For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
- Mosiah 3:19
Monday, October 10, 2011
Innocence or Ignorance of missionaries
I fed the missionaries dinner the other night, as I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, they sat in my living room talking amongst themselves. My apartment is filled with books - shelves of books, books on the table, the floor, the sidetables, on and under the coffee table, on the couch. I lose track of books, but the books I'm reading are usually right next the TV remote control on the coffee table.
Recently, I've been reading a lot on theories of sexuality, gender, and power - in other words queer theory. It's helpful in that it identifies those things I sense to be off, but never had the words to articulate. There was one book by a french philosopher (why do they always have to be french?) that I was reading and left on the table. The title of the book, "The Making of the Gay Self," and the picture of two men embracing is a bit forward.
During dinner, I was talking with them about how I'm slowly working on trying to develop an enduring, motivating faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement. They asked if I read the Book of Mormon, "I do," I responded, "every day." (Which is true.) But just because one reads the book everyday does not mean one will necessarily acquire the faith in Jesus Christ - this fact perplexes these missionaries. As we ate and they asked questions about my faith, I responded. Then one missionary (who's been out for seven weeks), says in a respectfully audacious manner, "I say this with much love and respect...maybe you're not gaining the faith in Christ you seek after because of the things you read...the book on your table is darkening your mind."
I was taken aback a bit, but kindly thanked the missionary for his kindness. Little did he know that I grew up with fairly liberal (but morally conservative) parents - they are intellectuals and encourage the exploration of deep things that push the limits of conventional understanding and comfort. My intellectual heritage was insulted by that remark. But I quickly realized, he's a 19 year old kid, grew up in suburban Salt Lake City to ultra conservative parents who don't question the "facts" from Fox news. I simply stated, as a result of studying queer theory, what little faith I do have now is gaining traction, because I'm able to ask more precise and specific questions about the operation of the church, the gospel, even the structure of the ontology...doing so helps me to realize that if there is no response, then God's will is simply that I accept the uncertainty.
Ignoring those books and the wealth of perspective they bring could not bring me to comfortably accept uncertainty in the church. Before I was simply moving forward agitated by things I felt uncomfortable with, but did not know why. These books have given me the perspective and faith to accept uncertainty and let go. Perhaps one day that missionary will understand.