William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On Sin Changing A Person's Appearance

The question was put:

"Does sin and antagonism against the LDS Church or the Gospel in general tend to make a person's countenance and personal appearance look unhealthy?"

To which I responded:

Seems to me one of the problems with this question is lumping "sin," "antagonism against the LDS Church" and "antagonism against the Gospel" into the same pile. They are not the same by any stretch, though in some instances there could be some overlap. While I remain an active member, my private criticisms of the church are quite extensive. As for the term, "Gospel," we have a serious definitional problem. My own definition is along the lines that the Gospel consists of all truth which makes us wiser or happier. I do not confine its definition to the more traditional LDS use of the term, namely, "God's doctrines concerning salvation and happiness as taught by the current LDS church." My approach to the Gospel is much more open to modification based upon new information and study, whereas the traditional LDS version purports to be virtually static.

I also take issue with the idea that "antagonism against the LDS Church" necessarily constitutes "sin." This presupposes, in my opinion, a couple of things which I consider to be in dispute, namely: (1) that official church doctrine is free of serious errors; (2) that individual members have no moral right to follow their conscience to the extent it differs with official church doctrine.

Here's a brief anecdote from my own life: I gave a talk in sacrament meeting a few years back (well after my private views had accepted the existence of serious errors in certain central church doctrines). One sister in the ward came up to me afterwards and seriously claimed to have miraculously seen my aura while I was at the pulpit giving my talk. I'm not claiming she was lying, although I have never had such an experience. But it would seem at the very least that my private criticisms of the church (which one might very well equate with antagonism) did not affect my countenance. If that is the case, then either there is no connection between sin and countenance, or antagonism towards the church is not necessarily sinful.

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