By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Everyone's Own Viewpoint

I have been thinking lately about how each of us has our own view of the world and the things therein. This view is made up of our innate traits and abilities and our environmental influences and our experiences in life. It is, in other words, a complicated mess!

I have noticed that I am not always 100% consistant and I don't think anyone else is either. And that is probably a good thing--what works well in one area may not be the best answer in another area.

I have also noticed that it is hard to understand someone who thinks differently from you. Not that you don't understand what they are saying, just that you think it is totally wrongheaded. But then they are probably thinking the same thing about you, so it all evens out.

In many ways, this variance of viewpoints is good. We learn of new ideas and new ways of looking at things and even new ways of thinking. We learn a lot of patience and tolerance and understanding.

But where do we draw the line? Or do we? What I am thinking of is the gospel and its doctrine, although I suppose almost any subject could be considered here. It is one thing to make certain we are not harsh and mean-spirited and hurtful. But are we not even allowed to stand up for what is right? It seems like most gospel discussions anymore are quite wishy-washy because no one wants to be too definite about anything. I understand about not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings or discourage them, but can we not say straight out, "It is a sin to rob a bank," or whatever the topic du jour is. Do we have to get into long and intricate discussions of what sin means and what rob means and what bank means?

I worry that we get to thinking that everything is relative and that we are not doing the best we can to live the gospel and do the will of our Heavenly Father. He is merciful, but He is also just--He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Are we allowing Satan to lull us into a false sense of security--that things aren't so bad, that we aren't so bad? I understand that we do not need to be too hard on ourselves and others, but I do not think we should be too easy on us, either.

I suppose it is a matter of balance and moderation, a matter of praying to know if what we are doing or saying is right or wrong, of trying to be a good example to others without being so blunt that we offend them and drive them away. I know that with myself, I have to not allow all that I need to do to overwhelm me and I need to take things a step at a time--I need to not run faster than I have strength, but to persist in being diligent.

It's never easy, is it? I believe that I have inadvertently offended people with my, shall we say, enthusiasm for the gospel, and I am sorry for that. It has never been my intention. So here I sit, wondering how to find that right balance of standing up for truth without running over people. Because I am quite sure that God the Father and Jesus Christ love each and every one and do not want them run over or hurt or driven away.

Charity. A key word, I suspect.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:27 AM  
Blogger NFlanders said...

I think the problem is trying to apply black-and-white gospel standards to situations steeped in shades of gray. No one is afraid to condemn bank robbing; it's objectively wrong. But I think it is less than helpful to say something like "Coca-cola is objectively wrong to drink and everyone who does drink it is rejecting the counsel of the prophets." God has left a lot of stuff for us to figure out, and we shouldn't waste our time debating whether eating disorders are a sin (to use a recent example from Millienial Star).

P.S. You might want to turn on "word verification" for your comments. I did it, and it really cut down the amount of spam comments I get.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Thanks for the suggestion about word verification. I'd been putting it off, but today, I started getting spam almost immediately upon posting.

I realize that we aren't commanded in everything and that there are things, like drinking Coca-Cola that are left up to us, but I think there are things that ought to be condemned, but aren't because it isn't politically correct to do so.

I chose the bank robbery example simply because it was so obvious that I thought no one would either be offended that I was condemning bank robbery or would start an off-on-a-tangent discussion as to whether bank robbery really is a sin or not.

I guess I would say that I feel that as much as possible should be left to the individual, but that there are some things that are solidly black-and-white wrong, and we should be able to say so.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

I thought of some more to say that might explain me better. It isn't that I want to run around, shaking my finger in people's faces, and scolding them. Rather it is that I would like to see all viewpoints respected and taken into consideration. I think we would all be better off because we would have a wide range of ideas and thoughts to consider. It seems like only those ideas that are Politically Correct are acceptable--if you dare to say that, for example, you do not support same-sex marriage, people dismiss you without even giving you a chance to explain your reasons. If they would listen, they might discover an idea they had not thought of before.

That is a lot of what is bothering me lately--only certain viewpoints are listened to, or allowed a forum. Opposing viewpoints are said to be judgemental and self-righteous or another similar label.

I just would like to see genuine discussion rather than a listing of certain views and a dismissal of certain other views.

Maybe I just needed to let off some steam. :>D

11:45 AM  
Blogger NFlanders said...

I think a lot of it depends on how we phrase our arguments. If someone said "these are the reasons I'm against SSM" then I would listen even though I disagree. If someone said, "these are the reasons gay people are wrong and need to be fixed" then I wouldn't bother listening.

I suspect there's a some overlap between being PC and respecting all of God's children.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

That's a good point--to consider how you phrase things. It occurs to me that tone of voice (if you're talking face to face and not over the internet!) would help, too. And certainly respect for all is paramount.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Pop said...

After finaly being able to read the Priesthood talks I would call attention to President Faust's words. It just keeps bugging me that it appears that we spend way too much effort on trying to find a reason not to follow the counsel of God's annointed. I had mentioned this on another topic here. We are to testify of Christ and if it is not of Him then it should not be of us either. We shouldn't be obnoxious, but neither should we go along to be PC.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe scripture and the council of the leaders are intended to be tools for us to use in working out our own salvation. We are commanded to heed(or listen) to them, but not follow. We have a right to question whether given council will be useful or hurtful to us in our individual path. If you choose to apply everything said over the pulpit without question and find that this helps you in your journey, that is wonderful for you-but don't assume that that path is best for everyone.
Mary- I appreciate that your first objective is to make sure that you don't wrongly hurt someone in what you say. Of course, being human we will all surely do that sometimes, but we can try our best to put loving others above being right. I think that is what Jesus was trying to tell the lawyer in Matthew 22:37-40 when he said that, On these two great commandments(loving God and thy neighbor as thyself) hang all the law and the prophets."

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Pop said...

I'm not talking about blind obedience, but rather people that spend a great deal of time coming up with reasons not to pay attention. As I hear these arguements more and more it concerns we that people are trying to justify not following any counsel. It sometimes seems like a study chant of that doesn't apply to me. Conference talks don't happen in a vacum, I think talks are given because the Brethern felt prompted by the Spirit that it is something that the Saints need to hear. I pray about everything that comes over the pulpit, so you can set aside any belief that I'm a blind follower. Perhaps what I'm trying to explain doesn't take place where you are.

12:40 PM  

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