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Celestial Kingdom or Bust

26 Jul

This isn’t about sex, per se. It’s about the way we live our lives versus how we practice our faith.

The core of our doctrine is that we are saved by the atoning grace of Jesus Christ after all we can do. This puts some of the onus on us to do the best we can, which I feel is right and proper. It meets the conditions of both justice and mercy, dealt to us by a deity who knows our hearts, our struggles, our souls.

A major complaint amongst evangelical types about our way of practicing our faith is that we believe we are saved by works alone. Now, the “alone” part is hyperbole on their part because they really don’t want to look too closely at our truth; they’re comfortable in their hatred and lies, so let’s leave them to it. (Justice=leaving them to wallow in their comforting poison; mercy=leaving them to wallow in their poisonous comfort.) We use words to fight this perception constantly. We are saved by grace! we protest. We do believe in the atoning sacrifice of the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’re just like you! (mostly) (except for that Trinity business) (and the burning lake of fire).

But our actions…? Our actions make liars of us all.

To watch us is to know, with rightful certainty, that we don’t believe in grace at all. We live with the fear that there is no room for error, no forgiveness, no mercy.

You may either be perfect or you may fail. There is no in between.

Pass/fail.

Exaltation/damnation.

A+/F.

We talk about repentance, but don’t talk about being forgiven.

I’ll not rehash some of the disastrous/dangerous statements made in the past that make this binary explicit because they are, well, disastrous and dangerous and, I think, the brethren are trying to correct that. I also largely feel that this binary of perfection/failure is endemic to the American spirit and came with the Puritans, so this isn’t about Mormons per se. There are aphorisms aplenty out there that demonstrate this amply enough:

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

“Second place is just first loser.”

“When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win!”

Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Then there are the ones about trial and failure:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”

“Line upon line; precept upon precept.”

When contrasted, the subtext isn’t about perfection or failure, the first set is about being perfect at all times in order to become perfect where the second set is more pragmatic in that it acknowledges that failure is inevitable.

And the way we Mormons do this is by casting trial and error as a permanently damning failure, and pretending that failure does not happen, cannot happen, if we simply do not acknowledge the very possibility of failure. If we do acknowledge it, we have opened the door to the inevitability of failure.

To wit: In my post The Talk, I enumerated a way of dealing with the subject of premarital sex that is both pragmatic and discouraging of the practice. However, this comment:

You’re trying to push your values about sex onto your child. That’s what’ parents do all the time, intentional or unintentional. Since you portray yourself as a true Latter-day Saint the appropriate question to ask is whether you are exposing your child to your own values or God’s values. You get one or the other. The only way it gets to be “both” is if you have already aligned your values with the Lord’s.

perfectly illustrates my point.

The Lord’s value as we see it is to be chaste until marriage. But why must we pretend that the possibility cannot exist if we simply do not speak of it?

Now, think about that for a moment.

We believe that our entire reason for existence here on earth is to learn. How does one learn? By failing. Thus, failure is inevitable. It’s our entire purpose. We knew, when we chose this course, that there would be no perfection. Perfection is a quest, a destination. It cannot also be, by definition, the journey.

Making it the journey is crippling.

I, personally, don’t believe that a loving Heavenly Father would ask us to fail only to damn us for doing that very thing. He can’t have, if we also believe in Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

So…why do we act like he did?

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On Being Adventurous, and Dealing with the Ensuing Guilt

25 Oct

Recently my partner, MM, and I went on a road trip.  It was a long drive.  And we were sitting right next to each other.  And usually when we’re that close to each other, we’re touching in some way.  Which, of course, often leads to some sex.  So on that long drive, we held hands most of the way.  Or rubbed the back of each other’s necks.  Or kissed each other’s hands.  Almost constant contact.  At one point, something got my fires burning on a low but persistent level and that made me want to touch a little more than his hand.  So I started Continue reading