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Magical World

Wouldn't it be lovely if, with just a twitch of the nose, life, or any aspect of it could be changed. Instead, positive changes always seem to involve tremendously hard work, determination, and endless setbacks. How lovely it would be to have the powers of Samantha Stephens.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"...of you it is required to forgive..."

Warning: This post contains "The Gospel According to Samantha" and is not accepted nor endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints--although, if your teen is in my Seminary or YW class, there's a good chance he or she may have already heard this.

D&C 64: 9-11
"Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord: for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
"And ye ought to say in your hearts--let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds."

I taught about Section 64 this week in Seminary.

For a long time, especially as a teenager, references such as the one above seemed to alienate me from God. My thoughts then ran along the lines of: Wow! So God gets his own set of rules--which is fine, after all, he is GOD. But still, he says we're supposed to become like him, then he tells us, "Do as I say, not as I do..." But we're also told to follow his example. It all just seems a little inconsistent and very impossible, and I'm not sure I like this "God" guy, anyway. He seems a little harsh, judgmental, and unloving.

One day I realized that I had to figure out who God really was. I did an extremely in-depth search (because it seems impossible for me to do otherwise), read everything I could find, and after about six years I had come up with my "God profile". I had also developed an extremely close relationship with the entity with whom I will spend the rest of my life. I had come to know and adore my Heavenly Father.

There are certain traits that make up my Heavenly Father (please remember that this is "The Gospel According to Samantha" and that THIS IS MY BLOG!):
1. He loves unconditionally. It doesn't matter who you are, what you have done, or what you are now doing. He loves all His children.
2. His whole focus and purpose is to bring His children (whom he loves) back to Him. Moses 1:39: "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." According to this scripture the Lord is glorified as we received immortality and eternal life--which seems, in my eyes, to be a rather interesting fact about God, himself. He links His glorification to our progress. One cannot happen without the other. In essence, He links Himself to His children. He doesn't want to be without them. He wants us back.
3. If numbers 1 and 2 are true, then it stands to reason that commandments given by the Lord are designed to bring us back to Him. They are to benefit us, personally, and not to allow God to have some weird power trip--which He really doesn't need--after all, He is omnipotent.

So that brings me back to D&C 64: 9-11. Why is it that WE have to forgive, but God does not?

When I presented this in class, I got all the usual answers:
1. It's our responsibility to be obedient. This is one place where we can show God that we are willing to do as He says.
2. We just have to forgive. It's not our responsibility to judge and punish others.
3. Forgiving others will help us be humble and learn charity.
4. It's the loving thing to do.

Then I got the "yabbut" that used to get to me in reference to this scripture (thereby granting me my opening to preach my opinion--so I was really glad someone else thinks along the same lines I do):
It doesn't seem fair that if someone commits a huge sin (say, someone murdered your son or daughter), and you're unable to forgive that person...how could lack of forgiveness be a greater sin than murdering someone's child?
The student posing this question went on to say that there was a "sort-of" answer in verse 11 ("let God judge between me and thee..."), but it's not particularly satisfying.

So here is my humble opinion, and right or wrong, it is what I believe motivates God to give us the commandment to forgive all mankind:
1. It's all about "me".
2. When we are wronged, we experience many horrifying and destructive emotions in various degrees and intensities. Those feelings are natural, need to be acknowledged, and are not sinful in any way.
3. Clinging to those feelings seperates us from the Spirit, and keeps us from progressing. Further, it can damage us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
4. Heavenly Father knows what we need to do to stay globally healthy and continue our progress as we make our way back to Him. Remaining in an unforgiving state stops that progress.
5. When we can not longer progress, we are "damned", stopped, finished. Therein is the "greater sin" referenced by the Lord. When we separate ourselves from Him, we sin against ourselves, we keep our souls from exaltation--in every way a greater sin, and one over which we have ultimate control.

After God tells us what we need to do to continue our progress when we are hurt by another, He then tells us how to do it. For"give". Give it to Him. Let Him be the judge. "And ye ought to say in your hearts--let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds." Give it up, give it away, give it to God.

Our Heavenly Father never says that it's okay for others to sin against us. He never says we have to believe everything is "okay." He never says we have to befriend or trust the person who has hurt us (although, if we could, that would certainly show charity). All that He requires is that we hand off all that hurt, anger, sadness, and anything else inspired by the trespass, to Him. In that way we can continue to make our way back to the Father who loves us and who wants the very best for His children.

It's not an easy task He has set before us, but I believe He prepares a way. Someday I will reach the point where I can give to my loving Father all the ache in my heart, allow myself to be healed, and continue forward. What a sweet and loving commandment: "...of you it is required to forgive..."

5 Comments:

  • At Saturday, December 02, 2006 5:05:00 PM, Blogger Thirdmango said…

    I love this scripture and have come to the same conclusions as you but with a different route. One thing that was pointed out to me but then became very hard for me to understand fully, is if you look at the passage then look at the date it was given on. I look at that date and immediately my mind goes towards the awful people that did such a thing. But then I think am I required to forgive them too?

    Each time I've brought this up with people you can see their face lock up as they realize that it says All Men.

    Because I've had such a hard time with this passage and also a lot of thought coming out of it, it's become one of my favorites because you really have to be able to probe deep into yourself to understand it. Good post.

    (Apologies for the double post)

     
  • At Saturday, December 02, 2006 10:17:00 PM, Blogger Th. said…

    .

    I'm glad you wrote this. I agree with you entirely.

    Spending time in grade schools lately, I have seen these principles in action. Yeah, getting hit in the head with a basketball hurts, but being angry at the person and crying and punching them and getting yelled at and sat in a corner hurts much, much longer.

     
  • At Monday, December 04, 2006 3:43:00 PM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    I don't really believe in god (I'm neutral), and certainly not in the LDS religion, but I do think that this is a much more in-depth and sensible interpretation than I've usually heard. If I may add a little of what I think about this (which is INCREDIBLY presumptuous considering my unbelief)... I think it could also mean that we, as mortals, can't see who does or does not deserve to be forgiven - only god knows the minds and hearts and motivations. Forgiving is about the person doing the forgiving (as you said) and not about the one being forgiven - it (in theory) brings us closer to god to be able to give that up to him (also as you said), but I also think that if we didn't forgive someone who was truly penitent, we would feel SO awful about it in the next life when we realized that. Okay, that sounds really shallow and unimportant next to your point. It makes sense in my head, though. We're just too small to see the big picture, so it's better to be safe than sorry??? That's not really what I mean, but I can't figure out how to say it better. So, um, yeah - you're smart! Good points!

     
  • At Wednesday, December 06, 2006 9:04:00 PM, Blogger FoxyJ said…

    Fabulous post--pretty much my thoughts too. I really hope that some day I can help my children understand that the commandments are for our good, and for no other reason. It took me a long time to realize that in my own life.

     
  • At Friday, December 08, 2006 9:13:00 PM, Blogger Sully said…

    The way you prefaced this made me think that you expected your seminary students to read this post. I may just be tired, but wouldn't it be amazingly hilarious if you put this up on the board in seminary in reference to the journals we've been talking about? I bet you that together, with your blog and mine, we could get at least half of the class to go apostate. Tell me if you want to try it. :)

    You're amazing.

    Love,
    Sully

     

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