Saturday, January 4, 2014

Church Newsroom Doctrine

The Church responded to an HRC Petition this week, link.

In the article, which was said to represent the Church leaders, the following statement was made : "The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation."

It's clear by "feelings" they are not totally focusing on emotions, but about inclinations, urges, dispositions etc..   

This is not the first time these kinds of statements have been made (another is here), but it is the most recent.  This post is about just those statements as it would apply to anyone.  I'm not addressing the same topic as those articles. This post is just one perspective (mine), about how such statements quoted above compare to scriptural teachings.

The Church may distinguish between having inclinations vs acting on them, however the scriptures tell of a loftier goal with a higher purpose.  The goals of the Church and goals of the gospel are plain and simply.... different.  I believe it is good to take notice of such things, and give it some deliberate thought and pondering.  The Church has historically changed it's doctrine, even doctrine that was stated to be required for salvation.  But we also see that after many years, current church leaders can denounce prior teachings (for reference see Church's own statements regarding blacks and the priesthood, and the Church published article on plural marriage).  To seek to please the world carries with it the necessity of compromising true doctrine.  But whether or not that is occurring in our day is up to you to decide.  

My point here is the difference between scriptural, and Church teachings.

Mosiah 5:2 says the following: "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."

Here we have a group of people being taught true doctrine. It came from God. The effect was a mighty change in them, in their hearts "that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually".  It occurred during a sermon by a prophet of God.  

They lost their disposition to do evil.  You can't loose something you never had.  The scripture says they had a mighty change of heart which had as it's natural consequence a disposition to do good continually.  This is deeper than outward behavior.  It came as a result of getting a true view of their actual fallen state, and consequent desire for the atoning blood of Christ to be applied to them  (Mosiah 4:2).  With that in mind, now consider the church is teaching that they distinguish between having an inclination and acting on it.  The Gospel goes all the way to the heart and speaks of removing even "disposition to do evil".  While the church may ignore your inner dispositions and inclinations as long as you don't act on them, the Gospel is pointed much higher.  Your selling yourself short to adhere to the Church's teachings about what they distinguish between.  Our outward behavior in lots of ways is most under our direct control.  Christ however will need to be involved if you want a new inner nature.  And that is the gaping hole in the church's newsroom doctrine. They leave Christ out, and what He does for us.  Oddly enough.  

The message of the Church soothes you, and tells you all is well as long as your outward actions (visible by others) remains in check.  The other message quoted from Mosiah puts the fear of God in you!  It stamps on your toes. Christ goes way way further than merely avoiding sinful outward acts, he wants to remove the inner cause which lies within the heart. The intent and heart, not just the act matter.  I can't see how the experience in Mosiah is repeatable unless the same doctrine and message was taught.  The newsroom statement said that by "staying faithful to Church teachings" a person can enjoy full fellowship in the church, attend the Temple, and receiving God's blessings.  By these standards you can "stay faithful" and receive God's blessings but remain inwardly sinful.....  You see how this is bad and misleading doctrine?  You see how this doesn't really point to the Savior? "Staying faithful" is important, but to whom, and to what should we be faithful?  What if the Church's teachings are different than Christ's?  That question will make some very uncomfortable but it's important.

Mosiah 27:25-26 has this to say:  "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."  

"Marvel not" the Lord says.... that all mankind must be changed from a carnal and fallen state.  Apparently this all inclusive need causes some to marvel.  Rather than marveling at the requirement, we should perhaps instead be humbled by it.  Even if some body of people get taught something else by men, the scriptures remind us what the Lord has to say, and He says all must be born of God and changed from a fallen state to a state of righteousness.  All.  Including me and you.  It's troubling that religious teachings exist which sort of remove the need for the change of nature by making allowances.  Allowances that are based on outward behavior which blind to the inward stuff.  It's as though in our day there is fear about telling people they sin or have sinned.  The New Testament makes it plain as day that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  That should be no surprise.  We're all pretty much idiots.  My self included.

Christ says in 3 Nephi 12:28:  "But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart."

If simply not acting on lustful inclinations was good enough why did Christ make a clear statement otherwise, which took the message to a whole new level?  The scripture seems different from what the Church is saying.  But you decide for yourself what that difference is.  

I don't think scripture authors just happened to forget to mention that fallen inclinations in our hearts are acceptable, it's just the acting on some of them that's not ok. They say nothing of the sort. Church doctrine seems to be altering or accommodating various outside pressures and we should be aware enough to notice changes, and search for the truth. Historically church doctrine has undergone changes to meet social and legal pressures.  We should be on the watch for this trend.

At some level it seems arrogant or presumptuous, or both, to say our feelings and inclinations in this mortal fallen world are no sin.  Who are we comparing to when we make that conclusion?  We certainly are not comparing ourselves to Christ or we would make no such conclusion. In our modern world did we somehow escape the fall?  Are leaders doing members a favor by making allowances that make them feel better?  Are we really in a place to tell the Lord, a just and holy being, that our attractions and inclinations are not riddled with impurities, caked in lust, and often extremely selfish?  We're born into a fallen world, yet we claim our attractions are pure?  (I'm not making any distinction to any particular group of people. I'm talking about the human race)  We really shouldn't marvel that all mankind must be changed from the fallen nature and redeemed of God to enter His kingdom.  Seems self evident if you look closely.  Or take off the blinders religion can impose.  The issue is not cloudy from the scriptural point of view.

Rather than focusing on soothing distinctions which can distract you from a potential need for repentance would it be better to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?  That's what the scriptures seem to suggest.  I don't think temptations or passing biological attraction are necessarily lusting after a woman.  Lust goes further.  Once a person is born again I do not think temptations stop.  That is hopefully common sense. Part of righteous living is subduing temptations.  Our biology and all that goes with it is God given.  We're just supposed direct it with wisdom according to Gods commandments. 

The people of Mosiah viewed themselves in their fallen state (Mosiah 4:2).  Those realizations by the people prompted a very specific reaction. I think we should be cautious of any message that could prevent or distract you from that same view and reaction they had.  King Benjamin's message from God put the fear of God into the people.  This was no "all is well", "your fine just thew way you are" "Forget your heart, just make sure your outward actions don't represent what is going on inside you".  His was no heart warming message with nice music in the background, and touching emotional messages to lull you to sleep.  

Notice how the Lords words, as well as various scriptural teachings are interesting to compare to the doctrine coming from the News Room.  Christ says people cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless they are changed from their carnal and fallen state.  Yet the Church statement says that it doesn't matter if you have inclinations or "feelings", all is well as long as you don't actually do the thing. That seems like a lesser law at best, and at worst, completely misleading.  Gods commandments are reasonable.  I don't think God asks what we cannot do.  So we need to keep in mind that God asks what's possible, not what isn't possible.         

The Church's new commandment of men is essentially: "Thou mayest have all sorts of inclinations or even carnal nature, but thou shalt just not act on them".  God will justify a little sin right?  Lie a little, cheat, set up a roadblock for your neighbor, there is no harm in this, do all these things for tomorrow we die, and if it so be that we are guilty God will beat us with a few strips but at last we will be saved in the Kingdom of God?  Vain, false, and misleading doctrine.

Come to Christ, be born of God.  Find the joy of the Lord's countenance.  Accept doctrine from Christ, and the scriptures, not from a PR newsroom.  They have conflicting agendas.  God does not ask what you cannot do.     

8 comments:

  1. Quoting 2 Nephi 28:8 there at the end.... really hit me. It feels like we are falling so far from doctrine that it's not always easy to know how we should stand.

    What happened to the "rock"?

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    1. I think some view the Church as the "rock" and they sooner or later will figure out that they were incorrect. In fact the Church's swaying views and tipsy doctrine are more like troubled water. Unstable, cloudy, changing, ebbing and flowing depending on various social and political pressures.

      Christ was/is always the Rock. Helaman 5:12

      And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

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  2. The concept of spiritual rebirth is so utterly ignored now . . . and it seems to be what allows a disciple of Christ to be able to truly discern light from darkness. Once you've been made into a new creature, it's much harder for the adversary to confuse and ensnare. There is no substitute for the knowledge of the words of God combined with intimate knowledge and true relationship with Him.

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  3. Hi, nice article.

    I completely agree with your statements on change of heart.

    I'm trying to parse the difference between attraction and lust. There are no scriptures that authorize lusting for my wife. Yet being attracted to her is no sin, right? So if attraction is not the same as lust, are you aware of any scriptures that say that attraction is a sin? Is it a sin for me to find anyone other than my wife attractive? Is there a difference between that and lusting after them? Does gender matter in that question? I think you catch my drift.

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    1. Just for clarity, I totally agree that splitting hairs with the whole lust/attraction thing is missing the boat: If your heart is changed, all this goes away. We really have no time to worry about things like that. When your whole heart, might, mind, and strength is consumed in seeking Christ, it all goes away.

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    2. Rob, glad you brought that up. Here is my thinking thus far on the questions you raised.

      In Christ's statement about lusting after the woman, it is the intent and not just the act that concerns Him. The Church's comments remain solely concerned with the act. Christ goes further. He wants to remove the lust and impurities from the heart. It is not enough that you stop short of doing the thing. Christ is addressing the root cause, the internal trouble which causes the mistakes. He wants us to be pure, not just avoid impure acts, right?

      I think lustful attraction exists, and I think righteous attraction exists. They would come from a different place inside the person, have different motives, and have different outcomes. Which one the person is experiencing would almost necessarily be a result of, or stem from their inner nature, in the heart. Which of course goes back to the scripture from Mosiah 27 in the post. If the person had been born again, changed from their carnal state to a state of righteousness they would likely have righteous inclinations and or be be moving towards Christ's teaching to do away with (or purify out) the ill in the heart. If they had not been changed, they would likely experience the lustful kind and need to start accepting what Christ offers by obeying Him. That may be oversimplifying it, but that view does make the scriptures extremely relevant and support it's message. As I'm sure some other views might as well. This is just one view.

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  4. Attraction is not lust, not matter if you are normal or gay. Lust is more intense/ unbridled desire. Lust I feel has more accountability to it.

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  5. If Rock is correct and the church is stiil under condemnation and the holy ghost is not here all the time that could explain he feelings. But its like the article said it does not make it correct with the gospel of Christ plus this could be his personal love you see for his son.

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