Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Langriman wrote:
"Lyrax's analogy only works if the suffering you get from bad choices is not produced by God. If you believe the only suffering that comes from promiscuity and violence is bad health and guilt, then the analogy holds, but if you believe God made a hell specifically to punish people who make bad choices then it doesn't work."

I'm going to infer that your question has something to do with the paradox of free will given by a Being who then also gives rules and punishments regarding the use of will. Obviously, this stems from traditional Christian views about sin and hell.

Let's suppose for a moment, that traditional Christianity got it wrong. Let's suppose that the message of the Gospel was conveniently interpreted by men in power as a two-edged sword: an opiate and a control. On the one hand it provides comfort for the "meek," on the other hand it tells us that if we do certain things we'll burn in hell, thus keeping the "meek" from being anything but.

In my personal study of the Gospel, I see an altogether different view taught by the Prophets. And to me, it seems completely fair. And it's all about free will.

Consider this: Let's say that good and evil are just arbitrary names for two opposing forces. We could easily call them something else. We could call them, "following God" and "not following God." Try and forget the entire connotation associated with these two things for a moment. Focus on the idea of two separate paths. If we follow God, He says that we'll get all these consequences, which He calls blessings because they involve Him. If we don't follow Him, we get some opposite consequences, which He calls punishments or curses, because they do not involve Him.

I'm trying to break this down as simply as possible.

Analogy: Two doors. If you go through the yellow door, you will receive one dollar, with which you may buy things at a later date. If you go through the blue door (from which sounds of partying and enjoyment can clearly be heard) you will be at a party, but you will not receive a dollar, and thus will not be able to purchase things at a later date.

When that moment comes, there will be two groups of people. One group will have dollars, and they will go to the snack stand and buy bags of peanuts or hot dogs or whatever, and they'll be full. The other group of people won't have any money, so they'll just hang around each other being hungry, talking about what fun they had at the party.

Now God is the guy who gives you the ability to choose between the two doors, and He also gives you some hints about the requisite consequences.

If you follow God, you'll go to Heaven, where God lives. If you don't follow Him, you'll go to Hell, where He doesn't live. Each place will be comprised of certain types. If God represents all that is good, just, true, holy, joyful, innocent, peaceful, wonderful, and beautiful, than that's the kind of place it will be. So the place where He isn't won't have any of those things, may even have some opposites: anger, unrest, guilt, ungodliness, lies, ugliness, injustice, and evil. God is the guy who tells you these things. He says, follow me, and you'll get to hang with me, if you don't follow me you'll end up somewhere else.

I'm trying to make it simple, but it's really more complex than that. Because it's all about cause and effect.


To quote the new Batman film: "It's what you do that defines you." We become what we will. If my will is to steal, and if I do it enough, I become a thief. Eventually I find myself more comfortable around likeminded people, just like Republicans like hanging out with other Republicans (I'm not making any implications that Republicans are thieves by the way, it's just an example). I'm LDS, and I generally enjoy hanging out with other members of my faith. I don't like football, so I don't hang out with people who like football. I'm not a football guy.

So our choices determine what we are. To quote Paul from 1 Corinthians 15:40-41

"40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star different from another star in glory."

At first that seems pretty obscure. It's not just an astronomy lesson. Paul is using his limited understanding of the lights in the firmament to describe different bodies, different resurrected bodies: "So also is the resurrection of the dead" (v.42)

He's talking about the different bodies we'll have when we're all resurrected (That's right, we'll ALL be resurrected, if you don't believe me, start a different thread about it). And he's comparing them to glory, to brightness. One type will be as bright as the sun, another as bright as the moon and others as bright as the stars. Still seems pretty abstract. Well, let's say he's talking about the types of people on the earth. He's saying there aren’t just a Heaven and a Hell; there isn't just one good place and one bad place, because you can't just lump everyone into two groups. So there are degrees of glory, degrees of people, and we'll all fit somewhere.

So, if a man lives his life the very very best he can, he'll probably end up being a very bright kind of person, and he'll hang out with other bright people. God's the brightest of them all, and maybe he'll even get to hang out with god.
Then another man lives pretty well, but he doesn't really care to try as hard as the first fellow. Still pretty bright, but it's more of a reflection of the bigger brightness. So, he won't get to hang with God, but he'll at least get some reflected light from God.
Then there are a couple of guys. And they all live to varying degrees of life, but are pretty much apathetic to any effort towards following God. They're bright like the stars, some brighter than others, but ultimately too far away and too dim to do a whole lot. But they still get something, which is better than nothing.

(These few passages from Paul are absolutely insane with symbolism and meaning. I could go on for pages about them, but I don't want to bore you guys)

and maybe Hell is just knowing you could have done better. That's a pretty gnawing, burning feeling. Imagine feeling that way forever. And the only person you can blame is yourself, because you just didn't care that much.

Okay, time to stop dillydallying. Here's my belief, straight as I can give it: God never actually punishes us. He just tells us the rules and the consequences of this perfectly ordered universe, and our punishments or blessings naturally flow from our actions. But He really cares about our wellbeing, so He explains all this to us like we're children, because we are, because we're His children. And God doesn't want to send any of His kids to hell. That's the last thing He wants to do. But maybe some of us are just bound and determined to do the opposite of everything God tells us to do, and well, you know where that leads. My point is that Fire and Brimstone and eternal lakes of torment are just figures of speech, literary devices to describe the consequences of certain actions.

Man, this is getting long, and I have so much more to say. I guess I should have outlined my post. I'm going to stop now, and let you all point out the flaws in my argument here (it's 1:30am and I'm probably not thinking clearly), and then I'll fine tune it as I go.


Blogger Oops said...

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