Through a Glass, Darkly

Stephen MarshMormon 6 Comments

Following Running on Empty, I am going to write about how even with the Spirit and everything else, we still see “through a glass, darkly.”  The reasons that even when we hear God, we do not have as clear an understanding as we think are many.  An example from my own life might help.

When my wife and I were thinking of having a third child I prayed about it.  I got the very strong communication that having her was optional, because there would be a level of difficulty and trial involved.  Not a “no, don’t do that” and not an unqualified “yes, it is time, have another child.”

My conclusion, which it never occurred to me to check, was “of course a child will be an additional expense in time and money, but …” after all, that was my concern in praying about it in the first place.  I had interpreted the message without even thinking to ask “err, God, what exactly do you mean by that?”  I suspect that I would have been much more sober about the warning if I had known just how life changing of an event I was facing.

Courtney died eleven months after Jessica died, which disrupted the clarity that grief often brings after a year, pushed out of the fraternity of those who have lost a child, and created a wave of grief that would crash into Robin’s death and leave me in a condition that was in many ways more than I could take when I got news of my Dad’s cancer.

Yet often, we do not really accept that prophets and apostles, like Paul (e.g. 1 Cor 13 βλεπομεν γαρ αρτι δι εσοπτρου εν αινιγματι) might see things as if reflected by an imperfect mirror, and that we see dimly (at least) as they did and do.  We do not question enough, keep looking enough, listen to God enough.

Instead, so many people seem to be certain that they alone see clearly.  Sometimes by logic, some times by research, sometimes by whatever spirit or emotion they list to.  But if we hear God, through a glass, darkly, is our logic, or knowledge or wisdom really better.

I would suggest that many times, perhaps it is not, and that many times, at all levels, problems are caused by a failure to understand the limits of our understanding, on first blush, and usually on deeper examination, of what we have seen.

And, at the risk of threadjacking my own essay, considering just how clearly it may be that we see the following issues:

  • Same sex marriage
  • The Priesthood Bans in their various forms (from Moses and Aaron through the 70s to today)
  • Polygamy

How clearly do we see any of these things?

Comments 6

  1. My experience suggests when we consider what is revealed to us from the prospective of the second estate; this life PLUS the spirit world that immediately follows, the glass becomes more translucent. Also, answers seem to come to us over time in individual packets and then unfold slowly in our minds making easy for us to jump to early conclusions.

    As you know, Joseph & Emma lost three. Could anyone have had more of the Lord’s attention than Joseph? Clearly there are reasons Stephen.

  2. Post

    No question there are reasons, and I’ve written on affliction and such, I just wanted to discuss that things are a great deal less clear for most of us than we think.

    But if we hear God, through a glass, darkly, is our logic, or knowledge or wisdom really better. really should have a “?” at the end, I think now.

    I really feel that it is much too easy to think we know more than we really do.

  3. But if we hear God, through a glass, darkly, is our logic, or knowledge or wisdom really better?
    According to your link the phrase through a glass darkly is interpreted to mean that humans have an imperfect perception of reality. So to improve the flow of information from God we must change our perception, not trade it for human logic, knowledge or wisdom.

    Btw, I meant God’s reasons.

  4. I can’t count how many times LDS bloggers have insisted that “God’s laws do not change”, “God will never change the Law of Chastity,” “women will never hold the priesthood.” And with such surety.

    And underlying the three issues you mention is the whole foundation of patriarchy. How sure are we about that?

    Good questions for thought. Thank you for this post.

  5. #5 – Not just LDS bloggers, but even Apostles. Don’t forget this gem:

    1 Feb, 1849 – First counselor Heber C. Kimball tells Sunday meeting that plural marriage “would end he said when the Church had gone to the Devil or the Priesthood taken from this people – then God would give it to another people.”

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