diary entry

The Only Morality I Know

 

    I want to talk about something that has been on my mind for some time now. There was a time where I inquired into the question that many ask: is a black and white view of the world a narrow one? Can everything be reduced to good and bad? I always believed that it was that simple. There were bad things and there were good things, there were moral things and there were immoral things, and there was no middle ground. And then I discovered the word amoral, which means that it is neither moral nor immoral. It became clear, literally; amoral things were clear, transparent. Things like money, houses, cans of beans and so forth, they were all amoral. There was nothing inherently wrong or right with any of these. I realized that when Moroni said that “a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness” (Moroni 7:6-7). I was always dumbfounded that Moroni could say that. How could he say that “it [was] counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart.” Prayer can be evil? How can that be. It reminds me of a scene from Spider-man (I took a girl on a date to the movie and it was actual at this very scene that I am about to mention that she turned to me and we agreed to leave the movie). In the movie a man prays with malice to God asking for God’s help to murder Peter Parker. What a prayer, huh? Sounds evil, huh? It was. He wasn’t really “pray[ing] unto the Father in the name of Christ, that [the Father] will consecrate [his] performance unto [him], that [his] performance may be for the welfare of [his] soul.” I can’t say killing Peter Parker would be good for anyone’s soul (he’s such a nice guy). But in all reality it is a humbling thought to realize that I am not even safely within morality with prayer. Prayer alone will not count as good. Even something that appears to be as immoral as killing (which I just criticized and mentioned) can be considered moral. I’m thinking of Nephi as he was “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do,” and “[he] was constrained by the Spirit that [he] should kill Laban,” and then was reminded that “inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise” (1 Nephi 4:6, 10 and 14). I am still not sure that I have come to any discernment on what is actually moral or immoral, but this much I do know: whatever God commands is good. That makes things a lot easier and a lot harder; a lot easier because it’s so simple, a lot harder because it means that I can’t hold on to anything, not Mormonism, not my mother, not tithing or fast offerings, not my bishop, nothing except for the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. God is my only hope at staying moral. Now I don’t want to appear to be so radical as to say that we need to throw out all the commandments in the scriptures, because maybe killing is good sometimes, or maybe prayer is evil. That is not what I am arguing. These—the scriptures, the commandments, the living oracles of God, his Apostles, his prophets, his chosen ministers—they all have value and should not be regarded lightly. Moroni warns to “take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil” (Moroni 7:14). And I think at this point that I know how to ask Moroni’s complex question: “And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?” (Moroni 7:20). How is it possible to do every good thing? How can I possibly donate to every charity, devote all my time to visiting the millions of sick and afflicted children in every hospital throughout just this state, let alone all the others, and all the other aged men and women who have lived vibrant lives but are now silently tucked away in a corner in a wheel chair in a soiled diaper? How am I to feed all the stomachs, noise all the ears with the gospel, and save every lost sheep with every mounting minute of my life? But it’s so exquisitely simple: do the will of the Father. That is the only true morality. Nephi says that “if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). But I wonder now about that man who is “commanded in all things” and is a “slothful servant.” And I realize that God did not send me to this earth to be a mere computer component that listens to orders and only does what it is told. I realize that he wants His will be settle in the center of my heart, which Elder Holland called faith, which lead me to where Moroni was arriving: “And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak” (Moroni 21:7) And then he starts to talk about Christ and prophets and miracles and commandments and prophecies. And I am reminded that the purpose of prayer is not to “change the will of God,” but to bring the will of the child in line with the will of the Father (Bible Dictionary—Prayer). I realize that I need to find his will in all the miracles of Christ, in his ministry, in the ministrations of the prophets, in the scriptures, in the times I wrestle with my son on the bed, in the times I look my wife in the eyes and squeeze her hand three times saying I love you, in the time when my daughter screams throughout the night before an exams and I hold her and whisper to her and to God pleading to him for help and promising to her patience and love and continued gentle rockings. And so I continue to read my scriptures, home teach, tithe and fast, visit the temple, ponder the sublimity and mysteries of Godliness and praise the Man, who is mindful of my every need, who loves me, who is the only real morality that I could ever find in this or any eternity.