Friday, June 20, 2008

But Behold, They Did Not

I am slowly going through a change in the way I approach my opinions. It is generally accepted that, should one have an opinion different than the majority, or (barring majority) socially accepted, one is perforce wrong and should keep it to oneself. My natural inclination is to not make waves, though my upbringing has taught me that challenging beliefs—mine as well as others—is, to a point, healthy. (Of course there is balance in all things, and challenging merely for the sake of challenging crosses that line.) I hate contention, though I'm always for a bout of debate, so long as no hard feelings are present at the end. As I read the chapters in Alma which correspond to my Sunday School lessons, I'm starting to feel that this may not always be the best approach, however. Alma 9, especially poignant, reads:
And they stood forth to lay their hands on me; but behold, they did not. And I stood with boldness to declare unto them, yea, I did boldly testify unto them, saying: Behold, O ye wicked and perverse generation, how have ye forgotten the tradition of your fathers; yea, how soon ye have forgotten the commandments of God.

This troubles me, because I don't see this sort of boldness in myself. I still have too much fear. But where is the balance between boldly testifying and not offending? Where does the burden of not offending lay with me, and where does it lay with the one being offended? I suspect some will be offended, no matter what is said, for they are offended by the word of the Lord, and expect you to tell them what they want to hear.

I suspect the balance lies somewhere in the words of Jacob. We are to trust in the Spirit to guide us to what we should do. Even though boldness in testifying may be difficult for us, we should say what the Lord commands us to say, even should it offend others. We should always try to have the Spirit in all we say (or type!) That isn't to mean we shall always be perfect at it, but that is also not to mean that just because someone is offended, we should not say it. Sometimes, despite the best of efforts, others will do all they can to be offended. If they can ferret out things to be offended by, they can discard the rest of your words, no matter how Spiritually inspired they may be, and thus don't have to change.

I think just that was observed when Sister Beck shared her controversial talk.

The end remains that, though you should try to see another's point of view, a point will come when you cannot agree with their conclusions. When given the choice between serving the master of popularity, who asks for you to say things that are pleasing, and rails against you when you do not, or the one who pleads and chastens.

For obvious reasons, this has been on my mind quite heavily of late. It is a frightening proposition, but I am no longer going to make peace out of default. If I have said something I believe in, I will declare it should the Spirit so move me, and no longer labor under the burden of agreeability. Sometimes the only way is for the Church to assert its position and beliefs firmly enough that those who disagree with its most basic tenets find the impetus to follow their beliefs, no matter how painful and difficult it may be to those who love them, and no matter the social and physical danger. Not all those who rail against the word of God find themselves unable to harm those who testify.


  1. I think one thing to keep in mind is that Alma had authority to call people to repentance. I don't think we as lay members have that same authority. We can testify of what we know, but I do think we need to be careful about condemning or censuring others.

    Just a thought. Boldness but not overbearance and love and all of that :)

  2. That is a very good point, M&M. There is no purpose served by manufacturing boundaries of "us" versus "them" mentality. It is important to testify to application of doctrine to our lives, not to the lives of others.

  3. And - just a bit of follow-up to this, I had two great friends (M&M being one, my husband being the other) warn me that I was overshooting the bounds of propriety in some of my thoughts, lately. They both suggested that, although there may be merit in part of my feelings, Satan may be trying to pull me too far over to the other side. Although I don't yet feel it for myself, I am more than willing to trust the word of two witnesses (particularly these two, and particularly when I don't feel entirely right anyways) and would prefer to err, if err at all, on the side of prudence.

    I'm sharing this here to say "thank you" and to show the value of good friends in keeping someone on the path of God.

    I also want to apologize for inappropriate phrases I might have shared here, specifically words that draw boundaries between people. We are all God's children, struggling in our own ways and times. We should be reaching out in love, not in censure. I wish I were better at discussing principles I have found to be true without drawing examples from my observations of the world around me. I mean to work on it, so anyone who feels they should call me on it here, please do so.

    Just please don't call me names. I'm not a fan of that!

  4. It is difficult to do our part in spreading the word without taking upon ourselves condemnation for being imperfect while sharing.

    We're all in process (my new fav phrase). It goes without saying we aren't perfect, but that doesn't mean we should hesitate to speak up. Through the very act of speaking up we come to understand ourselves and our testimony better.

    We are told to judge ourselves on a daily basis, to find those faults and sins we need to bring before the Lord and repent. It can be difficult to keep that judgement focused inward. (speaking from personal experience. DH will be very happy when I master that one)

  5. You know, I just got an interesting calling in my ward. They put me on the "public relations" committee. Besides not knowing that the calling actually existed I was surprised to hear that we were not allowed to proselyte. According to (search public relations) there is a time and place for proselyting and there is a time and place to build bridges with other faiths. Maybe before we can declare ourselves with boldness we have to build bridges of communication and understanding first so that we won't be misunderstood when we do have to take a stand. It was interesting to me to think about it that way.


Unfortunately, I've found it necessary to screen comments. Unless your comment violates the commenting policy, it will show up as soon as I can approve it.

Popular Posts