Monday, September 20, 2010

Problem: What defines "righteousness"? The pharisees were wrong.

One problem I've found that we have is judging how good a person is based on some details that are misleading and/or superficial.  Many of the tenets of the Honor Code can be observed based on your outside appearance: do you have piercings?  Do your sideburns not extend below your ear?  Is your skirt knee-length?  Are you smoking?  But really, none of these details is saving.  Details about a person that you can quickly see without even taking to that person are not as telling as people think they are.

Often, someone who is an RM, attends the temple regularly, has a calling and is active in church, doesn't drink, etc. is held up as the standard of righteousness.  BALONEY!  Yes, someone with all of these qualities can be an upstanding citizen, but it doesn't automatically make him or her one!  You could be living the Word of Wisdom and going to the temple every single day, but if you're heart's not in it and you're going through the motions only, it's not much benefit.  And even more importantly, if you're a judgmental jerk who talks condescendingly to lesser mortals, that's much more telling than if you're a full tithe payer.  It's harder to be kind and compassionate than to dress modestly.

I'm tired of people with certain qualities being automatically defined as righteous.  This is not because I do not like these actual people; it's because other people who don't do such obvious "good" things but are still great people aren't considered so.  I'd rather live with a stoner who was nice to me than with someone who doesn't even drink caffeine but is gossipy.  This reminds me of a Board question written by a girl who clashed with her roommates: she seemed to be a stereotypical super Mormon girl, while they skipped church and class and had non-member friends over.  I do not know this girl at all, and my assessment of her might be inaccurate.  I feel that she is one whose heart is in the right place who is trying to do the right thing, but is getting caught up in all of the extra things and ignoring the center of the Gospel.  This sentence sums it up for me: "I am really trying to be more religious and do better with scripture reading and journal writing, etc."  Writing in your journal doesn't save you.  Although it is a great idea, it is really eclipsed by more important actions.  A nice little Mormon girl can sit in her room with her cap sleeves and long skirt, reading scriptures about repentance and writing in her journal, but that's really not what it means to be righteous.  At all.

The asker of the question also mentioned how it was hard to feel the Spirit with the roommates' friends over.  This is a big one for me, because having the companionship of the Holy Ghost is a huge deal in youth.  If you so much as step foot in a less-than-great area, the Spirit will apparently flee.  To that I say, "NONSENSE!"  The Holy Ghost isn't uptight and he wants to stay with us as much as possible.  It's one thing to seek out the dark places, but if you somehow wind up in a situation, the Holy Ghost is going to stay there to help you; it would be ridiculous for him to run away when you need him most.  In addition she said how her roommates left church after sacrament meeting.  Also, at least the roommates are going to sacrament meeting, which is arguably the most important part of church!  

Anyway, perhaps I'm misjudging this girl, but she seems to embody so many of the beliefs that I am against.   Too many people act like Pharisees and judge someone's spirituality based on public actions Another perfect example of this belief, and the thing that inspired this post, is this nice little flyer that you find around the library:

I agree that music piracy is a major issue for this generation--that's not my complaint.  My complaint is the first part, which is trying to show that Brad is a righteous guy!  Why is he righteous?  Because he's an eagle scout and an RM!  Seriously?  

And yes, I suppose that the "Be Consistent" does kind of fit with my view, because it's saying that being married and an RM doesn't guarantee you're living all areas of your life well.  But still, it still is rather judgmental, and it's proof that the belief that certain things seem to guarantee you're a righteous person does exist.