Monday, May 21, 2007

Shame vs Love

About 6 months after my epiphany regarding the church, I found my mind turned to the nature of mainstream Christianity vs LDS Christianity. Now, I'm no expert on the mainstream church (and obviously there's a good bit of diversity of thought), but one morning, just as I was stepping into the shower, it hit me.

Mormons obey to receive grace.
Christians obey because they have received grace.

I'm no mainstream Christian, but somehow that second approach rang so much better in my heart and mind. As soon as I realized it, I suddenly saw how pervasive this approach was in Mormonism. Hardly a GC talk goes by in which you don't hear the caveat, "if we are worthy," or "if we are obedient." Salvation comes through Jesus, but only once you've earned it. It makes Jesus like the token collector at a train station--he's deciding whether or not let you in, but the fare is the fare, so pay up. Obedience comes from knowing that you will not get to live with your family if you miss tithing by 1% and then die too quickly to make amends.

Contrast that with the idea that Jesus has, in his infinite mercy, reached down and pulled you from the depths of your human weakness. As a result, you will obey him in a show of gratitude. Clearly you'll mess up, but he'll help you out anyway. Obedience comes from knowing that you are saved and being thankful for it.

We'll let the LDS.org search engine take it from here (in my completely scientific study!):

"obe*": 7,136
"worthi* worthy": 4,636
"grace": 1,816, including phrases such as, "We cannot be saved by grace alone."

It's an emphasis that really bothers me, in that it promotes a judgemental attitude in others and a deeply negative sense of shame in the believer. I do not find Christ as a valuable symbol if I am using him to promote shame--I much prefer the parental love image of the second approach. My children exist because my wife and I gave them life, a totally free gift. If my children disappoint me, I do not reject them--certainly not for the rest of their lives! Instead, I show them how to live better lives and recover from their stumbles. And I seek their obedience out of respect and love, not fear of punishment.

Just some liminal blather on what Jesus means to an agnostic...

51 Comments:

Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

You know what? I found your blog from the extensive blogroll on Main Street Plaza...I was just looking at the list, and I saw the words "Liminal Blather" and thought that was an awesome blog name, so I clicked.

Are you sorry?

May 21, 2007 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

I'm glad you're here. It's like there suddenly this little community of four.

I never would have expected someone to find me through the Main Street Plaza. Aren't there 100 or so blogs on that? Glad you thought it was a cool name--I gave it a lot of thought.

May 21, 2007 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Uj,

I think you know where I found you.

I look at the two lines and I change them as follows:

"Mormons obey because they have received grace.
Christians consider grace the only necessity and obedience is not required."

IF you refer back to the original blog I found your name on, you will find an extensive thread going on that originally started about Mitt Romney. On that stream are the comments of one nathanielmacrae, a self-described evangelical Christian. I once, at his request, wrote back and forth with him on his own blog for a month. His belief - and it does describe what a great many Christians of other churches believe - is that no work is necessary because our works are worthless in the sight of God. He also said that Mormons were going to Hell - especially my wife and I - and we worshipped a delusional man and Satan. These comments came from a person who claimed he only wanted to ask some questions to better understand Mormonism. He took down the blog when I asked him who he felt he was acting more like: Satan or Christ. I've side-tracked a bit. The reason I point out what he says, though, is because he is explaining a common point of view of people outside the LDS Church. Works are worthless and therefore unecessary. I find such an idea dangerous at the least and harmful in general. If someone believes all they have to do is say "I believe in Christ" and then they can spend the rest of their lives doing everything he taught was wrong, they are misguided.

Personally, I obey Christ because I have received grace. You may think I do it to receive grace, but I do not. I accepted his name, and therefore I accepted his grace. I obey to show my love for his sacrifice and because I grow every time I serve others. I love to serve my fellow man. I do not do it out of fear. That thought honestly hasn't crossed my mind in ages. I do it because I want to.

Long enough post for now.

May 21, 2007 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Oh, and it is ironic you refer to it as a community of four. I was just explaining to my wife how it is an interesting group on here. A long-time member who strongly defends his beliefs, a convert, a New Order Mormon, and a former Mormon. To call it "two on two" is rather unfair because I do not want to be adversial, but it is a funny group we've formed.

May 21, 2007 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Mormons obey to receive grace.
Christians obey because they have received grace.


I've run into this argument a lot. I have a good friend who is Born Again and he brings this up all the time.

I have to agree with Robert. I think this is a rather broad blanket statement that certainly doesn't apply to all.

Hardly a GC talk goes by in which you don't hear the caveat, "if we are worthy," or "if we are obedient." Salvation comes through Jesus, but only once you've earned it.

I've never heard a GA say you have to "earn" salvation. Rather it is up to us to accept his atonement if we expect to be saved. Hear is where the LDS church runs into conflict with the BAs (born agains). It's all in the definition of what it means to accept Jesus. To the BAs it is simply a matter of saying "I accept Jesus" and presto! here's your automatic ticket to Heaven. Congratulations, youlve passed the test. Go get some Birkenstocks, and a guitar and start worshipping!

In the LDS faith there's more to it.
1- Faith
2- Repentence
3- Baptism
4- Holy Ghost

I don't know where or how you grew up, what your ward or bishp or parents were like, but I feel bad that you were taught to believe in the kind of Jesus that you describe here in this post. I've always been taught about his atonement, how it was done out of pure love for me. That I am not perfect but God loves me anyway, and desires that I be with him again some day and so has provided a plan and a savior that I can overcome my weaknesses and imperfections and learn and grow to become so much more than I am now.

If we don't make it, it won't be because God rejects us. It is us who reject him. All we have to do is knock and the door shall be opened. Christ is the shepherd that will go after the one lost sheep.

Bottom line, like Robert I don't obey out of fear of judgement. A good moral person doesn't sit around thinking of how great life would be if he could just go around committing a bunch of sin. I don't think to myself. Man I wish God wasn't watching so I could beat my wife and kids, and commit adultery all I want. I have no desire to do anything like that.

I don't know where BAs get the idea that they have to do absolutely nothing once they are saved. The Bible is full of examples of good works. Heck. Why did Jesus of all people request baptism? Why give us ten commandments? Why did God command prophets to testify to people and repent? Why even have repentence if salvation is automatic?

If my children disappoint me, I do not reject them--certainly not for the rest of their lives! Instead, I show them how to live better lives and recover from their stumbles.

Yes, but would you deny them their free agency? You would never reject them, but some day they may reject you? They might not be interested in having you show them how to live better lives, and how to recover from stumbles.

And so it is with our Father in Heaven. It breaks his heart to see us reject him, but he loves us enough not to intefere with our free agency.

May 22, 2007 at 1:04 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

SS,

I think you have described my belief and feelings on this matter quite well. Heavenly Father would rather let his children choose their way than take away their free agency by forcing them to be good. He does not reject us for a lack of obedience; a lack of obedience rejects him. I actually like this explanation quite well: if we demonstrate we do not want to live with Heavenly Father, he will not force us to do so. As you say, good people don't sit around wishing they could sin if it weren't for the commandment of obedience. Some people do like their vices, and they would hate to be in a place where they could have enjoy them, so Heavenly Father has provided them a place so they do not have to live with him, but they are still not destroyed. That, to me, is a very loving Heavenly Father who allows his children to be where they choose and does not force any of them to do anything they do not want to do. How many parents can say the same?

May 22, 2007 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I'm not actively choosing Outer Darkness for myself when I come to the conscious conclusion that there is no Holy Ghost guiding my every moral choice, guys. But it's the plan of our "loving" Father in Heaven to send me there because I have used the reasoning power he gifted me with. And, according to the LDS religion, he has no intention of visiting me at all for eternity in Outer Darkness. Heck, he has no intention of visiting his children in the Telestial Kingdom or the Terrestrial Kindom either. Jesus and the Holy Ghost may visit those in the Terrestrial Kingdom, and only the Holy Ghost may visit those in the Telestial Kingdom.

You say this is because I have rejected the Holy Ghost, and therefore rejected God.

This reminds me of the thought that LDS parents of active gay children should not allow them to stay in their homes. Some show of love. Impressive.

"Mormons obey because they have received grace.
Christians consider grace the only necessity and obedience is not required."


You are talking as if non-LDS Christians have no moral compass that encourages them to be good. This boggles the mind. I am of the belief that most all people have a sense of morality that is inherent, which is why an athiest can be just as moral as a Christian, or Buddhist, or Muslim, etc. Don't do things that could hurt another person. It's basic stuff. I didn't need to be told that I might lose heavenly bonus points in order to know that I should treat others kindly and with respect and allow them their dignity.

All Christian religions require obedience ~ they each have their own versions of Hell, you know. They don't think we're all going to be saved. What good would it do any Christian religion to not have a version of hell to use to keep the members in line? Sheesh!

May 22, 2007 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

SML,

Who has told you that you are going to Outer Darkness? Whoever has I think they are wrong. Utterly and horribly wrong!!!

My understanding is that Outter Darkness is reserved for only the vilest of spirits. Someone told me once that aside from Satan and his angles, you will probably be able to count on one hand the souls who inherit Outter Darkness. Sons of Perdition.

I doubt you qualify for Perdition. Remember Cain actually saw God with his own eyes. Walked and talked with him and still chose to follow Satan. Despite having a sure knowledge of God he formed a secret combination for the purpose of murder.

You don't seem to me to be the type of person that has or would deny a sure knowledge of God or the Spirit. You have just become disapointed somehow in the Church. You've lost your faith, and that happens unfortunately.

And, according to the LDS religion, he has no intention of visiting me at all for eternity in Outer Darkness. Heck, he has no intention of visiting his children in the Telestial Kingdom or the Terrestrial Kindom either. Jesus and the Holy Ghost may visit those in the Terrestrial Kingdom, and only the Holy Ghost may visit those in the Telestial Kingdom.

The question is, if you were in outter darkness, would you want God to come visit you? The truth is you wouldn't be able to withstand his presence because of his glory. To be in the presence of God with a full knowledge of your guilt is HELL.

You are talking as if non-LDS Christians have no moral compass that encourages them to be good.

I didn't mean to imply they have no moral compass. That's just how they believe. They actually don't need a moral compass once they've accepted Jesus. Once you are truly saved, sin is impossible. This is according to many conversations I've had with a good BA friend of mine.

I am of the belief that most all people have a sense of morality that is inherent, which is why an athiest can be just as moral as a Christian, or Buddhist, or Muslim, etc. Don't do things that could hurt another person. It's basic stuff.

Well, there's one mormon belief you've still hung onto. Mormonism accepts that every soul is born with the light of Christ in them, having an inherit knowledge of good and evil. Good job Eve!

All Christian religions require obedience ~ they each have their own versions of Hell, you know. They don't think we're all going to be saved.

Well, if you believe in the scriptures than you have to believe that there is some form of punishment in the after-life. Personally I think the mormon version is the kindest most merciful version that I've heard. We don't believe in a hell where people are literally burning in flames and fire while a devil with horns,hooves, a tail and pokes them with a pitch fork. An eternity of agony.

And the scary thing is there is no grading curve! Can you imagine? Well, you were a pretty good guy mostly, but you just didn't quite make it into eternal paradise and bliss. Instead you go to Hell for eternity.

In the Mormon church you have the three degrees of glory. And each of those are divided into more glories. My personal belief is that there are countless sub-degrees of glory within each kingdom. There is no Heaven or Hell scenario. You live your life to a certain degree of glory, and will fit comfortably within that glory. Even those in the smallest degree of glory aren't going to suffer for eternity. They will live a life much like the one we have here, minus the sickness, evil, war, killing, and crime. I believe Joseph Smith said ( or some older prophet ) If we could glimpse even the smallest degree of glory we'd probably kill ourselves just to get there. Not such a loving Father?

May 22, 2007 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hi SS ~

Here is what is taught to investigators and new members about the Telestial Kingdom and Outer Darkness in the Gospel Essentials lesson manual called "Gospel Principals" (I taught Gospel Essentials for over three years until recently). I copy word for word (page 298):

Telestial
These people did not receive the gospel or the testimony of Jesus either on earth or in the spirit world. They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millenium, when they will be resurrected. "These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie." These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father and the Son.

Outer Darkness
These are they who had testimonies of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and knew the power of the Lord but allowed Satan to overcome them. They denied the truth and defied the power of the Lord. There is no forgiveness for them, for they denied the Holy Spirit after having received it. They will not have a kingdom of glory. They will live in eternal darkness, torment, and misery with Satan and his angels forever."


My idea of a parent who loves me isn't one who refuses to see me ever again if I've been bad in some way.

And that description of people who are sent to Outer Darkness describes me in full. I bet you even think that I have allowed Satan into my life by denying the testimony I once had, right? I better start practicing knashing my teeth.

;)

May 22, 2007 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Oops, I meant "Gospel PRINCIPLES." There aren't principals involved... :)

May 22, 2007 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I need to clarify that it describes me in full, all except for that part about allowing Satan to overcome me. Sorry, didn't happen that way.

May 22, 2007 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML,

I agree with SS's assessment that there is the Light of Christ in everyone that can provide a moral compass, regardless of belief. I did not say they have no moral compass. I, as SS, have had numerous conversations with Christians who truly believe that nothing they do matters after they have accepted Christ. That said, most of them tend to be fine, upstanding citizens. Many of them are among my best friends, and they are wonderful giving people. It is not my point to say they accept Christ just so they can do every drug, try every deviant act, or murder endlessly. No, it is my point to say that what they describe as their belief could just as easily describe that sort of action. If it does not matter that you be good, then WHY be good? One explained that it becomes impossible to do wrong (as, apparently one said to SS). Somehow that doesn't fit either, since there is no such description of grace in any text of scripture I've ever read. It also goes against the entire point of living here. The point is that they say they do not need to be obedient after accepting grace. What I observe, though, is that the two groups are very similar in their actions. Mormons are loving, obedient, giving people who follow Christ's example out of love, and so are most Christians. They just don't describe it the same way. Eternal obedience with no choices better describes Satan's plan, though, not Heavenly Father's.

I have to run for the moment, but I'll respond to the comments about choice when I get back.

May 22, 2007 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millenium, when they will be resurrected.

Note that there is an end to the suffering, it's not burning in hell for eternity. They aren't even resurrected beings yet while in hell which denotes that the suffering isn't going to be physical torment, but anguish of soul.

God is just. We know from the scriptures that if he were to cease being just than he would cease to be God. Justice will have it's claim. God himself cannot deny justice. But he did provide a savior for us that allows us to escape the demands of justice. Christ has paid the price for us if we would only look to him. Otherwise we must pay for our own sins rather than Christ. And that is the suffering during the millenium that the doctrine speaks of. After which you will take your glory according to that which you have sown.

These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie." These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father and the Son.

These are also people who would not be able to withstand the presence of the Father or Son in their current state of glory. God has not "sent" them there. They have sent themselves there. They wouldn't want to enter the Celestial Kingdom even if they could. liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie." Would these people really want to see God?

My idea of a parent who loves me isn't one who refuses to see me ever again if I've been bad in some way.

How about a parent who had to watch his only begotten and first born tremble in agony, and bleed from every pore all for the possiblity NOT TO LOSE YOU. And an older brother who was willing to do it.

You seem to want to act as you wish with no consequences for your actions. Even God cannot deny justice. You have this image in your head of a long-bearded man in a white robe at a judges bench pointing his finger to hell as you fall into a giant firey crack in the floor. I see a broken-hearted parent who will be weeping as justice claims its prize. As said before. God doesn't send you anywhere. You send yourself. You reap the seeds that you've sown. In the end you have rejected him, not the other way around.

And that description of people who are sent to Outer Darkness describes me in full.

No. I don't think so. I don't buy that your are a son (daughter) of perdition.

Outer Darkness
These are they who had testimonies of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and knew the power of the Lord but allowed Satan to overcome them. They denied the truth and defied the power of the Lord.


For you to qualify then you are telling me that you STILL have a testimony of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and yet still deny the truth and defy the power of the Lord. Like Cain. After he turned from God he didn't "lose" his testimony of him. He knew the power and truth of God his whole life, but willingly denied and defied him. Oliver Cowdery fell away from the Church but never did deny it. He knew what he'd seen and experienced. You admit that you have lost your testimony. Well, if that is true, then you have disqualified yourself from outter darkness.

I think you enjoy making the claim that according to the Church you are going to outter darkness. It gives you ammunition in making the doctrines seem silly and pervasive. Why any Church that teaches sweet, little, nice SLM is going to outter darkness has got to be off its rocker. Right?

Unless you can say, " I know the Church IS true. I know Jospeh Smith WAS a true prophet. I know that God lives and Jesus Christ is the son of God. God has born wittness to me of this by the power of the Holy Ghost. BUT, never mind. I refuse to follow them, I deny them and their power. In fact, my mission in life is to destroy their Church and fight against their power.

Then, you might have a case for going to outter darkness. = ) Otherwise I don't think you need to worry about that.

Kind of ironic don't you think? A judgemental, prejudiced, believer trying to convince a non believer she isn't going to hell while she argues she is.

May 22, 2007 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

"These are they who had testimonies of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and knew the power of the Lord but allowed Satan to overcome them. They denied the truth and defied the power of the Lord. There is no forgiveness for them, for they denied the Holy Spirit after having received it. They will not have a kingdom of glory. They will live in eternal darkness, torment, and misery with Satan and his angels forever."

Note the past tense, SS. It is clear that I fall into the this group of souls. There's no doubt. This is pretty cut and dried. It's not for those who HAVE testimony and still try to lead others astray at the same time. If you actually have a testimony, leading others astray points to the fact that it's not a real testimony, because one with a testimony simply would not behave that way, or else their testimony isn't really a testimony at all, right?

May 22, 2007 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

I briefly mentioned this, but I should have been more explicit: Mormons and Christians will have a good degree of internal variability in their beliefs. My observation comes from a broad exposure to Mormon GA's discourses, and how they are often careful to add caveats on any promised blessings.

If damnation is the opposite of ascending to godliness, anybody who fails to be sealed in this life is going to be damned according to Mormons (although some Mormons believe in multiple mortal probations and inter-kingdom transitions). Doesn't matter how swell the lower kindoms are--if you're capped out at some point, you will have one hundred billion years of happiness followed by infinite boredom. Hell, just of a psychological sort.

If you really get to choose your kingdom, life on Earth doesn't really matter. In the presence of a being that fills you with absolute joy and love, why would you turn away? I wouldn't. People who make me feel uncomfortable about mistakes are those whose love I question. If I were gay (boy, second time on that hypothetical), I would be afraid to tell my parents because I would be afraid of being disowned. If you stand in front of God with full awareness of your weaknesses, but also with full awareness that God loves and accepts you and wants you to come to the CK, why would you walk away? You wouldn't.

Justice doesn't claim you unless God throws you to it. That's what mercy means. It means that you have value, no matter how badly you fail to meet your own expectations. If you say mercy only works if you follow the rules, it isn't really mercy--it's just a trade-in.

SS, how are you defining who lands in OD? You can't believe in Jesus and deny it in your heart. It's like deny the Sun shines while you're outside. It's impossible with a sane mind. People who are banished to OD are those who "knew" at one point, then stopped. This is a predictable sentence--I know of no religion that does not save it's deepest level of hell for apostates. They have to, otherwise we might think that apostates are on to something and follow a similar path. Fear is the deepest level of motivation, and societies frequently leverage it.

I think that suggesting that God withholds itself from you for your weaknesses is a less virtuous symbol than the idea that God itself suffered along side you and values you, no matter what. No matter what. We may be equivocating on "worthy of salvation." Perhaps I should say "worth of exaltation". The difference is very specific in the Mormon vocabulary, but I am referring to the greatest potential available--salvation to Christians, exaltation to Mormons. Look for "worthy exaltation" in GC talks--you'll find them connected. Heck, going to the temple is required for exaltation, and you are unable to do so without living a certain way--the greatest blessings are given based on obedience. You don't even need a conference talk to demonstrate that.

So, does this eliminate morality? Of course not. Actions are good or bad based on basic humanism--if I have rights as an individual, so does everyone else. The Golden Rule, as it were. Mormons have grabbed this and assigned it to Christ, but they might as well assign urination to Christ--it's a tendency understood across cultures and even down into higher primates. Altruism (even seeing someone else engage in altruistic actions) makes people experience elevation, which you would call the "Spirit." So it would appear that everyone has the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Good job Eve

And here's how we'll reward your actions--by punishing all future women with painful childbirth and subservience to their husbands (Gen 3:16). Such justice!

Well, if you believe in the scriptures than you have to believe that there is some form of punishment in the after-life.

Fortunately, I do not hold the scriptures as works of non-fiction.

To the BAs it is simply a matter of saying "I accept Jesus" and presto! here's your automatic ticket to Heaven. Congratulations, youlve passed the test. Go get some Birkenstocks, and a guitar and start worshipping!

Tsk, tsk, SS. You should know better than to tear down other religions in an attempt to make yours look better.

May 22, 2007 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I think you enjoy making the claim that according to the Church you are going to outter darkness. It gives you ammunition in making the doctrines seem silly and pervasive. Why any Church that teaches sweet, little, nice SLM is going to outter darkness has got to be off its rocker. Right?

I am only pointing out that which the church teaches. I never once called it silly or pervasive. Are you saying that to you it seems silly and pervasive?

Actually, were I to give adjectives to describe this use of fear of Outer Darkness to keep members in line and unquestioning, I'd use insidious and odious.

May 22, 2007 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

To everyone,

I believe that the comments are becoming a tad venomous, or at least they are beginning to look more like barbs than a positive dialogue. If that is what is hoped for, then I guess I am out of line to point it out.

Uj,

Your comment about "not wanting to be in the presence of someone judgmental" is very much in line with what I was trying to describe regarding the degrees of glory. If you would be uncomfortable around Heavenly Father, then he does not want to subject you to his presence. Also, sane people can know what is good and choose what is bad. That is SS's point about what it will take to be sent to Outer Darkness. Even then, it is a function of choices the individual makes given what he or she knows about eternity. No one will be sent to any degree of glory without having an opportunity to see the truth and decide. That is very just to me. You are right that there is no point to life if it is not so that we can decide to follow Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ despite our lack of complete information (i.e., by having faith). That is definitely the point SS and I have made about why it is so farcical to believe that grace is all that is necessary and actions are pointless. Still, those are the words used by most "mainstream" Christians when describing being "saved" - you accept Christ and then nothing else matters. I truly don't believe the actions of a typical Christian coincide with this statement of belief, but they still make it. If you harken back to your knowledge of the war in Heaven, that idea very much describes Satan's plan - we all come here and we all go back regardless. But what is learned by that? Nothing. If we are all automatons without any free will, then life is without purpose. I believe life is beautiful, and I enjoy seeing the myriad ways people choose to live it (granted, I wouldn't mind not witnessing certain ways more than once). That demonstrates how truly Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to have the chance to choose what we want. It seems to me you are thinking that somewhere along the line someone will hand you piece of paper that says "If you accept all this as true - and if you read the accompanying pages you will see it plainly is without any room to question - simply sign here to receive eternal exaltation. If you choose not to sign, please dive across the dark abyss to your immediate left and enjoy damnation." Yes, I realize that is a somewhat flippant description, but it really does come off as if you think the choice should be made with all evidence presented to prove the truth first. That is not faith, and therefore there really is no point in our having ever come here. The "choice" to receive exaltation comes through obedience to righteous principles, which in turn yields great peace and strength to the soul. Obedience through fear is akin to what the Pharisees wanted and followed - much like what I refer to as "punchcard Christians." People who hope to find some magical report card or checklist whereby they can simplify exaltation will find themselves sorely disappointed. Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling. I may post clearer thoughts. I did not get back to further response to SML's thoughts before quite a few more posts. My children deserved, required, and received my attention after work - and I gladly gave it to them. I love playing with my kids. They make my life more worthwhile. That is another subject for another day, though.

May 22, 2007 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

sane people can know what is good and choose what is bad.

I would say that people can ascribe personal value to two conflicting courses of action. For example, my hunger can make me want to steal a candy bar while my empathy can make me want to not steal a candy bar. It's about the time-frame and intensity of the reward. In the case of God, I don't think you can really "know" and reject. It's like having a gun in your back (Hell) and then refusing to surrender your wallet. Most people would say that in the face of imminent danger you are not completely free--you are being coerced.

My understanding of the "Satan Plan" was that people wouldn't be able to choose their actions. So they couldn't learn anything. You seem to be suggesting that in order to learn anything, people must face a possible ultimate consequence of damnation. Let's think about this a bit more. If you make evil choices (like drinking coffee) then you go to the "hell" of damnation. Not fire and brimstone, but eternal stagnation. So what have you learned? Nothing useful. Or rather, you've learned that this was one screwy plan--too bad you weren't dead before you were 8 like 40% of humans! But your experience on Earth has become trivia--you can do nothing with it because you are damned.

At the end of the day, I don't think any explanation of the afterlife, judgement, hell, heaven, etc. makes sense because I don't think it is literally true. It's like trekkies who take a good show and then try to come up with plans for building the Starship Enterprise. Fiction can be inspirational, but don't overthink the off-screen stuff--there's a reason the author left it out!

Yes, I realize that is a somewhat flippant description, but it really does come off as if you think the choice should be made with all evidence presented to prove the truth first.

It's a good way to approach life, don't you agree? Do you buy houses or rent apartments without seeing the place first? Did you marry your wife without dating her for a while? Of course not--people want to have data before they make a decision. According to Mormon "doctrine" (a little hard to pin down, that), 1/3 of all spirit children, who clearly had free agency and perfect knowledge, rejected God. So God could be walking around down here, apparently, and we'd be free to reject. That's a Mormon teaching.

What, kids before my blog? Your priority are way out of whack!!!

May 23, 2007 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Uj,

It's a good way to approach life, don't you agree? Do you buy houses or rent apartments without seeing the place first?

I am not saying you shouldn't know anything about it before you "buy" in the analogy, but when you buy a house do you look at every joint in the roof, every inch of insulation? My point was that it seems like you want complete knowledge before you could accept it as truth, and that is not a demonstration of truth, but rather it would represent more what you are describing - one logically would not deny seeing the sun in the sky when standing beneath its rays. SS's point is that those who choose outer darkness would be those who see everything and still deny it. I can see what you're both saying about "knew" and what-not, but I can see his side, too. I know I am glad it is not my place to decide who goes where in this life. If you're like me, you probably find it hard to punish your child, but you realize it is necessary. If you set up rules, you should abide by them and expect your child to do likewise. The same is true for Heavenly Father. The rules are what they are, and he abides them, even though it pains him greatly to watch his children turn away. If you have ever lost a child, I think you can better appreciate how terrible that loss is for him. I just read in Moses about the Heavens weeping for the iniquity of men because there is great sadness when God's children choose to leave him. It would sadden me greatly if my child chose to run away from me and never come home. The very thought makes the pit of my stomach tighten. To imagine them choosing it for eternity - that is pretty harsh. And yet, he gives us that right. He does not force anyone to return to him. That is how I look at it, a loving father willing to allow his child to leave him behind rather than force that child to remain with him.

May 23, 2007 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I apologize to you all if my comments came across as venomous. I will try to avoid that in future comments! :)

I will clarify my usage of the words insidious and odious. I think that it is insidious and odious of ANY religion, not just yours, to use fear of death and hell to keep members on the path of righteousness and following the rules of the religion. That's all.

And I will refrain from positing why I feel they use the tactics, as that is usually perceived as offensive, and I really like you guys. (But if Uj should happen to post about tithing, I'll let 'er rip!!)

May 23, 2007 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

Robert,

Once again you have been eloquent in making good points.

SML & UJ concerning outter darkness:

I doubt any of us here have the kind of light and understanding to fall into perdition. You stated that it's impossible to deny that which you know. I don't think it means to deny in the sense that you are denying God's existence, but rather to set your knowledge at naught and to proceed with evil choices, like drinking Coke. I think it means to have a sure knowledge of God but to choose Satan over him. Just as the 1/3 did. How is this possible you wonder? pride. First cometh pride, then cometh the fall. Cain and Satan are the perfect examples of ultimate pride.

Anyway, I'm sure I haven't convinced either of you on the point of outter darkness. I still think you like to say that because it gives you ammunition to make the church seem "insidious" I challenge you to find one bishop, stake pres, or GA to inform you that you are going to OD just for falling away.

You seem to have a problem too with the concept that God requires worthiness to enter his presence. But, any loving parent would not require this. UJ stated that Justice only has its claim if God throws us to it. You both seem to have a real hang up on a God that is supposed to be loving and merciful allowing his children to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Robert already made a great argument for this, but here's my little 2 cents. God is Just. If God were to cease being just he would cease to be God. The very intelligences that move at his word to create, and hold the universe in balance would cease to hearken to his word anymore. Everything would cease to be. It's deep I know. But he can't just withold justice because he loves us. That's why the Plan of Salvation had to be. That's why a savior had to be provided. I'm sorry if you think it's terrible that to partake of Christ's grace there are some requirements of obedience. Think of a loan at the bank. The bank = justice. Say you owe an overwhelming loan to the bank that you can't pay and so they are going to throw you in prison. Then someone comes along and sacrifices incredibly to pay the bank to keep you out of prison. Well, now you techincally owe him. But he doesn't want the money. He just wants you to listen to his counsel so that you never get into the same situation again. So, instead of payment of money to him, you are only expected to abide by some rules he has set up on debt and finances so you don't go into debt again. But, say you don't listen to him and get back into debt again and the bank comes calling. He offers to pay the debt again, but you don't want to play by his rules so you turn down the offer. You are left to deal with the bank on your own because you refused help.

Bottom line, the bank will have it's payment.

D&C 19:

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

You lable such as scare tactics to keep us in line. Yeah it's scary. So are warnings of Islamic terrorists setting of a nuke in Manhatten. Scary doesn't make it less true. Why be obedient if the consequeces aren't scary?

May 23, 2007 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

SS! Did you just agree with my initial assertion?!? Let me quote:

Why be obedient if the consequeces aren't scary?

Why indeed? Well, let's ask someone who's a BA (or better yet, me). You obey out of love! God has shown you perfect love, so you do your best to return the favor. Not because God is smiteful, or will withhold his grace when you mess up, but because you are wholly loveable (a child of God, if you will) and you want to return the love.

Robert, I punish my kids, and I don't really enjoy it. But I don't do it out of a sense of cosmic justice. I do it so they will have the best possible chance at long-term happiness. If my child were at death's door and suddenly did something disobedient (like lying) I would not punish him. What would that accomplish? Similarly, if progress toward the Ultimate Reward can only be made on Earth, what does Hell (TK's, OD, or misc. damnations)accomplish? Nothing--there is nothing to be gained from the punishment.

And I never punish them for rules we haven't laid out in a nice, clear, face-to-face conversation. Humans in general believe that God is relatively hidden, and Mormons are often happy to have lots of other rules hidden from them as well. (E.g. what actions might result in excommunication? That's kept in a closely guarded CHI. How is tithing money spent? You don't need to know. Write a sincere doctrinal question to a "prophet, seer, and revelator?" Don't expect an answer, but do expect your Bishop to tell you not to write any more such letters.)

SS, did you pick up the justice = existence thing from Skousen? I heard a talk by him once which laid out a very similar approach to the necessity of the Mormon-branded "Great Plan of Happiness." So, here are the assumptions that seem to be unstated:

1) Cooking up a plan by which a perfectly innocent being must suffer great injustice is itself unjust. Yet the universe exists!
2) Existence supercedes God (for Mormonism). God wasn't always God, and we intelligences have always existed--we weren't created.
3) The atoms, etc. That demand such perfect observance of justice are better intelligences than we (who are less obedient) are, so they should be gods themselves, no?

The bank analogy breaks down because if you are being asked to take certain actions, you weren't given a gift. You were paid (through debt relief) in exchange for services rendered (obedience). If you are a poor employ, your wages are withheld. No mercy there. The better symbol is that you learn from your own suffering (which happens just fine in the course of life) and all of the self-punishment applied during this life will be dwarfed by overwhelming love in the next. (Or in the present, as felt in elevation, love, and awe and symbolized by the Spirit.)

May 23, 2007 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

SS! Did you just agree with my initial assertion?!? Let me quote:

Why be obedient if the consequeces aren't scary?


Yep, you got me. I'll be the first one to admit that damnation scares the hell out of me. = ) Do I want to screw up so badly that I am damned? Or do I want to fall short of the mark and miss out on eternal exhaltation? Of course not. But to say that I or Robert or any of the millions of LDS people out there follow in lock-step simply out of fear is absurd. I'd say that I probably don't follow everything in the Church out of pure love for God. There are the consequences in the back of my mind for disobedience and failure to repent for it. Sure! The scriptures speak of it plenty. So, yes I would like to avoid it. To admit there's a hell or punishment is not also admition of obedience out of fear. By the way the "other" relgions out there, including the BAs preach plenty of hell and damnation themselves. To compare them with mormons and say that they obey out of love of God and mormons obey out of fear, or just to gain grace is absurd. Look around you at the good works that the Church does. Look at the service that individual members perform all the time. Basically, you are putting these works of service at naught or in an insincere light because supposedly it is just out of fear of hell, not love for neighbor or God that a mormon does anything Christ like.

Some other points:

what does Hell (TK's, OD, or misc. damnations)accomplish? Nothing--there is nothing to be gained from the punishment.

It's not about what is to be gained or learned in the same sense of spanking your kids. It's about justice and final judgement. NOW is the time to prepare to meet your maker. If you find yourself in the TK it's a little late to be learning and growing from your experiences.

And I never punish them for rules we haven't laid out in a nice, clear, face-to-face conversation.

My kids know there are lines they don't cross without me having to lay out every single possible rule in a clear and concise manner. I've never told my little boy not to throw a big rock through windows of the car, but you can bet he's gonna be punished if he does it. God has not commanded us in all things, but has given to each spirit the light of Christ that they may discern in their hearts right from wrong. Even pygmies living in the darkest heart of Africa are given that light. It's one of those things that seperates man from animal.

Yes, I heard the same talk from Skousen. And I did look up and read all of the scriptures that he cited in that talk. I can't claim it as Church doctrine, but I will say I find his theory very compelling, and one that I do hold to. It is deep and involved. I really would rather not comment on the points you made about it in depth, especially since you yourself only hold the scriptures to be a collection of myths and tales, so what good would it do me to start?

Maybe my bank analogy isn't perfect. Oh well, I tried. There is one thing you pointed out that I want to comment on though.

if you are being asked to take certain actions, you weren't given a gift. You were paid (through debt relief) in exchange for services rendered (obedience).

It's not all free. What two great obstacles are preventing us from returning to Heavenly Father? Death and Sin. No matter what we do here on Earth - no matter how much tithing we pay, or how often we fast, or how many people we help, etc. - we can not cross the great abyss of death, or the abyss of sin to return to Heavenly Father.

Jesus Christ through his atonement has bridged the abyss for us. Through his resurrection, all men will be resurrected and recieve inmortality. This gift is to all men, whether they want it or not. Which brings us to the second obstacle; sin. Christ has given us the gift of repentance to bring us across the gulf of sin. Unlike the resurrection though, repentance requires some action on our part. Yep...gasp WORKS The mere act of repenting qualifies as works. There are steps to repenting including baptism and accepting the Holy Ghost.

You're right. It takes some action on our part to partake of the grace and mercy of God and Christ. Does that mean we can't take these steps, and simultaneously love God? It has to be black and white, either or?

May 23, 2007 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

SS ~

I can appreciate your thoughts and feelings about this subject. Being obedient and choosing the right is a concept near and dear to each of us who are LDS, because it's so vital to our self perception and the way others at church perceive us, and how GOD HIMSELF perceives us too.

I can also understand what Uj is saying.

I gifted my daughter the full tuition for her last semester at college, with the thought in mind that she could continue to work at Wells Fargo (who offers tuition reimbursement up to $6,000 per year for students who work there) and get the money back after the semester, which could then pay her next semester and so on until she finishes.

But halfway through her semester, she decided for herself to quit her job at Wells Fargo and take a job at a pizza joint. It was a lateral move pay-wise, and she gave up her chance at getting tuition reimbursement AND she gave up 20 days of paid time off to boot. That wasn't in my plan when I gifted her the money!! And she knew this.

It didn't occur to me until after I ranted, railed, and stewed for a few days that I was reacting as if the money wasn't a GIFT. I had given my gift to her with an attached expectation that she owed it to us and to herself to follow MY idea of how she should spend it. It was a gift to my daughter whom I love, and by trying to control how she used my gift, I was making a mockery of unconditional love and the real kindness that should be present when giving gifts.

I let it go. It's her life to lead. It's not the end of the world if she leads her life differently than I had hoped. At the end of the day, it gave me joy to give her the tuition money, thereby easing her stress about how she'd come up with the money herself.

And that was enough, because I love her.

May 23, 2007 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

That wasn't in my plan when I gifted her the money!! And she knew this.

Under that circumstance I think you had a right to be angry and upset. I am glad you were able to put it behind you and continue a good relationship with your daughter.

In this case you gave a gift with certain expectations attached. When your daughter fell short of the expectations you waived them off, or decided the expectations weren't becoming of the kind of gift you really wanted it to be.

How about that? You were willing to recognize your daughter's right to choose for herself where to work, and because of your love for her, you ultimately held back from tyring to force her to do your will.

May 23, 2007 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML,

Probably without meaning to, your post about your daughter, SS's reply, and my wife's comment on the matter to me when I read it to her have formed a thought in my head:

you offered your daughter a gift that had the opportunity to continue going and going, somewhat like the plan of salvation and eternal exaltation. When your daughter chose not to follow your plan, you did not force her to return to the job she apparently disliked, nor did you demand repayment. Instead, you let the gift remain what it was and you moved on. In the same way, Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy exaltation, but if we "don't like the attached expectations" then we are not forced to follow. We have the opportunity to go where we choose. Sounds like you have a very consistent parenting style with Heavenly Father.

May 23, 2007 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

That's all fine and good, boys, except that I don't like that parenting style of attaching expectations and conditions to my gifts. Not cool.

But I've repented and changed my ways.

;)

May 24, 2007 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Also, were I to be consistent with God's parenting style, I'd make sure my daughter knew that because she chose to spend my gift HER way, she wasn't going to get to go to Hawaii with us when I take my family on vacation. And she CHOSE that, by not following my idea of exactly how she should spend the money I gifted her. My heart will break as I leave without her, because I love her so much. But it was her choice, not mine.

May 24, 2007 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

So I'm unclear, is she going with you, or is she staying home? If she's staying home, and it's because you chose to leave her for that reason, isn't it more fair to let her know that was the reason?

As for "repenting" if that parenting style, that's fine. It was just ironic to me that you described something so similar to the plan of salvation.

May 24, 2007 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Listen, Robert. What kind of parent would I be if I said, spend this gift using my plan exactly, don't waver...don't switch out of the job you hate...and if you do so, you may come to Hawaii with us when we go. But if you don't, well...sorry.

So when she was desperately unhappy at Wells Fargo and finally quit, well, too bad. I was forced to stand by my words. She chose not to come to Hawaii, you know? Even though I love her so much, she just isn't gonna come, because I had a plan and she didn't follow it. She would have been so happy.....

May 24, 2007 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Robert: As for "repenting" of that parenting style, that's fine. It was just ironic to me that you described something so similar to the plan of salvation.

Except that self-improvement is a concept that existed long before and well outside of Christianity. So who's borrowing from whom here?

SML: Hawaii's a good hypothetical, but it's not extreme enough. Rather, at the end of the year you would come to her dorm, burn it, then say something like, "Your vile putresence is an abomination before me. You are dead to me. No, I never had a daughter!" Can you feel the love?

Except, even that's not extreme enough, because your daughter would learn something and grow (however painfully). In the GPoHappiness, most people get stuck somewhere where they cannot learn and grow. So it's suffering without a purpose. (Unless you're a Mormon who believes in the teachings of multiple probations or inter-kingdom progression.)

So I reject that idea. I don't want a God which requires anything to keep progressing on the other side--that symbol of the value of humanity is not good enough. (That also excludes being born again, by the way.) I can see obvious reasons for an organization to use fear to gain loyalty (e.g. Joseph telling 14-year-old Helen Kimball to marry him or destroy her family's exaltation), but not God. And since God's not literally calling the shots for this (or any other) organization, I can discard those organizational components that are not consistent with my feelings of divinity.

May 24, 2007 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

You are of course right, Uj. I was trying to give a more realistic example from my real life, to show how very NOT loving God's behavior is. I think had I given your burning dorm room example, it would sound outrageous. Which it really is.

But let's embrace it with all we have, and try like hell to become just like God for eternity too.

May 24, 2007 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Again, I asked because I did not understand what you wrote, whether you were the reason she stayed home or she was. It appeared, from what you said, that you chose, but now I understand better.

As for "what kind of parent you would be if" questions, those are inherently loaded. It seems to me that you are a fine mother, helping your child go to college, you got bothered when she didn't do what you wanted, but you accepted it. That's understandable on all counts. Many parents who help a child like that, though, might have to explain to them "this is all we can do" and if the child quits the job that would provide the rest, then they're just out of luck. That comparison is perhaps a more valid one, in that the gift was given and it could only do what it could do. If the gift was squandered or misappropriated (think, parable of the prodigal son) then it is forfeited. Does that make the parent who gave it unloving or uncaring? No, it makes the child who forsook it foolish or ungrateful. In your daughter's case, she chose to quit a job she didn't like. I can tell you my father would be completely unsympathetic to someone who quit a job like that simply because he worked so hard to put himself through college. He questioned me strongly when I told him of my decision to leave Georgia Tech because I was so miserable and I felt I was getting a terrible education, even though I was planning to transfer to his alma mater UGA. He knew I would be throwing away a tremendous scholarship by transferring. His attitude stems from his being needy and therefore having to work for many people he did not like. He suffered through, why shouldn't everyone else, he would say. So, whether you love your daughter or not is not built on what gifts you give or how she uses them. You love her regardless. You just can't always give her a gift again; sometimes you don't have it to give or sometimes giving it again would set a terrible precedent. If, for instance, my aunt and uncle had been tougher on my cousin than they were, he might not be a drug addict with two children they have to raise after they've spent all their savings bailing him out of financial crises of his own making. Perhaps if they had said the first time he wasted their money, "No, son, you have not showed me you can be responsible. You have to bear the burden this time."

What am I driving at? Well, in Heavenly Father's case, he gave up his own son, who also gave up his life freely, so that we could all have our sins paid for. If we choose to squander that gift, then it's on us, not on Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. That's my take on the matter. That's one of the reasons I wrote on your blog that your idea of Heaven is oversimplified. Another is that there is no rule that all four of your children could not live with you on that top floor. If, however, they say "You know, Mom, I don't really like being around you." (or they demonstrate that they don't by their actions), then they still have a room in the house. Some parents would say "you live my way or you find your own place to live" or others would say "if you can't follow our rules, you can pay rent to live here." Instead, Heavenly Father has provided every one of his children a place to live in the way they so desire. That, to me, is a VERY loving father. As always, take it for what you will.

May 24, 2007 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Uj,

To assume that "self-improvement existed long before Christianity" assumes that Christianity is not true. Christ and Heavenly Father and their teachings are eternal. So, to answer your question, they are who is being borrowed from. You did ask.

May 24, 2007 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

The thing about God's plan is, he is basically telling his children to choose what HE SAYS will make them happy. HIS Plan for Happiness. And to encourage us all to follow that, he lays out a miserable consequence (Hell) for those who don't follow his plan for happiness, rather than finding their own. He entices us all to follow this plan to the letter by making his reward the only good thing about the next life.

But I maintain that I am able to be the exact same good person, even BETTER and more moral, if you want the truth, away from this Plan of Happiness. And yet God is petulant enough - or "just" enough as you want to try to tell me - to insist anyway that no matter how moral I am, no matter how Christlike and loving and giving and kind I am to others, I am not able to reap his heavenly reward because I rejected his plan and refused to be married in the temple under priesthood authority for time and eternity. Therefore I ain't gettin' in.

But of course, for me this is a moot point, because I really honestly think God is a man-made concept anyway. He's just too much like a typical mysoginistic human male for me to buy into his divine omnipotence. Sorry, no offense intended toward you males in the room.

May 24, 2007 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

To assume that "self-improvement existed long before Christianity" assumes that Christianity is not true.

To assume otherwise assumes that Christianity is exclusively true.

I believe the only BCE populations that taught the Christian Gospel are those that were "discovered" through the publication of a book in 1830. Call me crazy, but it's just possible that Christianity crept in there as an anachronism. If you can demonstrate references to a systematic Christian theology that date back to some point BCE, I would be most interested.

May 24, 2007 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Would you really be interested? The Dead Sea Scrolls describe such a theology. Read Margaret Barker's work on the subject (not a Mormon) and she'd explain that the Old and New Testament were the same principles (so that would mean Christian teachings were BCE). Her work is available at Margaretbarker.com. There is certainly a lot of evidence, based at least on her research but also on the research of others, that shows that Christianity in its proper form is an extension of the Old Testament teachings. Again, you did pose the question, so I answer.

May 24, 2007 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 24, 2007 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Okay, third try on that link:
Margaret Barker

May 24, 2007 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

The Old Testement and BoM are full of prophets testifying of a Christ to come.

To SLM's story.

How much money do you have to continue paying for your daughter's college? As Robert pointed out, you gave a gift and it was squandered. How willing would you be to do it again? And again? Funny thing about Heavenly Father is he is willing to let us try and try again through repentance. He writes out the check, but he can't help it if we refuse to cash it.

SML - But I maintain that I am able to be the exact same good person, even BETTER and more moral, if you want the truth, away from this Plan of Happiness. UJ - So I reject that idea. I don't want a God which requires anything to keep progressing on the other side--that symbol of the value of humanity is not good enough.


Please don't take this the wrong way, but that really sounds just like a rebelious teenager. The one who thinks he knows better than his mom and dad about life.

But of course, for me this is a moot point, because I really honestly think God is a man-made concept anyway. He's just too much like a typical mysoginistic human male for me to buy into his divine omnipotence.

I think you are right. Kinda hard for such opposite thinkers on God to come to any kind of terms. It's not like I can quote scriptures and doctrines to you, or UJ for that matter that will cause you to suddenly see some kind of different light.

May 24, 2007 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

SS ~

But I don't think these discussions are worthless, do you? It's always good to keep an open mind and try to find understanding with people who aren't exactly like you. I appreciate your being here.

Even if you think I sound like a rebellious teen. I will defend myself and say that it's not as if women in the church are ever actually encouraged to "grow up." They are encouraged to get permission from their priesthood presiders and leaders in all they do...much like children.

May 24, 2007 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

SLM -

Don't get me wrong. If I thought this was a waste of time I wouldn't be here. I might not be convincing anyone here, but I've noticed that since I started posting regularly here I have found myself pondering the Gospel more, and thinking more often about the Church and my beliefs. It's been good mental exercise for me to come here and try to present the other side. I just have to keep reminding myself not to get too invested in the debate, as I was earlier. I realize I'm not changing anyone's opinion here.

it's not as if women in the church are ever actually encouraged to "grow up." They are encouraged to get permission from their priesthood presiders and leaders in all they do...much like children.

I'm sorry that's how you feel. What can I say. It's too bad you had that experience in the Church. I know plenty of strong, independent, high-minded women who happen to also be believing members of the Church. They definately don't show any signs of being subjugated.

May 24, 2007 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

SML,

This time SS has put it better than I have. I likewise have enjoyed this discussion because it exercises my brain and gives me good reasons to search the scriptures. I have never been under the impression I was convincing anyone of anything, but I have appreciated the candor and the kindness.

I also know plenty of wonderful LDS women who are far from subjugated. They hear the Spirit more strongly than their male counterparts quite often (and without meaning to stereotype, quite generally within a couple the wife is more in tune than the man). My wife has had to stand her ground on some things with our branch president (and me) and ended up showing us we needed to accept the personal revelation rather than continue to ask her to pray again. She probably helped shape our branch presidency in many ways by being willing to say "Until you tell me no on this calling, I cannot submit another name." because in doing so, she showed us our own need to be more faithful that callings are not about what seems logical or who seems right, but very much about what the Lord wants for a particular person or for people who will be affected by that calling. My wife is a strong example of a woman who shares in decision making and encourages me to exercise my priesthood but does not simply bow down to my will. It's one of the things I love most about her. We always said we needed to have strong willed children because otherwise they would be run over in our home. We are proud and thankful to have received two such children so far.

May 25, 2007 at 5:05 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Boys, I too am strong, independent, and high-minded. But no matter how strong, independent, or high-minded a woman is, the fact remains that your women are placed in a position of having to ask or get permission for things from the priesthood leaders. (Not saying you don't also, but at some point, you could possibly BECOME that priesthood leader the women have to as permission from, while women can't).

Robert gave an obvious example of his wife fighting to get the person for the calling she was trying to fill. The bishop is able to call whomever he wants but she had to get his approval first. And her budget for whatever auxiliary she was heading was determined by the priesthood leaders as well. The money she spends is submitted for approval first. The primary program a primary presidency sister writes must first be submitted for bishopric approval before it is given to the children.

Just like I need my kids to get permission and approval before they make any moves in life.

I'm enjoying these discussions.

May 25, 2007 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Actually, in our branch, we give our auxiliaries their budget figures and the right to approve them on their own. The budget is a function of what we're given from above, but if things ever need to be adjusted so there is more available for one or the other, that is about the only time we really have to manage the budget a lot. As for the calling, it was a situation where she knew she should call someone and the branch president wasn't sure it could work. She stood her ground and in the end, it worked out perfectly. It has helped him have a lot more faith and confidence in names submitted by presidents of the auxiliaries.

My point is that women have as much (if not more) right to inspiration for things under their perview as the men do. And as I've said before, women have that without any need of the priesthood. I understand your point of view, and uj's for that matter, but I don't share it. I accept that there is an order to things in the world, and there is an order to things in the church. When that order was lost or ignored, much of the gospel message was lost from the Earth for years. If you want to understand why, watch a public meeting without an agenda one time and you'll begin to understand. I sat in a convention with no set agenda that took three hours to accomplish what could've been accomplished in about thirty minutes. Order sets a tone and makes it clear what to follow. I am thankful for order. As I have said in other places but I'm not sure I have here, the lack of order was very clear in my former church. For instance, I grew up believing in the Godhead and not ever understanding the Trinity was at odds with that. The Trinity is the stated doctrine of the Methodist Church, yet their own seminary teachers often preach the Godhead. I was not, however, a discontented Methodist seeking another church when I found the LDS Church. I did not appreciate some of the trends I saw, but I had suffered through some rather strange ministers and felt I could weather the storms of the future. I am thankful to have "come in from out of the rain" though because I don't see those problems in the LDS Church. And no, people coming and going over things in the LDS Church is not nearly what I'm talking about. I've never, for instance, heard a bishop say "I don't care if the building falls down around me, I won't take a pay cut." But then, that'd be because we have no paid ministry... Anyway, those are complete asides. I can just really appreciate the order of things in the church. You and Uj don't, or don't like the order, and I can respect that. I really can. I wrote on another ex-mo's blog who talked about resigning the church and said I think it sounds like the right thing. I know members don't like to go to the homes of members who hate the church but won't remove their names. Anyway, enough on that.

May 25, 2007 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

Robert,

Why do you think that order would not be maintained if women were also able to be priesthood holders?

My concern is not over whether or not women have to get permission or run things by their bishop first, it's that they will NEVER be allowed to be that bishop by virtue of their gender alone, and the "order" which perpetuates the idea that women are incapable of handling such duties or maintaining order.

May 25, 2007 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

It really boils down to just having the faith to accept that which we don't always understand.

Personally I don't see the need to meet for three hours! And I too wonder about polygamy and what that was all about.

But, just because I don't like something or understand something doesn't mean I am going to set aside all the past positive experiences I've had with the Church, and the countless promptings from the Spirit and walk away from the Church.

I can't deny that which I have felt, so I take those things that I don't agree with, or don't understand and apply faith and my personal testimony. I might not discover the answers, but I know I can't have the answers to every question. That's when faith becomes key.

May 25, 2007 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I do not assume that women would inherently cause disorder. Males holding the priesthood is simply part of the order. If that changed tomorrow, I would deal with it, but right now I understand why men need the priesthood and women don't. I really doubt you would want the job of being bishop or prophet. It's not something anyone would really ask for. I certainly don't begrudge my branch president that calling. It is very taxing to be involved in that calling. I imagine, in that sense, it is probably because women are better at raising children (not because they should be subjugated to that role - they are simply better able to care for children). Take that as a sexist comment if you want, but I am not a sexist in any way. So taking a women out of the home to be bishop would seriously tax the family. These are all my own thoughts on the fly, though, so take them in that light. I think women maintain a lot of the order of the church, personally. I am very thankful for the important part they play in everything.

May 25, 2007 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Shadow Spawn said...

I was just thinking.

Maybe because of their spirituality and nuturing instincts Heavenly Father has decided that women don't need the priesthood.

Maybe because of man's nature God has provided the priesthood as a vehicle in which he can learn service and nurturing, that he wouldn't learn otherwise.

Instead of thinking of the priesthood as a "leadership" position, maybe it's more of a service position. A learning position. Perhaps women would not gain from the experience.

And Robert made a good point. Women by their nature are 100X better suited to raising the kids and running a household. Even secular studies have shown that children prosper better when their mother is at home with them during the day.

I can't imagine the Lord wanting to disrupt that by having women serving in major priesthood callings.

Men and women are different. They serve different yet equal roles in the Church. We are all expected to humble ourselves as children and obey out Father's commandments. Personally, I think being a mother and wife is a far greater responsibility than any priesthood calling. I'd rather be a bishop any day than take on the duties of a mother. yikes!

May 25, 2007 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger Ujlapana said...

Okay folks, let's move this new turn of topic over to the new post.

But, SS & Robert, on your way over there ponder this. Merriam-Webster defines sexism as behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.

So, if you want to say you're not sexist that's good--you recognize that it's immoral. But if you are expressing attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex, maybe it's time to spend some time soul-searching. I've certainly had to do that myself, and probably will many more times in the future. (I still remember when I was opposed to gay marriage--it took a lot of soul-searching to progress beyond that.)

I'm hoping SML's silence is not indicative of an acute myocardial infarction after reading those last few comments....don't go into the light, SML! Come back!

May 25, 2007 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

I'm out of town at a soccer tourney and am paying BIG BUCKS just to read your commments, guys. Sheesh.

I just have to say that I have many more thoughts and will probably be able to comment more in depth on Tues or Wed.

Aaaaargh, I wish this was free.

May 26, 2007 at 8:14 PM  

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