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Monday, August 22, 2005 

Truth or Dare: Have You Done it? Would You Do It Again?

Bungee jumping? Yes...in New Zealand...off a bridge over a raging river, and yes I would do it again. But never in some ratty mall parking lot or at a state fair or anything.

Stake fashion show? Yes...but I would NEVER do it again.

Get married? Yes...and it would be fun to do it all over again...I mean the wedding part. I love planning parties, you see.

Have a baby?
Haven't yet, but would give it a try.

Host 35 people for Christmas dinner? Yes...but I don't think I want to do that again.

Artificially inseminate a cow? No, and I hope never.

Intentionally hurt someone's feelings? Yes...and I'm not proud, but if you're not nice to me I'll do it again. (hahaha...that's SO not me...)

Get locked out on a balcony by myself, in a swimsuit, with curlers in my hair, in Mexico, and shout at strangers in broken Spanish to come rescue me? Yes...'nough said, let's move on.

Quit a job? Yes...and while I fantasized about it a million times, it was WAY more tame than I had ever planned.

Say the "f" word as a missionary sitting next to an investigator, behind the stake president, IN the chapel? Yes...but I don't think I would do that again.

Kill an animal? Heavens no...but I've buried a few and I have to admit I think about conveniently "losing" a certain dog.

Break the Word of Wisdom? Well...yes. I have slept longer than was necessary, eaten at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant in the summertime, and have definitely eaten fruit out of its season. Because I am clumsy, I am planning on growing some tobacco to use on my numerous bruises, and on any cattle I may procure. I also like rum cake, and whenever I go to Grand Cayman, I eat as much as possible. That goes for the Scottish chocolate rum balls at the Salt Lake culture festival, too. And rum raisin ice crbuccaneery be part pirate or buchaneer...I'll look into that.

Stolen something? Yes...at the family-owned restaurant I worked at, I stole some photos they had of the missionaries who taught them in Naples. I mean to frame them really nicely and give them back as a surprise...that was 6 years ago. I feel like a heel.

Well, while I chose this topic, I did not intend it to be a forum for the disclosure of past sins. But oh well... What actually sparked this question for me was two-fold: a friend used to theorize "how can we know something is bad until we try it for ourselves?" and the realization that I have many, many good active LDS friends who have "experimented" in their lives. I was just wondering about that when I submitted the question. Let's discuss...

Interesting... we had a talk in Sacrament Meeting on this topic only yesterday: the idea that it is better to sin and repent (and thus have the "experience") than to never sin at all. This lie of the adversary is just that: a lie. Just because the Lord can salvage a life that has been ravaged by sin does not mean that the life would not have been far better without the initial damage. Just because a wound heals does not make it stronger than untorn flesh. Sin leaves scars, even when repented of.

The Lord can make good things happen out of our bad actions because He can foresee them and plan for them. But I'm sure He would rather we avoided the heartache, isolation and spiritual death that comes as a result of "experimentation". Does He understand our weaknesses, and will He forgive us? Of course. Are we better off for having wallowed around in the muck before backtracking to the straight and narrow? No way.

bungee jump: never, but I might do it when I'm resurrected, I hope to fly.

Stake fashion show: yep, I was a hit in a hot pink dress and a fur coat. It was when I realized I was born to perform.

married: yes, many times and it hasn't been all that much fun. Two good guys, one bum.

have a baby: labor is a very cheap thrill. babies are worth it.

Christmas dinner: yes, not fun

a cow?: I would if I had to

hurt peoples' feelings: I'm particularly gifted at this.

Never been on a balcony in Mexico

I've quit every job I ever had, a few times because I got married.

I haven't said the f word in church, but I live in fear of flipping off the prophet in traffic or calling a GA an asshole in the airplane line.

I think I accidentally killed a lizard once. I still feel bad about it, but I'm not sure he was actually dead.

I keep the word of wisdom perfectly. Like everybody else.

I stole a pair of plastic sunglasses when I was 4 years old and my dad beat the hell out of me with a belt and I never stole anything again.

I would never give up a single mistake I have ever made (an oh there have been aplenty) because I believe I AM stronger for having made those mistakes.

I recall vividly a blessing I received from a dear bishop who shepparded me through a rather difficut and painful period of my life. He told me that I would stand before the young woman of the the church and bare my testimony of the Antonement of Jesus Christ and they would believe me because they would be able to feel that I had used its cleansing powers in my life. You know what, I would go through the hell of that year of my life all over again just to hear those words. I agree with Rob when he said sin leaves scars, but those scars have done nothing more than remind me of the Saviors love, and my own power to overcome the flesh. I love those scars. I love who I have become because of them. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I can appreciate both rob's and sarah's points of view. I think there are times when someone's testimony of having lived through something can really touch someone and help them make better choices, I know I have been affected by such honest and heart-felt testimonies, but for me personally, there are things that I wish I never had to repent for. I already had a testimony of the Atonement, and the things I did caused a major detour, I wasn't progressing, it was a total setback. I agree with Rob that the sentiment that it is BETTER to experience and repent than to never do it is a lie. I have to take the hard line on this one.

Annegb, I am so sorry.

OK, here it is, you knew it was coming... the infamous "GA quote":

Some Latter-day Saints who wrongly think repentance is easy maintain that a person is better off after he has sinned and repented. “Get a little experience with sin,” one argument goes, “and then you will be better able to counsel and sympathize with others. You can always repent.”
I plead with you, my brothers and sisters, my young friends and my older friends, avoid transgression! The idea that one can deliberately sin and easily repent or that one is better off after sinning and repenting are devilish lies of the adversary. Would anyone seriously contend that it is better to learn firsthand that a certain blow will break a bone or a certain mixture of chemicals will explode and burn off our skin? Are we better off after we have sustained and been scarred from such injuries? It is obviously better to heed the warnings of wise persons who know the effects of certain traumas on our bodies.
Just as we can benefit from someone else’s experience in matters such as these, we can also benefit from the warnings contained in the commandments of God. We don’t have to have personal experience with the effects of serious transgressions to know that they are injurious to our souls and destructive of our eternal welfare.
Some years ago, one of our sons asked me why it wasn’t a good idea to try alcohol or tobacco to see what they were like. He knew about the Word of Wisdom, and he also knew the health effects of these substances, but he was questioning why he shouldn’t just try them out for himself. I replied that if he wanted to try something out, he ought to go to a barnyard and eat a little manure. He recoiled in horror. “Ooh, that’s gross,” he reacted.
“I’m glad you think so,” I said, “but why don’t you just try it out so you will know for yourself? While you’re proposing to try one thing that you know is not good for you, why don’t you apply that principle to some others?” That illustration of the silliness of “trying it out for yourself” proved persuasive for one sixteen-year-old.
--Dallin H. Oaks, “Sin and Suffering,” Ensign, July 1992, 70

Hmm... better to have sinned and lost than to have never sinned at all?

I and Carrie Ann both agree that both Rob and Sarah have good points. I think that the points happen to be different because they are different people.

If your faith and beliefs are such that you feel the need to avoid a certain experience, then by all means, live by your convictions! If your faith and beliefs are such that you feel the need to experience a certain experience, then by all means, follow your convictions!

Why do we think that God has the exact same path for each and every individual on this planet? Isn't that what free will is about? If Rob has remained steadfast in his testimony and actions his entire life, what a blessing for him! What an example he must be for others. If Sarah learned firsthand that "a certain blow will break a bone", how grateful she must be to live a life free of that pain now, and what an example she can be to others.

Every adult mormon I know has had a crisis of faith. Some of them choose the church and become stonger members. Some of them walk away for a while, and come back as stronger members for the experience. Some people walk away permanently, and become stronger in their new convictions. I think that all cases are examples of growth.

Amen to everything Ammon said. We should rejoice in other's finding joy in their experience, however different it may be from our own.

Furthermore, I really get a pit in my stomach when someone uses a general authority quote to demonstrate the rightness of their position. General authorities are just as human as we are and I believe what they say should never over-ride our personal spiritual experiences with God.

If Rob has remained steadfast in his testimony and actions his entire life, what a blessing for him!

Well, that's not what I said. I'm not perfect, not remotely so, and I'm not claiming to be. What I'm saying is that I shouldn't seek to "experiment" with sin for the sake of gaining experience. I'm not saying I've never made mistakes. I'm saying that the smart person learns from others' mistakes. I've done plenty of un-smart things in my life, but I'd like to change that.

Furthermore, I really get a pit in my stomach when someone uses a general authority quote to demonstrate the rightness of their position. General authorities are just as human as we are and I believe what they say should never over-ride our personal spiritual experiences with God.

Sorry about the pit in the stomach thing, feel free to just skip my posts in the future then, because I frequently cite them. You see, while I agree that they are human, I definitely believe that what they say SHOULD over-ride our own personal viewpoints and feelings. That's why we have prophets. If we could figure everything out for ourselves, just by prayer and scripture study, we wouldn't need them. Sometimes, believe it or not, those guys have more information than we do, and they have the authority to speak for God. I don't quote them to prove the "rightness of my position." I quote them to show what God's position on an issue is, and then conform myself to that position. I really don't think we are at liberty to disregard the GA's anytime we don't agree with them. They are more than just wise old men.

Why do we think that God has the exact same path for each and every individual on this planet? Isn't that what free will is about?

I'd like to dispute the idea that the path is different for each person, tailored to their individual needs or personality. There is only one way back to the Father, and it involves the same covenants and the same commandments for everyone. The idea that some sins are OK for me but not for you is not part of the gospel. All of us must live all of the commandments. Will we do so perfectly? No, none of us will. We will have constant, daily need of the Atonement through repentance. But it is an abuse of the Atonement to say "well i'll just commit these sins for the 'experience', and then repent later".

Free will does not mean that there are multiple paths to exaltation. There is only one path. Free will means than no one will force you to take that path, or any other. You yourself must choose the path of life or the path(s) of death. Happiness or misery, it's up to you.

Well, we're all going to sin, no matter how good our intentions are.

If you don't learn from it, your pain is wasted. If you don't share what you learned, it's really wasted.

I don't think anybody says go out and sin just to get the experience--and everything isn't a sin.

Bungee jumping isn't a sin. But, oh, what a thrill that must be.

I agree with Rob.
Ammon, why would leaving the church permanently and becoming stronger in those convictions be an example of growth???!!!
I would say that is more of a "shrinking". I think Paul H. Dunn said those very words :)

I'm sorry if this is redundant, since I skimmed over some of the comments, but let me split a hair here.

Yes indeed, there is one way back to the Father. His name is Jesus Christ and it's called the Atonement. Only through him and by him will we return safely. (2 Nep. 2:6)

I sort of imagine it this way. There are several highways in this life, all coming from different directions. Many of them, at different points, merge into one super highway which leads to the Father. Some sooner, some later.

Because of the gift of agency, our choices take us down different paths. But the Lord is able to work WITHIN our choices, to lead us back to him. God has the map. He knows every route and back road. He will find us if we let him. And what he hopes for all of us is that, once we get on his path, we'll be able to use the lessons we've learned to help build the Kingdom and succor those still lost.

For me personally, I do know firsthand the overwhelming power the atonement has to transform a life. My confession was several years ago now. I also know that for all that I learned from my transgressions, I still wish I had chosen the better part. Here's why:

It hurts. It hinders. It halts progression. I've learned that God asks us to obey not because of his ego, but because it breaks our hearts (and his) when we don't. And like any good parent, he just doesn't want that for us.

As for the argument "well, how will I ever learn if I don't do it myself?" I feel certain that mine is a God that could teach me anything without ever having to break a rule.

Sarah's blessings came from her repentence, not from the sin.
Our repentence is a wonderful process when we can feel the Atonement in our lives.
Repentence is a way that we give ourselves to the Lord. Whenever we submit to God, we give ourselves an opening for his peace to come upon us.
I have have had heartache in my life that I appreciate the Lord's help. As a parent, for instance, I'm dealing with one of my children's recent challenges. I wish some things didn't have to happen, but I am grateful for the help given to me from above. I'd rather have skipped the entire experience though. Much, much rather, even if we made lemonade.
Ultimately, the Atonement can be applied in our life whatever our circumstance, and comfort can be given to us whatever our problems, and the Lord can guide us whatever our role.

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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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