Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Black and White

Recently I heard someone talk about their family in California and how they were affected by proposition 8, and how it showed them that some people are ready to jump up and follow the prophet, while others let things like that damage their testimonies. I have to state clearly, that I really like the person who was speaking, and I recognize that we all have different life experiences which shape us, but it made me wonder why we (subconsciously even) view the world in such black and white terms.

I've written about my feelings toward prop 8 and same sex marriage before, so I won't go into that again, but I wonder why the only "good" response to things like prop 8 is to immediately obey. I'm certainly not advocating that we immediately disobey any time the prophet speaks, I believe we should follow the prophet, but I think that we should allow that those who aren't given the spiritual gift of immediate confirmation also have a valid experience. I remember a few months ago in sunday school, a class member said that she always wondered why she struggled so much to gain a testimony of something, but she felt like once she did, she didn't lose it.

Too often we view those who struggle to gain a testimony of something (or even those who honestly and prayerfully have come to a different answer than our own) as lacking in some way. Instead of wondering why people allow difficult issues to damage their testimonies, perhaps we should ask ourselves how we can help others through trying times in their lives, and then acknowledge that everyone is given a different experience here on earth and one is not better or worse than another, they're just different, which gives us different views and teaches us different things. Life isn't black and white, it's shades of grey.


Anonymous said...

I think we have a tendency as humans to take black-and-white positions because we naturally like to categorize things, and two categories are much easier to manage than 3 or more categories.

I agree that life is not black and white, but it's not shades of grey either - it's an entire color-wheel. Every person has their own unique perspective and experience that is characterized not only by how much black or white it contains, but by the hue, the balance, the brightness, the contrast, the red, the green, and the blue contents. None of those contributing factors is a digital on/off - each is an analog sliding scale with infinite possible values.

Alice said...

That's true David- when I typed shades of grey, I actually thought to myself, that it's more of a color wheel. :)

Lacey said...

I truly believe that we (the church) have to teach to the black and white situations as if they were the only choices. There would be much confusion otherwise. Exceptions always exist, but you can't teach to the exceptions.

I also believe, from my personal experience, that Heavenly Father knows all about our "gray/colorful" feelings, thoughts and situations. I think that is how he can be "just" and "merciful" at the same time.

adamf said...

Immediately obeying on any issue bothers me a little. It feels too cult-like and frankly I don't think that is what God wants, or had in mind when he called prophets.

Prop 8 taught me that I have limits to what I will do.

Alice said...

Lacey- I agree when you're talking about a specific teaching (although even there- we teach the WOW and it's full of shades of grey depending on how people interpret it- but generally, yes, we teach right and wrong), but when you're talking about how we view people's experiences, or how they receive personal revelation we need to be careful not to tell people that their experience doesn't count because it's not the same as ours.

Adam- I think we have to be careful about doing the same thing to others as we're (or I'm) complaining about. My Mister for example, feels like he's received a witness of immediately following the prophet, that hasn't been my experience, I feel like I have to receive a confirmation every time I hear him speak, but that doesn't mean that his experience is wrong. (or cult-like) :)

George said...

The word of the Lord to O Cowdery was that you must study something out in your mind and then the witness will come. That was the way for the Prophet Joseph. Nothing was given to him without effort but after the struggle then the answers came. Without effort confrmation will not come. But having said that, I do recall a freebie though. I was sitting in the Conference Center waiting for General Priesthood mtg. to start and when President Hinckley walked in I had an incredbile confirmation of who and what he was. It came freely and I am grateful. I had not asked and I was not seeking.

Alice said...

I've had things like that happen too George. After struggling with some things to gain a testimony, I feel especially grateful for the gifts of immediate confirmation when they come.