Unsound Syllogism
By BeClean
7/5/2014 6:29:32 PM
My dad teaches logic, and I enjoy logic games (like the kind you see on the LSAT). I teach my own students logical syllogisms. For example:

Major premise: All dogs can fly.
Minor premise: Simba is a dog.
Conclusion: Therefore, Simba can fly.

That is a logical syllogism--and it is valid. A valid syllogism is one where the conclusion logically flows from the major and minor premises.

However, just because a syllogism is valid does not mean it is sound. A sound syllogism must be valid AND all of the premises must be true.

In this case, not all dogs can fly, and...Simba isn't a dog; he's a cat. So, even though the syllogism is valid, it is unsound. BOTH of the premises are false.

Here is a valid logical syllogism that I think many members of the Church are inclined to construct in their mind:

Premise 1: The scriptures teach that adulterers should be killed, destroyed, stoned, and hated, or at least cast out and shunned.
Premise 2: Jesus taught that anyone who looks at someone else with lust (i.e., views pornography) has committed adultery in his heart (and so he is an adulterer).
Conclusion: Anyone who views pornography should be destroyed, or at least cast out, and shunned.

If we know someone close to us who has viewed pornography, logic like this might convince us internally to shun or hate that person. If we ARE the person who has viewed pornography, logic like this will probably convince us internally to hate ourselves (and even seek our own destruction...through self-destructive behaviors).

I think I was guilty of thinking this way.

But, while the syllogism may be valid, it is NOT sound. The premises are NOT true. I want to briefly examine them.

Premise 1: The scriptures teach that adulterers should be killed, destroyed, stoned, and hated, or at least cast out and shunned.

No, scriptures don't teach that. That was an Old Testament law, superseded by new covenant. Jesus taught that only those without sin should cast a stone at the adulterer. And then, being the only one without sin, he told the adulterer, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more." Jesus spent his time with sinners. He loved them. He invited them to repent, and he rejoiced when they returned to him. Jesus gave his life for adulterers so that they no longer needed to give their own lives. Modern scripture says that unrepentant adulterers should be excommunicated, but those that repent are welcome back to the fold.

Premise 2: Jesus taught that anyone who looks at someone else with lust (i.e., views pornography) has committed adultery in his heart (and so he is an adulterer).

Yes, Jesus taught that lust is adultery-with-your-heart. But adultery in your heart is NOT the same thing as physical adultery. Neither Jesus nor his Church considers them the same thing. If in-heart adultery and physical adultery were the same thing, most of the Church would be excommunicated. We would all need to visit with our Bishop every time we had a lustful thought. So, why does Jesus teach that lust is adultery-of-the-heart? Not so that we would have another reason to hate ourselves. Unlike the rest of Israel 2000 years ago, Jesus knew that thoughts lead to actions, and he was simply warning Israel not just to avoid actions, but to focus on their thoughts as well.

So, apparently adulterers seeking repentance (and even those taken in the very act of adultery) should be loved and helped. They should be invited back to the fold. Furthermore, just because you lust does not make you an adulterer.

Therefore, the conclusion is not sound. We do not need to hate and shun those who view pornography. We need to love and help them, just as we love and help all sinners. The Church is a hospital for sick people, not a country club for the whole people.

Why am I writing this? To overcome a common misconception in the Church (set forth by the syllogism above). I wrote this syllogism on a chalkboard for church lesson not too long ago. I asked members what they thought about the syllogism. The first person to comment said, "Well, it's true. And it's how we end up treating ourselves when we view pornography."

No, it's not true. And we should NOT treat ourselves this way when we view pornography.

Am I justifying pornography or sin? NEVER!
I am saying: love the sinner. Begin with yourself. You are a child of God with infinite worth, and God loves you and accepts you. Accept yourself. And go, and sin no more.


Ah, good to see you back, Be Clean    
"I've missed you :-). You always have good stuff to say. Glad you're not being to hard on yourself. No matter how far wrong we've gone, we can always turn around"
posted at 09:42:05 on July 6, 2014 by Anonymous
"I cannot help but be disappointed in myself when I give in to a fleshy appetite. I have struggled for decades with the sin of masturbation. Just when I think I am done with it, sin lies at the door. At one point I went six years without doing it and recently I did it again once.

I believe I will overcome it eventually. But I find it hard to not be angry at myself when I commit this sin. It makes me feel guilty and wrong."
posted at 23:38:03 on July 7, 2014 by Anonymous
Great Resource    
"Hi Anonymous,
I am the wife of a recovering mb/porn addict. I know that his recovery is his own and mine is my own. In my own studies I come across things that can apply to both. Yesterday I discovered a new website and it has tons for both the addict and the loved one. Please remember that the Lord does love you. I hope you visit this site and find the same level of help and hope that I have."
posted at 09:02:23 on July 8, 2014 by 1stepatatime
Mercy that's good    
"[Spock]: “Your logic was impeccable, Captain. We are in grave danger.”."
posted at 21:21:15 on July 10, 2014 by they_speak
"Guys, this is really good."
posted at 11:39:58 on September 6, 2014 by they_speak

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"I need not define your specific problem to help you overcome it. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it violates the commandments of the Lord, it comes from Satan, and the Lord can overcome all of Satan’s influence through your application of righteous principles. Please understand that the way back is not as hard as it seems to you now. Satan wants you to think that it is impossible. That is not true. The Savior gave His life so that you can completely overcome the challenges you face. "

— Richard G. Scott

General Conference May 1990