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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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God: My Bad!

I had an amusing thought while sitting in church last Sunday. If the trinitarian view of the Godhead were correct and Jesus was God, then perhaps Jesus’ crucifixion was God’s way of saying “You know what? I fucked up. All this cruelty and suffering is all my fault, and now it’s time for me to pay for my crimes.”

It makes perfect sense to me, and it would make an omnipotent God seem like less of a jerk.

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Paul on Jesus

Why did the Apostle Paul never quote a single word of Jesus’ sayings?

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Better Than Jesus

Daylight Atheism has an excellent post on the deficiencies of the moral teachings of Jesus along the same lines (but better than) my post Lithium for Jesus. In short, not only is Jesus not the best moral teacher in history, on average we are now more compassionate than Jesus.

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