If the analysis which follows seems a tad pedantic, then, I confess, I’m guilty as charged. Before I knew the meaning of the word, I hadn’t realized how aptly it describes my tendency to overemphasize minutiae. The power of language is remarkable.
If I may, however, indulge my inner pedant and bring to the forefront of our collective consciousness an issue which needs addressing.
Do we really mean it when we say, “Moderation in all things?” Or has this trite aphorism become so cliché, so knee-jerk, that it pops out before we realize the full import of what we’re really saying?
Perhaps all things doesn’t really mean all things. If I were a non-native English speaker, or didn’t speak English at all, how would you explain this concept to me so I might understand its nuances?
In the spirit of moderation in all things, am I justified in attending my Sabbath meetings only twice a month? All of a sudden, four times seems a bit overzealous, don’t you think? Though I’ve covenanted to consecrate all that I am and have to the Lord, should I consecrate in moderation?
As a strict abstainer should I begin a moderate consumption of alcohol? Tobacco? Illicit drugs? Pornography? How would the recovering addict manage the concept of moderation? Should an addict continue in the moderate use of the substance whose grips he or she is seeking to escape?
In the frigid wintertime, should I wear a moderate amount of clothing? In the blistering heat of summer, should I consume fluids only moderately?
Should I exercise strict moderation in my marriage? Should I give my wife only a moderate quantity of my time or a moderate amount of my attention? Should I only be moderately faithful to her? Should I expect only moderation in return?
When we have teenagers, should my wife and I teach them moderation in premarital sex? Should we encourage moderation in grades—encourage a C-average?
The list could go on and on, but just because I’m pedantic doesn’t mean you have to be. Moderation in all things, right?
Or maybe life requires abstinence in some things, moderation in others, and zeal in yet others.