My Other Blogs


The Fine Line Between Good and Evil

The pre-1990 Endowment contained the following exchange of dialogue (Don't worry, nothing under covenant not to be revealed is quoted here):

PETER: ... Do you know who that man is? He is Satan!


PETER: That is one of his names.

SECTARIAN MINISTER: He is quite a different person from what he told me the devil is. He said the devil has claws like a bear's on his hands, horns on his head, and a cloven foot, and that when he speaks he has the roar of a lion!

PETER: He has said this to deceive you, and I would advise you to get out of his employ.

The lesson here is so important! Being beat into the minds of the Latter-day Saints for over a hundred years, it would be hard to believe that it could be forgotten in sixteen. Satan is subtle in his ways. In fact, he strives to appear completely Good and acceptable, and it is only his deception that allows him to gain any ground at all. Latter-day Saint scriptures are abound with revolutionary ideas of "Free Agency" and it is esteemed as one of God's greatest gifts to man.

In the scriptural accounts of the premortal council in heaven, we learn that Satan desired all to be saved. His idea was to enforce righteousness on all creation so that no piece of it could be lost.

Jesus Christ determined to carry out the plan of his Father, which included the great gift of Free Agency, and the fact that some individuals would not choose to return, and some would be lost and perish from their lack of faith and obedience.

The opposing forces here are: a tyranny of forced goodness - Lucifer's plan, against the allowed existence of both good and evil - God's plan.

If every human being could hold true to this idea, the Dark Ages would stay away. Ironically, it was this very concept, holy as it is, that permitted the Dark Ages to occur, and allowed all of the horror inflicted by the Church of Rome to come to pass. Yet, God values man's freedom to choose above all of those consequences.

In reality, no man gets more righteous by being forced to "Choose The Right", because a forced choice is not a choice at all.

Amongst the Saints themselves, removing temptations can be good, especially for the young and inexperienced, however, even that can have its dangers - Children grow up in a "sheltered" Utah culture, but when they step out into the real world, even if it is the warped sense of a real world that is BYU, suddenly they are faced with so much that they are utterly unprepared to cope with, it is overbearing and they cave in. This is why it is important to be in the world, but not of the world. Isolation is dangerous.

When setting standards and laws that affect people outside of the Church, we must be especially careful. We should not presume they hold the same values that we do. To put forth an extreme example, imagine completely removing drinks containing Alcohol of all forms from Utah. On the surface, this might seem like a good idea. After all, to the Mormon, alcoholic beverages are "sinful". However, putting this into effect as a law would prevent Catholic mass from taking place. It seems that one man's sin can be another man's virtue. We are absolutely and utterly not authorized to impose that decision on other people, and as a group who has Polygamy in our past, and in light of the reaction the rest of the western world had to it, it is the mark of complete hypocrisy for us to try to put an end to other people's practices, unless they are harming another person or hurting the freedom of others:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
--11th Article of Faith

Even then, we need to be careful. If we perceive someone taking away someone else's freedom we need to ask: Is it consentual? Outsiders may well view the Mormon church as taking away our Freedoms: To drink tea, to interpret the Bible for ourselves, or however they see it. But we have chosen this path. It is our will to submit to these restrictions, and therefore our freedom has not been revoked, but has actually been exercised. Making a decision ahead of time and then holding firm to it is a great example of Freedom of Choice.

I think taking away freedom ("unrighteous dominion") or permitting freedom to be taken away is just as bad as any sin it seeks to prevent, because it thwarts God's divine plan.

So, if each person can choose between Good or Evil that means we need to help teach and persuade others to choose Good, to choose Freedom: The course that allows true Good to exist at all (and Evil, as well).

Because "Choose the Right" seems to carry a political message with it and flirts too closely with Satan's plan, I call this "Choose the Light" -- indicating the way of enlightenment. Step out of the Dark Ages and allow man to think for himself.

No comments: