I'm just going to jot down some notes I came up with while discussing a little religion in a van ride with my parents:
The amazing thing about Christianity is that it does teach forgiveness and mercy. This is actually really quite a development over Judaism. In Judaism, you'd be stoned for walking too far on the Sabbath. In Christianity, you can do pretty much whatever you want on your Sabbath and need not face criticism for it. It's for rules like these that the doctrine of always forgiving makes sense. Some lawsets, like the law of Moses, are very nitpicky about how you live your life and there's so much you always have to be doing. In christianity, these nitpicky little laws are set aside and you gain more freedom. The sabbath day thing is an example. This is one of the things that makes christianity so amazing.
We then discussed about how Jesus would not scorn or shun or anyhow punish a person for drinking coffee, though there is a rule in LDS against drinking coffee. My dad then made a note about how if Jesus were alive today, the LDS church wouldn't allow him to be baptized because he drank alcohol.
This did seem like an idea of conundrum::: how is it that we would not baptize Jesus Christ himself just because he was a drinker of the ethanol?
I figured this out too:: there are lesser laws, and there are higher laws. An example of a lesser law is the Law of Moses, like don't eat pig meat in any form. An example of a higher law is to not marry divorced women.
Mormons don't follow the same lesser laws as Judaism, but mormons also do not follow the higher law(s) of the kingdom of heaven. Some of the rules in place in the LDS church are of a lesser nature that are meant to help our lives but have no real determination in getting to heaven.
Rules against drinking coffee or alcohol, I will guess, are lesser rules that have no bearing on your heavenly status, but the church has instated them for the health of the people.
It's kind of like how Caffeine has health issues, and for a long time a lot of mormons thought caffeine was banned. Caffeine isn't really banned, but it does have health issues. You can drink caffeine and still go to the temple, but common sense dictates that you shouldn't drink too much caffeine. It's really just like that with the whole word of wisdom, except some parts of these health guidelines are more rules than just guidelines.
And then there are the legalistic mormons who will condemn and criticize for drinking caffeine where in fact caffeine isn't even actually wrong --- it's a health issue but it's not banned. It's just something you have to be wise about. Alcohol wasn't always banned you know, and they only banned it for the sake of weaker saints who would be having problems.
Then I went off on a bit of a tangent discussing the difference between CTR, Choose the Right, and WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?
Though it would seem Jesus would always choose the right, there is a slight difference between the mormon acronym and the one other christians use.
Choose the Right could be interpreted to mean that you should always obey and follow all the nitpicky rules, like 'no caffeine'. That is a way that CTR could be interpreted, but that isn't actually what Jesus would do. Jesus was not about always obeying nitpicky rules, but rather allowing greater freedom and causing people to not cast stones at small imperfections.
So, CTR isn't quite the same thing as WWJD, and for that reason that may be why Mormonism is so legalistic, which isn't really quite right. There is a value to CTR - but when CTR means no caffeine at all and making everyone else not drink caffeine, that's an interpretation of CTR but it isn't actually WJWD, or what Jesus would do.
There is value to CTR and WWJD, but the Mormon CTR emplaces a very legalistic attitude that actually isn't what Jesus likely intended. CTR has value, but it is a bit different than WWJD.
So -- I think Mormonism has some truth and reality to it, but I can understand why so many other Christians have such a problem with it. I don't think mormonism is perfect, but I don't discount it entirely.
CTR has value, but WWJD is a bit different, slightly different meanings. CTR was about always obeying the rules like a Jew - WWJD is about picking corn on the Sabbath and forgiving sins.