Welcome to the Spiritual Gymnasium...Take a Towel
If you are new to VSoM and have not already witnessed it: we are a non-judgmental forum. We have, hopefully, overcome our paranoia that we are being judged by others, and have found a place where we can discuss, opine, relate, learn, and appreciate. This is a place where you can state what you personally know to be true, and be treated respectfully. Your voice will be heard here, it may not be agreed with, but you will be heard and you will be treated with respect, and we ask that you do the same for others.
As is my practice on the first day of a new topic, I will lay out the official “Mormon” doctrine on the subject (so that we all begin on the same page) before I explore one small part of the topic and expound my PERSONAL views.
Jesus Christ overcame two major obstacles that keep us from returning to Heavenly Father’s presence: physical death & spiritual death.
1. Physical Death: this exists because we are immortal spirits born into mortal bodies. Our bodies are only created to last temporarily. In this mortal state, we are subject to malfunctions, deformities, disease, illness, and death which all occur naturally based on the laws of biology, physics, heredity, etc. (laws which God himself set in place). Death causes our bodies to cease functioning altogether, and commences breaking our carbon based vessels down into the very elements we are created from. It is altogether a stinky process. But our immortal spirits live on.
Jesus Christ overcame physical death when he gave up his life on the cross, was dead, buried, and resurrected three days later. Resurrection is the reuniting of the body and the spirit in an immortal and perfect state. Christ rose from the grave, he has a body, his spirit cannot be separated from his body again, and his body will not die. We, too, will be resurrected one day. Our bodies and spirits will be reunited in a perfect and immortal state.
2. Spiritual Death: this means separation from God. This state exists because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge thereby transgressing the law which Heavenly Father gave them: do not to eat the fruit of that tree. This is a whole other interesting discussion for another time, but this was all part of the great plan. A transgression needed to occur, the precedence of sin and repentance, so that man might be, that the law of obedience and sacrifice could be put into place, so that we would have need of a Savior who could again bring us into the presence of God.
Jesus Christ overcame spiritual death, or suffered for our sins so that if we repent, we may be forgiven and in that forgiven (spiritually clean) state, may enter the presence of God. We call the process of overcoming the obstacle of spiritual death, The Atonement. While resurrection is a “freebie” meaning that EVERYONE will resurrected no matter what…forgiveness is conditional to our effort, obedience, and endurance until we die and our “testing period” is over.
So here’s where the official doctrine stops and Carrie Ann’s theory on spiritual death, or as I like to call it “spiritual health” begins. I had this big long analogy about how spiritual health is like physical health…how I can’t focus on one thing (food control) and be healthy, how I can’t choose one thing I really like (nachos) and create a health plan out of it…I really can’t pick and choose what makes me spiritually healthy any more than I can pick and choose what makes me physically healthy.
I don’t think anyone is going to write this week who has overcome all the obstacles of spiritual health that they want to. I haven’t purged all my various spiritual diseases, but I know the sweet relief of forgiveness, the discipline of forsaking comforts or preferences, the struggle feels good when I succeed, just like endorphins kicking in after a good workout… I am so grateful to know that Christ is on my side. It’s not God against me…although sometimes it’s me against God.
I can’t be made clean with out the miracle of the Atonement. No one can become clean on their own. They can stop the behavior, but without turning to the Lord and becoming humble and asking to be forgiven, the Atonement has no effect.
The place I fear the most is the place where I can’t remember what the Spirit feels like. I can’t hear him. It’s when I have spent too many days and nights as a glutton for unhealthy diversions or I when I haven’t been “exercising”…going to bed too late to want to pray, making excuses instead of obeying, etc. One of my most insidious justifications is that “I can handle it”…”I’ve got a fast spiritual metabolism”…
One thing I fear for my friends and family (as well as myself) is losing spiritual tone. Case in point, I had a conversation recently with one of my husband’s friends in which I was trying to recruit him to guest write for us here at VSoM. He was raised Mormon and he even came out to BYU, but has not been practicing for many years now. He is a very intelligent individual, but as we got on the topic of “what is a sin” his logic was circular and incomplete. I assumed that he would remember the doctrine from his Mormon days, but he didn’t, so we weren’t even really discussing the same point. If you keep yourself away from spiritual things, or if you don’t allow yourself to feel spiritual things, you will forget them. Knowledge is a gift that is given by the Spirit and can be taken away. Having a testimony of truth, yea even this whole religion, was NEVER based upon book smarts…
Heaven knows I go through my ups and downs of spiritual flabbiness; which is one reason that I like this forum so much. It gives me the opportunity to study subjects that are interesting, and to study them with interesting people. I’ve made it a part of my weekly workout, and hope that it has become part of your routine, too.