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Saturday, July 23, 2005 

You just haven’t earned it yet, baby

They say we are the True Church, God’s Chosen People; we have The Fullness of the Gospel. Even if all that is true, does it really mean anything? Does membership in the church necessarily bring one closer to perfection? When I was much younger, I thought it should. What’s the point of being God’s Chosen Person if it doesn’t get you anywhere? Later, when I lived in a predominantly Mormon community, I got a different taste of Mormonism. All the same stuff went on in that city as goes on anywhere else, but this time, it was all being done by the Mormons. It was the active Mormons excluding Non-mormons, sinners and “less-actives” from events and activities; Mormon teachers sleeping with the cheerleaders, ranking Mormon officials embezzling money, lying, cheating and getting away with it. A chosen people indeed.

These shining examples contributed to my wanting to get away from the Mormon church forever. Eventually I realized that the people weren’t the church, the church wasn’t even the church, and that I shouldn’t judge everything on the basis of a few wacky apples and other common foibles bound to arise from a culture that constantly reminds itself that it is God’s Chosen Culture. I still expect too much from the church. Some of that comes from my career, which has weeded out the knuckleheads so effectively that I spend the day around people who are generally very capable, responsible, and charitable. Sure they have their imperfections, but they aren’t claiming any moral high ground, either. And I often find myself looking to their examples but I can’t help thinking, “I’m kind of a lazy knucklehead. Shouldn’t I be looking to the Mormons instead of a bunch of drunken atheists?”

And that’s why I just can’t expect perfection from anyone. It invites judgments that shouldn’t be made, disappointment, division, pride and all that. It’s a miserable life to give too much weight to imperfection. In truth, in every ward I’ve been in I’ve encountered one or two couples that are just excellent examples in all aspects of life and I suppose that I need to stop wishing that the rest of us (that’s including myself) would handle things as well as they do. And I’m stopping here, as here is where I was about to repeat what my fellow VSoMers have written this week.

Good thoughts. It reminds me of a protestant church's marquee I saw on my mission, which said: Church is a hospital for the sinners, not a museum for the saints.

Very, very, good post.

I agree that perfection is not a realistic expectation. The first lesson Mormons ought to learn is to drop the judgmentalism. We think of the world as Saints, gentiles, and apostates. People who drink coffee and smoke are untouchables. We attribute zero morality to our neighbors while Utah has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the union. We are no better than any other group. In some ways, such as the mental health of women, we are doing actually a lot worse.

JLS...just to be a brat...we're not the only church who believes we are the "chosen people".

That phrase has actually haunted me for the last day or so after reading your post...having grown up everywhere but Utah I got questioned about that point a lot. But I have come to realize that if I DON'T believe that Mormonism is the ONLY way and that God favors "us" alone with modern revelation etc, then what's the point? Because there are a lot of other religions out there that are a lot more FUN! I enjoyed your post.

I'm sure many of these discussions aren't unique to Mormons. Having lived in a highly Baptist area, the religous atmosphere was quite a lot like that of Utah, right down to the wacky religous-themed t-shirts.

Your second comment, it's something I think about. I'm unsure about some things, I don't know that Mormonism is the only way (sometimes I'm convinced, sometimes I'm not), but I'm certain that Mormonism isn't any easier or more difficult than any other legitimate way.

3 Nephi 14:21 says, "Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them." Is it enough to say we are the true church, and God's chosen people? Talk is cheap. What are our fruits? Are we changing the world by our expamples? Are we humble, eternally minded, and above all charitable?
I think these are questions we all have to ask ourselves. I personally don't think it matters what church you belong to if you have learned how to love God and your neighbor as yourself. Religion is suppose to help us get there, sometimes it is more of a hinderance.

Anon,
You're right talk is cheap. But it is hard to put numbers to the kinds of questions that you are asking. I think that the Church does it better than other church's might because it is God's chosen vehicle for affecting change in people's lives here. It isn't the only vehicle and it isn't the only one that works but I believe it is the one that works best. Do with that what you will.

I totally agree that we don't corner the market on truth, but one key difference between our chruch and others is that

1. we believe that we have the authority to act in God's name

2. having that authority, we can perform the necessary ordinances that will bring us home to God (..and the ordinances are given to us that all God's children might be made equal)

Great discussion. Anony...would you consider guest blogging for us sometime? We're always looking for recruits...Sunday is guest day...I think we'd just need to discuss our policy on guest blogging anonymously....

Carrie ann-
I would love to guest blog sometime, and if it would make it easier I could emerge from my anonymity. I just started anonymous because it was easier.

The "church" is not God's chosen people. The House of Israel is, and that includes many non-Mormons. Being "chosen" seems to have something to do with our premortal lives, and how we behaved there. Of course, once we arrive here, we can quickly boot ourselves out of the "chosen people" by our actions, and those not born into the house of Israel can become "chosen" by certain actions of their own. Simply being a member of the church does not make you chosen, because personal worthiness is a key element.

"there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men..."

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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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