Even More Annoying False Doctrines

Stephen Marsh Mormon 58 Comments

God will not give you anything you can not handle.

More closely allied to “don’t worry, you will live through this” and “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

Actually, people go mad, commit suicide without committing mortal sin, are abandoned by their spouses and have children die.  We often face things that are more than we can handle, at least for some period of time.

The most egrarious example of this at work was the lady I listened to talk about how everything had gone wrong for her, then a lady had died and left a perfectly good husband and lots of insurance money and she had married into a great place and had been happy.  She, of course, did not dwell on the fact that wife number one had died.

Now there is a true principle.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No.” Romans 8:35,37

Perhaps more recognizably:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

None of the things that happen can separate us from the love of God, or prevent the resurrection or God’s ability to bring us safely home.  But that does not mean that we don’t die or have things almost as severe happen to us on the way there.

So, is a depression or a recession possible or can we avoid such things because after all, God won’t make it too hard (or make us cross the plains on foot or allow mobs to run us out of our homes or let Christ be crucified … or did He?).

Ok, this one is too serious, guess I need to tackle a lighter annoying false doctrine next time.

Written on Decembere 18, set for later posting to keep the schedule moving 😉

Comments

comments

Comments 58

  1. Great post Stephen

    “God will not give you anything you can not handle.”
    That is so widely used in the church I think it gives people a lot of hope. But I am in total agreement if its cultural or folklore these mormon myths can eventually do more damage than good and can severely damage faith.

    Is their any basis for it though was it said by a GA possibly in a ward meeting and has just grown? Do you know the roots of where it came from?

  2. I don’t like the title of these posts. I find it a bit presumptuous for you to declare which “doctrines” are “false.”

    It would be more interesting and helpful to try answer some easier questions about doctrines (or teachings, in other words) such as these:
    – How prevalant has this teaching been over the years?
    – Where did this teaching originate? How authoritative was the source?
    – Have countervailing or contradictory doctrine been taught? What and by whom?

    I think most of the doctrines that people label as “false” have been taught by fairly authoritative sources at one time or another. Also, most doctrines people label as “true” are at least partially contradicted by some other official teachings at some time or another.

    Onthe very topic of this post, compare:
    http://scriptures.lds.org/1_ne/3/7#7
    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/124/49#49

  3. This one is easy–it has its unfortunate roots in this simple verse:
    1 Cor. 10: 13
    13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    In many, many people’s minds, the word temptation is replaced with suffering (because suffer is in the verse, just not in the usage we normally associate with), and it get’s jumbled. This is what happens when people don’t read their scriptures carefully.

    Of course, whether or not some careless remark by a GA has reinforced this conclusion, I don’t know, but I believe this to be the origin of this particular belief.

  4. Exactly what Benjamin said. That verse has been butchered to our detriment as much as any in our canon, imo.

    When you replace “temptation” with “suffering” it changes the entire meaning of the verse – and not in a positive manner. It makes light of terrible things we do to each other, but it also smacks of Calvinist predestination – that if we crack, it is because we are not strong enough. Technically, scientifically, that probably is a legitimate statement, but putting the “blame” on us for cracking under extreme duress is wrong – plain and simple. That smacks too much of the justifications for the tortures of the Inquisition, and anything that can be used to justify those actions . . .

    The Gospel seems to teach that God’s grace will make up for what we can’t handle, despite our best efforts – and that is a completely different message.

  5. On the other hand, in the 15th century English the word “temptation” was synonymous with “trial,” and “to tempt” also meant “to try,” so there is justification for this interpretation. Also I don’t think “egrarious” is a word. Perhaps you meant “egregious.”

  6. This particular false doctrine has been bothering me for about 2 years. My brother died in a car accident, leaving behind a critically injured wife and 2 critically injured children. The other 2 children survived the accident with just bumps and bruises, but emotionally were damaged worse than the ones with physical injuries. For a 7 year old to lose her father is a heavy burden. It was incredibly tough for me to lose my brother, and theoretically, I’m supposed to be more mature than a 7-year old. With the way she handled the situation, it is obvious to me that the accident was beyond her ability to cope. It is unfortunate, but I do have people in my extended family who have commit suicide, due to inability to cope with whatever burdens they have.

    I know I have made some people uncomfortable in my ward for saying that I do NOT have a testimony of this false doctrine. It has been a very tough 2 years since my brother died. Stephen, thank you for clarifying the true doctrine from the false doctrine. There is nothing which can separate us from the love of God. However, I do believe that there can be things in our life that we sometimes do not handle appropriately.

  7. Great post Stephen! It’s posts like yours that keep me coming back to the nacle. It often seems like we’re stuck going in circles with topics to write about, but I am loving your series… especially this one. I have always felt uneasy when people would say “God won’t give you more than you can handle” but never knew how to respond or even how to process it for my own sake. I have seen way to many people go through way more than they could handle to still believe that. I really like the idea that we won’t be given anything that would separate us from the love of God. In that I can believe.

  8. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 10:13)

    In my opinion this is an example of incomplete doctrine. There are three kinds of doctrine that I watch for: 1) false doctrine, 2) incomplete doctrine, and 3) true doctrine.

    I’ve learned to be very careful reading a scripture in isolation–by itself. The scriptures are not an encyclopedia. To avoid misinterpreting scripture we need to watch for companion scripture. Companion scriptures are worth there weight in gold.

    For 1 Cor. 10:13 I like to use Alma 13:28 and Alma 34:39.

    28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

    (Book of Mormon | Alma 13:28)

    verse 28 above clearly says we can be “tempted above that which we can bear”. To avoid this dilemma we to to watch and pray continually until we obtain the Holy Spirit.

    39 Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing. (Book of Mormon | Alma 34:39)

    verse 39 above says satan can “overpower” us.

    Stephen–I enjoyed your post and the thoughtful comments. Happy New Year to all.

  9. I don’t think the doctrine is totally false. I think this fits in the folk doctrine category, although in addition to the scriptures in 1 Cor. and Alma cited above, I’d add 1 Ne. 3:7. We’ll never get the answer in this life as to whether HF allows people to suffer or be tempted more than they can bear, but I think some people decide where that threshold is for themselves before they start drinking, slit their wrists, launch crime sprees, etc. I like to think that if I’m going through something that I don’t think I can handle, I just learned something about my capacity to endure. I also like to think we’re all a lot stronger and more capable than we think we are.

  10. From a scriptural perspective, it is very easy to identify incorrect or false doctrines. When Nephi discussed the doctrine of Christ, he ended the discussion with the statement found in the last verse of 2 Nephi, chapter 31, which states that his writings represented the ‘only and true doctrine’ of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
    When Christ was among the Nephites, he also expressed His doctrine. This is found in 3 Nephi 11, and stats that anything more ore less then what He has given was not of God. Finally, in D&C 10:87-68, the Lord again presents His doctrine and again adding or taking away from the doctrine is not of God.
    So, based on the scriptures above, if the concept is not contained in one of the three references regarding the doctrine of Christ, I would label it as false.

    I put up a discussion of this topic on http://www.ldaanarchy.wordpress.com a couple days ago.

  11. Perhaps this actually isn’t a “doctrine” and therefore the reason that it is false. When I’ve researched what is considered “official doctrine” in Mormonism, there isn’t all that much — or at least not as much as most Mormons believe. We mistake teachings, ideas, and theories for “doctrine” all too often, in my opinion. It doesn’t mean they’re all false because they’re not doctrine, but knowing the difference can make a huge difference in someone’s life (i.e. someone who is suicidal or a family who has suffered through a tragedy like Mormon Heretic’s family.

  12. I never really interpreted it as that. I personally have no problem with the saying, its more the interpretations that go with it that can cause the troubles. I’ve never really had a fear of dieing, or death, and since I’ve come to that lack of fear, that saying has always meant pretty much what you outlined. I thought of the more then we can handle bit as being spiritually. No matter how dark the hour we can always keep faith and spiritual strength. Though we may die, we might live again. It is important to keep the grand picture in mind at all times.

    As I read over the other comments, it seems that Jared’s comments are the closest to my thoughts. We’ve never been told that we’ll never be tried, or that they’ll be easy trials when they happen, but we do know that we always have a choice for how we take them. It’s tempting to ‘curse God and die’ but we have guidance and will always be able to keep faith if we are willing.

  13. Ray,
    I didn’t put those comments regarding ‘anything more or less is not of God.’ If you read my piece on LDS Anarchy, you would find that revelation is a cornerstone of the doctrine of Christ as recorded in 2 Nephi, chapter 31. From my study of the scriptures, the gospel is the gospel, the doctrine of Christ is the doctrine of Christ. Alma teaches us to seek after the mysteries of God which covers pretty much everything else. We are blessed with scripture which restored the plain and precious truths that were mangled during the dark times.

    In my mind, it comes down to this. Either the scriptures are true or they are not. If you want to equivocate regarding the doctrine of Christ and His warning to not mess with it, it is your choice. After all, apostasies have occurred because the ‘church’ moved away from the plain and precious things. The Holy Roman Church justified the practice of indulgences by stating that the word of the Pope overruled scripture. What will happen to this dispensation if this is repeated?

  14. spektator, thanks for the clarification and the link. I think I understand better what you mean.

    Fwiw, I have no problem with the scriptures you quoted. I accept them and believe them. I’m just trying to understand what you think they mean – and particularly if you think all “doctrine” has been revealed already. Also, those three passages are not internally consistent if you parse them literally and exclusively, since they do not identify the exact same things as “doctrine” but all contain the “no more than this” admonition.

    So, two simple questions:

    1) How do you define “doctrine” in the context of those differing exclusive statements? (I didn’t see that addressed directly in your linked post.)

    2) Is your real complaint simply that what Stephen is calling “false doctrines” should instead be called “false teachings” or even “falsely understood mysteries”?

  15. “God will not give you anything you can not handle.”

    This fights the grain of the post, but I still buy into this. I know people who have endured things that they should by no account have been able to endure. Yes, people crack under the pressure…and I am fully convinced that the Atonement of Christ recognizes the difficulty of the given trial. I know wives who have endured infidelity, folks who have come back from serious illness (such as myself), and people who endure through the death of loved ones through suicide, other tragedies. Viktor Frankl should not have survived, but he defied the odds.

    Frankly, I am convinced that everything a person encounters can be an edifying experience. God is the great co-opter and can turn something tragic and make it a powerful tool in his hands. I have experienced; I have witnessed it.

  16. A young woman in my old ward hanged herself last summer, leaving behind a 3 month old baby. I think that this belief of the Lord not giving us anything that we can’t handle is especially hard on those with a mental illness and their families. I admit that even I have had thoughts about such people like “They just need to try harder, to have more faith. They will be able to handle it if they just make more of an effort.” Mental illness is a tricky one because the person often can’t handle it alone and often, not even family and doctors are able to save them from themselves. And then when someone does take their own life, it’s actually really hard to not put the blame on them. If God truly hasn’t given them something that they can’t handle, and they commit suicide, then they have failed, right?

  17. I do not buy into the argument that in mortality we are faced with temptations and burdens that we cannot overcome. I think scripture is abundantly clear that in mortality we will face hardships and temptations that are almost beyond are capacity to overcome, but we can still do so. Scripture further teaches of taking upon ourselves the yolk of Christ making all burdens possible to carry. I believe the false doctrine in this teaching would be more appropriately based on those that pass judgments upon others with the claim that they were not faithful enough or were weak etc.
    Mormon Heretic said
    ” ‘God will not give you anything you can not handle.’

    How does this concept apply to someone who commits suicide, or dies of a drug overdose (accidental or purposeful)? ”

    I stand by my position that mortal challenges whether in temptation or burden can be overcome through the atonement (in this life or after) but we are in no place to judge or speculate for anyone because we do not understand the full picture.

  18. I guess I’m a bit confused about this idea that God gives us things to try us. If it’s the case that He created a world and set us in it with all the trials associated with mortality, that’s one thing. But I’m not so sure that God every so often decides to give brother or sister so and so a hardship or tragedy to see how they’ll do or make them better in some way. I’d never do that to one of my children or anyone else. Why would God do it to me?

  19. GB, I think it comes from an over-literal reading of Job and an under-figurative reading of your second sentence – which I personally agree is the cause of the vast majority of our trials and suffering. “Life is suffering” is a pretty good mantra, imo, and I think it fits our theology quite well 99% of the time.

    Oh, and I think some people (Brigham Young, for example) like to glory in their trials – assuming that if their trials are greater than someone else’s that they must be more righteous than that other person. That might qualify as a separate false doctrine, but it’s one I hear all the time (not just in the Church, but in relgion in general). I think the twisted view of that one is even more destructive than the base of what we are discussing here, since it sometimes leads people to not even attempt to repent when their own actions are causing their suffering – and causing others to suffer, as well.

  20. The core problem with how this phrase is used is that we assume that anything that happens to a person is “from God” and not a byproduct of their own stupid choices or someone else’s free agency, etc. It’s the seductive notion that God is very intimately involved in our lives on a daily basis, which doesn’t seem at all like a God who is trusting and trying to build God-like capabilities in His children. The level on which this mantra works (you’ll never receive a trial you’re not equal to) is like an affirmation. When you tell yourself something positive, you begin to believe it, and that belief gives you strength (just like Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”)

  21. I think this one is just the result of perhaps semantics. I’m not sure we all agree on what it means to “handle” something either. “God won’t give us something we can’t handle.” The two things that stick out to me are the fact that we could only be talking about things that God is directly responsible for giving us. Does God GIVE us mental illness? I had depression for a long time… but I’m not convinced that God gave it to me. Secondly, what does it mean to “handle” something? If a person suffers from a crippling mental illness, but still manages to be KIND and take care of those within his/her stewardship, has CHARITY, LOVE, and a testimony of Christ’s Atonement… but in a moment of weakness takes his/her own life… did they “lose?” They didn’t “handle” it?

  22. We as humans do not process information very well. We draw conclusions all the time based on information not rooted in truth. We must be willing to rexamine our conclusions. Truth must be exalted, celebrate when you find that you were wrong about something. Rexamine Romans 8 Pauls exortation about the love of God. Paul is speaking about those who are ” in Christ”, who have departed a walk after the flesh and walk afer the Spirit. The context of this chapter is clear. Remove the corrupt forms of communication from your lives clearly defined by Paul in Ephesisans chapt. 4. My answer to the question is everything that comes into our lives, God knows about it. Christ sufferd and so shall we also suffer that is what Jesus said. Nobody enjoys suffering but as for me, I will do it patiently waiting on the Lord. To get to this place of faith a person must be spiritually reborn. No amount of self will or self determination can bring this change. Only when the third personage of the God head the Holy Spirit takes up residency in your very being will this occur. Please do not take any of what I have said for truth, find out for yourself. Thank you for all your postings. Dave

  23. Mormon Heretic:

    I tend to agree with Arthur’s point about semantics. We probably need more precision in what we mean by handling.

    As one who has endured my share of medical afflictions (I was higher than many drug addicts at one point in my medical drama…and had to re-learn how to walk), I feel like it’s reasonable to suppose that even tragic, surreal circumstances can be utilized for the purposes of God if the sufferer so wills it.

    At any rate, I have a very good friend who committed suicide as a result of his bipolar disorder. While I can’t go into the details of it, I believe that he led his life in a wonderful way. He failed to take his medication one day and his world fell apart. Did he crack under pressure? One might say so, but I don’t think it would be helpful to describe it in those terms. I’m convinced (based on conversations with his loved ones) that the grace of the Atonement has more than compensated for his slipping underneath the enormous burden of bipolar disorder. Compared to the flaws I have, that so-called “mistake” of not taking his medicine pales in comparison. So it is with other non-chemically based diseases.

    As far as the intentional drug overdose, I am convinced that by that point someone’s agency is so impaired that they are no longer accountable. While one might sorrow their decisions to partake in the first or even the second, third places, we would be wrong to say that they are as guilty at the end as they were at the beginning. They will have ample opportunity to make up for their errors in the afterlife (presuming, of course, that their motives were in the right place to begin with–that they just fell in a moment of weakness).

  24. Ray,
    I don’t have all the answers. I have struggled with the same questions you have brought up. Here is my take. According to the scriptures, we have received a ‘fulness of the gospel’ as found in the Book of Mormon. I take that to mean we should not expect any more expansion on the gospel.

    The same is not true for the doctrine of Christ. In 2 Nephi 31:21, we read that the chapter contains the ‘only and true’ doctrine of Christ to my point earlier. Later, in chapter 32, verse 6, we read that ‘there will be no more doctrine given until after [Christ] shall manifest himself’ unto the Nephites. So we have the scriptures appearing to be internally inconsistent. Is the doctrine of Christ the only doctrine or can it be added to? I believe it can be added to but not by men. In Matthew 15:9, Christ says:

    “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

    I am making the assumption that when God wishes to expand on the doctrine of Christ, he will do so. I would think that it would be expressed in scripture as in the examples cite. As Paul states:

    “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

    There also seems to be a similar opinion regarding doctrine as found in Hebrews, chapter 6 where Pauls starts out by saying: “THEREFORE leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection…” That suggests that here is a more cleanly defined ‘doctrine’ as I have described above.

    Can a mystery of God become a doctrine? I think there is some opportunity for this to happen. We read in Alma 40 where resurrection is defined as a ‘mystery,’ while in D&C 138 we read of the ‘doctrine of the resurrection.” Does this mean that resurrection is now a doctrine? Study and prayer will yield an answer.

    I don’t really have a problem with the reference to ‘false doctrines’ because that is explicitly what we are warned about in the scriptures. My point is more that we should use scripture as the barometer as to the doctrine of Christ.

    Spek

  25. When I have question about doctrine in the scriptures I like to read a verse then make a question. For example take the following verse and make a question that this verse answers.

    And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
    Abraham 3:25)

    Is mortal life a proving ground to see if we will keep the commandments of God? The answer is, yes. I think everyone familiar with this verse would agree that yes is a proper answer. Of course, it is important to read the entire thought and look up companion scripture by using the footnotes.

    Here is another verse of scripture that fits in with many of the comments made above.

    Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.

    Mosiah 23:21

    Question: Does the Lord chasten and try his people? Yes. For what reason? To try their patience and their faith. Who does the Lord try? His people. Who are his people? This verse doesn’t answer the last question. Therefore, a little research is needed.

    The following verse of scriptures provides one answer.

    …the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel. 1 Nephi 14:17

    According to this verse, who are his people? The house of Israel.

    And last, but not least, we can learn what the modern prophets are saying. Regarding trials President Monson has said:

    Mortality is a period of testing, a time to prove ourselves worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. In order for us to be tested, we must face challenges and difficulties. These can break us, and the surface of our souls may crack and crumble—that is, if our foundations of faith, our testimonies of truth are not deeply embedded within us.
    We can rely on the faith and testimony of others only so long. Eventually we must have our own strong and deeply placed foundation, or we will be unable to withstand the storms of life, which will come. Such storms come in a variety of forms. We may be faced with the sorrow and heartbreak of a wayward child who chooses to turn from the pathway leading to eternal truth and rather travel the slippery slopes of error and disillusionment. Sickness may strike us or a loved one, bringing suffering and sometimes death. Accidents may leave their cruel marks of remembrance or may snuff out life. Death comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey, and often it hushes the laughter of little children. “How Firm a Foundation,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 62, 67–68

    —I have said, it is necessary that we pass through certain ordeals, and that we be tried. But why is it that we should be tried? There is just the same necessity for it now that there was in former times. I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.” —It is the crowns, principalities, the powers, the thrones, the dominions, and the associations with the Gods that we are after, and we are here to prepare ourselves for these things. We are after eternal exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God. JD 24:198 John Taylor

  26. Thanks, again, spektator. It sounds like we aren’t all that far apart in theory, when we take “doctrine” and “mysteries” and allow for movement from the latter to the former.

  27. As I said before, this topic is something I have been struggling with for a couple of years. Of all the things I’ve heard, Stephen has the most satisfying things to say. I do believe that sometimes we have trials beyond our ability to cope. But these should not separate us from the love of God. Arthur and Russell’s attempts to turn this into semantics just are not satisfying to me. It’s one thing to slip and eat a piece of chocolate cake when you’re dieting, but when failing to take your depression medication one day turns fatal, I don’t think that is on the same level of seriousness. Clearly the ability to handle mental illness is much more difficult to handle than say obesity.

  28. Chiming back in after a few days away from this discussion (in early, in late…that’s me).

    I maintain my original position–this teaching, although commonly heard in meeting houses throughout the church, is a misinterpretation of various scriptures that are true, but the teaching itself fails to arrive at the truth. Sadly.

    Here’s another example–is the burden of same-sex attraction a trial too great for mortals to handle in the context of the gospel? Let’s start with a few axioms, then see where we get:

    For the purposes of discussion only, let us assume that:
    1. Same-sex attraction is not mutable. That means that once gender-attraction is determined, it is permanent. We’ll leave aside questions of when or how this occurs. It’s actually irrelevant for this discussion.
    2. Fornication (for all individuals) is a sin outside of marriage (law of chastity).
    3. Same-sex marriage is prohibited in the plan of God, for reasons that are irrelevant to this discussion, but are presumed (for the purposes of this discussion ONLY) to be immutable also.
    4. Because of axiom 3, axiom 2 cannot circumvented via marriage for same-sex couples. Again, law of chastity.
    5. Libido is a fundamental motivator of human behavior in many instances of human interaction.

    If 1 and 5 are both true, then given 2-4, we have a real mess, and are likely to see a situation where those who accept all of these axioms and are attracted to the same-sex are likely to feel intense duress. Perhaps more than they can handle. This is a situation where they could easily be put in a position where their suffering is more than they could bear. Their temptations as well.

    Another example: drunk driver, middle of the day, slams his truck into a family van on vacation, killing everyone except the mother, leaving her partially disabled (unable to work) and offs himself. The drunk is uninsured, driving a stolen vehicle, and the mother gets no insurance money. Her husband had a modest life insurance policy, which just manages to cover her immediate hospital bills, and the funeral costs for her now deceased husband and four children. Who would blame her for deciding that life had become unlivable. Whatever her actions, I would not judge them.

  29. Benjamin:

    I agree…if they do accept all the axioms, they would be facing some serious problems. However, I would dispute most of the statements on doctrinal terms.

    In other words, provided one accepts Mormonism as the gospel truth, the New Testament also…then “the truth shall make you free.”

    As far as the drunk driving accident, I don’t think “not judging” her and accepting the stated axiom are mutually exclusive. Since all of us need the mercy of God in different ways and I do not fully realize how mercy would work in her life, I would sorrow her suicide greatly. I would wish she didn’t do it. I might even wonder about the state of her soul. But as someone who knows good people who, because of circumstances that were (largely) beyond their control, took their own life, I would ultimately find comfort in the reality that God knows their hearts and what they wanted to accomplish.

  30. When people bring this up at Church, I usually take the opportunity to point out that it is not correct. God allows temptations of ALL people greater than their capacity. The proof is not a single person except Jesus Christ (according to our doctrine) makes it through this life without sin. If we ALL fail, then we must ALL have been tempted beyong our ability.

    I know the response to that — well, people make the decision and choose to sin. They could resist right? Maybe in theory, but the testing is obviously waaaaaaaaaaay too intense or else surely 1 other person of the 70 billion that passed through mortal existence so far would have been perfect.

  31. Great point, valoel.

    I wonder if there should be a greater examination of what it means for Him to make “a way to escape” – of if we simply should chalk it up to a mistranslation / false doctrine.

  32. Valoel and Ray,I have long held what you state to be true and am grateful for your articulation of my self doubting thoughts,but am still left with the question-what then does this scripture mean?And by the way,I’ve been around[so far]for a lot longer than those who have told me over the years not to think this way.Maybe we can count as the ‘loyal opposition’?Also I love the JS quote as one who’s heart strings are stretched to breaking point as we speak.

  33. After reading all the posts, I still believe that the teaching from the scriptures is true. Just go to lds.org and type in “pray always” or “temptation” and see what you get. There are many scriptures telling us to pray always lest we be caught in the snare of the devil (or other wording, but meaning the same thing). The key here, it to pray always for strength and faith to endure. In my own experience I have come to know that the Lord does not leave us without hope or help in seemingly unbearable situations. Some I handled well and others I didn’t. But, I knew there was always a way provided for me to accept these situations. I think the key here is knowledge. Some have more knowledge than others and they will be held accountable according to the amount of knowledge they have in any given situation. I will be more accountable than my children because of the knowledge and testimony that I have.

    I know that the Lord loves me and is concerned with me and my life. Does that mean he takes away all suffering? No. Definately not, but, He is always there for me when I ‘pray always’. The example given about same gender attraction is not, in my opinion, helpful. My sister-in-law has never married. She handles this situation admirably. But to imply that the ‘temptation’ to not commit fornication is any less hard for her than for those suffering from same-gender attraction is unfair. Sexual attraction is a powerful thing and to remain chaste and virtuous requires diligence and faith and prayer regardless of the gender to whom one is attracted. That being said, I do not want anyone to think that those who commit suicide or in some other way seem to not handle the situation have somehow failed. We all fail in someway or another in the choices we make. That is where the beauty of the Atonement comes into our lives. Heavenly Father knew we would fail at times, so He provided a Savior for us. I know my post sounds contradictory, but this is how I see it: God provides a way to resist temptation and a way to endure trials. He also knows that we will make mistakes along the way. I hope this makes sense to someone. I really enjoy reading these posts and enlightening myself with others opnions on things. I also love the way no one is belittling others for their opnions, even when they differ. Thanks for a great site to study and learn.

  34. When my cousin committed suicide a decade or so ago, two friends of my uncle who happened to be apostles spoke at his funeral. The take-home message was that God loved and still does love him, knows his heart, and knows what he could and could not bear in this life. At the time (and now), it seemed pretty clear that there are some things that some people absolutely cannot bear and that God will love us anyway. I think Ray is right that we may be taking too narrow of a view of “make a way to escape” – not that I believe that taking one’s own life should be that way to escape. The escape seems to me like another way to talk about grace.

  35. Markie, thank you so much for sharing that experience. I wish everyone could read that perspective and internalize the central message as you described it.

    Your final sentence is exactly what I was considering. I hope I gain a better understanding of it in the future.

  36. I know my next comment is slightly off topic, but I want to piggy back of Valoel’s comment about Jesus being sinless. I think we often have an unrealistic view of what “sinless” means. Surely Jesus lost his temper. In his day, he was known as a sinner who broke the Sabbath, associated with sinners, was a wine-bibber, was a blasphemer, and frequently lost his temper with the Pharisees. If we even go into a bar now, we would be viewed as a sinner. Surely if we lost our temper and referred to people as “vipers”, most would accuse us of sin. In fact, I would say that some of Jesus’ rants would be the same as flaming someone on a blog today…

  37. My husband and I were talking about this yesterday, and of course being a return missionary he pointed out the scripture we’re referring to.

    “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

    That scripture doesn’t talk about “giving us what we can handle.” It talks about temptation. God will not allow us to be tempted so much as we would not be able to choose for ourselves. That takes away free agency. So this scripture isn’t about “giving us trials” that we can “handle.” It’s about God promising we will always have the stregnth to choose when we are tempted, and never be so tempted that we are unable to say “No.”

    I don’t understand why people got something else out of it. Perhaps people need something to hope for? All I know is that those who commit suicide got more than they could handle…right? So where was this scripture then?

  38. MH: “In his day, he was known as a sinner who broke the Sabbath, associated with sinners, was a wine-bibber, was a blasphemer, and frequently lost his temper with the Pharisees.” I watched a show with a rabbi who said Jesus was basically an apostate Jew. It was an interesting change in perspective for me.

  39. There is a fascinating book by Albert Nolan, a Catholic Priest, entitled “Jesus Before Christianity”. I can’t remember when it was published, but I read it in college, so it is relatively old. I recommend it highly.

  40. Ray, thanks for the links. I am getting more comfortable with what perfection is not, but I’m not sure I have good vision of what perfection really looks like in a practical sense.

  41. A very enlightening conversation. I never usually chime in on something like this. My preference is to lurk and glean what I can and then silently move to another discussion. This topic is much bigger and has a more encompassing scope than the OP originally intended, I’m sure. The fact of the matter is that this life “happens”. It was designed that way. It’s not so much a matter of “what happens to us” as it is “how we act when it happens”. We all handle things differently because we are all different. The Lord loves us and our differences. Would a loving, compassionate God really “cast us to hell” because we cracked under the extreme pressure of certain circumstances in a life filled with temptation and trials? Maybe. But the great thing is that He has ALL the information to make that decision and we don’t. Because He is aware of our limits, he can be just when the time comes.

    I used to think that if the trial went further than I *thought* it should, God wasn’t paying attention or I wasn’t doing something right — that I wasn’t trying hard enough. But you know what? All I can do is the best I can do. If I know that I am doing that and the trial still persists does that mean that God or his scriptures are wrong? No. My faith is that God is just, compassionate, merciful and a host of other adjectives. If I believe that how could I blame Him? I do not profess to know the mind of God. But if I have faith in Him and faith in His Son, then I know that everything will be ok.

    I view the scripture quoted above as meaning that we will never experience in this life something (be it trial, temptation or other) that would “force” us to turn away from Heavenly Father. That we have it in ourselves to always choose the Lord no matter how hard it might get to do so – as long as we are mentally capable. Are there challenges in this life that cause some to “crack” (I never really like describing it that way) and make us incapable of making those decisions? Of course there are. If that happens will the Lord hold us accountable? Of course He won’t. As long as we are mentally able, there is nothing in this life that would take away our free agency to choose His way. Nothing.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  42. MH, I would say ultimately it is nothing more or less than the completion of the process of becoming like God – and, in this life, at an individual characteristic level, the full internalization of a particular trait that leads to becoming like God. (For example, we might not be able to become truly perfect in this life, but some of us might be able to become perfectly humble, or meek, or merciful, or patient, etc.)

    Try this link – at least for my own take on how I am trying to move forward in that process:

    http://mormonmatters.org/2008/12/31/spiritual-resolutions-my-practical-plan/

    Also, you might like this one:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008/01/rethinking-repentance.html

  43. If you consider the greek from which the word ‘perfect’ is derived from the New Testament (example Matthew 5:48), you will find that ‘complete’ is also a good definition. The connotation is not that we do everything completely right (perfect) but that we complete all that has been asked of us. In this sense, each of us may have different assignments to finish and each can be complete. Hope that makes sense.

  44. Although I think I am more qualified to give my opinion on what perfection is *not*, I will go ahead and throw out there what I think perfection is. First and foremost is the fact that none of us are perfect nor can we ever be (now that’s a sobering!). That is to say we can never become perfected in and of ourselves. However, we can accept the atonement, which will justify us, enabling us to receive the blessings that our Heavenly Father has for us *as if* we were perfect. Without this justification, how could we ever feel worthy of the blessings that we receive or have the Holy Ghost with us? That is the reason the atonement is called an “infinite atonment”, because 1/2 + anything less than infinity is still not infinity (us being the 1/2). You always hear how we do what we can and He makes up the rest? That is how. When we are one with the savior, we become justified to Heavenly Father even though we make mistakes.

    Here are some good talks on the subject
    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=8481759235d0c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    and another (although not by a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles)
    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=9842b850e318b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    I have to believe that Jesus acted appropriately/perfectly in all things. The scriptures are accounts of what happened, most of which was not actually written down until many years after Jesus’ death. In order to have faith that Jesus had the ability to enact the atonement, which required a “sinless” sacrifice, we have to believe, have faith that He was sinless. Anything less than that would not produce the faith in us required to take advantage of that marvelous gift. If we can’t believe that Jesus was sinless, then we can’t believe that he can save us.

    Again, just my 2 cents.

  45. Yes, spektator, I’ve heard that definition before. But let’s talk about the implications. Does this now mean that Jesus was a sinner? If we are merely supposed to be complete, as Jesus, (Be ye therefore perfect, as I and my Father are perfect – 3 Nephi) rather than sinless, then that seems to have big implications regarding the atonement, doesn’t it? How does this all relate to losing one’s temper with Pharisees, or fellow bloggers? If we are supposed to be like Jesus, is losing one’s temper not a sin?

    Sorry, I know this is off topic from the original post. I think I’ll open up this topic for my blog. Stop on by!

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  47. Fwiw, I think we classify sin WAY too liberally. Knowing what to do and not doing it is the classic definition in James, so exercising one’s indignation and telling people (correctly) that they are human vipers wouldn’t fit that definition of sin – at all.

    I believe Jesus was “sinless” – but I also think he probably did things (especially as he was growing up as a child and adolescent, but even in his ministry) that we mistakenly would classify as sin now. I think that’s probably why we don’t have much of the record outside of the little snippets that were recorded – since a prophet is not accepted in his own country, due to over-judgmental people.

  48. One could argue that Jesus acted like Bobby Knight. Bobby threw a chair during a basketball game–Jesus overturned tables of money changers. These seem to be fundamentally similar actions. If Bobby’s a sinner (which pretty much everyone agrees with), wouldn’t vandalizing “legitimate” businesses at the temple be the same?

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