Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Gospel Is Like Sin

Sin is a Gradual Process

I remember a gospel lesson when we learned the dangers of sin. We were told that sin doesn't happen all at once, but it happens little by little. We are given the metaphor of a frog. If placed in hot water, the frog will jump out. However, if the frog is placed in cool water and you slowly turn up the temperature a few degrees at a time, the frog will just sit there and boil to death. The lesson is that sin is the same way. It happens slowly and gradually, and we are tempted by small seemingly insignificant things. We aren't going to wake up one day and decide we are going to be mass-murderers, but we might watch a movie that has too much violence. Because we don't see too much danger, we just sit and allow ourselves to sin just a few degrees at a time while our spirit is slowly cooked to death a few degrees at at time.

The Gospel is a Gradual Process

We are also taught that the gospel works the same way. We are told that a new member of the church might not understand some of our core doctrines and beliefs, so it is best to teach them little by little and not all at once. We are given the example of a "milk diet" before a "meat diet". For example, a recent convert or someone investigating the church should only learn about the basic principals of the gospel before learning about the deeper doctrines. This is in the same way that you wouldn't give an infant a meat diet before giving them a milk diet. A recent convert or investigator is considered a spiritual infant that should only be on a spiritual milk diet. If you give the spiritual infant meat, they might have a hard time swallowing your spiritual steak. They might think your core doctrines, beliefs and rituals are kooky and weird. Once they have digested the milk diet for a few years, then they can move on to other selections like grains, fruits and veggies, spiritually speaking of course.

So if we are talking about a shift towards sin, we are talking about a frog being gradually boiled to death. However, if we are talking about learning the gospel, we use the example of milk gradually changed to meat. This tells me more about human behavior more than anything else. What this tells me is that people don't like to change their habits and will only accept change gradually over time. What this also tells me is that we use way too many metaphors in church. Jesus taught in parables, but a metaphor can also be like a rubber band-you stretch it too far and it breaks.

Skeptical Mormon


still firm said...

One of the greatest problems with what you have said is that people are individuals... some people are happy never getting beyond the milk - as many church members are... yet others are wanting to know more from the beginning. Knowledge is power. Although there are doctrines in our church which are not taught in "our lessons," that does not mean that it is not there to learn. There are lessons which we have to strike out and learn on our own. At the same time we have to remember that when we mention those other facts that some people are going to look at us like we have a scarlet letter upon our bossom! People, in general, are happy with their basics... Every week after church my husband and I have a standing joke... "What are the three key necessities to everything???" Prayer, scripture study, and family home evening!

Don't get me wrong... those things are important... but what about questioning? What about searching, pondering, and praying. When someone gets on their little kick about the word of wisdom, my husband and I just smile at one another. Remember, the commandments are given for the least of the Lord's people... those who have NO self-discipline.. What about rated R movies? I can name some that are exceptional movies... "The Patriot" for example is R because of the killing... HELLO! Wars are VIOLENT!

Sin does happen a little at a time, but we have to be aware of our convictions... do we, as mortals, know where we will draw the line? If, as the only member in my entire family, I get married and my father buys a bottle of champagne to celebrate, do I turn that down and offend him? Am I going to become a lush because I have had a glass? What about a doctor telling me that a small glass of RED wine with my supper is going to help with digestion and stop my chronic heart burn... does that make me unworthy to hold a temple recommend? Does it make me an apostate or heritic? I would say NO!

I think the most important thing to remember as one is investigating the church (either as a member or convert) is that you need to find someone you can talk to... There are others out there who have been through the same thing, have searched, been sickened by what was read, and understand... When we look at our lives we need to know for what purpose we are living.

I know the gospel is true and that people are faulty. Don't rely on people... rely on the Lord. If you question something, take it to Him... I knew, from the time I first heard about the gospel (from an idealistic young missionary) that it was true. I also know there are areas of confusion, misinterpretation, and tyrranical attack. But... if you DO NOT know WHEN your testimony developed, if you don't have experiences that have moulded it... then you are living off of someone else's testimony (not something I recommend). I have seen things (visions, healings, and miracles) that I know support the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our church is not perfect... it can not be... it is still led by mortals. Nor is it complete, as there are still doctrines hidden from the other tribes of Israel... but this as close as we get at this point...

I think that Joseph Smith was a prophet, he did help with the fundamental reconstruction... he sacrificed a lot, took considerable criticism, and died for what he believed - if we are unable to die for what we believe, then we don't really believe it! Joseph Smith, just as any other martyr, is to be revered... but I agree, not worshipped. I would have to say that there are those who do worship him, and then there is the misinterpretation of revereing him... one should know the difference.

Zelph said...

Still Firm-

I appreciate your insight and I have taken all of your comments into account.

I think one of the biggest problems facing the church today is the internet. After people are given a Book of Mormon, they do a quick Google search of the word "Mormon" and find all kinds of "meaty" doctrines that completely turn them off. I think this is why the conversion rate has really stalled in America. It is almost impossible for the church to keep investigators on a milk diet.

You are correct that many people in the church choose to remain on a milk diet because that is where they feel comfortable. The danger I see in that is that people outside of the church know more about Mormonism than the members do.

The other danger is that members feel douped, like I did, when you read things about church history on the internet that tells a different story than what the church puts out. It draws into question the credibility of the church. If the church distorts, covers up, white-washes, hides information regarding our history, what else are they not telling us.

Speaking of the internet, it has brought in support groups for closet doubters like myself as well as people that wish to leave the church.

These resources were never available before, and the church is going to have to change to keep up with the times, or I question what the future will look like for the church.

I know it seems crass to compare sinning with the gospel, but my main point was how we use metaphors in the church to describe essentially the same thing-a gradual process. It also makes a good attention-getting headline.

The only way I see Mormonism surviving as a movement is if they allow different opinions and different groups. It seems that no organization can survive on Earth that is completely unified.

No, not even Christ's church can survive as a single unified unit. Look what happened to his church in Palestine as well as in the Americas.

I wonder why God would speak to me through other men. Obviously these men have had a difficult time interpreting what God is telling them in the past. If you have ever read Brigham Young's discourses, you know what I am talking about.

I feel that God wouldn't use such an unreliable method to communicate with me, he has my address.

Once again, I appreciate your comments and will take them into consideration. Thank you for taking the time to post. I am glad I am not talking to my "zelph".

Elder Joseph said...

still firm,

What is the point of many members in church staying on a milk diet a result I assume they haven't received their endowments either perhaps.

They are wasting there time then , because without a temple recommend there is no salvation in celestial K . They are no better off than the average athiest !

I am an investigator of nearly two years and I'm concerned that I was being given milk and the meat held away .I made it clear I need to know everything important .I'm not one of those usual naive , weak , mentally unstable depressed or lonley people who end up baptising after two lessons and pressure from pressurised lds missionaries and then slowly get conditioned to believe and accept anything on the proviso that if the Book Of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith bullying and psychologically raping young teens disguised as Celestial Plural Marraige must be ok because he gave us the Book of Mormon .

Worst still is the excuses I get for polygamy .Quote " They were marying widows to look after them " hahahahhahah

The way he asked for his followers wives and they were heart broken , why ? because the threat was real , they knew he was 'calling' wives with Gods Authority .. How stupid of them all .

And you talk about your 'testimony' . testimony of what , sex with teens for their salvation is ok for Joseph . Brigham Young calling girls to marry and concieve with him as young as 15 and he was over sixty !

Bear that testimony to me .

Zelph ... I've asked the same thing as you if God has a message for me why not call on me , he knows where I am 24 hours a day . why do I have to believe a man who would take my wife to marry , my daughters for himself for the priviledge of news from God ?

And who is the more stupider Joseph Smith or those who believed him and actually gave their daughters and wives ?

My journey is closing and I haven't had any good answers from church except by my own conclusion to keep my mouth shut ,and don't tell anyone else .. I tried to voice my concerns when they asked why I won't baptise and I ended up with a gagging order from the Bishop to not show Journal Of Discourses to the blacks in church !

In fact My Knowledge is an Ace card in my hand they don't pressure me now ! lol

still firm said...

I have read Brigham Youngs discourses, as I have other prophets. I do understand where you are coming from =) I have had my struggles in the church, but never whether or not it was true. I think that I have a slightly different twist on the internet and the church... I don't think the internet is a problem... I think it is going to make people do one of two things... either they will stray away from the church or they will rely on their personal line of communication with the Lord, Prayer. I read anti-Mormon literature all the time because it brings up questions that I have either received personal revelation upon or an area which I need to search further (so that I can receive an answer). One should never give up that line of communication, for if one does then all the hate, corruption, and misguidance will filter in. Latter-day Saints are going to have to LEARN the truth in order to maintain their testimonies... Members are going to have to learn to search, ponder, and pray...

As you said in another of your posts, we have to learn who we are, just like being an American... what are our rights? Same thing applies to the church... what do we really believe? To dive deeper only gives us a stronger foundation... if we have a foundation upon which to build.

Between my husband and I, we have five sons. The two oldest are inactive... it breaks my heart, but we have done nothing different with our youngest three... we make them question when they say "I Know" because if they are just mimicking what I know, then it does them no good. If they don't REALLY know then I don't want them using those words. When they say "I believe," I ask them why... I am certainly not the most orthodox mother. OOPS!

You see the internet as a problem... I almost see it as a solution. Let's weed out the wheat and the tares. I have said it before... in the end, it is going to take those who know the dirt and the meat to carry those who have lived on milk all their lives.

I also think the feeling of being douped is much like the feeling of being offended... either one is self-imposed. It is our job, once we have been given the basics to read, search, ponder, and pray... just think about it (and you know by now-I hope-that I have a very firm foundation and believe the gospel is true)... the gospel doesn't end at death... we take with us what we know, so the more we know the further ahead we are going to be. Individuals have to take the initiative of going out and learning more... like you... and you will be a better person for it, if you remember to take your questions to the Lord (He will give you the right answers... just remember that the Spirit speaks to your heart and your head simultaneously... Satan only speaks to your head).

I really like your blog... thank you for starting it! =)

still firm said...

elder joseph,

My heart bleeds for you. I hear your anger and hatred. As I have said before, we are all individuals and have our agency... you are stuck on the past... I understand that polygamy was severely misused... I don't deny that. But I also KNOW that there were men who did live the principle of polygamy righteously. I also know that I am married to a man, who if called upon to marry another woman would struggle, but be obedient. Were you aware that righteous callings of polygamy were made together as a husband and wife?

As far as blacks go... I struggled with the withholding of their priesthood... some of my VERY best friends are black... likewise, one of my very best friends is a homosexual! And since we are throwing out our problems, I have an issue with John Taylor incorporating the church... giving us a "non-profit" status... do you know where that puts members who understand their rights under the constitution? Do you want to know how many conversations I have had with bishops and stake presidents about the 12th article of faith and what it means to live the law of the land? As I have said before, the gospel is true... men are not.

I think, and there is no substitute for personal revelation, that you need to sincerely ask about your areas of concern. Please DO NOT keep your mouth shut... Latter-Day Saints MUST learn their history and understand what they are stepping into...

As far as those who remain on the milk diet and your assumption that they have not received their endowments, I would disagree. I have met countless Latter-Day Saints who blindly trudge the path... saying "I know" and "I believe" and do all the things they are supposed to do... right up to going to the temple... but what happens afterward? Do they understand the covenants they have made or the requirements which are placed upon them in the temple? I would venture to say NO. They have done what "They were supposed to do" and figure that is it... it is not! WE have to continue to search and learn... do we necessarily like everything from the history of the church? I don't.

As a member, I can tell you this... I would much prefer you search for your answers and learn the fundamentals (and all you believe is necessary) before committing to baptism because learning afterward and falling away is far more dangerous. But, I am concerned that you are stuck on something that no one can change. Something that you could not have changed if you were alive then... I would implore you to continue searching... not just in the LDS church but throughout the world... but regardless of where you look, you will find those who have misused power, influence, and acceptance.

I would be happy to bear you my testimony... but not of the misuse of power and position... and not of men... I would be happy to bear you my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the promise of eternal life, of the guarantee that we can be eternal families, that we, as children of our Heavenly Father, are capable of love and unity if we can overcome ourselves... I am willing to tell you that I know from a personal experience that we will have eternal life and that the Lord loves us. I can bear you witness that as I struggled with various aspects of 'the church organization' that the Lord answered my questions, he secured my testimony through various experiences, and I can bear witness that if we continue to live our lives complacently then we will not progress... I know that foundationally ALL religions have truth and that ultimately we all believe in the same God. I know that our Savior will come and the way will not longer be able to be skewed... and I know that when the Lord comes there will still be those who, although they profess to believe in Christ, will not follow Him. The way is not easy, it was not meant to be. But the Lord loves us all the same... He sits on the sidelines (metaphorically) and cheers for us as we make the slightest gain, as we strive to be righteous, as we seek happiness. And I know that if the Spirit has not spoken to you (or told you outright) that this is the path to follow then you still need to grow. Your concern for others, and for righteous dominion is astonishing... I admire that... I implore you to search the gospel, not the people, for the truth. Ask the Lord for the direction to go, not man. I could bear you my witnesses, but they would do you no good, as you must search for your own. But I do bear witness that the Lord has a plan, He will implement it with or without us. The Latter-Day Saints, as with any other religious faction needs those who will not follow blindly... I bear you this witness in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The 1 Truth said...

I can't believe you would compare the gospel of Jesus Christ to sin. The gospel is not sin! You said in a recent post that life isn't black and white, well God is pure white. Anything that isn't pure white is sin. So with God, it is either black or white, there is no grey area. Anything that is not pure white is black. God is pure, so anything unclean can not dwell in his presence. Satan doesn't need you to go down to the darkest shades of black, but God does need you to go up to the lightest shade of white. That is why women will never have the priesthood and homosexuality will never be accepted in God's church because it is a sexual perversion and a crime against nature. Gordon B. Hinckley and the apostles have said that gays can be in the church as long as they don't carry out homosexual acts. I don't mean to sound cruel, but hate the sin, not the sinner, right?

NateDredge said...

1 truth let’s talk about you’re up coming mission. I get the absolutism from which you come. This my sound trite but it reminds me of myself eight years ago as I was preparing for my mission. Now this position actually, in a lot of ways, will make your mission easier. It is the preferred way to make it through a mission, and I don’t know if I’d have made it through mine without it. It’s barriers that you put up, to protect the meaning and purpose you have established for yourself, and make sure nothing sneaks in that could knock you off course. In fact if adhered to strictly enough, it will ensure that you can’t even honestly process certain information. Critical messages will pass right through your system like an inert compound. The true, possible consequences of letting something like that in could be deviating in its effects, it could ruin your life, so if you have to you’ll belittle it. Anything to stay afloat. I know I’m sounding critical here, but I understand your position. I think its part of the growing up process for many a Mormon. When you get back your circumstances will have changed, you’ll have gained real world experience that isn’t like in a mission prep class, and you’ll be able to more easily, if you so chose, look at matters related to the Church from a more nuanced perspective. I don’t know if I’m doing you any favors by telling you this, but a mission provides disillusionment in conjunction with any inspiration you might find, it’s a mixed bag that can lead you to a very different understanding of human nature and your faith. Maybe women will never have the priesthood, maybe homosexuals will never be allowed to enter into a church sanctioned union of their own primal inclination. I would say probably so, even that (at least in one of these cases) that’s probably right. But don’t discount the pain of some in both of those categories who want both of those things, for reasons you may or may not understand. To do so is not Christian, and in fact goes against what I think we were put down here to do. To learn to be truly excellent to one another (sorry Bill and Ted) from our deepest being. To borrow from Tennessee Williams, I reject nothing in humanity that isn’t destructive or cruel, would that we could all adopt that empathy and forgiveness.

Zelph said...

Still Firm-

I really enjoy your posts and look forward to future dialogue. Brigham Young's discourses on blacks are pretty bad. Many people have said "well Brigham Young was just a product of his time and he was a racist because everyone was racist back then" O.K., but that makes me wonder what makes following the church leaders any different than any other religion? The Book of Mormon is heavily saturated with racial themes, it is so 19th century Christianity, it is almost laughable.

However, the thing that made me REALLY feel uncomfortable, was not the race thing, but his talks on polygamy. Brigham Young's ideas about how the only way to get into heaven is with polygamy and anyone that denies polygamy is going to hell. Not just that, but the most disturbing of all was Brigham Young's teaching that women can leave their husbands to pursue other men that are higher up in their priesthood callings. That doctrine of Brigham Young really struck a nerve with me, because I love my wife dearly. I could not imagine being a devout Mormon, always doing what I was asked, but then some Bishop, High Counselor or Stake President decides he wants my wife, I am supposed to be O.K. with it because God sanctions it? Without needing a divorce? It just doesn't make any sense.

Under Brigham Young, a married woman could leave her husband to be with someone else that was higher up in the priesthood pecking order. That just sounds like some crazy cult to me where they use sex as a reward for loyalty to the organization.

Reading about Joseph Smith and his sexual deviations by sending men out on missions and taking their wives after they left was heartbreaking as well.

I agree with Gordon B. Hinckley when he said in that interview that polygamy is a false doctrine and behind us. I personally think it was simply made up by Joseph Smith conveniently to cover his love affairs. It is interesting that just after Emma Smith finds out about the affairs that had been going on for several years, Joseph Smith receives a "revelation", being D& C 132.

Zelph said...

The 1 Truth-

I also would like to say that you sound just like me right before my mission. It is the black and white thinking that will set you up for the biggest downfall. Did you know that women held the priesthood under Joseph Smith? They didn't hold church positions or authority, but they were able to bless and heal the sick and afflicted. Blacks also held the priesthood under Joseph Smith. It was Brigham Young that decided to change it to a "whites only" fraternity.

Elder Joseph said...

Still firm

you said
"... you are stuck on the past... I understand that polygamy was severely misused... I don't deny that. But I also KNOW that there were men who did live the principle of polygamy righteously"

Who do you believe misused polygamy , because I've been told its from God ( all of it by then church members) through revelation.

But the real truth is It's a tragedy that started with Joseph Smith being caught having adulterous sex with Fanny Alger by Oliver Cowdery , in which he then reckoned it was a revelation but had to be kept secret . So he let his inner circle of friends in on it and it allgot out of hand through these self righteous deluded idiots . It was all made up like everything else of his .

Then comes Brigham Young and openly declares his worth including calling young teens to be his wives for his sick belief .Did they have a choice ? NO .... because he was a Sadistic Cult Leader.. He thought he was so righteous that women were duty bound as he chose them to conceive with him .How Disgusting and you believe its from God because through prayer you have been answered ... about this ?

You even say your husband if called upon to marry another would obey ? How ridiculous to believe in your earthly Leaders this way . They have a track record of wrong teachings on black skin curse , Adam being God ,Men living on the Moon and Sun , Mary conceived Jesus physically with a Mormon man in a body and not the Holy Ghost ... and you will believe in these Men ?
..........and believe Jesus has been in full control throughout giving them these instructions ?

If it wasn't so tragic it would be laughable .

Bishop Rick said...

still firm,

A testimony is not a reliable barameter.
You can convince yourself of anything.
A testimony is nothing more than a good feeling about something you have already convinced yourself of, or really want to be true - whether consciously or not.

There are millions of people that have a testimony of the Koran and will strap bombs to themselves to defend both the Koran and their testimony.

You would have to be pretty convinced about something to do that. I would venture to say that habib (fictional character) has as strong a “testimony” about the truthfulness of the Koran and Islam as you do about the BofM and Mormanism.

You can’t both be right.

Having the same result about two opposing things using the same method of proof leads me to think the following:

You are both right -
This is impossible

One of you are right -
If this is true then the method of proof is flawed

Both are wrong -
This is the most likely scenario

Just my observations

disciple of jesus said...

Hebrews 5:12

"In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!"

1 Corinthians 3:2
"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready."

Concerned Christian said...

still firm-

You keep bringing up prayer and personal revelation in your comments. I do pray. I am a post-Morman and a devout Christian. I have witnessed the power of prayer and prayers being answered. But I do not draw the same conclusions as you .

Remeber, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

I do believe that Mormons experience personal revelation, but I do not believe these revelations come from God. I'm sorry, but you are deceived. I pray for the light to be shed on you, as well as your fellow Brothers and Sisters.

A church that began with such lies is not a church of God. God does not get things wrong. And if God is speaking to your Prophets, your Prophets should also not err when they speak on authority, be they man or not. But yet, every generation of Prophets disclaims certain doctrines set forth by their predecessors.

you also say: just remember that the Spirit speaks to your heart and your head simultaneously... Satan only speaks to your head

Please remember Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Love and Peace.

Concerned Christian said...

And Satan does not just speak to the head. He speaks to any part of you that is most receptive, any part that he perceives as the weakest. Do not underestimate the power of Satan.

Bishop Rick said...

There is no such thing as satan or any other boogie man. Satan and Hell were made up to scare people into compliance. It is absolutely amazing to me that people in this day still believe in and fear something that has never been seen or heard from.

Show me someone that has experienced Satan and I will show you someone that needs to up their lithium prescription.