Little Lord Jesus, No Crying He Makes

Ray apostasy, children, christ, christianity, grace, Happiness, Jesus, repentance, salvation, Sermon on the Mount, spiritual progression 35 Comments

Sometimes, I have to say to my creedal Christian friends, in all sincerity:

We really do worship a different Jesus than you do.

I mention sometimes to my family and friends my frustration over certain song lyrics and how they influence how we view Jesus, his mortality and His perfection. I realize it bothers my wife that I obsess over two particular phrases, from two particular songs, but they represent to me much of what is wrong (even “abominable”) about the perceptions and teachings that have come down to us through the ages.  These phrases are:

“Little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes,” (Away in a Manger) and “He never got vexed when the game went wrong, and he always told the truth.”  (Jesus Once Was a Little Child)

Then I realize that the second song is a uniquely Mormon song, and I recognize that the fruits of the Great Apostasy still have not been rooted out of our minds completely.

I use the song lyrics simply to illustrate the tendency for people to deny, in practical terms, His humanity – His mortal half. Really, who even can imagine a normal baby who never cries?  I’ve had six children go through (or currently be in) every stage that is normal to children, and that image is totally foreign to me.  Just as importantly, I also use the lyrics to highlight the way that “perfection” is interpreted now in our society (and too often in church, as well) as opposed to in the scriptures themselves.

Just to consider in light of the image of a crying baby and a vexed child: There is a difference between “sin” and “transgression”. One is a willful choice; one is a mistake made in ignorance or without real choice. The latter “transgression” is MUCH broader than most people realize, and it is captured wonderfully in our 2nd Article of Faith. I want to focus this post on how we view the word “transgression” – and the implications of that view on our eternal progression, particularly in this earthly life.

As an example of something that is quite serious but done in ignorance, think of a child born in a home where terrorism is taught as a way of life. Great rewards are promised for suicide death in the name of God. (If you can call life with many virgins a reward, but that is for another post.)  If that young boy grows up and carries out a suicide bombing that kills people, is his action a “sin” or a “transgression”? How can we really know for sure – seeing only the result and not what caused it? If he were mentally disabled, we would understand and allow for an exception. How can we be sure exactly what constitutes “mental disability” in God’s eyes – exactly what one person understands or does not understand?

Another example – a very emotional one: We are commanded to abstain from sex with anyone who is not our spouse. In the case of rape, there is a sin (the one who rapes) AND there is a transgression (the one who is raped). The victim does not sin, even though the commandment truly is broken – since sex outside of marriage has occurred. The Atonement covers that “technical violation”, since it was not done intentionally or willfully. Therefore, the victim remains “clean” in the eyes of God – as if no law had been broken.

Now, turn to the example of Jesus. We know he was subject to the Fall because of his mother’s fallen status. This means that He inherited from her the ability to “sin”, but it also means He inherited from her the same type of weaknesses and inclinations and tendencies to “transgress” as we do from our mortal parents. ***This means that he had to go through the process of overcoming His “natural man” exactly like we do.*** The only difference is the lack of actual sin.

Have you ever considered that Jesus was acting in His role as Redeemer (Payor of a debt) and Savior (Rescuer from the Fall) for everyone else, but also as Savior for Himself? Lest I be called a heretic, remember, I also believe He never “sinned” by acting in opposition to what He understood and knew. I’m just saying that we are not held accountable for our transgressions; as the 2nd Article of Faith says, the Atonement paid for them. Therefore, I believe, the Atonement also paid for His transgressions, as well – those “innocent” mistakes He made as a child and as He was learning and growing from grace to grace. His crying as a baby didn’t need to be included, since crying is not a transgression, but his actions or words while vexed during a game or his childish untruths (if he told them) would not be imputed as “sin” if he didn’t know better at the time.  He probably was a more naturally obedient child than most (although some of the smartest, most gifted children are the biggest handful), but I think it’s instructive that, like other prophets, He was not accepted “in His own country” – by those who watched Him grow up as just a normal child in their eyes. It’s difficlut to believe that would have been the case if he had been the “perfect little angel” of our songs.

I believe when He condescended to come to earth, He agreed to do so in a way that put Him in subjection to the Fall – so He could experience EVERY aspect of mortality that we do. I believe that in doing so there had to be a way provided for *all* of us to be freed from the effects of the Fall – including He who condescended to become as one of us – in every way other than succumbing to actual sin.

In the end, I return to how “perfection” was applied under the Law of Moses (and in Lucifer’s plan) – never making a mistake and following everything with exactness, generally at threat of punishment. I then look at Matthew 5:48 and see that Jesus defined it as “complete, finished, fully developed” – covering lots of mistakes by allowing for repentance and focusing on spiritual growth toward an eventual completion of character. I read of his final statement on the cross in that context (“It is finished.”) and see in it his acknowledgment that his own exaltation had been worked out – that he was complete – that he could say, legitiamtely, to the Nephites when he appeared to them, even as I, or your father who is in heaven in perfect.” If we understand this difference in the scriptural meaning of perfection, I believe it can change and empower the way we look at Jesus – and our children and our friends and our fellow saints and our leaders – and ourselves, making us much more able to “have joy” in this life and in the life to come.

Just as I believe we can allow him to cry as a baby and become vexed as a child and still maintain our acceptance of him as a God, I believe we can allow ourselves to be human without being overwhelmed by guilt as a result.

Are there any other lyrics that bother you when it comes to describing Jesus – at any point in his life?  I am interested particularly in those that deny his humanity, but would like to hear of others – and why they bother you.  Are there other ways that you believe doctrine has evolved over the years and added unnecessary guilt to our simple existence as mortals in a fallen world?  Am I off my rocker when discussing Jesus’ Atonement applying to himself, as well?

Comments

comments

Comments 35

  1. I kind of had this conversation last night with our children. Our 18-month-old was pointing to a picture of baby Jesus and said, “Jesus, baby, sad!” He knew that babies cry and was saying that Jesus was crying.

    Our 10-year-old daughter said something to the effect that Jesus didn’t cry. I replied that babies cry and Jesus probably cried as much as any baby. Our daughter is familiar with the notion that Jesus was the only one who never sinned, and she got that from us. But I guess by my reply, I was tacitly agreeing with part of your point. I even thought at the time, “I wonder what other normal little kid things he did before he learned the perfect way to do things.”

    I guess I agree with your basic point, although I need to chew on the “paid for his own transgressions” part a bit more. He didn’t sin because once he knew a principle, he lived it perfectly thereafter because it was his divine nature to want to do that, a perfection none of the rest of us has. But I agree, he was a human being, too, and moving from grace to grace meant he didn’t know everything. Once he knew what was right, he did it, but he probably learned many of those things (at least at first), the same way the rest of us did — observing the results of our behaviors and via parental discipline and other reinforcements.

    Off topic, but very cute: the next picture our son turned to showed Mary sitting on the donkey while Joseph looked for room in the inn. He asked where Jesus was and my wife told him the baby was still in Mary’s tummy. He seemed confused and I told him that babies grow in their mommy’s tummy and then they come out. Jesus was going to come out of Mary’s tummy.

    He immediately remembered a previous discussion about what happens to what goes in our tummies. He pointed at her tummy and excitedly said, “POOP!”

  2. I think we should emphatically reject the idea we have from self-reliance teachings that a perfect person would never be an imposition on anyone, ever, under any circumstances. In a perfect society, Zion, do we really imagine that people would never impose? Of course not–interdependence is higher than independence.

    One hymn that’s always bugged me is “How Firm a Foundation”–how “what more can he say, than to you he hath said” completely contradicts the entire notion of continuing revelation and a growing relationship with God and Jesus.

  3. I was always intrigued by the various accounts of Jesus that you can find in the apocrypha. In the Gospel of Jesus, young Jesus is still trying to control his powers and zaps another kid that’s bugging him. The kid dies. He has to work for many years to control his temper.

  4. I think this scripture covers it.

    Heb. 5: 8
    Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

  5. Ray, in my years as a believing LDS, I took your thought one step further. To say that Jesus was “sinless” is not, ultimately, to say that he never sinned. Repentance leaves one “sinless,” as if the offender had never committed the sinful act (notwithstanding natural consequences of our actions, that repentance doesn’t magically erase). Personally, I find much greater inspiration in a savior figure who completely repented (i.e. “overcame” sin), and was thus “sinless,” than I ever could in a savior who never committed a sinful act. As has already been cited, Jesus is said to have “learned” obedience, not come to earth with obedience pre-programmed. In fact, I’d go so far as to point out that a “sinless” Jesus in the sense of never having committed a sinful act is precisely what Lucifer proposed for all of us in the LDS understanding of the pre-mortal council in Heaven.

    On another point, I’d caution you on your words regarding a hypothetical rape victim. Unless you are asserting that a female rape victim has a god-given commandment to succeed in physically overpowering a would-be sexual predator, it is highly problematic to suggest that a rape victim is in “transgression” by having “participated” in an unauthorized sex act. A better example might be the police officer who shoots the would-be rapist, as a last resort, in order to protect the woman from attack. That officer would be in “transgression,” but certainly not “sinful” for having done so.

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your input.

    Awesome story, Lorin. I didn’t see that punchline coming.

    Neal, I hadn’t thought of that line from “How Firm a Foundation”. I agree with your statement about continuing revelation.

    Hawk, it’s instructive to me how different those accounts are than the sanitized versions we get after being scrubbed by the anti-physical, original sin filter has been applied. Frankly, I read more into Jesus’ response to Mary and Joseph after the temple trip (Mormon wording, there) than the traditional reading. I’m not sure how much he has suffered by that time, so I’m not sure if he was being disobedient by remaining behind. It certainly is interesting to consider.

    I can’t believe I missed that scripture, Marjorie. It’s perfect.

    Nick, I can’t argue with your first paragraph. I’m not sure if I can take it that far personally, and I’m not going to teach that version to my kids or in church, but I think it is a reasonable stance.

    I understand your concern in the second paragraph. I thought about whether or not to use the rape example specifically because it is so easy to misinterpret. However, I decided to go ahead and use it because how to view rape has been SO badly botched throughout history. According to any dispassionate analysis, rape causes two people to act in opposition to a law or command. That is the core definition of transgression (“a violation of a law, command, or duty”). My point is that simply “participating physically” in sex is NOT a “sin”, in and of itself. If that participation is not voluntary (if it is coerced), then, even though the law/command has been “violated”, that transgression is not imputed unto the one who is coerced. Therefore, since involuntary transgressions are covered universally by the Atonement, no victim of rape should be seen by others as “tainted” or “impure” or any other pejorative perspective. I chose my words very carefully in that example, including NOT using the word “participating”. Re-read what I wrote, and you’ll see that the only descriptive words I used in relation to the victim were “is raped”. That is the passive voice, and I chose it intentionally.

  7. I’ve always hated the lyric, “no crying he makes.” too. I’m in line with Neal on this one for the most part, I think it represents the idea that a perfect person would never impose and that’s just darn fool wrong. I often went one step further with the line about being vexed, and often told people on my mission (companions for the most part) that the idea of an always happy, friendly, good buddy Christ was straight up wrong. I mentioned Jesus’ talk about the pharisees which essentially goes like this, “Hey there my disciples, man I really can’t stand those pharisees. They’re just such hypocrites! Please don’t be like them, I mean they’re like a whited sepulcher or something.” I also would mention Christ’s phrase, “Father, from me remove this cup.” I think we sometimes forget what this really means: Christ did not want to do the atonement. He did it, though, because he was willing to do what he didn’t want to to serve His Father and live that perfect life. I saw in the mission field a lot, and out of today that people think something is wrong with them, that they’re not doing what’s right if they aren’t just gun ho about doing every little thing-i.e. duties in calling, following commandments, etc. That’s not true either, I always talk about tithing. I think just about everyone would rather keep the hundred dollars from their $1,000 paycheck, but what’s important is that you decide to keep God’s commandments rather than doing what you feel like.
    Anyway, just some of my thoughts, hope they’ve been interesting for someone to read. Thanks for the post, very interesting ideas.

  8. “No crying he makes” is Catholic! Thanks, Hawk; now I get it. 🙂

    Devon, I have a friend whose favorite Biblical character is Job – specifically because he complained about his circumstances. I agree wholeheartedly that the idea that we should be happy and smiling every minute of every day as we joy in every task imaginable is destructive and unrealistic. There are limits on what everyone can do and limits on what everyone can do cheerfully. In this modern, feel-good-all-the-time society, sometimes we need to realize that it’s fine to be required to do some things “just because” – even when we don’t want to do it or don’t get anything out of it. There is way too much “me” and not nearly enough “others” in our society, methinks.

  9. I think songwriters have the right to artistic interpretation but it is a stretch. We simply don’t have the information on what the child Savior was like and any use of logic would make these lyrics seem silly.

  10. The “no crying he makes” is probably as valid as the old story that David O. McKay and his wife “never” had an argument. A multiple-decade marriage with zero arguments seems quite impossible, unless either (a) one partner is passive in a very unhealthy degree, or (b) one partner is domineering or abusive in a very unhealthy way. Since I doubt very much that either McKay or his wife fit these categories, I can’t buy the “never an argument” story. Maybe someone has a truly bizarre/extreme definition of “argument?”

  11. My point is that simply “participating physically” in sex is NOT a “sin”, in and of itself. If that participation is not voluntary (if it is coerced), then, even though the law/command has been “violated”, that transgression is not imputed unto the one who is coerced.

    In my mind, Ray, where no transgression is “imputed,” there hasn’t been a transgression.

    Therefore, since involuntary transgressions are covered universally by the Atonement, no victim of rape should be seen by others as “tainted” or “impure” or any other pejorative perspective.

    Again, I don’t think it’s possible to engage in an “involuntary transgression.” Certainly there are “unwitting transgressions,” and “unintentional transgressions,” but “involuntary transgression” is a contradiction in terms. Keep in mind that from your explanation here, a woman who was raped would be “tainted or impure” as a result of that act, if Jesus had not carried out his atonement. Surely that’s not how you really see it.

  12. Nick, maybe he meant they never shouted at each other. I know quite a few people who don’t think they are arguing if their voices aren’t raised. My wife and I have never had an argument in that sense (voices raised, angrily arguing with each other), even though we’ve had plenty of disagreements. We just work them out without raising our voices.

    I do agree, however, that stories like that (even if legitimate examples of exceptions) can function as guilt-inducing and unrealistic expectations for most – since our nature is to think that we should be able to model the exceptions. I think in our pursuit of perfection we often forget to accept our imperfections as just fine for now.

  13. My first thought is that the no crying he makes was a very temporary condition, like oh-look-at-the-dear-little-baby-asleep-on-the-hay. I raised 3 kids, including one who was bipolar from an early age. He was 14 years old the first time he slept 4 consecutive hours, but even HE had had some sweet no-crying-he-makes periods.

    I like the idea of the Lord growing from grace to grace, step by step, maybe with way less mis steps than most of us, but not born perfect!

  14. “AND there is a transgression (the one who is raped). The victim does not sin, even though the commandment truly is broken – since sex outside of marriage has occurred.”

    Ray, Rape has nothing to do with sex -it is a crime/sin of violence.

    Part of what is written here is so twisted, even if Jesus cried as a baby at some point in time. Nicks’ Jesus as sinless because he fully repented? sure, that’s revolutionary -and wrong. And that article 2 would be the same if you take out Adam and replace him with my uncle -we still are accountable for our acts and sins not other peoples acts, sins or transgressions.

    And: “Am I off my rocker when discussing Jesus’ Atonement applying to himself, as well?”

    Yes, very! It denies part of his divinity and the grace/love/sacrifice of the atonement since it implies that he ‘did it for his own salvation’. Its like the hero who saves his butt first and also helps you through. No, our beliefs are completely different in Mormondom.

  15. Nicks’ Jesus as sinless because he fully repented? sure, that’s revolutionary -and wrong.

    I’m open to being shown it’s wrong, CarlosJC. Clearly, it’s traditional to interpret Jesus’ “without sin” status as “never having committed any sin in his entire existence.” LDS scriptures, however, make no such interpretation. So far as I can see, it’s strictly an assumption, rather than a “revealed truth.” I’m truly not wedded to my thoughts on this, but I’d like to see more than “that’s what I’ve always heard” as evidence of the “Jesus never did anything which violated deity’s commandments in any way” theory. As you explain the evidence for this theory, I hope you’ll also address the scriptural statement that Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered–as opposed to the unscriptural theory that Jesus was born with perfect obedience.

    Yes, very! It denies part of his divinity and the grace/love/sacrifice of the atonement since it implies that he ‘did it for his own salvation’.

    Like it or not, CarlosJC, Jesus’ atonement was in part for his own salvation. Had he refused to endure that suffering, he would have disobeyed deity, thereby sinning. This is an unavoidable fact, CarlosJC. I think your “all or nothing” analysis of motivation here is problematic, at best.

  16. “my frustration over certain song lyrics”…”I obsess over two particular phrases”…”they represent to me much of what is wrong (even “abominable”) about the perceptions and teachings that have come down to us through the ages.”…”I recognize that the fruits of the Great Apostasy still have not been rooted out of our minds completely.”

    This seems a lot like getting upset about a song that incorrectly describes Santa Clause. Truly–‘the fruits of the Great Apostacy’ are flourishing.

  17. Ray, when I was in the primary and teaching Away in a Manger during singing time I said something to the kids about how, obviously, Jesus cried like all babies cry, but we say “no crying he makes” because it is part of the way we make up things to help us remember that he was special.

    On your analysis of rape and transgression, I am in 100% agreement with Nick’s analysis.

  18. Jacob and Nick, we simply are coming at this from different angles. Rape victims historically have been punished (and still are in somes areas and religions and cultures) for being raped – specifically because the laws have been read as expansively as possible. In other words, they are seen as being tainted because they have had sex when society says they should not have had sex. (and Carlos, it is preposterous to say rape “hsa nothing to do with sex”. Of course, it is primarily about violence and power, but it is sexual in nature. Rape victims have “had sex” from a purely biological standpoint. That is indisputable.) Society is WRONG in this, I believe, but it is that historical, expansive, comprehensive categorization I am addressing in my post – the fact that EVEN IF we grant the broadest possible definition of transgression imaginable, the atonement still covers those things – and the rape victim remains pure in the eyes of God. I really don’t care how we arrive at that conclusion – as long as we arrive at that conclusion (that rape victims are not “guilty” of anything, that they are not “tainted” in any way as a result of the crime, that they should not be punished in ANY way [inlcuding emotionally by those who would look down on them or blame them in some way], etc.). It is because a law has been transressed from a purely dictionary-based standpoint that they have been punished and villified and hurt on an on-going basis. What I’m saying is that they should not be, and the Atonement provides a justification for that – even if we grant the historical and dictionary-based understanding of the word “transgression”.

    (and, Nick, “unwitting” and “involuntary” might as well be the exact same thing for the purposes of this discussion, even given their different definitions. In each case, the point is that there is no “fault” or “guilt” or blame” assigned, because it wasn’t an action undertaken in defiance of understanding.)

    Carlos, I simply will echo Nick and ask for scriptural backing for your statement that “perfect” means “never made a mistake”. Jesus apparently didn’t use it that way (see footnote A, Matthew 5:48); Paul didn’t use it that way (Ephesians 4:12-13), Moses was described as perfect (Genesis 6:9) [and we know he was not mitake free] and Jesus himself said explicitly that he would not be “perfected” until the third day (after his resurrection) in Luke 13:32. Read that last verse particularly (and Hebrews 5:8 that Marjorie pointed out), and tell me how what I wrote is incompatible with our scriptures.

  19. Ray,

    Of course, on the conclusion you want to agree on about rape victims not being guilty, or tainted, or culpable in any way, we are in agreement. I understand your point about society in some places being dumb and punishing the victim. But, you make this statement in the post which is what I was most interested in objecting to:

    The Atonement covers that “technical violation”, since it was not done intentionally or willfully.

    I don’t think the atonement does anything to cover this “technical violation” because I don’t think such a violation exists except in the minds of stupid people. As far as God is concerned, I think there is absolutely nothing for the atonement to cover in the case of the rape victim and I view that is an important point. Cheers.

  20. Jacob, I don’t disagree with that at all, despite my use of “technical violation” (of a HUMAN code of conduct) – since I agree that such a code is not in harmony with God’s outlook. In the light by which you are addressing it, I agree completely.

  21. Ray,

    If your statement on rape wasn’t serious, I’d simply ignore it. But I don’t because what you say is damaging to the rape victim at best.

    From Rape: ‘Psychology,Prevention and Impact’, yale.edu

    “The raping of women is a crime on the increase in the United States. It is a crime that is often misunderstood and surrounded by myths. It is our goal to dissect some aspects of this insidious act and share some of the more recently discovered facts.

    One commonly believed myth is that rape is primarily a sexual act. Persons with this belief often unintentionally place the victim on trial. Her motives, her dress and her actions become suspect not only to law enforcement officials but also to her family and friends. The woman’s credibility may be questioned and her sexual activity and private life may be made public. Perhaps because of the guilt, embarrassment and humiliation, rape has been a highly underreported crime. However, throughout the past 20 years a variety of psychologists and sociologists have begun to study the psychology of rape and rapists.

    **Their findings have shown that rape is a crime of violence, often regarded by the woman as a life-threatening act in which fear and humiliation are her dominant emotions. Sexual desire is less a motivation for the man than violent aggression***

    Rape as a crime of violence is perhaps best understood by examining studies of the rapist, who he is and why he does it. However, it is somewhat disconcerting. Research by Amir in the 60’s and 70’s indicates that rapists are not the psychopathic, antisocial men one would think them to be.2 There are of course the extreme individuals, but most rapists blend well into their own communities”….etc and they give an extensive reference list. The question is how can a woman or man engage in sex when ‘fear and humiliation’ are their dominant emotions.

    Now I know what you’re thinking here. Its that you didn’t say that rape is “primarily a sexual act” but that “AND there is a transgression (the one who is raped)” And that is the myth because there simply is not a transgression by you when someone else beats you over the head with an iron & you don’t have ‘a transgression of the mind’ when someone shots a bullet through it. Nor do you have a sexual ‘transgression’ when someone enters a virgina/anus with any object -all these are about violence and subjugation, not sex! Nor is it a sexual act or ‘transgression’ when a doctor does a pap smear. Just think for a minute how gay would you become if you were anully raped? None! because that rape is also not a sex act but a crime of violence. Nor will the woman raped be looking to the rapist as a sexual partner. During the rape the emotions are all of fear or survival.

    Now I’m not condemning you here or judging you in this (rape beliefs), I know most people think like you do or worst they think that if a women wears a miniskirt alone at night, well then she ‘contributes’ to the crime. And many in law enforcement think that way. They allow ‘prevention’ to overwhelm any unbiased analysis. But I’m writing this in the hope that you can rethink your views on it and change then to more closely resemble what both psychologist and the Lord says on this matter: the raped person has not committed a sin nor transgression but was a victim of an act of violence.

    Maybe though its the definition of transgression that you ought to revisit. I don’t think you are correct in that either, but I’ve written way too much here so far.

    (Nick, I’ll address that issue tomorrow, now I don’t have time)

  22. My 6 year old whispered to me at church today that she bet Jesus never got in trouble at school. I begged to differ. He was always having run ins with authority figures that landed him in all kinds of trouble. That’s the price of trying to change the world.

  23. Sigh

    I said rape is primarily a crime of violence. It is, however, a sexual act – or it wouldn’t be rape. I’ve already said I was addressing a WRONG societal perspective, which is why I said “technical violation” (using quotation marks).

    I can’t defend what I didn’t say. So, let me ask for direct quotes:

    How is “what (I) say damaging to the rape victim at best.” Give me exact quotes from what I said that damages rape victims, keeping in mind everything I have said.

  24. “the raped person has not committed a sin nor transgression but was a victim of an act of violence.”

    ***I’ve already answered that and said I agree completely that the victim has not “committed” anything.*** I already said that the Lord sees the victim as if nothing had happened – that there is NO taint or stain or punishment or judgment or anything else negative that should attend being raped.

    I think you are constructing a straw man that is not mine, especially since I agree with everything you and Jacob and Nick have said about this specific issue – and since I tried to be very careful in the words of my actual post (right down to using quotation marks to try to distinguish something that is strictly biological from what is moral).

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  26. What an interesting post!

    I know that the English version of “Away in a Manger” bothers some people. But I have always thought that “no crying he makes” just aptly describes a typical newborn sleeping peacefully–which is what newborns do most of the time. 🙂 The Spanish version uses the phrase “never cried,” which is a lot harder for me to accept!
    Regarding “never got vexed,” I think that most children (as well as most adults) are quite happy to think that the being we worship as our Savior (and a member of the Godhead) was an obedient child who was different from other children, and that He set an example of righteousness from the time he was very young.

    Saying that Christ was “sinless” because he repented of all his sins strikes me as removing his unique capability to satisfy the demands of justice and perform an infinite atonement. To me, saying that He “learned obedience” merely means that he learned the commandments as he grew up, and kept them as soon as he was capable of understanding them–not that he sinned and then learned to repent and not sin again.

    There are many scriptures that describe Jesus Christ as being the only one capable of performing the Atonement, but here are a couple that seem to me to say that Christ did not ever sin:
    “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22
    “. . . but was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

    I agree with Hawkgrrrl that Jesus “was always having run ins with authority figures that landed him in all kinds of trouble,” but I don’t think he got into trouble because he “sinned.” 🙂

  27. The song “The little drummer boy” has always annoyed me! I use it as a representation of all the fictitious accounts that some may innocently view as doctrine. For this reason, I avoid the Fiction section at the church bookstore 😉 My husband rolls his eyes when I get going on my “little drummer boy” rants! Thanks for the forum to vent this! I feel much better to find a place to express this thought! haha 🙂

  28. Nick, Ray #28,

    I’ll give this one go only.

    Transgressions are the ‘deliberate breaking’ of a law or commandment, but not a sin. Sins are inherently wrong since they break God’s natural law, or the universal laws, or the laws of the God of truth and light. Fornication and homosexual acts are sins because they are inherently wrong, even if there is no civil law against them today. Speeding is a transgression since we deliberately and knowingly break a law but not an inherently wrong act, since ‘speeding’ is necessary in, eg, F1 racing. They certainly aren’t ‘mistakes made in ignorance. You go to the temple, so you must remember that video with Eve asking ‘is there no other way?’ and then deciding to eat the fruit, and then going to Adam and saying ‘you will be a lone man in the Garden of Eden’ and then Adam saying ‘Eve, I see that this must be’ and then taking that fruit. From all of that they certainly did know what they were doing during Adam’s transgression (and thankfully so because we are here now). So it can’t possibly be something done in ignorance [for mormons] or an innocent ‘mistake’ as you claimed here.

    As Elder Oaks (law professor, judge and Apostle) explained it in general conference, Adam and Eve’s actions that produced “the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited”. (Under this view I can never see any victim as having committed nor involved in any transgression.)

    With regards to Jesus, his Atonement overcame the consequences of the transgression of Adam (which is mortal death) and so ‘immortality’ is freely granted to all. If we read that Article 2 it says: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression”. Honestly I can’t see how you can go from that, which says that we WILL be punished for what we do and not what Adam did, to “I’m just saying that we are not held accountable for our transgressions; as the 2nd Article of Faith says, the Atonement paid for them.” I know you have very liberal views but that’s really a huge leap.

    (take it or leave)

    About your scriptures, I compare what RoAnn wrote here ““Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” 1 Peter 2:22” and “. . . but was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15; to your Eph 4:12-13 “12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” OR Matt 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” And I just can’t see you’re point of view nor do I bother reading more. Plus add to it what happened when John the Baptist first saw Jesus and then, no, your off track by saying that he somehow overcame and repented of his transgressions. You simply misread those scriptures.

    (And Moses killing of that guard would not be a sin or transgression or crime even today since he saved another’s life. Cops do this sometimes too and they don’t commit murder when they kill someone, or a transgression. )

    There was just something different about Jesus. I think that it was that he was the son of the God of life, therefore he had life within him which only sin could take away, yet he didn’t lose anything during his time here.

    You claim that maybe Jesus committed transgressions and then needed the atonement for his own salvation too, but there is nothing in the scriptures which leads one to think that way, unless you take ‘transgressions’ to mean something else like maybe an ‘innocent mistake’ -but they aren’t so in that is the error of this point of view.

    (Again take it or leave it, I’m too tired to go on about this)

  29. Thanks for the clairifcation, Carlos. We differ in how we define transgression, I guess. I go by the dictionary definition; yours is more nuanced. I’m fine with that.

    Let me simply say that I NEVER said Jesus had to “repent” of anything. That was Nick’s comment, and that’s where he and I disagree. I don’t believe there is any need to repent of innocent mistakes, or the entire foundation of young children and the mentally disabled and those who knew not the law being saved despite their mistakes of ignorance would be null and void. We teach that the Atonement covers those mistakes, and I know of nothing in our scriptures that says Jesus, as a child, adolescent or adult, never made any mistakes. I just know that he was called sinless – and, upon completion of his mission, perfect. I just don’t think the two (innocently mistaken actions and sinless) are incompatible, since my 6-year-old daughter has made lots and lots of mistakes (even some fairly serious ones for that age) and still, I believe, remains sinless.

    I do appreciate the input. It’s something I will consider, but, interestingly, I don’t think it affects my view of the central points of what I originally wrote. Perhaps I would have to change the wording a bit to make it read like you would write it. Perhaps you really do think that, even as a very young child, Jesus simply never made any mistakes – in the sense of did things he shuold not have done and would be considered “wrong”. If so, we simply disagree about that particular point. That’s fine, since I don’t think the actual records we have prove either view. This is one area where I simply echo Nephi and say, “I do not know the meaning of all things.”

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