Obedience

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 487
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Re: Obedience

Post by Beefster » 02 Oct 2017, 17:33

I think our obsession with obedience and works stems from an outdated desire to differentiate ourselves from mainstream Christianity. Other churches tend to overemphasize the teachings of Paul. We tend to overemphasize the teachings of James. Either way, it misses the mark.

The church likes to teach hard doctrine seemingly just because it's hard. It's no wonder the Utah has the highest depression rates in the US. The bar is set so high that we are doomed to fail. Rarely is the Atonement brought up in GC without at least a passing mention of the "need" for obedience. Grace is a very scarce word in official church publications. It has gotten better over the last couple decades, but it's still downright pathetic.

Sometimes, seminary teachers teach more truth than do GAs. Two talks prominently circulated my mission, each officially at some point. One was a talk by Brad Wilcox on grace. The other was by Lawrence E Corbridge titled "The Fourth Missionary." I love Wilcox's grace talk and I think it explains grace better than any GA I have known. OTOH, "The Fourth Missionary" is an awful talk that perpetuates damaging lies to gullible missionaries. I liked it at first (while I was still in the orthodox/honeymoon stage of my mission, before depression set in), but it only took one statement to tear down my respect for the talk. A heterodox Elder basically stated that he hates the talk because it implies that only a small minority of missionaries actually get anything out of their missions. (For background, the talk essentially breaks down missionaries into 4 groups: type 1 is disobedient and gets sent home (10% ish), type 2 is disobedient but stays on the mission (30% ish), type 3 is obedient but is unchanged by the mission (69.5%), type 4 is exactly obedient and consecrated and carries the mission home with him (0.5%)) How I did not notice that just shows how brainwashed missionaries are.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 6981
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Obedience

Post by Heber13 » 02 Oct 2017, 19:07

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate Mormonism on obedience to other mainstream religions? (1=no difference, 10=way more focused on obedience)
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."

User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 487
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Re: Obedience

Post by Beefster » 02 Oct 2017, 19:38

I haven't seen a lot of other churches in person, but I'd say an 9 or a 10 based on what I've seen and what I can infer. Orthodox Judaism comes close... Sort of. But in modern Judaism, they lack a central authority and they generally acknowledge their lack of revelation. To my knowledge, rabbis tend to focus more on simply being a good person and less on following the law of Moses, especially since they don't have the temple. There still is some degree of obedience teachings in Christianity, especially in more institutional sects like Catholocism. What little I have learned about Islam does seem to regard obedience as important, but it's not quite as pervasive as it is in Mormonism. Eastern religions don't even talk about it because they focus more on the power within oneself rather than following any particular deity. Pagan religions, at least historically, cared somewhat about obedience if you consider pleasing the Gods to be obedience. Nontraditional beliefs (atheism, agnosticism, deism, theism, etc.) don't usually waste any breath on obedience because obedience requires a well-defined and involved God to make any sense.

So yeah. I'd say we're outliers on the issue. I can't think of a single religion that cares more about obedience. Doesn't mean there isn't one, but it's probably a tribal fear-based religion.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 3753
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Obedience

Post by nibbler » 03 Oct 2017, 04:31

Heber13 wrote:
02 Oct 2017, 19:07
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate Mormonism on obedience to other mainstream religions? (1=no difference, 10=way more focused on obedience)
The lowest value on that scale is "no difference" meaning just as focused on obedience as other mainstream religions. A two on that scale would be saying that Mormonism is more focused on obedience than most religions. Mind if I tweak the scale to account for the opinion that Mormonism is less focused on obedience?

(1=way less focused on obedience, 5=no difference, 10=way more focused on obedience)

I've been to a few churches. The sermons do tend to focus on getting people to change their behaviors but often it is balanced with a focus on Christ and his sacrifice. There's more talk of mercy, but it doesn't take very much talk about mercy to be comparatively more than what I hear at LDS church.

I think the focus on obedience in Christian sects is based on the thought process that Christ has done his part, now it's our turn. I can appreciate that. What do I have more control over? Christ's sacrifice or my behaviors? It makes sense that we'd talk more about changing behaviors.

I do believe that there is more of a focus on obedience in our church, and here's why. "Worthiness" permeates our culture. You can't participate in ordinances (either on the giving or receiving end) unless you are deemed worthy. You can't hold certain callings unless you are temple worthy. We have disciplinary councils. The youth are subject to periodic worthiness interviews. The adults are subject to yearly tithing settlements, which in a way become gauges for worthiness. "Member in good standing." Generally speaking, we have labels for tiers of various commitment levels that we openly and regularly use without considering their impact (active, inactive, less active, doubter, member in good standing, non-member, investigator). The prosperity gospel is alive in the minds of many saints and really comes to bear in the mission culture where riches come in the form of converts.

Many of those things don't happen in other churches and I think having a lay clergy makes a difference. In other Christian sects you've got a preacher, they are responsible for doing most of the stuff Mormons have to be "worthy" to do. Lay clergy is nice in that it gives people an opportunity to experience things that they perhaps wouldn't get to experience in other churches but I think lay clergy also introduces the concept of competition. If I get called to a high profile calling it's an obvious sign that god approves of me. How do I land a high profile calling? Through obedience, by being more obedient than other people that could also be tapped for the calling.

On my revised scale that accounts for Mormonism being less focused on obedience... ordinarily I'd give it somewhere around a seven, slightly above average, but all the measuring we do surrounding worthiness? I've got to bump it up at least one notch. Maybe an 8.

Mission culture?
Image
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 6981
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Obedience

Post by Heber13 » 03 Oct 2017, 05:35

That is a better scale, nibbler (although I don't expect it to go below 5 from people here).

I grew up in the church and don't know what it is like for others. Just knowing some groups I observe like Amish, Baptist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Catholic people I've talked to, I have assumed it is fairly the same (5) with differences on what we are obedient to, but not less focus on obedience. The Bible is based on teachings of obedience. JW seem very obedient focused too, but I've never talked to anyone much to know.

I do see what beefster is saying about our flavor of it.

Would like to know what others see.
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."

Roy
Posts: 5115
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Obedience

Post by Roy » 03 Oct 2017, 09:40

I agree that Mormonism seems to be about on par with the obedience of the JW's and Muslims.

I also love brad Wilcox's talk on grace. It is not really all that different then what is taught in other Christian churches. Grace pays the debt. It is our safety net. No more fear of Hell or Damnation. Our debt is paid. What are we going to do with our new found freedom? How high will we climb? How will we make our mark and live life "more abundantly". One local pastor I know compared it to going to an amusement park. Jesus paid the price of admission, now what are you going to do? Some people just sit inside the doors and say "I made it inside" that is all that matters. While others can't wait to ride all the rides. Bro. Wilcox compares it to Jesus paying for piano lessons that we dutifully practice in order to show gratitude. The general concept is the same.
Beefster wrote:
02 Oct 2017, 17:33
(For background, the talk essentially breaks down missionaries into 4 groups: type 1 is disobedient and gets sent home (10% ish), type 2 is disobedient but stays on the mission (30% ish), type 3 is obedient but is unchanged by the mission (69.5%), type 4 is exactly obedient and consecrated and carries the mission home with him (0.5%))
In my mission the AP's did a mission wide lesson on this. Then they taught how we can make covenants outside of saving ordinances. Then they challenges us all to make a covenant to become the fourth missionary and sign a big card to the MP attesting the fact. I slipped out the back but then realized that I had forgotten my gloves and had to go back. The MP's cornered me and asked why I didn't sign the card. I told them that according to their own information, 99% of the missionaries would break the covenant and I took my covenants too seriously for that. They told me that they needed to get the signatures of all the missionaries on the card but in my case the signature would just indicate my determination to do my best. I signed under those conditions. :crazy:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 3753
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Obedience

Post by nibbler » 03 Oct 2017, 10:21

Image
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 6981
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Obedience

Post by Heber13 » 03 Oct 2017, 11:04

If you correlate "Obedience" to Religious Commitment, I'd say these statistics would support Beefster's feelings on the matter that it is higher for Mormons than others...interestingly...college education doesn't negatively impact Mormon commitment (actually increases it), whereas with other religions it is almost the same whether HS or College...more education is about the same in commitment/obedience.

The same study also showed Jewish and Muslim separately. Non-orthodox Jews are about the same in some aspects as "Nones" (no religion) in believing in God or if religion matters. (little different subject, but interesting and kinda related to the motivation around commitment and obedience I would think).
PewResearch2017Commitment.JPG
PewResearch2017Commitment.JPG (67.82 KiB) Viewed 373 times
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."

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 6981
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Obedience

Post by Heber13 » 03 Oct 2017, 11:04

I think there may be more correlation between Liberals and Conservatives than among religions themselves. Of course, Mormons may be more conservative and that plays into it as well.
conservatives-prioritize-teaching-faith-obedience-liberals-value-tolerance.png
conservatives-prioritize-teaching-faith-obedience-liberals-value-tolerance.png (10.79 KiB) Viewed 373 times
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."

User avatar
LookingHard
Posts: 2865
Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: Obedience

Post by LookingHard » 03 Oct 2017, 11:14

One book I found that really explains some of this is is Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion".

This blogpost goes into that a bit The self-righteous mind

Post Reply