Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Procrastinating the day of repentance

Some speculative thoughts on 2 Ne 28:8

And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

One thought that I have heard presented in discussions of universalism / progression through kingdoms is 'why repent and try to progress now when I can do it later and eventually get there?'

After giving it some thought, I have come to the conclusion that my answer to that is 'why not do it now?' In order to progress we need to repent (or change, as repentance is a process of transformation, of becoming). Repentance is a choice and we can procrastinate that choice forever, if we really want to, and never be truly saved. (If tomorrow, why not next year, or next decade, etc.) If we don't do it now, then when will we do it? When will we choose to become disciples of Christ?

Here is the thing. Discipleship has a cost - it involves love and relationships, which cause vulnerability, pain, and alienation. We suffer when others hurt us, through cruelty or ignorance, or carelessness. We suffer when their choices cause them pain. We suffer when they feel the desire to repent and feel the pain they have caused others. Thus, the weeping God of Mormonism.

Relational suffering is integral to the human and Divine experience. We have children, knowing that they will hurt us, push us away, disappoint us, and reject us. Nevertheless, we take the risk that they will eventually seek unity instead of or despite these things.

Should a person's opportunity to repent and enter into a relationship with the Divine suddenly terminate between one beat of the heart and the next? I don't think that this is merciful or just. I don't see any reason why the opportunity should be removed - those who are willing to pay the price, who are willing to bear one another’s burdens, I think will always be welcome in the Kingdom.

At the end of the day, though, it remains a choice. The relationship is voluntary, and perhaps for some, it will remain unchosen. I am speculating here, but I believe that the Celestial Kingdom, as it were, will be rather more full than we perhaps might suppose.