February 22, 2008
My main question is in regards to clean fun. You see my friends and I love to get together to play poker (we don’t play for money, just for fun) and while we play we enjoy drinking O’douls and smoking Swisher Sweet Cigars. Now obviously O’douls is non-alcoholic and the swisher sweet cigars are not meant to be inhaled so we’re not actually breathing any tobacco. Lately, my wife has been giving me a hard time saying that I’m evil and going to hell. What is your opinion on my behavior?
Blake, from Lehi, Utah
Listen to your wife! She seems to have a lot more sense than you do. It surprises me how many people try to walk just as close as they can to the line of evil without crossing over. The minute they move in that direction they have crossed the line. As we read in Thessalonicans 5 :22—
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And President James E. Faust has written the following—
“Some of you young men may be letting others set your standards. You defend yourselves by saying, Who said we shouldn’t do this or we shouldn’t do that? There are so many shades of right and wrong that each of you has to decide where the line will be. I strongly urge you that if there is any question in your minds or hearts about whether your personal conduct is right or wrong, dont do it. Each of us has moral agency, and the gift of the Holy Ghost will sharpen our impressions of what is right and wrong, true and false. It is the responsibility of the prophets of God to teach the word of God, not to spell out every jot and tittle of human conduct. If we are conscientiously trying to avoid not only evil but the very appearance of evil, we will act for ourselves and not be acted upon.” (President James E. Faust, The Devils Throat, Ensign (CR), May 2003, p.51)
Some people like to walk as close to the edge of the cliff of evil as they can. They think that it is a thrill to look over they edge and perceive the evil without partaking of it. But the danger is real! One little slip of the foot (or the conscience) and over they go, beaten and bruised on the rocks below, with a tremendous struggle to get back on top. While other more sensible people walk as close to the brow of the hill of righteousness as they can, enjoying the peace and the direction of the Holy Spirit. If they stumble or get caught on a snag there is no real danger, they merely pick themselves up (repent) and continue on their joyful path.
Your little game is more than flirting with danger; it is involved with evil. You say that the cigars are not meant to be inhaled. It’s actually impossible to breath in without inhaling something. And the argument that the cigars “are not meant to be inhaled” is about the weakest excuse for indulgence that one can come up with. My advice to you is to avoid the very appearance of evil.