I have a friend and coworker with whom I had a discussion a few months back. The bulk of the conversation centered on his thoughts of “you do your home teaching and things just run better in the ward.” I couldn’t deny him his feelings on the subject, as he had loosely put together examples of how this has worked in his life. But more importantly, his conviction of this was strong.
This, however, doesn’t keep me from being my usual skeptical self. I’ve since reflected on my interaction with this person, as I seem to keep witnessing more and more examples of the larger concept at play. Our religion (as are many religions) is focused on certain ideals that must breed certain consequences. I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I suppose it’s more that I am curious how much of it pleases God and how much of it frustrates Him (if at all).
In case I’ve been too cryptic so far in this post, here are some of the more common examples I’ve witnessed recently:
Consistent home teaching = Things run better in the ward (whatever that means).
Word of Wisdom = You will live a longer, healthier life.
Tithing = Fire insurance in the last day (ha, ha, not really; I never thought of this cute saying as that funny) plus you won’t loose your house and/or have severe financial problems.
Garments = They protect your body, literally.
Prayer / Fasting / Temple = You have a need or want and begin with prayer after which you escalate the issue by fasting and then praying in the temple. If this need or want is concerning sickness, usually a blessing is an order followed by the escalated level of having as many people pray for you as well as your name submitted to as many temples as possible.
Any Natural Disaster = A Sign of the Time
These are the more commonly witnessed — more universal — cause/effect relationships I’ve seen time and time again within the Church. There are more, of course, and some can be of a personal nature (i.e., examples like such and such happened and I knew God was “punishing” me or “blessing” me).
So the question of the day is, where do we draw the line (or perhaps, where do you draw the line, as this probably falls into the category of “there isn’t one right answer”)? How much of this is a “good” thing and when does it become a “bad” thing (if ever)?
I’ll be the first to answer my own questions. For me personally, I don’t subscribe to much of the mentality in my quick list above. However, I was raised as such, and I still cling to the Prayer / Fasting / Temple category quite a bit. As much as I like to joke about the concept of “temples on speed dial,” the idea that you move from personal prayer > personal fasting > blessing > many praying > many fasting > blessing > temple visit will probably never leave me.
As to how much of this is a “good” thing or a “bad” thing … Well, I’m not sure; I’d rather hear your thoughts. Discuss.