a.m. comment profound and learned a lot from it even though that is not what President Clark wrote or would have written (apparently). I certainly believe that is what it should have said! Thank you for providing that here — both true and useful!

  188. Thank you, Kristine. Well said. And I think I understand your position better. So, we both agree that President Clark’s message is a little ridiculous. And you’ve convinced me that the smugness I and others exhibited here is off base, too. Agreed. So, are you merely encouraging a more civil “calling out” of President Clark? Or are you promoting saying nothing? Serious question.

  189. You keep using that voluntarily word.

    Of course! It fits perfectly. The voluntary occurs before the student enrolls, and re-occurs with every semester re-registration.

  190. My understanding is they don’t get asked to change/shave unless they try to take a test or check a book out of the library.

    Reading while bearded?? For shame!!

  191. Jonathan C: The Passover and the brass serpent (and no bacon, and not mixing linen and wool, and putting your wife in the backyard for one week every month, etc. ad infinitum) may not have been stupid rules at the time – I wasn’t there; maybe they were necessary – but they would be stupid rules now. We should be beyond that point. We should be beyond the point at which the president of what purports to be an accredited major American university thinks he needs to counsel adults to shave and cover their ankles. Yes, those rules are stupid.

    DC: So if the Lord’s special witnesses support a policy, is there any insight to be gained in asking why they support it? Are we talking about blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, or the BYU-I dress code? Some of them may like liver, some of them may prefer Hanes, some may be Green Bay Packers fans or any number of poorly thought out positions. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t the Lord’s witnesses, or that everything they say is a pearl straight from the mouth of the Almighty. Yes, there might be some insight – it might be something like what Elder Oaks is saying in the quote above, which is essentially out of date. (That’s an insight, BTW.)

  192. it's a series of tubes says:

    Apart from your inability to see the irony of condemning me for my cultural assumptions and judgmental baggage

    Thank you, Jonathan. This was the best chuckle I had all week.

    To the rest of your comment: Obedience to Gods laws is good. Sacrifice to God is also good (Maxwell’s comments on the particulars of true sacrifice resonate deeply with me). On the other hand, obedience to cultural baggage, no matter how steep the perceived sacrifice, is not faith-producingly salvific.

    Just the perspective of a (gasp) goatee-wearing bishopric member.

  193. “We should be beyond the point…”
    Really? All is well? Is it at all possible that the moral, spiritual, physical, emotional and dare I say intellectual malaise which plagues modernity might actually be linked in some degree to obedience?

    Now, before another fundie prog* jumps in and suggests I’m equating capris pants with the decline of civilization you’re completely missing the point a la Elder Bednar’s earing example. Again, the issue is not the eternal nature of a particular dress code. But as this post evidences, clearly we all walk in our own way after our own God. Do not pretend that you’re living the higher law while the Lord’s servants are living the lower law and just haven’t evolved to your viewpoint.

    *we have fundie polygs on one side of the spectrum, but around here I see plenty of fundie progs.

  194. DQ, I don’t think anything is wrong with obedience to God’s will. I just don’t think this dress code has anything to do with God’s will.

  195. New Iconoclast:
    “The Passover and the brass serpent (and no bacon, and not mixing linen and wool, and putting your wife in the backyard for one week every month, etc. ad infinitum) may not have been stupid rules at the time – I wasn’t there; maybe they were necessary – but they would be stupid rules now. We should be beyond that point.”
    Many thought this at the time when Josiah rediscovered the book of the law and reinstituted the Passover at Jerusalem. It didn’t end well for them.

    Its a Series of Tubes:
    “Just the perspective of a (gasp) goatee-wearing bishopric member.”
    Gasp! As if I care whether you, even as a Bishopric member, have a goatee. If your Stake President or Bishop told you to shave and you did not, then it communicates something. If you had signed an agreement (as did the folks at BYU-I), then it would communicate something. Otherwise, goatee or not goatee. This, to me, only matters as a discussion of obedience — not grooming or hygiene in general.

  196. Steve,
    Do you believe all of us have problems being obedient to God’s will in one degree or another? I do. Is it possible, that in a set of circumstances (like enrollment at BYU-I) if you approach the issue of the dress code in the “right” way you can grow to become more obedient in all the important ways?

    It’s certainly possible you can approach the dress code in the wrong way, and become exactly what everyone on this post is condemning. But I think there is also likely something positive to be gained when people in that circumstance approach the issue with humility and shun their own cultural baggage fashion/personal/etc preferences for another set of admittedly cultural preferences.

    I think if the issue could be approached with humility and reflection, it could indeed help one to be more obedient where it really counts. It’s not a forgone conclusion, but a possible outcome.

    The policy is so benign, but the push back against it and like others other similar modesty/family/sex/etc issues seems to be a bell-weather for a certain group that is politically (lowercase p) opposed to underpinnings of the mainstream church.

    It’s unfair to expect anyone, BYU-I admin, to perfectly articulate the reasons and benefits of a policy in a facebook post. He clearly already wrote volumes more in a status update than most people ever do to try to explain himself.

  197. The comments for this have been brilliant. It renews my faith in us as members to read these and also ….hilarious. it’s time for a change to policies.

  198. DQ, Steve isn’t a student or faculty at BYU-I. The (truly arbitrary and absurd) rules don’t apply to him, and he has no reason to obey—or for that matter, to not mock—them. The downside to the rules is they reflect poorly on church members unattached to the school. That is, where the emphasis is (as it is in the Facebook status) on obedience just because, it provides fuel for the misguided, but not uncommon, view that the church is out to create mindlessly obedient automatons. And that’s not the church’s, or BYU-I’s, goal. So calling stuff like this out makes a lot of sense.

  199. “Do not pretend that you’re living the higher law while the Lord’s servants are living the lower law and just haven’t evolved to your viewpoint.”

    I’ve come around to Elder Oaks viewpoint and I’m ready to accpet the the long prophesied change: “The rules are subject to change, and I would be surprised if they were not changed at some time in the future. ”

    Is it ok to agitate for the change, or should I just sit patiently and pray for it?

    On another note, are rules the same thing as commandments? Obedience to commandments is one thing……..rules are another thing altogether.

  200. Man, the Scientology Rule is a tough standard, Steve.

    Jonathan Cavender, I obviously can’t comment on your personal experience, but I have never felt blessed for following an arbitrary rule. Difficult rules, uncomfortable rules, sure, but not rules that are just made up. In fact, I have had a good many experiences (esp as a missionary) when my strict adherence to arbitrary rules negatively impacted my life and performance in my duties, including, I believe, losing a baptism on my mission. Disallowing capris while allowing knee-length skirts is just about the most ridiculous official policy I’ve ever heard of from a church institution, and I defy anyone to explain how obedience to that standard is any better for anyone that obedience to the normal BYU-Provo standard would be. It’s arbitrary, silly, and more likely to harm the church and the students than help them.

  201. Hunter–I don’t know. I’m honestly not sure what I think we ought to do in this case, beyond making sure that whatever mockery we feel compelled to undertake is affectionate rather than mean-spirited. My hunch is that even the most civil “calling-out” would tend to provoke a defensive attachment to the rule and might be counterproductive. That’s a risk I think worth taking in cases (like, for instance, the notes calling women to repentance for “tempting” men) where the rule is being enforced in the service of blatantly harmful ideas. But President Clarke’s post strikes me as a relatively benign reminder, not overtly sexist or shaming, of rules that already exist and mostly are not terribly burdensome to follow. I do think the rules are silly, and I think college students and presidents (!!) should have better things to spend their time thinking about when they walk across campus, but I’d like to think that making sure I and my friends focus on those better things would be more likely to encourage change than a direct attack on a dumb policy. Whether that makes me a meliorist or just a wimp is an open question ;)

    (Also, in the interest of full disclosure (haha), my ankles are HAWT, and might be a distraction from either academic or religious pondering, so I’m mildly sympathetic to the impulse to regulate the display of the talus and malleoli.)

  202. I don’t understand all the complaining in this discussion. We all believe that obedience brings blessings. If we are obedient in the small things we will be obedient in the big things. And God will shower blessings upon us for our obedience, which is the first law of heaven. A law that results in loads of blessings. What a great law!

    In fact, I’m disappointed that we aren’t taking greater advantage of this law. Think of the good we could do for ourselves and for others by being obedient to many many more laws! Wear mismatching socks every other day as commanded=blessings for yourself. Instead of deodorant, rub pickle juice in your pits as commanded=pass those blessings on to some starving children. We need more laws to bring more blessings, people. What is being asked is less important than the fact that certain people are the ones asking; and we are to be fully obedient to them with exactness because they invariably represent God’s will. And even on those really rare times when they don’t represent God’s will (like, say, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which was orchestrated by local church officials), we will be blessed for being obedient REGARDLESS!

    This is a magnificent plan. You see, obedience, unlike every other virtue, is a virtue that can exist in utter isolation from any other virtue. Obedience for obedience’s sake is the supreme virtue, as we learned during the war in heaven when we were fighting over our agency. We wanted agency so we would later be able to completely give it away by doing everything someone else tells us to do. And this would bring promised blessings.

  203. Owen, it’s only difficult if you care about looking like a cult.

  204. John Mansfield says:

    “Personally, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.”
    DQ, it seem to be about people in their thirties and forties keeping in touch with their inner undergraduate.

  205. DQ,

    Please tell me more about the “fundie progs.” I am fascinated as I’ve never seen this particular oxymoron previously. What defines a fundie prog? Whose teachings do they adhere to in a fundamentalist way? Was Jesus the original fundie prog?

  206. Is it at all possible that the moral, spiritual, physical, emotional and dare I say intellectual malaise which plagues modernity might actually be linked in some degree to obedience?

    Might be linked to obedience. But I am pretty certain that the malaise is not linked to capris or facial hair. I haven’t heard any argument (and certainly not a good one) as to why it might be.

    Kristine, your ankles are only HAWT in capris. In a skirt, they’re perfectly calm, tepid, sacrament-acceptable ankles.

  207. Even assuming the value of the BYU-I dress code (which I do not), what bothers me most about this Facebook post is that it equates adherence to an arbitrary dress code (which can be violated even by wearing “modest” clothing) with obediance to spiritual principles and laws. I don’t think that approach fosters spiritual maturity.

  208. Quickmere, I do not believe obedience brings blessings. Obedience to correct principles brings blessings, but obedience to incorrect principles brings whatever those principles result in. The church, both at the local and general levels, is not and has never been immune from giving instructions that do not yield desirable outcomes. Perhaps those who are obedient will have it accounted unto them as righteousness in the hereafter, but the fact remains that in the here and now, doing the wrong things in any given situation leads to the wrong results no matter what people’s intentions are. Often Christian goals are better served by ignoring Pharisaical rules.

  209. Jeannette, that’s basically been my main point in each of the comments I’ve made. Thanks for putting it much more clearly and succinctly.

  210. Owen: Uncritically viewing obedience as a means to “get blessings” risks perverting obedience into a me-centered matter.

  211. “The downside to the rules is they reflect poorly on church members unattached to the school. That is, where the emphasis is (as it is in the Facebook status) on obedience just because, it provides fuel for the misguided, but not uncommon, view that the church is out to create mindlessly obedient automatons. And that’s not the church’s, or BYU-I’s, goal.”

    I sincerely hope “creating mindlessly obedient automatons” is not the goal of church leaders or LDS institutions, but it sure seems to me like it’s a goal for some of them (in both leader & follower roles). This is why I am so troubled by it. I think the ramifications of expecting strict obedience to absurd rules go far beyond just breeding ‘creepers and weirdos’.

    Black and white attitudes are damaging from one end of the spectrum to the other. If one is content to remain brainless (spineless? heartless?) and take all cues from the Brethren about what to think, feel, and believe concerning moral, political & temporal issues, the result is an almost intolerably shallow, superficial robot, incapable of grappling with ambiguity and conveniently avoiding the necessity for a deep personal relationship with Deity [which comes from the purifying and deeply painful work of wrestling and struggling with one’s entire heart and soul – putting every piece of yourself on the line in submission to the will of the Father. This cannot (and does not) happen when one is just blindly following all policies and rules.] The other end of that all-or-nothing spectrum is the eventual conclusion that “it’s all bunk” & throwing the whole thing (the Church) out and walking away – which also seems to be happening to our youth at an alarming rate. When did loyalty and sustaining the Brethren become synonymous with agreeing 100%?

    The only remedy I can see is to stress the importance of thinking and gaining wisdom for one’s self and being willing to question everything (really, the truth has nothing to fear – why all the fear and defensiveness?). True testimonies can only grow in an atmosphere free from dogmatism and compulsion. Force, manipulation, fear, shame, demands for conformity – all of these are hindrances to everything good and true and meaningful in life – it especially hinders the depth of soul necessary to create a true follower of Christ – someone who sees all others as fellow kin, no matter what their outward appearance. This is the real reason I am so bothered by this topic.

  212. Um, yeah, Quickmere. Isn’t that the point I was trying I make to you? Weren’t you the one who said “we all believe obedience brings blessings”?

  213. Owen, I think Quickmere was channeling his best brother jake.

  214. Only if someone told me to.

  215. The BYU-I dress code rule is no more arbitrary than the rule that all Mormons not drink coffee nor tea, while permitting similar drinks like yerba mate, which my Argentine friends drink religiously. You’ve convinced me. The WoW doesn’t pass the Scientology rule either. We are a cult.

  216. I dunno, Dale. There are an awful lot of people (billions) of different persuasions who have dietary rules related to their religion (e.g. Jews, Muslims, Hindus) or avocation (e.g. Crossfitters, bodybuilders, Morrissey fans etc.). Hard to call someone with food rules a cultist.

  217. I went to Ricks (BYUI) and I was really grateful for the Honor code, it helped me to like closer to the spirit and was what created the wonderful spirit that resided at BYU Idaho. The Honor code is a blessing and exactly the way that we should live our lives even if we don’t go to a church school and is inspired of the Lord.

  218. Goodness, 200 comments in 24 hours, and I don’t think we’re close to a record. And it’s been just as fun to read! Almost makes me wish we had a bloggernacle drinking game. Strawman, shot of Pepsi. Accusation of post hoc explanation, shot of Coke. Accusation of misandry, shot of Jolt (if you can find it). Use of Occam’s Razor, someone has to shave something.

  219. Defenders of the indefensible, paint your sepulchre

  220. Steve, you should be ashamed of that comment.

  221. Add it to the list

  222. “The Honor code is a blessing and exactly the way that we should live our lives even if we don’t go to a church school and is inspired of the Lord.”

    And that kind of thinking is exactly what’s wrong with the honor code at BYU and BYU-I. People start thinking that things like the dress and grooming code should apply outside of those schools.

  223. Yes, people should obey rules they knew were in place when they signed a contract, but . . .

    Obedience for the sake of obedience with no critical thought is a good description of something I have been taught I rejected long ago – before I was born actually, and we describe the willingness to reject unquestioning obedience in all things as the core reason we are here now as mortals. Being both obedient to God and agents unto ourselves is a difficult, messy process – and bastardizing it by requiring obedience to anything no matter what makes it easier and simpler but powerless and vain, as well.

    Building hedges about the law created a system we decry (at least officially) in our teaching about the Old Testament. Unnecessary, arbitrary rules don’t empower; they weaken. President Uchtdorf actually addressed rules like these in a General Conference talk a while ago in which he said we often lose sight of eternal principles when we multiply cultural rules.

    We call good evil too much as humans, and we do it in particularly Mormon ways in the Church. This is one of those ways.

  224. “Kristine, your ankles are only HAWT in capris. In a skirt, they’re perfectly calm, tepid, sacrament-acceptable ankles.”
    There are few things that I have a genuine testimony of but the falseness of that statement is one of them. I am typically a strong adherent of pacifism but for this perfidy I think you should be soundly horsewhipped.

  225. John Mansfield says:

    On the desk of my son, a high school senior, is a pamphlet “Preparing for Brigham Young University 2014” which I wouldn’t have really noticed this afternoon were I not a By Common Consent reader. In the foreground of the cover photo, sort of walking toward the camera, are three students, all wearing denim jeans. The one on the left is a man in a blue and white flannel shirt with the cuffs folded up half way to the elbows. In the middle is a woman with her pant cuffs folded a few inches above the ankles, and on the right is another woman, her pant legs folded most of the way to the knees. So, the recruiters in Provo appear to be making a point to the youth of Zion that Provo isn’t in Idaho.

  226. Always gratifying to see such great convergence between Bloggernacle thinking and Ensign.

  227. Yes, Joe. No conflict in seeing the BYU Idaho standards as silly while still believing in living modestly.

  228. My biggest issue is that during trainings this summer for online faculty Pres. Clark spoke about how one of their purposes is to teach students to think critically and be able to speak with confidence to people in power. He gave an example of how one of our interns was in a meeting and commented directly to the CEO and made a tangible improvement in the meeting. So, think critically and speak to power “in the world” but never here – just follow with no questions ever.

  229. Steve, perhaps you would care to elucidate. Are all standards equally silly, or is it just BYUI that you intended to mock?

  230. Not much eludication necessary. As I’ve said multiple times, I don’t have a problem with dress codes and standards, but let’s not conflate them with the order of Godliness. I doubt anyone rational would take issue with that concept.

  231. The handshake seals the contract. From the contract, there’s no turning back. Everything counts, in large amounts.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughtful contributions. I think it’s time we closed this one down.