Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Greatest Work

In an election year, each candidate has some carefully crafted “talking points” — oft repeated goals.  What actually gets accomplished by an elected official is complicated.  An elected official’s productivity can be compared to our own.  Our real intentions are not in the things we talk bout but in the things we actually do.  And some of the things we do are just escape routes to avoid the real work at hand.

In people with addictions, the intention may be there, but the mechanism for choosing what actually gets done is broken.  An addiction is stronger than will power.  It must be dealt with before any of the real work can be done. This post helps to identify the real work that can both bridle the passions and lead to a full recovery in people who are looking for relief from addictions.

There are two kinds of work.  The natural appetites are called carnal, and all of us must work to feed ourselves in order to survive.  The work that is spiritual or altruistic requires a determined effort because it is not required for survival.  I believe that the real work in life happens in and for people, first in families, second among friends and co-workers.  A good balance is maintained between the real work and those tasks that appease the appetites by choosing to prioritize real work with lasting value to society.

This post answers the question why soul-enlarging spiritual work in families should be a higher priority than carnal work.  Work among people, specifically family, is the closest imitation of God’s work.  God has said, “My work and my glory is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39 The work done in families includes teaching, correcting, developing patience, forgiving and learning to repair relationships.  The pain caused by broken families shows how important it is to succeed in this work.

We are immortal, but this life is mortal or temporary.  After we die you won’t have our wealth or status but we will have the truths in our souls that we gained by living and working in families.  These truths and the work by which they are gained should be a higher priority than acquiring wealth or appeasing the appetites.

The family is the ideal place to learn and develop virtues like faith, hope and love.  Specifically love emerges as an expression of lots of virtues.  For the unmarried man or woman moving from relationship to relationship, love is mixed with selfishness.  Ideal love comes from a pure, unselfish heart. 1 Tim 1:5 Family responsibilities demand an unselfish response.  Family responsibilities also moderate the natural appetites to eat, drink and have sex in excess.

We are all natural or carnal until we begin to choose spirituality and develop the virtues Christ exemplified.  “The natural man is an enemy to God.” Mos 3:19  In family life, parents guide and correct children to avoid the lusts of the flesh while they are young.  This gives the seeds of spirituality and virtue a chance to grow and develop.  Children taught in this way reach adulthood with virtuous principles and habits which protect them from unknowingly falling into the trap of trying to appease the carnal desires.  Adults who received no family protection and training have discovered how easy it is to prioritize the appetites over spirituality and how futile it is to try and appease the appetites.  To those who try to choose both the spiritual and the carnal, Jesus said, “no man can serve two masters.” Matt 6:24

The soul of a human being has two parts.  One is immortal and spiritual; the other is mortal and carnal.  Paul teaches in 1 Cor 2:11-14 that the natural man or carnal aspect of the soul cannot understand spiritual things.  It follows that to understand spiritual things and develop virtue, a person must gain mastery over the carnal aspect of themselves.  Christianity teaches that the resurrection will restore the physical aspect of the soul to its original state.  What is not as clear is that the spiritual aspect of the soul will also be restored to the state of mastery developed during the mortal experience.  Alma teaches this principle in Alma 41:11-14 which may sound similar to the Buddhist teaching of karma.  Essentially, the soul is resurrected to an evil spiritual state if the person chose evil with a perfected physical body or it is resurrected to a spiritual state of righteousness if the person chose righteousness with a perfected physical body.  Choosing the carnal over the spiritual has an eternal consequence in the state of resurrection achieved.

A story is told in the Bible of a woman who was brought to Jesus.  She had been capitalizing on the sexual appetites and the Jews expected Jesus to condemn her because that behavior is forbidden in the Mosaic law.  Jesus did not condemn her at that time because she was still mortal and she still had the opportunity to change.  He told her to repent when he said, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8) This story gives hope to all who have spent time and money appeasing the carnal appetites.  Change is possible.  Addictions can be bridled.  Following the path Jesus walked requires nothing less.  He submitted to the will of the Father and so must we.  (Matt 7:21, Matt 12:50, John 5:30, 2 Ne 31:7-15)

The spiritual work done in and for families should be a high priority. It imitates God’s work.  It enables the acquisition of truths that have eternal value. It enables the development of ideal love by moderating the appetites. It protects and prepares the rising generation for adulthood. It enables the soul to reach it’s highest state of mastery. It also helps those who want to regain mastery of their appetites channel their energy and resources into more productive areas.

image credits: used with permission

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