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By Jeff Borders
Can I still join the church if I’m a smoker?
As a disclaimer, my columns and answers are my own opinions, based off the teachings and doctrine that I have been taught. I do not represent the Church in any way shape or form.
Once again, I am grateful for the questions that come in regularly about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before we discuss joining the Church, it might be worth a few moments to discuss what we as Latter-day Saints, refer to as the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is our code of health and was given as revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833. It is recorded in the book of scripture we know as the Doctrine and Covenants.
Within the Word of Wisdom we are counseled to avoid alcohol, tea and coffee, tobacco. On the other side of the things to avoid, we are also counseled to eat healthily and take care of our bodies. While these things may seem strange to those outside our faith, Latter-day Saints strive to keep the Word of Wisdom to show our commitment to following the will of Heavenly Father.
After a person desiring to become a member has met with the missionaries, and before they are baptized, they undergo a baptismal interview. This interview is used to determine if the person is ready to make the commitment to follow Christ, take his name upon them, and strive to follow his commandments.
One of the questions asked to those seeking baptism is if they understand and are willing to obey the Word of Wisdom. It may seem strange for God to ask us to give up certain habits or tendencies, but sacrifice is an eternal principle of discipleship. Heavenly Father wants us to be our best selves and that includes taking care of the bodies that we have been given.
Now let me say this. Sometimes people, who have previously smoked, go back to the habit after being baptized. Sometimes members take up the habit after being in the Church for years. Those who experience this may at times find themselves living at odds with the standards of the Church. This is no way decreases the love that God has for his children. His love is infinite and eternal and He seeks for nothing more than his children to come and walk beside him. Those who struggle with the trials and temptations of mortality, whether member or friends, are always welcome to worship with us.
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