"Obedience"

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Orson
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Re: "Obedience"

Post by Orson » 14 Aug 2009, 13:31

Heber13 wrote:
jmb275 wrote:Obedience for obedience sake is too scary for me to submit to it (at least when humans are involved).
That may depend on the capacity of the individual. Someone smart and mature like yourself, I'd agree with. Someone young or new in the gospel may need obedience for obedience sake...the Israelites seemed like they needed that at times since they seemed they couldn't handle themselves for a few days when Moses was in the mountains.
Like Heber, I see this as a function of maturation. Pre-school aged kids for example do need to obey their parents "for obedience sake" on many things because they just don't grasp the "why" on many levels. As they mature and grow toward adulthood I hope the pendulum will swing toward making almost all of their decisions out of understanding the long-term effects and consequences.

When I ask my older kids (when they get older) to do something I hope they will know I want them to seek clarification when they don’t understand the reason. Yes, I really appreciate their respect, but I want them to gain wisdom - not just learn perfect obedience. I think a Heavenly Father would want the same.
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jmb275
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Re: "Obedience"

Post by jmb275 » 14 Aug 2009, 13:34

Heber13 wrote:
jmb275 wrote:Obedience for obedience sake is too scary for me to submit to it (at least when humans are involved).
That may depend on the capacity of the individual. Someone smart and mature like yourself, I'd agree with. Someone young or new in the gospel may need obedience for obedience sake...the Israelites seemed like they needed that at times since they seemed they couldn't handle themselves for a few days when Moses was in the mountains.
Yes, I see what you are saying here. And I understand that from a practical standpoint this is true. Some people will be at varying levels of capability when it comes to being obedient for the right reasons. But here's the problem. If our goal is to help people do what we think is important for them to gain salvation, then your argument is sound and we should prescribe the process. But, if we are in the business of encouraging personal growth then it is the very process that is important, not so much the end goal. It is the process that creates growth, not obedience to a set of rules. In a gov't, and corporate setting obedience takes on a different role according to the goals thereof. But in religion, the goals are (or at least ought to be IMHO) different. We are interested in people coming to Christ. This isn't something that obedience to rules will achieve (as is attested to by so many of us here).

You're right, it does depend on the individual. I believe it is our job to help those who are young or new in the Gospel to learn to come to Christ. Their behavior will take care of itself without the need for rules. Wasn't it BKP who said something about how a study of doctrine will do more to change behavior than a study of behavior? Might I extend that to say that a study of doctrine will do more to change behavior than a set of rules (and it won't have the unintended negative consequences as well).

I'm not saying that rules aren't necessary in a church. But I think we put way way too much emphasis on it to the point where many lose sight of the process of learning to come to Christ. They simply parrot what the Brethren have said, the right answers, and obey because they are told. Whether they are SJs or not, this doesn't produce personal growth or a relationship with Christ (unless their relationship with Christ is simply defined by the level of their obedience to rules).
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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jmb275
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Re: "Obedience"

Post by jmb275 » 14 Aug 2009, 14:03

Orson wrote:
Heber13 wrote:
jmb275 wrote:Obedience for obedience sake is too scary for me to submit to it (at least when humans are involved).
That may depend on the capacity of the individual. Someone smart and mature like yourself, I'd agree with. Someone young or new in the gospel may need obedience for obedience sake...the Israelites seemed like they needed that at times since they seemed they couldn't handle themselves for a few days when Moses was in the mountains.
Like Heber, I see this as a function of maturation. Pre-school aged kids for example do need to obey their parents "for obedience sake" on many things because they just don't grasp the "why" on many levels. As they mature and grow toward adulthood I hope the pendulum will swing toward making almost all of their decisions out of understanding the long-term effects and consequences.

When I ask my older kids (when they get older) to do something I hope they will know I want them to seek clarification when they don’t understand the reason. Yes, I really appreciate their respect, but I want them to gain wisdom - not just learn perfect obedience. I think a Heavenly Father would want the same.
At what point did you tell your kids that you want them to seek clarification and not just obey to obey? At what point does your expectation of them change, and how did you let them know this? Did the church ever tell us this? I see your point, but I think the analogy breaks down because we are not pre-school aged kids. Pre-schoolers are mentally too immature to make sound decisions, and hence we, as parents, have an obligation to care for them. Do we really want to entrust ourselves to our leaders as full fledged adults whether or not our understanding of the Gospel is immature? I would be concerned about any adult who feels that their relationship with the Brethren is like pre-school child to parent even if they're a new convert.
Orson wrote: I think a Heavenly Father would want the same.
Yes, I'm sure you're right. But how do I avoid conflating the rules from the Brethren and the church with the rules from Heavenly Father?
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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Heber13
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Re: "Obedience"

Post by Heber13 » 14 Aug 2009, 14:24

I think I am in step with Orson and agree with all his comments. Very good clarifications.

I think I'm in the same camp as you, JMB, I understand where you are coming from and agree with you the main goal is having your heart right, which is God's plan for us to progress, whereas only obedience was Lucifer's plan and was rejected because it won't work to achieve God's purpose, which is eternal life and immortality for all His children.
jmb275 wrote:It is the process that creates growth, not obedience to a set of rules.
This is a great quote!

The only caveat is that while "liahona" based obedience is the process that likely leads to growth, Iron-Rod obediance can have the benefit of safely keeping one from unintended consequences (in some but not all cases).

I guess this is based on my belief that truth is universal, that whether you undersand the gospel principle or not, going against it will bring negative consequences even if you didn't know why. Therefore, small children or the uninformed latter day saint (whichever situation we're talking about) would be "safer" by obeying a safety principle (commandment) whether they know why or not. That does not say they will benefit from growth, but will benefit from safety.

The frustration I have is that too many of the little rules in the church are given way too much attention by too many people in the church and may overshadow principles of love...and those rub me the wrong way.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: "Obedience"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Aug 2009, 15:14

The frustration I have is that too many of the little rules in the church are given way too much attention by too many people in the church and may overshadow principles of love...and those rub me the wrong way.
When the principle gets lost in the midst of multiple rules . . .

There is a reason the Law of Moses was implemented, and there is a reason it was fulfilled. There also is a reason even Jesus taught fundamental rules and commandments. It's the balance that is difficult, imo.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: "Obedience"

Post by jeriboy » 14 Aug 2009, 15:17

jmb said...I do think obedience is way way overrated. When there is a well-understood, important principle, I choose to live the principle because I believe it has some benefit. Obedience for obedience sake is too scary for me to submit to it (at least when humans are involved). I do believe that if God were to require something of me (and I knew 100% it was God) I would do it whether I understood the principle or not. But since what our GAs say is the definition of "the philosophies of men mingled with scripture" (and I don't mean that in a negative way, just an honest way) I feel at liberty to pick and choose what I think is most inline with my principles and spiritual benefits.

Two old testament stories come to mind about obedience: 1 Samuel 15th chapter...Saul is heading home with some cattle after destroying the Amalekites...Samuel tells Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. Abraham is told to sacrifice his son, we all know that that was a similitude of the Father's sacrifice of his Son. From a human perspective neither one of these commands made a whole lot of sense, and from what i've been reading on these threads, we may all have done what Saul did. But Abraham did it just because he was told to. I have always been afraid of such a test and have wondered if my eternal future rested on whether I followed Sauls example, or Abrahams.

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Re: "Obedience"

Post by swimordie » 14 Aug 2009, 17:32

jeriboy wrote:Samuel tells Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice.
I think this is why I don't like the OT so much. In my mind, this is such a false choice: the answer is always love. But the IR's insist that it's sacrifice and obedience. Sacrifice and obedience will inherently be a part of true unconditional love, but done with the right intentions and usually free of unintended consequences. fwiw, imho.
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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Re: "Obedience"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Aug 2009, 18:40

I love the OT for what I can learn from it.

I almost never try to "liken it unto myself" when it speaks of cultural practices and stories that might or might not be literal. There simply are WAY too many instances where doing so scares the living daylights out of me - whatever that phrase means. :?

Frankly, I feel the same way about much of the BofM - since it also represents an OT culture and perspective. I love it, but I am very wary of likening its cultural descriptions directly to our time.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: "Obedience"

Post by Heber13 » 17 Aug 2009, 18:03

Ray, I feel that same way about the Book of Mormon, as well as D&C, NT and OT. In fact, I view it a lot like how I view the "White Bible" - you remember the handbook for missionaries that had exact commandments to wake up at a certain time, write home to you family weekly but never call, and of course, also reminded missionaries they are not to date while on missions.

Those were all good things for me to discipline myself and focus myself while in a certain place in life, but they did not work for me after my mission or since (thankfully).

I still find it interesting that God does require obedience to things like baptism, temples, etc. I find it interesting Christ knew the important things (still went to John for baptism, and was willing to go through with the crucifixion), yet knew that many things were "done away with" from OT times (blood sacrifice in the temples, etc). Things that we need to be obedient change from time to time, but we still seem to be required to be obedient. It is interesting to me.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Orson
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Re: "Obedience"

Post by Orson » 20 Aug 2009, 15:06

jmb275 wrote: At what point did you tell your kids that you want them to seek clarification and not just obey to obey? At what point does your expectation of them change, and how did you let them know this?
I try to introduce the concept by the time they are in school. Just this morning I told my 2nd grader to immediately leave what she was doing and get in the car to go to school (she sometimes has difficulty breaking away). On the way to school I tried to explain that I only demanded her specific action because I'm trying to help her understand how to make good decisions. ("When it's time to go to school you go so you won't be late - being on time to school is more important than finishing a task at home.") I told her that's our job as parents, to help them learn how to make smart decisions. Several times before I've said "if you don't understand why we ask you to do certain things please ask." I really believe it's more important for them to develop a sound and independent decision making ability than to end up "perfectly obedient" as teenagers.

Whether we like it or not they will make their own decisions soon enough - whether they're ready to or not. I hope to help them be more ready than not. In my mind (I have not dealt with teenagers in the home yet) I hope to say "I trust you to make a good decision" more often than not as they grow through high school. When they live under your roof you have the opportunity to discuss the good and bad results to specific decisions, if their first chance to make their own decisions is after they leave - who's going to observe and talk it over with them?

jmb275 wrote: I see your point, but I think the analogy breaks down because we are not pre-school aged kids. Pre-schoolers are mentally too immature to make sound decisions, and hence we, as parents, have an obligation to care for them. Do we really want to entrust ourselves to our leaders as full fledged adults whether or not our understanding of the Gospel is immature? I would be concerned about any adult who feels that their relationship with the Brethren is like pre-school child to parent even if they're a new convert.
Hmmm… I guess I only see a cultural phenomenon that breaks down with the application of this analogy. I certainly don’t see a significant “age difference” (young child to adult) between the larger church membership and the leaders. I view this “mortal existence” as something like a youth summer camp – away from “home.” No, we don’t have any “adults” here (that would require God status) so effectively we have “youth” leaders that take the phone calls dealing with camp administration issues. We also have our own calls to home, and when in question about what we should do I think you have to consider the experience of the youth leader, but also follow your heart and consider your calls home. In the end it’s your decision and you will bear responsibility for it.
jmb275 wrote: But how do I avoid conflating the rules from the Brethren and the church with the rules from Heavenly Father?
I think that is an excellent question, …perhaps one of the primary questions that we have our lives to work on. Sometimes I wonder if this specific test is designed into the program to really test our independent leadership ability -- afterall, is our purpose at camp to grow into a responsible "adult"? What is the balance?
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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