Which Side of the Lines? Wheat or Tares? Choose.

By: Bonnie
September 7, 2012

For more than a month I’ve felt driven in family times each evening to talk to my teens (I have five still at home) about asking more of themselves. We can get up each day, brush our teeth, put on clothes, go do our thing, come home and relax, go do fun stuff, and go to bed, and we will get older, taller (well, they will), and probably at some level, smarter, I’ve said. But it’s like expecting to become bodybuilders by walking around slump-shouldered to live a non-intentional existence and expect anything other than an unintended life.

Streeeeeeeeetch yourselves!” I’ve pled. “Look for opportunities to work harder, exercise greater patience, learn something nobody’s trying to teach. Reach for the voice of God.” They get it because we’ve lived together for a long time, and we intersperse all this intensity with a whole lot of laughing, but a part of them each is waiting for me to finish so they can pull out their ipods. It’s an uphill battle, but so is conditioning for any team sport.

I feel such a sense of urgency, so I keep at it, a coach with “just enough fire to singe (their) eyebrows.” In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been solemn as we grieve and I keep saying these same things, now often through wrung-out tears. Being engaged in life matters. You are more than this moment.

Faith is important to me. It’s a lifeline that has steadied me through experiences that have rolled upon each other with drowning consistency. Each experience has left another layer of confidence as it rolled away, both in God and in myself.  As Joseph Smith stated in the sixth Lecture on Faith (paragraph 2-5):

Sculptor: Dee Jay Bawden

It is essential for any person to have an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to the will of God to enable him to have that confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life. …

Such was and always will be the situation of the Saints of God. Unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint. For such has been and always will be the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those who know not God against the pure and unadulterated religion of heaven (the only thing which ensures eternal life). They will persecute to the uttermost all who worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will. …

For a man to lay down his all—his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ—requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God. It requires actual knowledge, realizing that when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest and be a partaker of the glory of God.

In response to these lines, Robert J. Matthews commented:

The foregoing is so plain, so well stated, and so reasonable that I feel confident that anyone who reads it will understand it and will almost automatically want to have that same knowledge and testimony. It just naturally follows that after we learn of the perfect character and nature of God, what kind of a being he is, there wells up within our own hearts an intense desire, a craving and thirsting, a longing to be in harmony with him. That is why repentance, followed by baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire or the Holy Ghost, accompany true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are sequential steps that inch us along the pathway towards having our own lives conform to the revelations and commandments of God. Such a course of life feeds the soul, and comforts and gives it rest. Only a very calloused nature would not long for that unity and joy that come as a result of our knowing that we have the Lord’s specific, precise, and particular approval.

We debate (or at least some do) the need to conform – to acquiesce to someone else’s plan, someone else’s pattern – and yet there is no escaping repentance (changing our minds and our hearts) as the path to God. A life of obedience is a voluntary conforming to a plan laid out by God through prophets – an act of faith that this submission will lead to greater power. It means sacrificing the path we would choose, the one most appealing or easiest, for one more rigorous and trying.

Obedience and sacrifice are acts of faith that then build faith. These acts are what nourish the seed sown by laborers in the field – wheat seed. Tares are sown by Satan, the parable is clear, and they choke the wheat with whatever challenges faith and obedience and sacrifice. We are charged with distinguishing between the wheat and tares (in our minds and in our behavior) all our lives:

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

20 And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?

21 And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.

And on he goes, Moroni, in that wonderful sermon from his father that neatly ties faith with hope and charity to produce power. So why leave that field with its tares, when the wheat so desperately needs a chance to grow and produce fruit? In 1832, while reviewing the edits for the Bible, Brother Joseph received the following:

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants, concerning the parable of the wheat and of the tares:

2 Behold, verily I say, the field was the world, and the apostles were the sowers of the seed;

3 And after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the church, the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to reign— behold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness.

4 But behold, in the last days, even now while the Lord is beginning to bring forth the word, and the blade is springing up and is yet tender—

5 Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;

6 But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.

7 Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.

So tares are the beliefs and behaviors of apostasy that drove the church into the wilderness, and the harvest will pull out the wheat and leave a field of tares to be burned … after the faith of the church is sufficiently strong (bearing fruit). As a gardener I have pulled up many a weed only to pull up the plant I’m trying to help as well. In a wheat field, you don’t pull weeds. You only cut it down when it’s finished growing. You take the wheat first, because trying to get to the tares first will destroy the wheat. Once you have the wheat, you burn the field. When the church begins to bear fruit (faith), the field will be ripe and ready to harvest.

The wheat is wheat when it’s bearing the fruit of faith, and it’s ripe when that faith is full, as Mormon and Moroni later discuss, when the fruits of the spirit are widespread. Only what is bearing the fruit of faith will be harvested.

We are challenged to discern between the fruits of faith and apostasy all our lives. We could look at ourselves as fields and expect that at the harvest God and his angels will cull from our experience all that is worthwhile and burn the rest, and that would leave the bulk of the work up to him. However, it seems more likely that the field is the world and the wheat plants are those who choose to bear fruit in their lives.

Pres. Marion G. Romney calls this trusting in the Lord:

It appears from the Word of Wisdom and other scriptures that there are destroying angels who have a work to do among the peoples of the earth in this last dispensation. The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1831 that because all flesh was corrupted before him, and because the powers of darkness prevailed upon the earth, these angels were “waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they [might] be burned” (D&C 38:12).

In 1894 President Woodruff said: “God has held the angels of destruction for many years, lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares. But I want to tell you now, that those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out. Calamities and troubles are increasing in the earth, and there is a meaning to these things.” (Improvement Era, Oct. 1914, p. 1165.)

Other discussions of similar dividing good/evil also point to this idea of choice, focusing on the reaping of the good first, but interestingly, the good seem to be self-reaping.

26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

32 Remember Lot’s wife.

33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord, shall they be taken.

37 And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is gathered; or, in other words, whithersoever the saints are gathered, thither will the eagles be gathered together; or, thither will the remainder be gathered together.

38 This he spake, signifying the gathering of his saints; and of angels descending and gathering the remainder unto them; the one from the bed, the other from the grinding, and the other from the field, whithersoever he listeth.

39 For verily there shall be new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

40 And there shall be no unclean thing; for the earth becoming old, even as a garment, having waxed in corruption, wherefore it vanisheth away, and the footstool remaineth sanctified, cleansed from all sin.

(Luke 17:26-27, JST verses 36-40 added)

Michaela Stephens makes the point that Jesus was saying that this separation was a choice by the righteous to leave the wicked and that it was the very day God commanded the righteous to separate themselves. It makes one wonder if in JSM 1:37, 41-45 the reference to angels gathering out the elect means in reality that angels call the elect, who gather themselves.

We have some poignant references to “the very day” sorts of salvation in the people of Alma who left the same day they were warned by God he would take them out of bondage, and the calling of Elisha by Elijah, who essentially said, “hey, no skin off my nose if you want to go say goodbye but I’m outta here, now or never, dude.”

What makes that possible, to drop everything and hop when God says hop? Habit.

It’s one of the most important reasons, IMHO, that morality matters. Can you, when you are barely old enough to reason through what you believe, demonstrate by remaining firm in the face of hormones so strong they have preserved human life on this planet that you will obey? Can you demonstrate by evaluating every thing you put in your mouth, when putting things in your mouth preserves your daily life and is a huge part of your culture, that you will obey? Can you in every daily moment be mindful enough to hear and trusting enough to heed a warning that won’t allow you to go back into your house or say goodbye to your friends and family or finish even the task of preparing a meal?

If you can, you’re wheat. And you’re wheat because of a lifetime of choosing being wheat. This is worth singeing some eyebrows. It’s worth drawing lines in life and inspiring to higher standards. Returning to Brother Joseph in Lecture 6:7:

Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. For from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It is through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life. And it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do His will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering and that he has not sought nor will he seek His face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

In speaking of lines and the choices that determine our growth, there is the simple fact also that the Lord’s side of the line is safer. The words of George Albert Smith while serving as an apostle (echoed in an interesting talk by Sheri Dew) are unforgettable:

There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s. If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power. By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there. Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord’s side of the line. ["Our M.I.A." Improvement Era, May 1935, 278]

Mixing metaphors a bit, we can sense that the lines are drawn on the playing field that the wheat and tares are growing in. The lines are within us as we discern between those ideas and activities that draw us closer to or further from Christ and faith, making us more wheat or more tares by our choice to engage in wheat behavior or tare behavior. And, as an added benefit, there’s safety for the soul in … choosing the right.

This is what I want for my teens, as I implore them once again to streeeeeeeetch themselves beyond the minimal, to accept a sacrifice here and there with grace and humility, to even go out of their way sometimes to make a sacrifice. To go beyond being free of moral transgression to being pure. To accept a prophet’s suggestions with a desire to act immediately. We all make sacrifices in life, because there is not enough time to do everything. What we sacrifice says a great deal about what we choose to be: in the game or on the sidelines, wheat or tare, called or left behind.

What I want for my teens, I want for me as well. So, for me, the sacrifices are these:

Disdain. Because it’s predicated on a holier-than-thou belief that our own well-structured ideas, though masked, are superior to the provincial gut reactions of those people over there.

Debate. Because it presumes that we can come to know things intellectually that God has repeatedly said we will only know through experiment and experience, and reduces the entire mortal experience to a talk show.

Distraction. Because life offers the opportunity to live intentionally, not in reaction, if we want something more important than a slow evolution into something unintended.

Today’s question for discussion: What are you willing to sacrifice to build your faith?

I’m going to take a hiatus from engaging in comments. At least for awhile I will continue to write, and we’ll see how it goes. I leave this and future discussions to you, my friends at Wheat & Tares.

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36 Responses to Which Side of the Lines? Wheat or Tares? Choose.

  1. Sean on September 7, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Very profound. Thank you. It reminds me of how we should always be humble and not puffed up in our own opinions, and to continually heed to commandments of the Lord, knowing that He is wiser than us. Mankind changes, but God remains the same always, and we should always remember that, although well intentioned, we are, at the end of the day, nothing more than ignorant (not a bad thing) little children. This life is brief, it’s struggles and epic wars and controversies are fleeting, but the Kingdom of Heaven is eternal.

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  2. Howard on September 7, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    I have sacrificed all but a little of life’s material, many relationships and almost all but my own life for my relationship of knowing God, knowing myself and communing with Him. But it did NOT result in a life of obedience, habit or rules. Obedience and habit are temporary lessons of basic discipline to be transcended by the elimination of dissonance and the creation of profound spiritual communication and connection, through deep and complete repentance, introspection, prayer and meditation, laying down one’s agency for the will of God only to have it handed back to you after being thoroughly taught and tested. The concept of a lifetime of obedience or habit is to be stuck or moving forward so slowly that your mortal life is consumed in the process by something that can be accomplished in a few years when strongly focused spiritually rather than spent on behavior, rules and activity.

    The church is no longer a suckling struggling for survival, today it flexes it’s monetary muscle of bricks and mortar and it’s correlated and sometimes prosperity gospel and is being driven into the wilderness by it’s pharisaical nature and it’s profound loss of the *power* of God while touting God’s authority and trademark. The tares are within not without as true believers are left in a life of obedience and habit while many outside the church come to know God!

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  3. Jenn on September 7, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    And here I always assumed here at wheatandtares that I was one off the tares (non-TBMs). But in truth, I am willing to sacrifice for faith- just different sacrifices and different faith. So maybe I’m not such a tare.

    Very insightful and thought-provoking post.

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  4. Sean on September 7, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    Howard, it is true that the church can be pharisaical (the one pair of earrings thing for one example), but we ARE also a church that believes in prophets, and I don’t believe for one second that the leaders of this body of believers has lost revelatory authority from Christ, or that the prophets are a cabal of greedy old men trying to oppress us. We each are given revelation for ourselves, but only the they have the authority to guide the church.

    How quickly we point fingers at the people that mocked them in the old days. How quickly the people seemed to go astray. I sometimes think we lose our perception of time when reading the texts. When prophets aren’t constantly making prophesies or having grand revelations, and minor prophets step in to lead the churches through more mundane times, people get restless and become puffed up on their own methane. Being entirely sure of their own wisdom, criticizing the prophets and disregarding them.

    It is true that some things in the church certainly need reform. We could make a big list, but the core principle remains the same: obeidience is the first law of heaven, and these are good men of God. They aren’t trying to rule over us. They’re trying to lead the body of Christ through the modern era, with it’s facinating philosophies, intriguing political and social distractions, and new media. It can’t be that easy.

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  5. Sean on September 7, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    Besides, I never really got what the controversy with correlation was. It’s not perfect certainly. Nothing done in broad strokes ever is, but I think it was less a totalitarian “ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL. YOUR MINDS BELONG TO US.” and more of a situation like: “Whoa guys, whoa. There are millions of us now all over this planet. There’s tons of things going on, but we need to all get on the same page here.” As I said, not a perfect attempt, but an honest (maybe scrambling) attempt only to focus more on unity.

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  6. Adam G. on September 7, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    That’s a pretty high-octane post. Thanks.

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  7. ji on September 7, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    Thanks! I can approach my relationship with God and God’s church with faith, hope, and charity; or with disdain, debate, and distraction. I want to choose faith.

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  8. Jake on September 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    I think faith is innate everyone is living by faith. You can’t build faith, but you can sacrifice and build trust in something. Too often we equate faith and trust and the two are not always the same.

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  9. Howard on September 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Sean wrote: I don’t believe for one second that the leaders of this body of believers has lost revelatory authority from Christ, or that the prophets are a cabal of greedy old men trying to oppress us. Nor do I. But note that you used the word “authority” in this statement, not *power*. There is a big difference between power and authority! Having the power of God includes having His authority but having authority does not include His power. Great Prophets are chosen and trained by God while caretaking “prophets” are simply ordained and sustained just like a Deacons Quorum President. The only difference is the size of their stewardship. They’re trying to lead the body of Christ through the modern era… Sean the ten commandments aren’t even Christian, they are Mosaic! The church regularly enforces the 10C shalt and shalt nots while giving only occasional lip service to Christ’s 2,000 year old beautiful positive affirmation beatitudes! Except for the temple, spiritually you are being lead almost no where, you are still wandering in the wilderness like Moses’s Jews! You are simply marking time with a lot of make work activity while paying tithing to build a lot of building buildings so investigators can catch up to where you are. You are going almost nowhere spiritually in your white shirt with quad in hand at your mostly boring 3 hour block. Btw, what good is the gospel without a bricks and mortar kingdom of god? The church has lost it’s way not because a Prophet has led it astray but because many well meaning company yes men “prophets” have been ordained and sustained with authority over many generations but lack the power of God and the knowledge of how to obtain it.

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  10. Andrew S on September 7, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Great post, Bonnie.

    Still not sold on your interpretation of the wheat and tares…I don’t really think it’s in accordance with the biblical parable of the tares, but I mean, I guess that’s an issue with a lot of stuff within Mormonism. I do think it is interesting (unsure of how supported) to view the wheat and tares not as people, but as beliefs and behaviors, and to view the field not as being the world of people, but as the battleground of one person’s character, soul, mind, or whatever.

    But to work with this appropriation, I think it can still work…but there needs to be something recovered about the wheat & tares…whether the metaphor relates to the world in general, or to a people individually, the essential part of the metaphor — at least to me — is that wheat and tares, when immature, are nearly indistinguishable from one another. That is why it is inadvisble to pluck the tares as the servants are so eager to do — there is no way at that stage not to get some of the wheat — even when you think you know which ones are the tares. It is only when the wheat and tares fully mature that they will become more distinct.

    So, a level of uncertainty and ambiguity is a critical part of the parable of the wheat & tares, I think.

    This can apply very much to your post. What does righteousness entail? What does wickedness entail? What does it mean to follow God? What does it mean to stray away from God? If we want to use the parable of wheat and tares to properly describe things, then there has to be more ambiguity and uncertainty in the mix. Wickedness and righteousness cannot be clear-cut and starkly different from one another…but the two should appear to look similarly, in the short-run.

    And you know what…I think that this actually does map out to reality. We can be confident of something, but really, we can be overzealous like the servants who wanted to reap down the fields — because they were confident that they knew which were wheat and which were tares. It was the master who had to point out that their overeagerness and prematurity would end up uprooting wheat as well.

    So, I think this fits well into my post on ambiguity, as well as Jake’s post on wickedness and happiness.

    I like what you say near the beginning:

    “Streeeeeeeeetch yourselves!” I’ve pled. “Look for opportunities to work harder, exercise greater patience, learn something nobody’s trying to teach. Reach for the voice of God.” They get it because we’ve lived together for a long time, and we intersperse all this intensity with a whole lot of laughing, but a part of them each is waiting for me to finish so they can pull out their ipods. It’s an uphill battle, but so is conditioning for any team sport.

    Emphasis added.

    I think that the part I emphasized is often at odds with (and even at times, is a false dichotomy to) the point you seem to be making later in the article:

    We debate (or at least some do) the need to conform – to acquiesce to someone else’s plan, someone else’s pattern – and yet there is no escaping repentance (changing our minds and our hearts) as the path to God. A life of obedience is a voluntary conforming to a plan laid out by God through prophets – an act of faith that this submission will lead to greater power. It means sacrificing the path we would choose, the one most appealing or easiest, for one more rigorous and trying.

    The part I see that’s at odds with your original statement: conformity and acquiescence to someone else’s plan or pattern is often not stretching. It is often not learning something nobody’s trying to teach. Conformity and acquiescence are often “easier” than trying to stretch. I get that you’re saying the point is that you’re obeying to a plan laid out by *God* through *prophets*, but what I so often point out is that you have to make sure not to be obeying a plan lain out by *culture* that you have conflated with being God’s or the prophets’. And that’s where a lot of the uncertainty (even if people don’t realize it!) comes in.

    …and that leads to the part that I think is a false dichotomy. The dichotomy isn’t “Obey and conform OR follow what is most appealing or easy.” There are so many options in between of which a black-and-white, all-or-nothing viewpoint cannot dream.

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  11. Stephen M (Ethesis) on September 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Great post. I think I need to take a break as well. Wish you and your kids the best.

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  12. Geoff B on September 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Bonnie, great stuff. You write with power and authority. The fact that you quote modern-day prophets extensively is also a very, very good thing.

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  13. Paul on September 7, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Bonnie, wonderful post. Jenn (#3), I like your comment a lot.

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  14. Brian on September 7, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I am sure this will not derail the main focus of the discussion, but reading the OP, I have to say the following.

    From the OP:

    Joseph Smith–”For a man to lay down his all—his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ—requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God. It requires actual knowledge, realizing that when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest and be a partaker of the glory of God.

    From Robert Matthews–The foregoing is so plain, so well stated, and so reasonable that I feel confident that anyone who reads it will understand it and will almost automatically want to have that same knowledge and testimony.”

    Mormons, Christians. Not the only martyrs. The statement “the foregoing is so plain….anyone who reads it will understand it…and almost automatically want to have that same knowledge” is so myopic.

    We are not talking knowledge, we are talking “knowledge”.

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  15. Howard on September 7, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    Lord explains parable of the wheat and tares: The apostles are the sowers of the seed. The falling asleep implies the original apostles’ death. The enemy is Babylon, a symbol of worldliness and evil. The Church being driven into the wilderness represents the time of the Apostasy. The tares symbolize evil doctrines and those who promulgate them. The reapers are angels of God. The tenderness of the wheat is symbolic of weakness or newness of faith. The harvest and the burning of the tares represent the gathering of the faithful before the destruction of the world.

    http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/19452/Lord-explains-parable-of-the-wheat-and-tares.html

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  16. prometheus on September 7, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    A paradox:

    As our desires change, our sacrifices can lose their meaning and stop being sacrifices at all, as we no longer desire whatever it was we gave up.

    A question:

    What if we are asked to sacrifice the church, and proceed on faithfulness, alone but for a pillar of fire leading us on?

    A reflection:

    I build up hedges about the law by talking about, reading about, thinking about the Divine far more than I experience and commune with the Divine.

    I feel directed to join you in a hiatus, Bonnie. The last few posts here have been powerful and have rearranged much of the furniture in my mind, clarifying several questions that I need to grapple with. I can only say thank you to posters and commenters alike.

    See you all when the walls are repainted and the room is redecorated. :)

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  17. Michelle on September 7, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    “The part I see that’s at odds with your original statement: conformity and acquiescence to someone else’s plan or pattern is often not stretching.”

    When it’s submitting to God, it’s sometimes the most stretching stretching there is.

    “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”

    Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24

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  18. Andrew S. on September 7, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    re 17,

    Michelle,

    When it’s submitting to God, it’s sometimes the most stretching stretching there is.

    I think I preemptively addressed this point:

    I get that you’re saying the point is that you’re obeying to a plan laid out by *God* through *prophets*, but what I so often point out is that you have to make sure not to be obeying a plan lain out by *culture* that you have conflated with being God’s or the prophets’. And that’s where a lot of the uncertainty (even if people don’t realize it!) comes in.

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  19. Howard on September 7, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    Profound summary prometheus!

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  20. Mike S on September 8, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    This is a very thought provoking post. Thank you. In regards to the question you asked: Today’s question for discussion: What are you willing to sacrifice to build your faith?

    I would be willing to sacrifice just about everything, except for my family. I would change professions. I would move. I would give away my possessions. At least that’s what I think.

    But there is an even more profound response to that question, which I’m not really sure about. I was born Mormon. I was raised Mormon. I was on seminary council and went on a mission and was married in the temple. I’ve always served in callings and always had a temple recommend. I’ve read the Book of Mormon at least 15 times. I’ve done everything that I can think of within the Mormon church to “build my faith”.

    But, yet, there is still a hole. Even after this many decades, I still can’t say that “I know this Church is true”, which leaves me lacking in Joseph Smith’s statement that you quoted: It is essential for any person to have an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to the will of God to enable him to have that confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life.

    So, if it is essential for me to have knowledge that the course of life I am pursuing is correct, and if I’ve never received that knowledge in the LDS Church, what do I do? What should I do to “build my faith”?

    In the back of my head is the nagging question: What if a DIFFERENT Church or path is the correct one FOR ME? I don’t know the answer to this question, as I’ve always been Mormon. But it goes to the question at the end of the post – what am I willing to sacrifice to build my faith? Am I willing to sacrifice my membership in the LDS Church to build my faith in God? Am I willing to see if my path lies somewhere else? Or do I stick with the comfortable and easy path – doing what I’ve done my whole life and doing what will raise the least discord in my extended family?

    I don’t have the answer to that question.

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  21. Silhan on September 8, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    In my experience, what Mike S. said in #20 has been key:

    “Am I willing to sacrifice my membership in the LDS Church to build my faith in God? Am I willing to see if my path lies somewhere else? Or do I stick with the comfortable and easy path – doing what I’ve done my whole life and doing what will raise the least discord in my extended family?”

    For me, it wasn’t until I was willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING in my search for truth and integrity that I finally became unstuck from the spiritual rut in which I found myself. I came to realize that in order for me to progress personally, I had to be willing to question ALL of my previous assumptions about the truthfulness of the Church and even the existence of God.

    I am much happier as a result because my decisions and my beliefs are now my own rather than merely something I inherited from someone else.

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  22. SilverRain on September 8, 2012 at 7:17 AM

    .

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  23. SilverRain on September 8, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    Hmm…moble theme did not like my comment.

    My membership in the church IS the sacrifice. It has never seemed that I am “happier” inside than out. But even though it has been more of a scourge than a balm, it is the crucible of exaltation. This, I do not doubt.

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  24. Michelle on September 8, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    “I get that you’re saying the point is that you’re obeying to a plan laid out by *God* through *prophets*, but what I so often point out is that you have to make sure not to be obeying a plan lain out by *culture* that you have conflated with being God’s or the prophets’. ”

    I think part of faith, though, is to experiment on the word and learn by experience. The ability to discern truth with the Spirit’s help is part of why we are here on the earth.

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  25. Howard on September 8, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    D&C 86 explains in the parable of the Wheat & Tares: the apostles are the sowers of the seed and the tares symbolize evil doctrines and those who promulgate them. 

    In John 8 Jesus deals with the woman taken in adultery by blowing off those who would have disfellowshipped or excommunicated her and speaks to the woman saying; neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.

    It is often said that Jesus Christ stands at the head of the LDS church and directs the church via. Revelation, if this is true what accounts for Christ’s change in position from John 8 to modern church courts of love?  Is that change an example of Wheat or Tares?

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  26. Ray on September 8, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Very thoughtful, thought-provoking post, Bonnie.

    I am willing to sacrifice pretty much anything to build my faith except for things that are integral to my faith.

    I believe in the fullest, most universal application of the idea that “we claim the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of our own conscience” – which means I am willing to sacrifice pretty much anything except my own conscience.

    It also means I am willing to accept how others sacrifice in order to worship according to the dictates of their own consciences – even when those sacrifices include things I wouldn’t sacrifice.

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  27. hawkgrrrl on September 8, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    I’ve always been moved by the scripture in Alma 22: “I will give away all of my sins to know thee.” The scripture can be interpreted two ways: 1) I will sacrifice the pleasure of my sins so that I can be closer to God because my impurities separate me from his presence, and on deeper reflection, 2) when we let go of our sins, we become more like God, and we can only comprehend God if we are like him (as in Corinthians 13: 12. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”)

    It gets a little tricky knowing which of our traits is a sin because we are prone to take things too far sometimes, and we are also prone to be blind to our own motives. For example, being obedient and trusting is not a sin, but not being thoughtful or being gullible is (at least if we are truly on our way to godhood). Being educated is not a sin, but looking down on others is, and as we learn from Star Trek, at some point in being smarter than others, the smart person always tries to take over the ship and develops a Messiah complex. So how do we become gods (eventually) without developing a god complex? Likewise, working on our own faith is a good thing, but we should not isolate ourselves from sinners. It’s hard to be good at both perfecting the saints (including ourselves) and also at missionary work. At some point we stop relating to anyone outside the faith, and they stop relating to us.

    So the quest is full of paradox, far more nuance than just choosing one side or the other, at least in my experience. Hopefully if our desires are right, our actions will follow, but that doesn’t always happen. Actions have a way of changing our desires, just as it can work the other way around.

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  28. Sunshine on September 8, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Bonnie, I always look forward to your posts; comments in response have been great, too.

    “Because it presumes that we can come to know things intellectually that God has repeatedly said we will only know through experiment and experience, and reduces the entire mortal experience to a talk show.”

    Amen! Certainly open-minded discussion is a must, but I agree with your observation about “debating” revealed doctrine. While this might partially be because I have absolutely zero aptitude for outlining differences between various lines of logic, a large portion is that this is how I have learned: the fruits are beautiful/delicious to me.

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  29. Bonnie on September 8, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    It is a ticklish balance, isn’t it Hawk. Nice thoughts. I think it’s why we’re continually challenged to be humble.

    And I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at the Star Trek reference. Comment of the week!

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  30. hawkgrrrl on September 8, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that many episodes of Star Trek should be part of the LDS canon because they are so thought provoking.

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  31. Julia on September 9, 2012 at 4:06 AM

    Bonnie- I have been thinking about this since I saw it on your Personal blog earlier. I don’t believe that who we are now, or who we will be, is predetermined. I do think that our own choices, lives and struggles give us the chance to clearly show our choice to become a wheat or a tare, during mortality.

    As I look back on my life, there are some distinct times, distinct choices, and promptings that I chose to follow. The most painful, controversial and unorthodox choices have generally come from fasting, prayer and personal revelation. Oftentimes I question myself, do I only think I am being prompted? Do I just really want this? Am I just deadly afraid of conforming, and so instead I decide my path is right?

    Occasionally we get to see the “fruits” that come from small, inspired acts. I don’t think I have ever done anything worthy of being in the Ensign or a super hero magazine. I believe that if recognition is the primary thing we seek after, there are greater blessings that we may forego, if we don’t give Christ the glory for His work among men, and His grace in playing a a small part in being His willing hands. http://Poetrysansonions.blospot.com/2012/08/when-did-i-serve-you-remember.html

    Usually, I don’t receive any firect praise or reward, or calming feedback, reassuring me. By allowing me to see the blessings someone else has, because I was seeking to do the Lord’s bidding happens, I sometimes get a glimpse, out of the corner of my eye, a great wonder as millions of the disciples of Christ set about doing His work. In the blink of an eye I am then back in my mortal body, trying to let my immortal spirit steer me away from temptation.

    Even with all the thought, prayer, scripture study, church attendance when my body permits. I recognize that no one Act, no Prayer, no intent of goodness, nor a deep scriptural hunger can substitute for the deep relationship with the Savior. In the end, He acknowledges the wheat, while the Tares Christ will know not know them, as they had made no effort to know Him. I hope I am that I am living in a way to bring forth good fruit, so that Christ and His disciples will desire to be near my, so that they will desire to spiritually cross-pollinate with each other.

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  32. Taryn Fox on September 11, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    OBEY OBEY OBEY

    Don’t ever listen to your conscience

    VICTIM BLAMING

    I’m better than you, so much better that I know it’s wrong to know that I’m better than you, but I refuse to talk about it to you directly because I know that you’ll take me apart for it

    ^ The article in 30 seconds

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  33. Taryn Fox on September 11, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Articles like this, and the teachings they contain, are written by people who live in willful ignorance. Who refuse to understand the consequences of their teachings and actions or to engage with their victims.

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  34. Hedgehog on September 11, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    I don’t think I’m entirely comfortable with the way you are using the wheat and tares analogy. That aside – sacrifice. In my life it is time, and the things I could otherwise be doing with that time. As an example: I’d love to join the local concert band, but they rehearse Monday evenings and have lots of Sunday afternoon concerts. There are lots of music things I’d like to do. So frustrating at times. Not so much choosing between sins (though I have plenty of those), as having to choose between good activities.

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  35. [...] Bonnie from Wheat and Tares asked me a question that no one had ever asked me before. She wanted to know why I had resigned [...]

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  36. [...] hawkgrrrl, commenting on Bonnie’s post “Which Side of the Lines? Wheat or Tares? Choose.” at W&T: It gets a little tricky knowing which of our traits is a sin because we are prone to take things too far sometimes, and we are also prone to be blind to our own motives. . . . Being educated is not a sin, but looking down on others is, and as we learn from Star Trek, at some point in being smarter than others, the smart person always tries to take over the ship and develops a Messiah complex. [...]

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