Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A law unto themselves.

An interesting passage from Doctrine and Covenants 88

And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. 

And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.

My first thought was that this reminds me of one of the most-oft-repeated quotes from A Man for All Seasons:

"What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

There is a great protection to be found in the rule of law. How much more so when that law is established by God!

But the thing that resonated most with me  was the verse about those who seek to become a law unto themselves and willingly abide in sin. I have to say, I don't know of anyone who fully meets this description, but I daily observe people doing this in little ways--willing to justify their individually breaking commandments that are generally applicable.

Now I am not one to judge others for commandment-breaking; regretfully, I do it all the time. Every day, in fact. The thing that bewilders me is the attitude that we so often meet with regards to obedience. The world's view clearly leans toward the idea that everyone can decide for themselves what their law will be. But even within the Church I so often see people flaunting with pride the fact that they break laws that they deem to be of lesser importance. There is almost an attitude of showing, "See, I can do this, that, or the other, and still be spiritual, or righteous, or what-have-you. I'll show you that I don't have to be a 'Molly Mormon' or 'Peter Priesthood' to be righteous." This runs partially on the assumption that those who are strict in their obedience do it only for show, and that image must be countered. It is built on comparison and competition.

Of course in the end, this attitude is self-defeating. It distracts us from the reason that we obey. Our obedience isn't for others to see; it is for our own blessing and protection, and recommended by an all-knowing Father who loves us more than we can comprehend.

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