If I'm worthy and do all the "right" things, I will attain the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.
...but not only that! I'll get to be a goddess and with my godlike husband have lots of little spirit children and create worlds without end.
All sorts of good stuff!
If I pay my tithing, I get blessings!
If I do my visiting teaching, I get blessings!
And so on, and so forth.
My feelings don't discriminate either. I felt the same way at my father's church and others I attended. Everything was met with a "reward" of some sort. I even had a youth group activity where all the kids sat in the chapel waiting for two of their counterparts - "angels" - to come and select them at random. This was death. If you went to heaven, you got cookies. If you went to hell, well...
At least at the end of the activity the demon spawn from hell (one of whom was me) were escorted to heaven to partake of the cookies.
Oy, that's a whole other post.
I could give up the Celestial Kingdom entirely...if it weren't for that whole eternal marriage bit. I like my husband. A lot. No matter how much I question or flat out reject some teachings, this...I still feel this one wrapped around my ankle.
It is a romantic notion. Together forever - and I do want that. Will it really be taken away from me? I don't know. I have to admit, I'm leaning more agnostic these days but I still have a hope in Christ, if that makes sense.
While I recognize real doctrinal issues, I have left the door cracked. I can't not do that.
But I will not be bribed. Don't tell me to do my visiting teaching because I will be blessed; don't tell me to follow the commandments because I will be blessed; don't tell me to do everything I'm told because obedience begets my own kingdom and people to govern.
Tell me it's because God loves me and this is the way. Tell me it's because it will help others (understood is the fact that in helping others we help ourselves). Tell me its because it's the right thing to do.
I've heard more than once someone telling me that we're blessed because of what we do. Does that not imply a revocation of blessings for failing to do? Often we tell others we don't believe we fall on hard times because of failure to pay tithing or attend the temple, but we do attribute good times to the good things we do.
Anyone else see the disconnect?
I want to have as pure a motivation as is possible. I don't believe God asks these things of us so we can plead our case. "Hey, look at all I've done. Please, then, help me to do X, Y, and Z."
(Yes, people have said this is something they've done.)
Aren't we all supposed to be eternally indebted to God for Christ? Indebted to Christ? Why then do we think we have any claim on any blessings because of what we do or don't do?
I like to think instead blessings come because God loves us, not because we're doing what he asked. Perhaps some will say we do this with our own kids: we want them to do what we ask and we reward them when they're good.
Sometimes I do this. Then I realize my kids covet only the reward, and I prefer they do what is right because it is right and they see what it reaps in others. I want them to do good simply because it is good. Shouldn't that be reward enough?
This is supposed to be a gospel of grace and faith manifest in works. I'm starting to see why other churches refuse to place any emphasis at all on works.
Some may submit that some blessings are natural, much like some consequences come naturally. I stub my toe, it hurts like hell. Am I being punished for stubbing my toe? No, but I'll watch out next time, that's for sure.
But is there any implicit blessing for my kid cleaning up her toys in the living room for me? It'll bring me much happiness; I've enough to do. I'll love the room being clean, and it really isn't my job to play maid.
But for her - what will it do for her? Should I reward her each and every single time she "obeys"? I don't think so.
If she decides to "disobey," however, there will probably be repercussions in the form of a time out so that she'll learn to help. I should also help her see the good in what she is doing - how nice the room looks, how much easier it is to relax, how much she's helping Mommy and what a big girl that makes her. It's part of being a grown up, and I'm helping her to realize that. That said, she must rely at least somewhat on herself for motivation. I will not bribe my child - with the exception of desperate times :)
Does this mean that perhaps a person who refuses to pay their tithing will in some way miss out on blessings? I know of someone whose mother rags on her inactive son: "You'd have a job if you would pay your tithing!"
Would God truly bribe us this way? Where is our heart when we do what we're told we're supposed to do?
On the flip side, I know of an inactive member who has worked very hard to get where he is in life, unlike his active, RM, temple married brother who has had Mom and Dad bail him and his wife out time and again.
Granted, there are outside influences, such as the son who seemingly quits every job when the going gets annoying or the Mom and Dad who are the ones "punishing" their inactive son by tossing him out in the cold to fend for himself (and well has he done!). I wonder how this fits into the equation of things.
Perhaps we don't know, but it is food for thought. If you'd like more, Mormon Heretic quotes a Sunstone article that deals with this very subject entitled Using Fear, Pride, and Greed to pay Tithing
All interesting thoughts. Anyone else?
Rebel Girls in a Boys Club Church
5 days ago