Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'm a Premortal Sinner

I believe that we sinned and repented in the premortal existence. I hadn't ever considered it until a college professor brought it up. It makes a lot of sense to me, so I believe it. This is one of those doctrines that probably can't make any difference in our mortal life, so feel free to disagree with me on this one. :)

Here's the case for premortal sin.

In Abraham we read about the noble and great ones. People can't become noble and great without making great choices. Great choices are only possible in a context where there are really bad choices. This is Lehi's law of opposites.

If there was a possibility to mess up, you can bet that I took advantage of it. And yet here I am as a mortal writing this blog. How could that have happened? The reason I was able to sin and then repent in the premortal realm was because the atonement of Jesus Christ stretches backwards in time. It certainly covers the people who lived before the birth of Jesus in the flesh. I believe it stretches further back still. I think that is the meaning of the "preparatory redemption" spoken of in Alma 13:3.

Was there sin in the premortal life? There was enough sin that 1/3 part of the hosts of heaven became perdition. That's a lot of sin. Could that sin have been just one giant mistake--a blemish on an otherwise perfect record? Possibly, but it doesn't seem likely to me. A fall of hundreds of feet is usually preceded by a slip of lots of inches. I think Lucifer's ultimate fall must have been preceded by eons of prideful thoughts and actions. Can one go instantly from submissive son to plotting usurper? I doubt it.

Others have blogged on this issue before. Check out J. Stapley and Kim Siever.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Defense Of Motherhood

I'm surprised to read comments like this on Mormon blogs.
My husband’s comment about Sis Beck’s talk was that basically, mothers are expected to raise others for greatness, but what about the woman’s ability to achieve greatness outside of her children? Basically, raise good sons to change the world and raise good girls so they can raise more sons to change the world. It’s a depressing cycle, personally, when I think about it, and I wish that female church leaders would allow us to have (and actually enjoy) power outside of children.
If I'm reading "VirtualM" correctly, she believes there is something greater to be accomplished than raising children. Not knowing the woman, I surely can't speak to her particularly, but I'd like to speak to the sentiment I think I detect.

The work of Motherhood (and Fatherhood) is directly analogous, perhaps even parallel to, the work of Godhood. The whole purpose of being on this planet is to gain experience and mold our souls so that we can become like God.

The work of governments, businesses, clubs, communities, and even churches is mere scaffolding to serve the real work done in the homes of people trying to help their children, families, and friends find the path to exaltation through the Savior.

There is quite literally nothing more important that could be accomplished than for a mother and father to raise up their children in righteousness. No service in the church, no duty to the country, no work in humanitarian relief will ever mean more than saving the souls of your brothers and sisters. When those spiritual brothers and sisters are placed in your home as your earthly children, your responsibility is enormous.

It is perfectly natural to crave the attention of the world and the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from working in the spotlight. But ultimately such accomplishments are fleeting, and all that will remain in the eternities is the work that we did with each other, most particularly in our own families where we have the greatest influence. The scaffolding is important, even vital, but count your blessings for every moment you get to spend working on the eternal stuff rather than on maintaining the scaffolding.

In the long view—the only view that really matters—the work that rests so heavily on the shoulders of mothers is the most important work in the universe.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Musings on President Beck's Talk

It's been just about eleven hours since President Julie Beck's General Conference talk. She touched on some very sensitive topics, and she did it in a fairly blunt manner. Anyone familiar with the Mormon blogosphere knew that this would set off a lot of passionate comments and posts, and already there is much to read in the bloggernacle about her listeners' reactions. Many are feeling hurt, condemned to drudgery, belittled, and frustrated.

I actually had the opposite reaction. I was thrilled.

Please don't get me wrong--I am not the type that loves to clean and rejoices in nothing more than staying home and scrubbing my kitchen floor (which, frankly, could do with a good scrubbing). And staying home to raise my children has been an adjustment for me, and even after four years I sometimes wonder how I am going to stay sane for the next twenty.

Perhaps this is why President Beck's talk was so heartening. She really made motherhood, homemaking, and child-rearing sound like a professional job--these are your tasks, these are your responsibilities, these are your goals. Every part of what you do relates to every other part.

I had a professional job once--besides the part-time jobs I held in high school and college. I was an adjunct professor of geology at the local state college. I adored this job--it was so stimulating, so rewarding, so fun it felt scandalous to get paid for doing it. Of course there were boring, tedious, and just plain unpleasant tasks, as with any job. But I plowed my way through them, recognizing the unpleasant parts were just as important, in their own way, as the exciting, fun parts. I tried to make them more enjoyable, tried not to procrastinate, and learned short-cuts and techniques for faster completion.

During President Beck's talk, it occurred to me that I had never applied this mind-set to my current job as a mother/homemaker. Keeping up with my children is hard. Watching them make a mess of a just-previously-cleaned room is depressing. Washing the dishes, making good healthy meals, finding ways to make ends meet while still having fun--those tasks just don't come easily to me. But instead acting like an intelligent professional--studying out how to accomplish them, asking and reading and learning and experimenting--most of the time I just muddle around, complaining and wasting effort. Definitely not professional. Perhaps because women are called to be mothers and, in our gospel culture today, asked to stay home and be homemakers, I figured that by virtue of being a woman, I must automatically have those skills.

While I think of myself as a pretty good mother--I enjoy spending lots of time with my kids, and I like to come up with new games and activities and songs--I have really been falling down on the homemaker tasks. Although home-tending isn't the most important part of the job, it is conducive to comfort, good health, and the continuous presence of the Spirit. If I had taken this attitude to my teaching job, it would be like being a good lecturer, going on fun field trips, and answering questions, but never writing tests, grading papers, or working with people who just don't get it. Somehow I don't think I would have keep my job for very long.

President Beck's talk really opened my eyes, and challenged me. I'm excited about finding ways to truly learn new skills, to try to manage my home, to polish my talents. To truly grow in this important job, and to become the best mother/homemaker/wife ever. Why should I spend the next twenty-plus years doing anything less?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Planned Prodigalism

The term "planned prodigalism" is pretty descriptive, isn't it? I heard the term first from Harvey Gardner, a Regional Representative (when we had them) from my hometown of Page, AZ. There is certainly a problem with sin. But there is a whole other level of problem when we plan to sin and then repent.

Can a prodigal repent? Yes, but it must be much more difficult to repent if we took the atonement of Jesus Christ so casually as to treat it like a sugar daddy's checking account.

What do you think? Is it more wicked to pre-plan your sin? If it is harder to repent, as I assert, why?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.