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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 

"Different" isn't "Christlike"

I can't seem to get the words out for how I feel about this topic: Is being different good?

On one hand, I want to scream that OF COURSE IT IS!!! Because my whole life I've loved having my own quirks and I've loved others for thier quirks and I like being surprised by people.

But on the other hand, I feel like although the Church always said that we as "Mormons" should be different and set ourselves apart from the rest of society, within the church we are all striving for the same thing... perfection.

In order to attain perfection, you have to work hard at following commandments--the same commandments that everyone else is also striving to follow. Essentially, the goal of the church is for all of it's members to act the same way. The goal is for all people to be Christlike.

To be "Christlike" is the ultimate definition of "good." But if everyone is trying to be like that, then being different isn't good. Being the same is good, so long as you're the same as Christ.

Granted, you can be Christlike and still be different than others in some ways. It is constantly mentioned by church leaders that we each have different talents and should seek to develop them and use them to better ourselves and others (this is also Christlike).

But these talents are not of primary importance to your salvation. You can be the best High Councilman Speaker EVER and still not be Christlike if you aren't kind to your neighbors. The most important thing to a Christian is to be like Christ.

So, if we're speaking in ultimates, being different is bad because we all should be like Christ. If we're speaking in reality, we can't help but each be unique in our own personal history, experiences, talents, family, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and personality.

I'm sorry Kaycee, but I disagree. We do not have to be perfect, that is why we have the atonement. (Is that my answer for everything?)

I also feel that we don't have to be the same...as a group or a whole when we bring our talents to the table, we're obviously going to each offer different qualities. We compliment each other (not by saying "nice outfit). We balance each other out, fill in all the gaps, round out the edges, etc.

I wonder what you mean by different? Not Molly Mormon? Different than the Relief Society President? From your neighbor?

We all need to be--and should be--unique.

I don't even know what perfection is, in this life, it's subjective. Perhaps we could be perfectly, and kindly, ourselves.

But it's difficult to BE different than others in your ward, and it's often the ones that are most "different" that end up being socially outcast.

And that's NOT Christlike.

MRKH

I see your agument here, and it's an interesting question. Do you think we all need to become some kind of "Stepford Wife" to be considered on the right path?

carrie ann

i have to disagree as well. it's not being different isn't being christlike. Even if we are all supposed to be working for the same goals, ie, being Christlike, we are all going to be doing it differently. Just because we all have the same goal in mind (supposedly, according to the church) doesn't mean we are all going to take the same way to get there. A real world example is school--every one is working for a degree, but some people go part-time and work, others take out loans, others hve their parents pay for it, some people take 6 years, others do it in 3 1/2, some people go for it with honors, others are fine to just graduate...there are a zillion different ways to do something, even if it's the same result.

so it is with being christlike and being involved in church. just because you are different, doesn't mean you aren't christlike. in fact, people's difference can help enhance others' experiences in church. a lot of the time, i'll describe something that's happened to me, being the "outsider," and I've had many people tell me that it helped them see things in a new light. the same has happened to me when i've listened to other people.

even in the strive for perfection within the church, there are still going to be differences. Go back to the WOW discussion...is pop ok? how about chocolate? some people are going to choose no pop and others are ok with it. will they both be ok in the end? probably. how each person understands the gospel will be different because it has to go through each person experiences and brains and perceptions. and of course, for every "law" that is laid down, there is always, always, ALWAYS an exception to it, through personal revelation. That will always make people different. "Thou shalt not kill" was temporarily tossed aside for Nephi when HF revealed to him that he needed to kill Laban. Of course, our own personal revelations probably won't be as big as that, but, there may be a time in someone's life where they are the exception to the rule because of personal revelation and that's ok. Are they different? Yep. Is someone in church going to look at them and say because they aren't doing what they are "supposed" to do that they aren't Christlike? Yep. Is everyone going to to be privy to someone's personal revelation? No. But that doesn't mean that person isn't being Christlike. They are just going about it differently.

can i just guest post on sunday??! this topic is so close to my own personal experiences i can't shut up in the comments section!!

I don't have time to comment in detail, but I agree with Kaycee (I also agree with what Sarah and Carrie Ann posted). We are all different, to be sure, and we will always be different in some ways; but as we approach salvation, do we become more similar or more different?

I don't think that perfection is practical, but you are supposed to seek it.

Perfection is a single ideal... There is ONE end goal. If you goal is to be like Christ, then your goal is to be like everyone else who has that goal and achieves it. You will, therefore, NOT be different.

Personally, I LOVE being different, and celebrate differences. But I don't think that's the goal of the Gospel.

There's more than one way to skin a cat, right?

As someone who struggles with the whole "perfection" thing (personally) I think that the beauty of an individual's faith (and through the atonement of Christ) each of our differences make us who we are.

Ever day, I take my little Franklin Planner and plan out my day the best that I can. Somedays I get everything done...most days I don't. But every day I have a PLAN...A FOCUS, if you will. HF has a plan for all of us. He has set the example and given us tools to follow through with that plan knowing full well that we will not be perfect and that we will each have our own way of doing things.

Striving for perfection is not the same thing as BEING perfect.

Does that mean that everyone who wants to weigh 120 pounds, then achieves that will all be exactly the same? What about people who want to get out of debt, once that happens, are they all exactly the same?

Let's say we all make it to the celestial kingdom, and we all reach our perfection. We will still be different. I will still be loud and silly and say things before I think. Sarah will still be dancing (maybe a bit less provocatively :P) and singing and taking pictures. JP will still be carrying around her planner and worrying if she got everything done. Even in our perfection, we will still have our individual personalities, likes, dislikes, favorite foods, movies, people. I bet you if I am ever "perfect", I will still hate to clean the bathroom and fold the laundry just as much as I do now, but maybe I'll actually do it a bit more. It doesn't so much change who we are, but more of HOW we are.

-Jody

When you think about the way we discuss the Atonement in the church (particularly since the publication of Robinson's Believing Christ), perfection isn't so much about being "perfect" personally, but it is about letting Christ fill in our gaps.

So, does perfection make us similar? I dunno. I think yes, in that we may have some similar goals, like being kind. But being kind for me may mean refraining from making a snide comment, while being kind for someone else might be comforting, while being kind for another might involve cookies (and ideally, that last person realizes that I need some kindness). I agree with Jody that the How is probably more important than the Who (especially if the How is Christ).

But I think what matters isn't what is important to us, but what is important to Christ, since that's who we are trying to be like. To be kind is to be kind no matter what... to do as Christ would. And that's only one thing. There is only one solution for that equation.

Great comments today!
Well done JP & Jody.
Kaycee: everyone's "APPROACH" to being Christlike or kind will be different, but hopefully with pure intent.
I'd like to reiterate what John C. said "But being kind for me may mean refraining from making a snide comment, being kind for someone else might be comforting, while being kind for another might involve cookies".

I understand how you feel, i felt that way once. but the truth is that being christlike in the world today is differnet, in fact it always was. how many truely christlike people do you know! the church does not want perfectionism, it just wants us to give it our best shot, and use the atonement when we miss

Mark, I'm really sorry you've been treated like that, maybe you even treat yourself like that. I do. As I get older, there are things that don't matter.

I've shared this quote before: "there is power in conforming to the norms and mores of the society in which we live."

I've preached that to every Sunday School class of teenagers I've taught them, and urged them, in this strongly Mormon southern Utah community, NOT to be conformers. To be themselves and do what's right because it's right. And sometimes what's right to one is different than somebody's else's idea.

It pisses me off so bad that people would make you feel bad like that.

Mark, I'm really sorry you've been treated like that, maybe you even treat yourself like that. I do. As I get older, there are things that don't matter.

I've shared this quote before: "there is power in conforming to the norms and mores of the society in which we live."

I've preached that to every Sunday School class of teenagers I've taught them, and urged them, in this strongly Mormon southern Utah community, NOT to be conformers. To be themselves and do what's right because it's right. And sometimes what's right to one is different than somebody's else's idea.

It pisses me off so bad that people would make you feel bad like that.

Sorry, I have to double click a lot on my computer and just do it on reflex.

Kaimi, I never noticed your name on the list before. Find Chris Galbraith yet? Looked?

I also find it interesting that we've evolved to the topic of perfection...that topic is coming down the pike! What WILL we talk about ;)

I think we can all be seeking after the same thing but approach it differently. All roads lead to Mt. Fuji.

For a cooking analogy, chicken is always chicken, but you can prepare it a thousand ways. There are as many ways to be a good Christian as there are Christians...even though so many variants of Christian seem to think their way is the only way to go.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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