I know lots of members who take lots of things figuratively in our scriptures, but conversion (drastic change) often must be founded on a feeling of literalness - and differentiating (comparing differences, especially to establish supremacy) often is the root of conversion. Thus, many new converts ground their testimonies in literalism - and it takes maturing in the Gospel and personal confidence to begin to be able to let go of that and embrace figurative interpretations that generally are highly personal.
In other words, conversion to the group requires a degree of uniformity that is served best by literalism. The individual exploration that follows one who matures as a disciple requires one to let go of that literalism (to some degree and with regard to some concepts) and embrace a more figurative perspective. On the other hand, even most of the more mature members of any religion hang onto a literal interpretation of something - some core concepts or principles that remains literal for them. I believe the most mature members are able to consider BOTH literal and figurative interpretations - and actually see both kinds of perspectives as legitimate, worthwhile and inspired, even with regard to the same event or story.
Literalness provides safety; figurative-ness can be dangerous and scary. Therefore, literalness is NOT a bad thing for those who need safety more than they need to explore. It just appears restrictive to the explorers.
Edith Russell: Associate Editor
2 hours ago