Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Being Sinless Does Not Have to Mean Being Mistake Free

At the most basic level, when something is "transgressed" it simply means that a rule or law has been broken.

There can be "active transgression" (the one who causes the rule or law to be broken); there can be "passive transgression" (someone who is involved in the breaking of a rule or law but not responsible for breaking it); there can be "ignorant transgression" (breaking a rule due to not understanding it); there can be "intentional transgression" (knowing a rule and breaking it anyway). Of these categories, generally speaking, only those that are done intentionally and in violation of one's understanding are viewed as "sins" that require direct, personal punishment. All others (the passive and the ignorant) are believed to be covered by the Atonement of Jesus. (I tend to use James' definition of "sin" in the Bible that requires knowledge and/or understanding.)

For example, a rapist is an active transgressor, but s/he also can be either an ignorant transgressor (think of a ruler who has been taught since childhood that sex is his right and refusal is not an option, living in a society that reinforces that assumption) or an intentional transgressor (the VAST majority of cases in our day and age). I understand the theft analogy that some use when discussing rape, but I don't think ANYTHING has been stolen in a rape, since I don't agree that a victim of rape has "lost her virtue". A victim of rape is still every bit as "pure" and "chaste" and "virtuous" after the rape as she was before it, specifically because she is not held accountable for what happened.

I think Jesus definitely "transgressed" while He was growing up, IF that is focused narrowly on "ignorant transgressions" - and perhaps breaking a lower law to fulfill a higher law (like ignoring his parents to stay in Jerusalem and teach in the temple or picking corn to eat on the Sabbath). The Bible says he grew from grace to grace and in favor WITH GOD and man. That means he was progressively "more favorable" with God than he had been previously - probably as he learned of and accepted his divine role and "put away the natural man". Sure, that's speculation to some degree, but I think it's grounded in very clear scriptural statements.

That actually is the heart of this post - that there are things that occur in our lives that "technically" violate commands that will not be accrued to our "debt" simply because we didn't choose them or weren't aware of them. They are part of the package we inherited by "keeping our first estate" / being descendants of the Fall - and our job is to improve our character and multiply our talents (pursue perfection [wholeness, completion, full development]), NOT get bogged down with guilt and obsess over our "natural (wo)man" faults. Those have been redeemed already through the Atonement as part and parcel of The Fall, so our responsibility is to work to eradicate them by acquiring the characteristics of godliness that will replace them - making mistakes and transgressing along the way and repenting when we actually sin - modeling in our own flawed way Jesus' own sinless example of growing from grace to grace and in favor with God and man. 

8 comments:

Jared said...

In your opinion, is it possible for God the Father or His Son Jesus Christ, to make mistakes?

Papa D said...

If we are talking about them now or outside Jesus' "mortal life", absolutely not.

If we are talking about Jesus as a child, while he was "growing from grace to grace", yes, I think it is possible that he made mistakes - since mistakes are very, very different than sins. In fact, if we believe he really was both truly divine and truly human, I have no problem whatsoever with the idea that it was possible for Jesus to make mistakes during his mortality.

Jared said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

Wow wow wow.Gorgeous comforting thoughts.

backandthen said...

If God is "perfect" we can assume that He is also humble.

What is the use of humility when you are perfect? Does perfection means that you don't make mistakes? Does perfection means that everything is under control?

Papa D said...

"What is the use of humility when you are perfect?"

If perfection includes being all-powerful, humility is a REALLY important characteristic to possess, I would think. Lucifer is presented, for example, as someone who wanted power without humility.

I think perfection does mean that "mistakes" aren't made, but I also think we define "mistakes" very differently than someone would who can see the full picture. As far as everything being under control, I'm not sure that is possible in the fullest sense, given our view of individual agency.

Jeff Walsh said...

I am interested in what is called the transgression of Adam. Lots of people call this "The original sin". But how can this be, as sin at that time had not come into the world, a careful reading of Moses chapter 5 would indicate that Adam and Eve had children and grandchildren before Satan comes upon the scene and persuades the children to "believe it not" and the 13th verse said it was from that time that men began to be carnal sensual and devilsh.

I believe that Adam simply transgressed the law for staying in the garden of Eden, he was told that the law was, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself for it is given unto thee, but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die. This was then the law for staying in the garden of Eden, therefore when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit he transgressed the law for staying in the garden and was cast out and became subject to death. This surely was part of the plan because in 2Ne 3:23 we learn that if Adam had not transgressed the law for staying in the garden, they would not have been able to have children and the whole plan of salvation would have been frustrated.
Our Heavenly Father knows what he is doing Adam had to make a choice and he chose wisely and well. Jeff

Papa D said...

Amen, Jeff. Well said.