Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Words of Wisdom Part 2: When To Ask Why

Quite a while ago I wrote an article about certain standards and commandments the Lord has set for us to help us become more Celestial and Heavenly.  The purpose of it was to help others understand why we shouldn't have to know reasons for everything He asks us to do, to a point of course.  I outlined certain aspects of modesty in clothing, parts of the Word of Wisdom and some other doctrines of the LDS church that are often debated over.

However, this article is more directed to the general Christian population.  Matt Walsh recently did a blog post about why we should attend church and some of the points he makes got me thinking about just how saddening it is that so many in the world today are, either outright or through their actions, asking "why do I have to [insert Christian thing here]?"  Honestly, though, if it was just that it wouldn't bother me as much but the reason it prompted me to write this is because of how many people depend on the why's in order to just do it at all.

I'm not saying that it's always bad to ask why, but there is a time and a place and a good and bad reasons to ask.

If you take a good look at mankind's expertise and understanding of life as a whole, it's pretty obvious it's shoddy at best.  One look at the wars mankind has fought over different interpretation of God's word and will is evidence of that.

What the scriptures refer to as the natural man plays a big part in these issues.  As the Book of Mormon states, "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

Life is a constant battle between our spiritual identity as children of God and the natural man in us that is constantly screaming to be satisfied.  Unfortunately this causes a lot of corrupt motives, driving people to look for loopholes in His word, trying to make His will match theirs or otherwise come up with selfish or childish (different from childlike) reasons to not live by it.

In the article I mentioned at the very beginning, I talked about several examples of people looking for what mankind's "experts" say on a matter or doing their own "solid" research to find reasons why God has asked us to do and not do certain things.  What these people are doing directly contradicts Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

I pointed out in part 1 of this that that doesn't always mean it's a bad idea to find out specific details why something the Lord has commanded us to stay away from is bad for us or why something He has commanded us to do is good.  But we have to remember that basing our faith on those reasons more than the solitary fact that He knows more than we are even capable of knowing as mortals is fatal to our spiritual health.

God invites us all to pray to know for ourselves if gospel principles are true, but the purpose behind us asking should not just be to say, in effect "Oh, I was just wondering.  I wasn't actually planning on following your advice" or "I just wanted to see if you're way agrees with my opinion."  If you're going to ask God what is true or whether something is right or wrong without concern for making whatever sacrifice is necessary to live according to the answer you get - or if you're seeking to have God agree with you instead of the other way around, you're wasting your time and mocking God.

The whole purpose of faith in our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ is that faith means you don't know all the answers but are trying be the kind of person He asks us to be simply because we trust Him implicitly.  He does command us to seek understanding of all things, so seeking to find out why He commands what He does isn't wrong, so long as we are not doing so to find out faults with His reasoning or ways around it.  As Isaiah 55:8-9 says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

So I think the answer that would sum it all up would be that the right time to ask why is when we are asking because we are trying to align our perspective, will and opinion with His.  Sometimes, the answer still might be "you just need to trust me for now" or "you're not ready for the answer yet", but I assure you it's still worth it because the more pure faith you exert, the more the whys will become more clear.

The following applies, I believe, to all Christians (and, heck, all humanity) but is doctrinally specific to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Whether you wondering why baptism, going to church every week, dressing modestly, abstaining from coffee, alcohol, tea, or tobacco, paying tithing, following the prophet, staying away from immorality, serving selflessly, daily prayer and scripture study, temple worship, forgiving, doing missionary work, fasting, building up food storage, or keeping our language and attitude virtuous are good ideas, I promise you the reasons will become clear.  Not only will the answers become sweeter to you but your understanding of them will be more complete.  Obeying from faith ("a hope for things which are not seen which are true" [Alma 32]) will actually increase the joys you will have from exerting it.  I testify this is true for I have experienced it in my own life.  I have seen His promises fulfilled according to the level of faith and obedience shown to Him and they are greater than anything this world could ever offer.

Obeying Christ because you've first seen proof of their benefits isn't bad, but doing so without seeing them, faith, has far sweeter results.  That kind of obedience is the key that unlocks all the blessings of the Atonement of Christ.