Sunday, December 28, 2008

The spirit of the law

Our priesthood lesson in High Priests quorum this morning was based on a talk by President Eyring from the October 2008 general conference titled O Ye That Embark. As part of the lesson, the instructor went around the room and we were each to tell of some experience we had as part of a calling where we learned something.

When it came to me, I spoke of an experience from my mission. My companion and I had just opened up a new area. The branch president had called us into his office and told us of a part member family where the husband was an inactive member and his wife was very anti-Mormon. He then gave us explicit instructions to not visit them. A few weeks later, my companion and I both had a strong impression that we should visit the family - and, to make a long story short, the husband became active and his wife was baptized. The thing I learned from that experience is the importance of following our own personal inspiration. To this day, we still exchange Christmas cards with this family.

As I sat there listening to others tell of their experiences, it occurred to me that many of them spoke of a time when they had been asked to do something which was difficult for them and the blessings they gained from following their leaders counsel. I began to reflect on the contrast of our experiences. While others spoke of the importance of obedience - I spoke of open rebellion and doing what we believe is right regardless of what others are telling us.

I began to think of other things I've done throughout my life where my actions were not in harmony with what I've been taught - nothing big, just little things - but I did them because I believed it was the right thing to do. I've always felt it was more important to live the spirit of the law rather than blind obedience to the letter of the law. Mind you, I don't advocate disobeying the law simply because I think it's dumb; but, when it comes down to doing what somebody else it telling me to do verses doing what I believe is the right thing to do - I will follow my heart.

Authoritarians believe following the spirit, but not the letter of the law, is the same as disobeying the law - arguing that allowing others to follow their own interpretation of the law results in anarchy. I've always had a problem respecting authoritarian type people - another character flaw of mine.


Silver said...

It seems I recall another rebel of sorts who took on the authoritarians of His day. They were called, I believe, Pharisees and Sadducees. They upheld the strictness of the law to the ultimate degree, holding to false traditions and the rigid Law of Moses, despite the introduction of the new spiritually liberating law that the Savior brought into view.

Think of the price they and their subjects paid for their blind conformance and their refusal to see through spiritual and compassionate eyes.

For me, Abe, the spirit is where it’s at. I’m with you in following my heart. Stubborn obedience to law can bring so much condemnation of self and of our fellow beings.

One of the best choices I ever made was to look upward to Him for guidance and to stop looking to the side, to my fellow man. I strive to please Him now and to not be so concerned about pleasing my fellow men or being so subject to their opinion. It has made me much happier, though, sorry to say, I still have a long way to go in being able to do this all the time.

I love your picture of the red tulip among the sea of yellow. Sometimes we have to be willing to stand alone in the crowd. Lord knows, being a gay man you have to do it more often than not. At least when I feel alone, I still know that if I follow my heart, God is standing with me.

Great post! Thank you for lifting me, I really needed what you shared today.


Z i n j said...

thanks for a great story....I also have issue with the authoritarian types. I know it is a weakness to find my own way sometimes. Why do so many of these types end up in charge? More valiant or better brown nosers? I know that's evil to look at things this way. I look at coaches. Do we play out of fear or do we play out of commitment, respect and Joy?

Sarah said...

Thank you so much. Just what I needed. Along the lines of your post, isn't it amazing that sometimes the things we blog about are inspired to help someone else at just the right time? Yours did that for me right now.

I really appreciate your blog and your humorous yet serious and thoughtful approach to life. God bless you!

Bravone said...

Abe, I believe that God has given us the ability, responsibility, and discernment to know when and who we should follow. Sometimes I think we get hung up on individual preferences to the detriment of the greater lesson God wants us to learn.

For example, many church leaders as much as say that you cannot honor your priesthood and have facial hair. I happen to like having a goatee. It comes and goes and I don't feel any spiritual change with or without it. I think Silver's example of the Pharisees and Sadducees is spot on.

Beck said...

This post is an example of why so many of us love you!

Christopher said...

Great post! I think you are right on. It is a common mistake to choose to follow rules rather than the real commandment to follow the Lord's spirit. It is, after all, what the gospel is all about. What's the point of "always having his spirit to be with us" if we choose to ignore it for the counsels of men, even if they are righteous? In the Celestial Kingdom, I imagine there is but one rule: do the right thing. Everything else will be up to us. In other words, the more spiritually mature we are, the less rules we need.

Anonymous said...

I feel heartbroken for your wife. How sad vor her a life without sex and not by her doing. She must truly love you and knownyou will not be like this in the second coming as long as you remain faithful like u say u r. But pleasenxtop with the same sex pics....must be like salt in her deep hopeless unfullfilled sexless life. Admire you do not follow yourmsifull urges...great u r.