In an ideal world, we would like everyone to be members of the church (actually, this is just a generalization that I’m going to write just so I can have an introduction to this article). Ideally, we’d like them to be faithful members of the church who sustain the prophet, live great lives, enjoy their lives and find purpose with their lives that match up with the Gospel. In an ideal world.
Unfortunately, Liebniz was a little off the mark. We live in a good world (again, if you disagree, please just go with this one so I can have a snappy article)…but not the best of all possible worlds. So, now, we have to play a game of compromise. If you couldn’t have someone get everything and more from the church, what one thing would you want anyone to get from the church instead?
If you’ve read my posts or my blog, then you will guess that the thing I got from the church was not the theology and spirituality. That one didn’t stick after all. However, I did get a culture that remains with me still. And even now, I realize how in many ways, I’m still, as they say, in the world but not of it. So, even if I don’t affiliate with the theology of the church or assert its divinity, I would like to think that members I know can still say at the end of the day, “Even if that Andrew S guy doesn’t believe, he’s still an OK guy.” And I would like to think that my Mormon upbringing has had something (among others) to do with that.
So, for me, I would like to think that if someone gets something out of the church, it’s a way to be a better person. It’s a code for living. It’s a culture.
…but even I realize that I have arguments against that very thing, and others do too. For example, am I still completely sure that the church’s prescription is always “better”? Even though I have taken from the church a sense of not being a raving drunkard or a sex fiend, this does not necessarily mean that drinking is bad or sex is bad. So my prudeness (not to be confused with prudence), even though it makes me proud to say that I could pass the Law of Chastity or Word of Wisdom sections of a temple interview without breaking a sweat, might be seen as an undesirable thing by others, not a good thing.
And while I would hope that other members would look at my actions and way of living as the most important thing…perhaps they wouldn’t. For example, I could easily see someone saying that the one thing someone should get from the church is belief in the core principles. I know people who have committed some rather big sins and transgressions (some from personal knowledge, others just from that implied knowledge that they must have done something big to get in their position of unworthiness with priesthood and sacrament matters)…but they surely have stayed in the church, and some other members I know are more grateful for that. Because even if these guys aren’t repenting (although some are), they know what’s what when it comes to believing.
So, what do you think? If only one thing, what should someone get out of the church? You can be creative here.