In the Adult Session of Stake Conference (sounds dirty, no?) this weekend, we heard from several recently reactivated (hate that term–makes it sound like they were robots sitting dormant until someone came and flipped their power switch on for them) members of our stake. Each of these stories, incidentally, featured committed home teachers and each of the members speaking happened to be men.

I noticed a different connection, though. All of the men mentioned that part of their return to Church included mastering their Word of Wisdom issues and all of them had smoked.

Half of them had converted to the Church as adults, and somehow I find their return to former habits understandable. But the other half had grown up in the Church (like me) and had only picked up drinking and smoking as adults. This really seemed remarkable to me. I have a pretty good imagination and I think I can picture my life as a less-active member, sort of (although I don’t know what I would do with my Sundays). With a bit more work, I might be able to fathom a place where I lost my belief in the divinity of the Church, scriptures, or modern prophets. So let’s say I no longer believed that the Word of Wisdom actually was God-given; I still can’t see myself making alcohol or tobacco a part of my life.

As far as I am concerned, adherence to the Word of Wisdom got me through the adolescent part of my life, which is the only time I might have been tempted to join that club. As an adult, though, knowing what all adults know about alcohol and tobacco, what could motivate me to get involved with that? I can’t afford it, I don’t like the effects of it, I sure wouldn’t want to set that example for my kids, and it is not an important part of the life of any of my friends. I don’t get it.

I have seen friends and family leave Church activity, and they all seem to delight in breaking Word of Wisdom taboos, but that mostly consists of coffee and tea for them. I have to admit that from my perspective, it just looks like immature rebellion, but, you know, from their perspective, my entire religious life looks to them like immature blind obedience, so I guess we are even.

Somehow, I find alcohol more understandable than tobacco. I guess it is more socially acceptable. I know precious few smokers. I have one colleague and friend that I can think of–and she hides it; I am quite convinced that she thinks that nobody knows she smokes. I can’t think of anyone else.

So, what do you think? Is this a common phenomenon, that people who leave the Church pick up smoking? What is the motivation?

Anyway, each of these members seemed very happy to be back. I couldn’t help but think of the many many more who are not back. Perhaps some are equally happy to be without us, but I pray that those who are not will make it back sometime.