Monday, April 03, 2006

New Wine and Sensitivity

As we grow older, we become sensitive to more and more things. This is generally considered a good thing. For example, I am far more aware of struggles people have in the church--and the things that exacerbate those struggles--than I was ten years ago when I was preparing to head out on a mission. I said and did things in church as a missionary that I would never say today. I would tread more lightly and I would take certain concerns far more seriously, knowing what mammoth obstacles they can be in the lives of good people.

I believe that Joseph Smith, Jr. was called as a prophet while he was very young because new wine can't go into old bottles. Perhaps there is a divine advantage to be had in the insensitivies of youth. Would Joseph have been bold enough to speak forth the doctrines he learned from God if he had a couple of more decades of learning and experience? Some doctrines probably aren't ever going to make rational sense when viewed in the light on this mortal probation alone.

There is a natural human tendency to soft peddle any doctines that don't fit well with our culture. It is interesting to hear Latter-day Saints today demand that the Church admit that polygamy was never inspired. It is such a puzzle to many of us that we just can't see how God would require it.

But I am confident that He did require it.

Many believe (and I count myself among their number) that the priesthood was withheld from blacks in this church for such a long time because the white members weren't yet able to bear it. There were too many old bottles with the wrong sensitivities.

I'm not sure where this argument leaves me. I am grateful that I am more sensitive to the needs and struggles of a larger portion of the world. And yet I wonder if my increased sensitivities are all of the right type. Will they prevent me from accepting God's words when they come? I pray not.


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  • Very interesting post. I'll have to think about that for a while. I must be getting old.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 4/03/2006 11:41 AM  

  • Youthful brashness and ignorance of sensitivities has its advantages. My brother visited a couple he had baptized 25 years earlier. The man was in his third stint as branch president.

    My brother said that at this point he could hardly believe that he and his companion poured all of the family's alcohol down the toilet one night and dumped all of their tobacco in a dumpster. From his matured perspective he could see that he and his companion had put this couple in an incredibly difficult situation. He asked how they were able to bear it.

    The good branch president chuckled and then said, "You have to remember that we had received a spiritual witness that the gospel and the Book of Mormon are true. We knew that whatever you taught us to do would be the right thing and that God would help us through it. Overcoming the addictions was difficult, but we were infused with the Spirit, which made it a joyful sacrifice."

    My brother marveled, realizing that he would probably be far more sensitive in handling a similar situation today--maybe even so sensitive as to rob the family of an opportunity to experience the joy of the gospel.

    Your point is quite valid. Perhaps that is why the Lord repeatedly calls upon us to become like little children (see 3 Ne 11:37-38 for example).

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 4/05/2006 6:07 AM  

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