Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mosiah 4: Inadequacy, Guilt, and Paranoia

King Benjamin takes a break from his remarks for an intermission.

Book of Mormon Prophets are Better than Modern Ones
Verse 3 describes just how much of a miraculous impact his words had on his people:
And it came to pass...the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
I'm trying to imagine Thomas S. Monson getting up in General Conference and preaching fire and brimstone and our pitiful worthlessness just like King Benjamin.  Then I'm trying to imagine all those in attendance falling to their knees as one, begging God for mercy and entreating him for the benefits of the atonement.  Then I'm trying to imagine all of those people somehow receiving confirmation that their sins are forgiven.

Either the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the same church that the Book of Mormon talks about or today's prophets are wimps.

Benjamin Institutes Parental Reform
The revered king describes the benefits of believing in God and being forgiven for your sins:
And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that...
Whoa.  Hold up, there, chief.  Are you saying that if I accept the savior's atonement I'll no longer keep my children chained naked in my basement living on only bread and water?  This is just what I've been missing in my life.  Praise God and his ability to transform people into wonderful parents!

Running Faster than your Strength
Verse 27 illustrates another concept that contributed to my crippling guilt as an adolescent:
...for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength
This is a comforting idea on the surface—God will require no more of you than you are capable of accomplishing.  However, this means that when you do break one of the 314,682 commandments, it's because you suck.  It's not because you're human and incapable of perfection, it's because the commandments were fair but you didn't measure up to your potential.

And while we're on the subject, this quote seems a little...un-God-like.  It sounds more like Lucifer.  Lucifer wanted to just save everyone.  God, on the other hand, decided to go with the plan that involved having us jump through a series of hoops to prove ourselves, and then only saving the best of us.  For some reason, Mormonism touts this as a beautiful plan of beauteous beauty.  But if God is going to send us down to Earth and then not require us to run faster than we have strength, isn't that kind of like bending the rules so that everybody can be saved?  I mean, it doesn't work that way, but it sounds like it's supposed to.  Seems like something Lucifer would have done to maximize the amount of saved spirit children.

Remind me again why we hate Lucifer so much?

Damnation by Power Tool
Verse 28 is an odd little detail to throw in:
And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.
Um...okay.  We have murdering and raping and godlessness and hunger and pride, but you're right, we really need to focus on returning our power tools and that cup of sugar.

This kind of sounds like Oliver Cowdery borrowed something from Joseph Smith and kept forgetting to give it back. Finally Joseph got impatient and pretended to translate this verse so that he could say, "See?  God says you're sinning!"  Note the veiled threat at the end about causing your neighbor to commit sin.  "You might cause me to come to your house and thrash the pulp out of you!" Joseph warned.

Sealing the Paranoia
In case you weren't already sweating eternal bullets after being told how lowly you are, how much you owe to God, and how screwed you are if you don't accept the gospel, let's seal the deal with verse 30:
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish.  And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
This was a scripture mastery.  I memorized this one my freshman year of high school.  I hate this verse.  Want to talk to a pretty girl with an immodest shirt on?  Nope.  Doesn't matter how innocent your intentions are, you need to watch your thoughts.  Want to speak freely, maybe swear a little, so you aren't seen as such an oddball by your peers?  Nope.  Doesn't matter how badly you want and need to fit in, you better watch your words.  Want to go watch an R-rated movie with your friends?  Nope.  Doesn't matter if you'll never attempt to enact the things you see onscreen, you have to watch your deeds.  Considering not serving a mission because you'd rather focus on your education?  Don't even think about it.  You need to continue in the faith and not let up for a single moment—you do what's expected of you and you don't stop.  You can't afford to "perish" when your eternal salvation is at stake—which, apparently, is all the time.

No wonder so many Mormons are so uptight.    

1 comment:

  1. "And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry."

    So apparently my ancestor who came to Utah from Europe by handcart, losing children to hunger and cold wasn't forgiven of her sins, so she couldn't lay claim to this "blessing" of not having them starve to death.

    "19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment..."

    She depended on god, and he didn't come through for her and her family with the food and clothing they needed to survive their trip to "Zion." The only explanation for it based on this verse is that god wanted them to suffer and die.