An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Too Many Sins

This morning at 7:00, George and I were in our front yard when a barefoot guy in his early 20’s stalked past wearing a robe and pajama bottoms. He walked to the corner, sat on the curb, and hunched over. I walked over to see if he was all right. He took a drag on the cigarette he’d just lit and said, “I’m fine, thank you. I just had to walk three blocks from home to have a cigarette.”

The young nicotine addict is visiting one of our Mormon neighbors. Now I understand forbidding indoor smoking. No one wants to inhale secondhand smoke. But banishing a visitor from smoking in the backyard? Was that motivated by concern for what the neighbors might think? The kid’s attire and martyred attitude suggest an argument preceded his arrival in front of our house.

Treating tobacco use as a moral transgression rather than an unhealthy practice creates unnecessary tension for Mormon families with members who choose to ignore the Word of Wisdom. Don’t we have enough sins to worry about if we just target behavior that harms others?

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