Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Truth Week: Moro. 10:22

Remember Truth Week? Well, I guess it's back, six years later.

I feel like there's no room for honesty in Mormon discussions sometimes. For instance, I have never been in a priesthood lesson where we talk about dealing with being attracted to someone other than your spouse. We act like it doesn't happen, or if it does it's a sin. I think we'd be better served by acknowledging that it DOES happen and that the attraction itself is NOT a sin; otherwise we're all left floundering in the face of this universal phenomenon. ("It's not universal--I never experience it!" Oh, cut it out. You're exactly whom I'm talking about.)

Another example: every Mormon book on GoodReads has to get a five-star rating. Can't we acknowledge that some Mormon books are just okay? (And by the way, you know what GoodReads rating corresponds to "okay"? TWO STARS, PEOPLE. Stop the star inflation!)

Well, today I want to write about something that I feel is another suppressed topic: scriptures that I have a problem with.

Why might we not acknowledge that some scripture is unhelpful? Because we're worried it's the first step towards chucking it all away and going on a coffee binge. It's like subscribing to Sunstone: you haven't quit yet, but you will in six months. (Yeah, I said it.) But scripture can cause me problems without me apostatizing. (Or maybe that's just what the editors of Sunstone WANT me to think!) It can be a result of inelegant wording (as in today's post) or wrong-headed interpretation by modern readers (tomorrow's post, insha-Allah). I don't think this makes me a terrible person that I have a hard time with some scriptures. It's the million OTHER things I'm doing wrong in my life that make me a terrible person.

So what is this verse? It is Moroni 10:22, which reads, "And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity."

I'm fine with the first half of it. I read that and I'm, like, "Moroni really gets me." Because I am in despair pretty much ALL THE TIME. At least since I was about 10 years old. But then Moroni kicks me in the teeth with, "And it's your own fault, sinner."

Listen, just about the last thing a despairing person needs to hear is, "Your iniquity is why you feel this way." Because we already are telling ourselves that. Why can't I be happy? Because I'm too stupid to do it, or I'm too sinful to do it, or I'm too irredeemable to do it. These thoughts are the soundtrack of my life. And then Moroni comes along and says, "Don't forget iniquitous!" Uh, thanks, Moroni; I think I covered that one with "sinful".

Maybe he doesn't mean what we all think he means. Maybe he means it like how D&C 101:29 means "death causes all sorrow." At one level the reader thinks, "Not really; I sorrow about a lot of things that aren't death," but at a deeper level, all sorrow is removed when we overcome spiritual death. Separation from God is what allows sorrow to grow and continue, and when we are reunited with God, there will be no more sorrow.

So is Moroni saying "you've caused your own unhappiness," or is he merely saying "we currently live in a world where despair can fester because we are temporarily separated from God"? It would be nice if he was saying the latter, but those aren't the words he uses. And although Moroni says three different times to cut him some slack because he's not a good writer, I don't think this extends to "reinvent my sayings to make them easier to take." I have it in the scriptures that "despair cometh because of iniquity." All I have arguing on the other side is the thought, "It would be nice if he meant something else."

1 comment:

Gayle said...

He doesn't say, "Your iniquity."

I think lots of despair comes because of the iniquity of others. The woman who was molested/sexually abused from the time she was 8 years old until age 20 wasn't the one with the stain of iniquity. And yet she sometimes despairs.

Parents sometimes have cause to despair because of the actions of their children. Or children because of parents.

Yes, I think we can cause our own despair, and it's our responsibility to be brutally honest with ourselves to make sure we are free from blatant iniquity. But I don't think Moroni is pointing the finger.