Tag Archives: Christ

Designing modesty

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupry

Recently, there’s been a lot of hullaballoo surrounding an article in the June issue of the Friend magazine. I’m not going to discuss the virtues of whether or not you should allow four year old girls to wear sleeveless sundresses — that has been discussed in the Bloggernacle ad nauseum. My main concern about the modesty issue (concerning the Church) is how convoluted our stance on modesty has become (especially for girls). Here are some rules (though they are not limited to this list), as codified into our culture by the For the Strength of  Youth pamphlet and the hallowed Honor Code of BYU*:

– No sleeveless anything, whether it be tank top, spaghetti strap, or otherwise. Halter tops are right out.

– All shorts must cover the knee

– No more than one pair of earrings for girls, no more than zero pair of earrings for boys

– Do not wear tight-fitting clothes

– Always cover your stomach

– Avoid extreme styles and colors (I’ve always wondered what they did in the 1980s with this rule, what, with the preponderance of lime green and hot pink)

– Guys should have well-trimmed, non-shaggy haircuts, no facial hair, and, if mission standards are to be followed, a part in the hair as well

– No tattoos, even if it’s like, a totally radical tattoo of a Chinese character

– Clothes should not be low cut in the front or back

– One piece swimsuits for the ladies

– And now, apparently, no sleeveless for little girls either

I’m a big believer in simplicity. Though I fail at it many times, I try to live as simple and as modest a life as possible. I believe that ultimately, a well-lived, modest life will have trimmed away the gluttony and excess and spend its time doing that which has the greatest and most value. I believe this concept applies in many situations, including my spiritual and religious life.

The modesty rules we have currently today are anything but minimalist. In fact, most of the rules we have concerning modesty are reactions against cultural trends of which we disapprove. Few, outside of the more vague ones, such as “avoid extreme styles or colors” or “no tight-fitting clothes”, contain any kind of gospel principle (and even then we’re stretching it); rather, they sound similar to the edicts of Cosmo’s fashion section, a list of do’s and don’ts to stay “in fashion” with the latest LDS style.

I like to think that Jesus is the prime example of a minimalist. When asked which of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) were the greatest, Jesus boiled them all down (all 613 of them!) into two great commandments:

Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

The minimalism behind this is breathtakingly beautiful. Yes, commandments and standards are important, but instead of creating a “modesty checklist” (which the Friend also did), couldn’t we instead emphasize that our bodies are gifts from God? If we love God, we will respect and cherish that gift. Empowered by the love of God and a perspective of our place in the universe, we would refuse to abuse and exploit that gift when propositioned to do so by others. Such thinking would allow the flexibility and breathing room for cultural fluctuation but still provide concrete understandings of what is right and wrong. Rather than measuring ourselves against a list of rules, we measure ourselves against our worth prescribed to us by God. We use personal revelation to guide our way. Modesty, like all other commandments and standards, hang from those two great edicts.

Rules are more comfortable precisely because they are so specific and inflexible. We can hide our ignorance of the gospel, our insecurity in our faith, and our anxiety before God’s presence behind the wall of man-made law. We can be mean-spirited, bitter, judgmental, rude, spiteful, proud, back-biting, or all of the above, but as long as we pay our tithing, attend Church services, and do our home/visiting teaching, we’re still “righteous,” even if the love of God is not within us. It is easier to teach and instill skirt length, sleeve length, midriff coverage, one-piece swimsuit expounding, and one-pair-of-earrings exposition in 30 minute bite-size increments in Sunday School than either the love of God, or the love of others. Yet it is exactly the latter that saves and has eternal worth.

So what would Jesus say? Suppose a faithful disciple approached him and asked, “Master, which of these modesty rules are the most important? No bare-midriff? No knee-cap flashing?” The great thing is that deeply embedded in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, we already have such a minimalist statement that Jesus could possibly make:

Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”

I propose that we eliminate all else in the “Dress and Appearance” section of the For the Strength of  Youth pamphlet and teach our youth this one basic principle above all else when teaching modesty. All in favor, please manifest in the comments. Any opposed do so by the same sign.

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* I’m not sure if including the BYU Honor Code in our list of unofficial official cultural standards for modesty will garner controversy or not, but BYU is possibly the single greatest exporter of Church culture, and so I have included it as most Mormons would probably agree to the standards espoused in the Honor Code anyway concerning modesty.

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The Light of the World

This week is perhaps the holiest week of all Christendom. The culmination of the Lental season begins this Good Friday (the celebration of Christ’s crucifixion) with a spectacular Easter Sunday (the celebration of Christ’s resurrection). Even more interestingly enough, Good Friday coincides with Earth Day this year, combining my love for the environment with my love for spiritual rituals.

To celebrate this Good Friday, the wife and I will be holding a traditional Passover Seder (or, at least, to the best of our goyim ability). However, to also commemorate Earth Day, we will be unplugging all of our unnecessary electrical appliances at sundown, the start of the Sabbath. So computers, the Wii, our television, lamps, lights, electric mixer, toaster oven and griddle will be physically unplugged. We will hold our Seder in candlelight, not only to help us appreciate the modern-day luxuries we have today, how dependent we’ve grown on them, and how to use them responsibly, but also to represent how the motif of darkness is oft repeated in the scriptures to signify the death of the Savior and the world’s rejection of God’s light. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon speak of darkness, and for us, we will plunge ourselves into a type of darkness in modernity, to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other and the Divine.

Saturday, the Sabbath, will be spent not only in the company of each other, but in the activity of unburdening our lives of the physical things which weigh us down. The Gospel of Thomas has a great parable in which the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto an old woman carrying a bag of grain, which represents the precious things of the world. As she approaches her destination, a tear develops in the bag, and the grain trickles out. When she reaches the end of her journey, her bag is empty. We will make an inventory of all of our physical possessions and decide which we should keep and which burden us unnecessarily in our journey through life. We will also clean our apartment thoroughly, which has fallen into disrepair since both of us have sold ourselves to the pursuit of mammon (for the kid! I tell myself), as if in preparation of receiving Christ Himself into our home.

Saturday, we will also work and bustle to put together our garden. Our seedlings have recently sprung into life, and we need to transfer them into the pots we’ve prepared for them. We may even take the time to meditate on our little second floor apartment porch. Or maybe we’ll just set up some chairs out there and read. The day is open to whatever we decide.

Of course, Easter Sunday, we will attend church (though Mormon meetings usually lack some of that traditional Easter…oomph) and then spend the time together with family. At sundown, we will plug in all of our electronics again, and once again artificial light will re-enter our world. Then again, maybe for our Easter dinner, we’ll just light all of our tea candles and scatter them all throughout the house, so to remind ourselves one last time who the real light of the world is.

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Praises

When I was younger, more rash, more hot-headed, more impudent, I considered the book of Psalms inferior to some of the other scriptures. “It’s just a bunch of feel-good poems,” I would complain, and would instead delve into some extracurricular Isaiah speculation. I’m an apologist, I would say, puffing my chest out in pride. I’m a theologian. I don’t need this sissy poetry stuff.

How wrong I was.

Lately, my wife and I have taken to reciting psalms before bed and in place of the usual traditional singing we both experienced in our respective family home evening meetings. For one, we don’t really feel comfortable singing together (we feel kind of dumb), and two, the longer we’ve been Mormons, the more comfort we find in a lovely book such as Psalms.

For example, an interesting footnote during Christ’s crucifixion ties his famous utterance, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” to Psalm 22. Specifically, it starts out:

My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

Be not far from me: for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

Psalm 22:1-11

This isn’t feel-good wishy-washy stuff. This is some serious religious existential angst. Why Jesus chose to cry out in psalm during His darkest hour I do not know, but for even the Savior to have felt like this, a feeling I can certainly relate to, makes me love Him all the more.

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The Intellectual Christ

On my mission, my companions and I would always play a game to pass time while tracting. We would randomly point at a an object and ask, “Elder, how is x like y?”, x being the random object, and y being a random principle. Thus, you might ask, “Elder, how is that trash can like repentance?” or “How is that light post like faith?” The missionary would then have to respond with a suitable parable on the fly. This kept our minds limber and flexible, as well as improved our extemporaneous preaching skills. It would also segue into some very interesting gospel discussions as we discussed different opinions on theology.

An interesting trend I noticed while playing the game: If the missionary has a lot of experience in the subject, the more complex his parable became. For example, one missionary had electrician training, so when I asked him how the electrical grid is like the priesthood, he went into an incredibly rich parable of the priesthood and electrical grids. It was quite impressive, and actually helped me think of the priesthood in different ways I had never considered before.

Christ holding a book, which, as we know, can make you liberal.

Christ holding a book, which, as we know, can make you liberal.

Christ is famous for His parables. He has a lot of them, for sure, and they can become very complex. People love them today, but a lot of people also remain perplexed. Either way, the fact that we’re still discussing them shows that these parables contain richness and complexity that we cannot observe all at once. Which made me wonder: Was Jesus brainy?

Jesus drew a lot of parallels from life into the gospel – mostly from physical nature and human nature. He compares the Pharisees to children playing in the market, comparing their social behaviors. He compares preaching the gospel to how seeds are sown. And, interestingly, the man was a scriptural scholar (and impressive one at that). He counters the devil with “Is it not written” and uses scriptural analogies to condemn hypocritical and unhealthy religious behavior.

“Well, He’s Jesus,” we say. “He’s the Son of God. He’s privy to certain knowledge.” In the old days, Jesus the infant was always drawn with a very adult looking face because early Christians just couldn’t comprehend that Jesus wasn’t born already human – would God have to relearn everything like children do? Would He have to eventually realize His mission in life as we do with our individual purposes? Yet the scriptures say that he learned grace by grace. Did He show an uncanny affinity to all things spiritual? Probably, he did, but that’s no different than my brother and I who show an uncanny affinity to the humanities while my sister is much better at the sciences and my wife who loves mathematics.

Jesus’ attitude towards learning is striking. We have one instance as a child where His parents accidentally left Him behind and they found Him at the temple, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46, emphasis added). Not only did they marvel “at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47) but no doubt they marveled at His questions, too.

The earthly Jesus was observant and He asked questions. He drew upon this knowledge to teach the gospel more effectively. People called him rabbi, and you don’t call just anyone rabbi. That title is reserved for those who know – a lot. In other words, Christ was a nerd, something that American culture tends to discourage. We distrust those who know “too much for their own good,” but how much is too much? Doesn’t the God of the universe know everything? And how can you get nerdier than that?

"Look at that guy! He's a liberal elite more concerned with ideals and lovey dovey hope-y change-y stuff than REALITY."

"Look at that guy! He's a liberal elite more concerned with ideals and lovey dovey hope-y change-y stuff than REALITY."

A lot of people say that education is only good as long as it’s in line with the Gospel. Where did Jesus, then, draw His radical ideas from? – and they were radical; the Pharisees crucified Jesus not only because He threatened their power, but also because He espoused doctrines that, in their mind, were downright blasphemous. Since the Pharisees were the religious establishment, you could say that all of His observation and curiosity did make Him slightly liberal, if you wanted to frame this situation in such horrifically crude terms. What Jesus’ knowledge did do, however, is introduce new ideas, and new ideas can scare people. But that did not concern the Son of God, apparently. He wasn’t concerned with formulating doctrine that correlated with the Pharisees; He wanted doctrine that correlated with God.

We, too, should emulate this (for lack of better word) nerdy, intellectual Jesus who sought to understand how the world worked so that he could better draw analogies to help others to understand and formulate conclusions which aligned Himself closer to God, not man. Education and an insatiable curiosity for the world drove Him to better understand how to draw connections from nature and the people around Him. The day we declare we know “enough” is the day we begin to lose our ability to effectively make connections and develop a richer understanding of God.

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Sin Boldly! – Part Seven: Fear and Trembling

The penultimate chapter of my recent disgorging of religious belief. I’ve spoken extensively on the Atonement and what it means to me. Here I reject the traditional LDS cultural belief of what works necessarily means, and that perhaps we might not be as culturally far apart from the misaligned Pharisees as we think.

Then what about works? All of this sounds vaguely and suspiciously…evangelical. So all I have to do is believe in Jesus and I’m saved, no questions asked? That’s silly and naïve. Grace was too easy, there had to be a catch, some kind of small print I’m missing. I once thought this way, too.

First of all, what’s wrong with easy? After all, Christ says that His yoke is light (Matthew 11:30). The prophets lament that all we had to do was look, but because of the ease of the action, many perish (Alma 33:19-22). Naaman, the leprous man who visited the Old Testament prophet Elisha initially rejected his counsel because it was too easy for a great man like himself (2 Kings 5). Ease has nothing to do with the equation.

However, the scriptures are explicit that faith must be coupled in some way with good works. The epistle James famously declares that faith without works is dead (James 2:26); even Paul, that great proponent of faith, urges church members to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). What exactly do these good works mean?

Many church members think good works must exist as some kind of checklist; Elder Oaks famously compared the erroneous thinking as a spiritual bank account. Another group of people believed that good works meant strict adherence to the commandments alone, and Jesus openly derided them during His earthly ministry. He scolded them for their scrupulous, meticulous measurements for tithes of mint and cumin, and yet forgetting the weightier matters of the law, such as mercy and justice (Matthew 23:23). And what of Mormon’s warning that God rejects even good gifts offered up begrudgingly (Moroni 7:8)? Intention rules all when it comes to doing any good, for we begin to understand that good works themselves have no real saving power; intention empowers good acts to become manifestations of the grace of God within us. There is little power or morality derived from the things we do – morality exists within the intention, and the blessings of obedience grow as our intent eventually aligns with our outward actions.

However, we focus far too much on what someone does rather than how they feel or whether they have faith in Christ. Some of this attitude derives itself from institutional practice, which is lamentable (conflating the Word of Wisdom, for example, with having faith in Jesus Christ to qualify for temple blessings seems rather erroneous, even if from an administrative point of view some find it necessary). Still, much of it derives from our attitude towards the Atonement. When one embraces the Atonement as the key to everyone’s salvation, not just our own, we realize that our good merits earn us very little in the long run. We’ll still mess up and make mistakes. Instead of our actions as a tool to save our own skin, we begin to see our actions as tools to save others, to alleviate pain and suffering. Our decisions should focus on helping others and to show mercy to our fellow humans as much as possible.

Basic obedience is important – Christ obeyed all points of the law. However, the concept of perfect obedience becomes impossible when we understand we’ve already blown it. In addition, as an aside, Christ understood the difference between commandments of God and cultural commandments. Healing on the Sabbath infuriated the Pharisees but Christ felt that commandment held no power. Unfortunately, because of our natures, we cannot know without doubt which commandment comes from God and which from man – but it’s okay. Mistakes happen, and God already anticipated that scenario. So don’t stress it. If our religion orbits around the Atonement, then we understand that nothing matters but our acceptance of that gift and its cleansing power. All other things, such as obedience or prayer or church or attendance or the abstinence of coffee or food storage lead us to that center. When they cease to lead us to the center no matter how hard we try, perhaps it becomes time for us to reconsider their usefulness.

Still, we should devote our lives to good works. But what kind of good works? The For Strength of Youth pamphlet is a good start, but remember that Moses didn’t use the For Strength of Youth pamphlet to deliver Israel. Reliance on the Spirit and our own developing discernment is the ultimate key to good decision making, and unfortunately, we can’t exercise our discernment without making a few mistakes (silly mortals that we are). Good thing the Atonement took care of that potential disaster! We understand that committee meetings will not save us, to riff on an old, yet apt, Mormon stereotype, but ignoring the promptings to help a homeless man on the way to said meetings (regardless of our socio-political-economic beliefs on homelessness) could potentially cause us to release our grip on the Atonement. When we refuse to apply the Atonement to others and their mistakes, what does it say for us?

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Sin Boldly! – Part Five: The Atonement Isn’t a Worst-Case Scenario; It’s the Best-Case Scenario

After completing the mini-series, I’ve felt a need to expand more on my ideas of the Atonement and why I believe. This is the first part, detailing how as a church culture we often exhibit a very wrong attitude towards the Atonement of Christ.

Like the Pharisees, sometimes we may feel paralyzed from the fear of sin, or even the simple perception. We chide people who commit acts that might even have the inkling of evil. Members preach about the dangers of chocolate, because it has caffeine, and caffeine is in coffee, and coffee is against the Word of Wisdom. I knew a missionary who felt that working out was evil because then you would become physically attractive and if you were physically attractive you might break the law of chastity and even if you didn’t sleep around with beautiful women, people might think you were. We treat the Atonement as a worst case scenario – that if all else fails, if every other option is exhausted then we might think about accessing a little bit of the Atonement’s power. Our attitude towards the Atonement resembles our attitude towards food storage; it’s comforting to know it’s there, but heaven forbid we ever have to actually use it.

The truth of the matter is different, however. Rather than a worst case scenario, the Atonement is the best case scenario. We preach not the idea of perfection achieved by human will with an unpleasant backup plan. We preach the idea that despite our inevitable imperfections, God has provided a way to save us. The Atonement is central to everything we preach, yet often as members we push it aside as a periphery doctrine. I do not believe we do this on purpose, but accepting the Atonement means accepting some very unsavory concepts of ourselves – that as mortals, we lack ability to save ourselves, that no matter how hard we try, the world will sully us – this kind of thought can become disturbing for the most of us. So we push it aside. Instead, we talk about how the gospel strengthens our families, how we feel needed within our lay clergy church structure, or perhaps how without the Church, we have no idea how we could have raised our rowdy teenagers. We talk about temporal blessings or perhaps the sweet whispers of the Holy Spirit when we lie in our beds, our pillows wet with the tears of our sorrows and loneliness. We might talk about how the presence of the priesthood has blessed our homes or how our sons and daughters have become valiant missionaries. But none of this matters without the Atonement. Until we promote the idea that Christ has died for us, until we internalize the fact that the Atonement has freed us from sin, that we have no more need to fear the cold, ruthless hand of justice, until we actually begin to live as if God actually overcame the world and we no longer fear ourselves because God not only thinks we are worth something but actually put proved it, we promote nothing more than another philosophy, another ideology. We belong not to the body of Christ but to a social club where we parade our picture perfect families and swap mission stories and talk about our latest “tender mercies” while judging those who might not live as picture perfect of lives as us and quavering in fear that someone might discover our lives have become a facade as well.

“Before you were formed in the belly, I knew thee,” God reminds the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5). “Before Abraham was, I am,” Jesus declared to the furious Pharisees (John 8:58). God knew the type of people we would become, even before our parents conceived us. He’s existed forever; He knows the drill. The sinful nature of mortal man is a constant in the universe, like gravity or the speed of light. Before the formation of the earth, before our narrative began, God began to concoct a plan. He wanted His children to grow, to learn, to love, to experience life. But He knew the constant of the universe – mortals make mistakes. And so, He planned the Atonement. He knew nothing humanity could do could redeem itself. God will come down, save humanity, and humanity will experience the wide range of opportunities known as life without the fear of spiritual death as long as they clung to the Atonement and its promises.

“Men are that they might have joy,” the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi declares (2 Nephi 2:25). A life of joy is not a life spent in guilt. We discourage people through negative association from accessing the Atonement because we emphasize the sufferings and deprivations of sin rather than the cure as (for?) a church culture. Too many bishops feel their job is to discipline, not to forgive. As judges of Israel, they would rather pass sentence rather than rehabilitate. The Atonement is not a gift in many members’ eyes; it is a punishment. It is a walk of shame which we must endure in order to appease the anger of a jealous God. But this thinking is wrong – not only do we make our potential conversation and relationship with God horrible and painful, we estrange ourselves from his His true character. We deny the aspect of the Atonement which establishes itself firmly as a gift, not a scourge to castigate, and instead of emphasizing His mercy as His Son did, we emphasize His anger. We have replaced mercy (and the Atonement) with the stern schoolmaster, not the other way around as Paul wanted (Galatians 3:24) – he’s probably spinning in his grave (or in heaven or the spirit world – whichever you prefer). This attitude only separates us from the power the Atonement has to offer and when we see others access it, we assume weakness rather than humility and strength, all the while forgetting that stating the fact of weakness in humans is like stating the fact that humans need to breathe to exist – it’s so ubiquitous, so natural, so common-knowledge that the fact loses any sense of wonderment or fascination. So why do we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that our sinful natures are some kind of bizarre aberration of who we are? And why do we refuse to see that the Atonement is the cure, not the cross, for sin?

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Sin Boldly! – Part Four: Real Faith

We reach the conclusion of my four part mini-series detailing what I believe, discovered during the grappling of a very real doctrinal problem.

Living a life of passion requires real, active faith. As we pursue a life of goodness and righteousness, pushing the boundaries of our faith so that we may grow, we make mistakes, we rush things, we mess up, we fail. We draw false conclusions, believe skewed or incomplete doctrines, and make outrageous claims. God looks into our hearts and knows why. Do we do this out of selfishness, out of a need to justify or rationalize our sins, or because we seek truth and we seek God? The Atonement has nullified the effects of an unavoidable sinful life. Instead of obsessing over whether our individual actions fall under the massive scope of our commandments, wondering whether or not skipping a church committee meeting to spend an impromptu ice cream night with your children is right or wrong, or whether driving the pretty secretary home without your wife in the car with you will put across the right or wrong message (or whether leaving her to walk in the rain would send the right or wrong message), we focus on intent. We fill our lives with charity, with compassion, with love, with forgiveness, and with a strong sense of right and wrong. When people tell us we’re too brash, we’re too passionate, we need to rein in our zeal, we take note, we learn, we adjust, and we quickly learn to temper our fire with knowledge, temperance, and wisdom. We allow the Maker’s hammer to beat us against the anvil so that we can become a useful tool in His hands, rather than hope that we can stay on the shelf, shapeless, formless, and safe. This way, the lump of ore thinks, I can never disappoint. I will never exhibit any imperfection. The thinking is false – the imperfections may never come into light (though eventually, all of them will), but they never go away. The lump of ore remains untested and impure.

When we understand our predicament as people, we can’t help but fill our hearts with charity. We understand that nobody stands in a better position, that we all need help, and that no matter how vile we become, God still thinks we’re worth something. That’s a powerful belief and a powerful sentiment. Faith becomes less an expression of public standing due to our outward appearances and acts but more of an internalized expression of faith and rejoicing within the powerful redemptive force known as the Atonement.

Examine this case scenario. When Alma the Younger’s son embarrasses him by running off with a harlot, instead of telling Corianton how ashamed he was, how he could never show his face at the local ward again, how now he must endure the prying eyes and furtive whispers, Alma gently reminds his son that all actions have consequences and then proceeds to teach him – what else? – about the Garden of Eden and the Atonement. Instead of warning his son to avoid sin “or else” or lashing him verbally for all the pain and trouble and shame and embarrassment his sin had caused, he reassures him of the peaceful, loving promise God offers all of his children: “And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29). Then, in an incredible move of reconciliation and love, he reinstates his son as a missionary, and the scriptures tell us that his sons go out and preach the word with incredible success. The father who had suffered the harrowing pains of hell because of his own passion completely understood his son’s sexual passion. No need to put the fear of God into this child – only to teach him carefully about the Atonement, help his son to internalize it and understand its implications, and then show the same mercy God showed him.

Sin is inevitable. God teaches us this in the Garden of Eden. There will be times when you will face impossible choices, choices that perhaps it becomes impossible to sin, even when we strive so hard to do good. Yes, perhaps we may get a little dirty along the way; this is lamentable. But it is also inevitable. Even a life of strict asceticism and self-denial will lead to sin, for there will have no opportunities to serve humanity. But even from the beginning, God had a plan to counteract the deadly effects of sin. Christ has overcome the world, and it’s our job to use this liberating gift to do as much good as possible. It’s impossible to have acted perfectly in this life, our burden to bear as imperfect mortals. But perhaps it’s not impossible to have perfect intentions in this life and that’s what Christ wanted us to have when He commanded us to be perfect and when God began to tell us a story of how He set up a very tricky, impossible situation for His first children where sinning was impossible to avoid and maybe, that’s actually not as bad as we think.

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