Monday, July 20, 2009

According to the Dictates of Their Own Conscience

It is way too easy for people to believe they know what others "should" do and believe - and that "should" nearly always aligns with what the first person is doing or believing. I have a deep and abiding testimony of the Restoration, and it gives me incredible peace and joy. I really do think that the world would be a glorious place if everyone in it understood what I understand and felt the peace and joy I feel.

Having said that, what I want most for myself and my children is to be able to believe what I believe and live spiritually as I want to live - without ridicule and with acceptance of my choice even when that choice is not what others desire. I want to "follow the dictates of [my] own conscience." My understanding of the pre-existence and the second great commandment compels me to "allow (others) the same privilege."

I might have a hard time understanding someone else's decision when it is different than mine, and that difficulty is exacerbated when that decision is to walk away from what I hold so dear, but I think it is this situation precisely that tests how strongly I truly believe what I say I believe.

Jesus stressed this basic point in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, "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?" (Matt. 5:46-47)
If we understand and feel sorry only for those who never had any understanding of the Restoration, but don't have that same empathy for those who don't accept or have left the Church, we really are no different than the examples Jesus offered. I would submit that this is a lesson that everyone needs to learn - the power of full empathy and respect for the agency of all.


Anonymous said...

"For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?"
Instead of "publicans" I read "REpublicans"...
I see the restored gospel as one of the many path that can take us back to God. There is much beauty on our path, there is all the beauty one can imagine and even more. But what I have noticed is that very often we take pride in being on the most beautiful path and totally miss the benefit of what we have wrongfully taken pride in.
Then there are our brothers and sisters on paths that could be qualified as less beautiful but then...they enjoy each bit, each step of it and eventually enjoy all the beauty even the one they are supposed to miss.
Of course I have to think that my path is the most beautiful since it is the one I am following but it is the same for everyone.
So I really don't blame people leaving the church or not wanting to join the church what matters to me is how close they are to our Heavenly Father. Then God will judge their honesty and will fix what needs to be.
I remember when I was a child to be taught to refrain from keeping in touch with those who had left the church because you would leave the church only for one purpose "to become anti".
I have learned better and I don't see this being taught in the church in France anymore but I still see this attitude with older members and I feel sorry for them more than I feel sorry for those who have chosen a different path because deep inside those who leave the church are just looking for what I have found. Those judging them are the ones who are truly different from me, deeply different, and this brings us back to one of your previous post ;)

Ryan said...

The BoM passages about the Gadianton robbers and their ilk fascinate me. Their whole society is built on control and dominion, with a thin veneer of "freedom" painted on top to make it look good.

To paraphrase Giddianhi: "Yield yourselves up unto us and unite with us that ye may be like unto us: not our slaves, but our brethren [= fellow slaves]. If ye will do this ye shall not be destroyed; but if ye will not do this..." (see 3 Ne. 3:6-8).

The in-crowd has exactly the same approach. They advertise freedom (by throwing off the "oppressive" yoke of parents and other authority figures) but actually impose a much heavier yoke of their own -- you must become like them and do as they do, or else.

One of my main goals as a parent is to teach my kids to discern that the call is always to change masters, not to become their own master. At that point it becomes a bit clearer why you might want Christ as your master.

Having taught them that I hope they learn to make their own choices for their own reasons, not somebody else's. While I obviously hope they never go astray, I also hope I could face that possibility with much more maturity than I usually see around me. Stooping to "become like me, or else" is no good -- we know whose idea that is.