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Be Ye Therfore Perfect

[This will make more sense in the context of the post where I left this as a comment. This mirrors the ideas in a post I made elsewhere.]

I have been thinking about the no-compromises, black-and-white approach. The word that keeps coming to mind is “brittle”. My life has been full of surprises, turns in the road that I didn’t foresee and couldn’t have planned for. In the cases where I was willing to change my thinking and expectations, some little continuity was preserved. When I couldn’t change my outlook, things fell apart.

For example (I don’t have an ulterior motive in choosing this example—it was just the first to come to mind), I took Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement to heart that the LDS church is either true or a great fraud. This black-and-white viewpoint made my connection to the church brittle. When I started to learn about things that seemed to me (rightly or wrongly) to point to the history of the church not being what I had been taught, I was trapped by the black-and-white viewpoint to choose between those two options: truth or fraud. Other people who were willing to see shades of grey have preserved their relationship with the LDS church despite learning the same things.

This danger of brittleness also holds in the realm of relationships, I believe. We’re probably all familiar with Matthew 5:48 where Jesus tells us to be perfect. The Greek word translated in the KJV as “perfect” is teleios which connotes a sense of completion, wholeness, and maturity. Most of the times that I heard that scripture in church it was used in isolation, but I think it’s important to look at the whole paragraph:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48)

When Jesus tells me to be complete and whole like God, he is telling me to love everyone, even my enemies. God, he says, causes the sun to shine on everyone, even those that he judges to be wicked. It is one thing to be called on to die for our ideals; it is another to be asked to love completely and without condition. Jesus’ injunction to love like God loves didn’t have an exception for spouses who believe differently or children who stray from the path we would choose for them.

If there is a God worthy of worship, that God must be happy when we nurture our love for each other and don’t let it die in his name. If God doesn’t exist, then Earth will be more like heaven if we hold tight to love and avoid tossing it away too casually.

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  1. Lincoln Cannon said,

    March 7, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    “If there is a God worthy of worship, that God must be happy when we nurture our love for each other and don’t let it die in his name. If God doesn’t exist, then Earth will be more like heaven if we hold tight to love and avoid tossing it away too casually.”

    Amen — that’s practical faith.

  2. Lincoln Cannon said,

    March 7, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    . . . which, of course, results in God existing either way.

  3. Nice niece said,

    March 8, 2008 @ 8:53 am

    I agree that a black & white perception of the world can be dangerous. Luckily for me, my life has been filled with people I love (and myself) straying into the “gray”, so I no longer equate people’s worth with their actions and/or beliefs. In my opinion, a true believer of Christ sees the worth in all people…purely because they are children of God.

  4. Jonathan Blake said,

    March 10, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

    And it’s so hard to reconcile what is black and what is white. We can each believe that we’re going good while working in the opposite direction. Even if it ends up that there is an absolute right and wrong, how can we judge someone else for doing what they think is right?

  5. Lessie said,

    March 10, 2008 @ 8:37 pm

    You’re sounding rather agnostic today :-) . Anyway, I agree with a lot of your sentiments here. My black and white world view was definitely a large part of what led me away from the church as I started studying philosophy, feminism, church history, etc. And while I’ve moved into the gray, and recognize that the gray areas are usually the more compassionate places to be, I still struggle with the dichotomous thinking that I was raised with. Another issue I faced as I started studying other schools of thought was whether or not God really is a God of love (which in turn has lead to my agnosticism). No matter which way you twist it, there really are no solid arguments for some of the crazy things that happen in this world supposedly created by a loving God.

  6. Lincoln Cannon said,

    March 10, 2008 @ 8:51 pm

    It’s this simple: if God exists and loves us then there are limits to God’s power.

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