Monday, October 12, 2015

Alma 30

(October 7, 2015)
                There are certain times when a scripture really speaks to me (I assume it is like that with all of us, from time to time).  Every verse, almost, seems to teach me something that I need to apply in my life right now such that it is hard to know what is the most important because absolutely everything is important.  I love when these moments happen for a pair of reasons – first, because I appreciate the enlightenment that I receive as a result.  Second, it is a blessing to be reminded that the scriptures are so full that inspiration is available with every verse.

                I had one such experience today, and I can only share a few of my thoughts.  I was struck again at how the just law was established that held that there was no law against a man for his beliefs.  I wondered how that applied to the moral consequences of the absence of faith – I know that faith has moral consequences and is therefore an exercise in moral agency.  But I suppose that implicit in  at least a portion of that faith must be developed over time and it is impossible for man to judge according to his imperfect laws whether a man is progressing or regressing according to his faith.  Would we judge a man at the bottom of the staircase of faith looking upward harsher than a man at the top of the staircase of faith looking downward?  I believe so, and that is why the law which takes belief into account in the eternities would be unjust in mortality and why it is crucial that we not judge those around us for their beliefs.

                Second, verse 17 is the inevitable conclusion of the naturalistic, atheistic philosophy.  There are those who are atheist who bristle when believers point out that their philosophy is ultimately amoral (red of claw and tooth), and believe that theists condemn them as immoral.  But that accusation is both inappropriate and misses the point.  Many atheists are very moral, but to the extent they are moral they defy their own philosophy.  Their philosophy demands, ultimately, an amoral approach to life because there is no ultimate source of morality.

                By the same token, we see around us so often the “spiritual but not religious” approach.  And, as is so often the case, the philosophy was shared with the underlying goal of causing women to commit whoredoms.  Since I have begun dating, I have encountered a number of women who escaped that philosophy once they realized how is was being used to lure them into destructive and immoral behavior.

                I was struck again my the idea of lifting up our heads in wickedness.  I think that each of us have experienced times when we have (frankly) not lived up to the standards that we should have.  Looking back on it, however, there is a key difference mentioned in this chapter – whether, when we are wicked, we hang our heads (and look towards the Savior) or whether we lift up our heads in our wickedness.  Put another way, do we rejoice and take pride in our sins or are we humbled by being brought to acknowledge our weaknesses?

                Korihor, millennia before our modern times, spent his time trying to focus the people away from their duties and blessings, and get them instead focused on the enjoyment of their ‘rights.’  We see that same language today – too much focus on rights and not enough focus on duties (even Conference talks have addressed that).  I suppose this is another indication that Satan has always been preaching the same anti-Gospel as he does today.

                Alma, being faced with Korihor, is not angry with him.  It must have been painful to Alma to hear the arguments of Korihor, because he perhaps made those same arguments earlier in his own life as he preached against the Gospel.  And, in my personal experience, when someone confronts me imitating my own weaknesses I tend to over-respond.  But Alma didn’t, which is an indication of just how completely his heart had been changed through his repentance and the Atonement.  Alma, rather than hating Korihor, grieved at Korihor’s hard heart.

                Finally, Korihor reveled in his logic and reason (and condemned the believers for not using that same logic and reason).  And yet, Korihor was more illogical than them all.  An angel appeared to Korihor, saying that there was no God, and he taught the absence of the supernatural (which he was convinced of due to supernatural visitation).  It is often those who cling so carefully to logic and their basis for the condemnation of others that use logic so flippantly or poorly.

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