Saturday, December 11, 2010

Charity Endureth All Things: Even Others' Different Understanding of Joy

I believe you can tell more about people (both inside and outside the Church) by how they deal with the joy others find outside their own organization (or with differing perspectives that bring joy inside their own organization) than perhaps by any other criterion. One type of person lacks internal joy, constantly finds fault with the joy of others and actively seeks to undercut that joy; another type is secure in her joy and not interested in the differing joy of others; the final type accepts and embraces the idea that others have their own degree of joy - and tries to add to it (and, through it, add to their own joy) whenever possible.

I don’t want to argue with the healthy and happy; I want to learn from them. I want to spend most of my time administering joy to the sick and searching.

How does this relate to charity enduring all things? 

I have learned over the course of my life that there is an element of "enduring" things that don't make sense initially - like the idea that others can find great joy and peace and contentment and fulfillment and progress outside of the Restored Gospel - or even outside Christianity itself.  When someone believes something passionately, especially when there is a degree of exclusivity to their perspective (as there is in my own), it is very easy to form the opinion that "true joy" exists only within that perspective and those beliefs - to devalue others' joy as counterfeit or substandard in some way.  This occurs largely because it's hard to see others' joy and not feel like one's own perspective and beliefs are compromised in some way. 

I personally believe that the opposite it true from within what I would call the "pure Mormon" perspective.  Pure Mormonism says things like, "Learn ye out of the best books" - "Seek wisdom and learning" - "Bring all your good with you and let us add to it" (which implies there is good elsewhere we need, as well, but too many members don't stop and think about that) - "There must needs be opposition in ALL things" (which would include the Church itself, and "opposition" in that section cannot mean people) - "The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth" - and so many more.  Pure Mormonism grants that others truly can find joy outside of the LDS Church, since it embraces truth wherever it may be.  Pure Mormonism posits that anyone can be saved and exalted regardless of the specifics of their religious beliefs and faith.  Pure Mormonism is charitable in that sense - in that it "endureth" (continues, exists) without condemning different viewpoints and belief structures as automatically leading others to Hell. 

Individual members too often forget that and slip into a more Protestant attitude with regard to the beliefs of others, but charity enduring all things includes, I believe, the existence of joy outside "our own" - and, in the ideal, learns from it and incorporates it freely and willingly.

1 comment:

Patty said...

I love this post! It's especially interesting to read since I've been meeting with and studying with some Jehovah's Witnesses lately. I have been intrigued to hear their interpretation of the bible, and although I can't agree with most of what they think, I can appreciate that it has made me think deeper about basic doctrines that I had mostly taken for granted. It has given me new perspectives on what other religions believe and has helped me be more understanding of why a lot of "mainstream" Christians aren't as thrilled with the message of the restored gospel as we would they would be.
Whether or not I'm actually charitable is debatable, but I like to think that I am respectful of others' beliefs and try to look for what common ground and "good" we share.