A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not all who wander are lost. J.R.R. Tolkien My daughter has this quote on her screen saver. It carries a powerful message that’s worth considering.

I think it’s healthy to have differences in opinions. No mortal is infallible, and we all have much to learn in our search for truth. When someone challenges our beliefs and traditions, it gives us an opportunity to take another look at those beliefs and traditions. Are they founded in truth or in superstition and the philosophies of men?

On the other hand, I do not think it is healthy when one person or group of people uses threats, intimidation, manipulation, bullying, duress, fear tactics, and force to coerce someone else into believing as they believe. We should take our example from God who really does know the truth of all things. He uses persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge to help his children come to an understanding of the truth. D&C 121:41-42

When I share ideas and ask questions, I occasionally get comments like: you’re going off the deep end; you’re apostatizing; or if you don’t believe as we believe, you and your family are going to hell.

I loved swimming as a child. When I think about going into the deep end, I think about more freedom in the water. Of course it takes more skill, strength, and endurance to swim in the deep end, but there is so much more you can do there. Swimming in deep water also reminds me a statement by Joseph Smith.

“And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.” Doctrine and Covenants 127:2

It might not be a bad thing to swim in the deep end of the swimming pool.

I don’t think the cry of apostasy is a method that should be used to stifle sincere questions and suppress the sharing of ideas. When we ask God questions, he doesn’t call us an apostate. In fact, he commands us to ask him questions and assures us that we won’t be scolded if we do so. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

As for going to hell, well that’s exactly what we all deserve. Christ is the only one who can lift us out of that awful pit. That being the case, I think I’ll let him be the judge of who’s going to heaven or hell.

I grew up in the Chicago area. There are so many things that I love about my childhood. There were many religions and cultures present in Chicago. I don’t know if I appreciated this diversity as a child, but I look back at it as a great blessing. Most of my friends had different religious backgrounds, and that’s just the way it was. I never felt forced to accept their beliefs. They came to church with me, and I went to church with them. We didn’t see it as a threat to either one of us. We were friends.

Everything wasn’t always good. There were some people who were intolerant of our family’s beliefs. I didn’t like that part. My younger brother seemed to get more flak than I did, but it was still hard on me. I saw people spit on him, scatter his things across the hall, and be just plain mean. I learned at an early age what it feels like to be an outcast. I started to learn how to find answers by going to God instead of looking at popular opinion.

Halfway through high school, our family moved to Utah. I thought it would be different. It was different in some ways, but very much the same in others. Although many more people in Utah share my religion, the friendships and intolerance were very similar. I have many dear friends that I treasure, and I like that part.

On the other hand, the religious intolerance is a challenge for me. There is a sameness that is expected in this culture. The freedom to be curious and ask questions is not valued. I wonder how we’re going to receive greater light and knowledge if we’re censored when we ask questions, oodles of questions, any questions, even forbidden questions.

It feels good to ask questions. It feels even better to learn that I’ve been wrong. Putting away false notions and ideas is liberating. Worshipping God according the dictates of our own conscience is a privilege to be claimed. It is highly unlikely that society is just going to offer it to us.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. Articles of Faith 1:11

Keep Those Questions Coming

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