Several years ago I had the pleasure of listening to a sacrament meeting talk given by a woman who happened to work for an opthamologist. In her address she described various diseases of the eye and likened them unto various “spiritual diseases” that can afflict an individual. For example, glaucoma damages the optic nerve and gradually leads to an irreversible loss of vision; the loss is so gradual that it often isn’t perceived until the disease is in its advanced stages. Similarly, insidious influences can gradually damage our spiritual perceptions, and before we know it we have purchased a non-refundable, one-way ticket to hell.
I’m paraphrasing, of course, and very poorly. This sister’s eye-disease examples and their spiritual counterparts were extremely graphic. I regret that I cannot recall that much detail, but there is a chance I subconsciously blocked the memory, as I’m pretty squeamish about anything involving eyeballs. Nevertheless, I was impressed with how spot-on her analogies were, as well as her willingness to talk about truly disgusting things over the pulpit.
It was a great talk, and well-received, but after the meeting one of our fellow ward members, a urologist, walked up to her and said, “Boy, am I glad you don’t work in our office.”
A few years ago I was listening to a Christian radio station which used to run a commercial narrated by a charming grandpa-type who talked about how much he loved his infant grandson but every so often there was an offensive odor that emanated from said grandson’s behind that simply could not be ignored. Now, it wasn’t that Grandpa loved the grandson any less when the baby produced this stench, but “he cannot have communion with me while he is in that state.” Fortunately, the baby’s mother would intercede on the baby’s behalf, change his diaper and return him to his ever-loving grandpa. Leaving aside the question of whether or not it’s sexist/ageist to insist that Mommy always change the baby’s diaper and why can’t Grandpa do it his damn self, I thought it was a fairly clever, if somewhat silly, way to explain the Atonement. (Probably you had to be there. Grandpa’s delivery was classic.) Difficult to forget, at any rate.
One of my husband’s (ill-fated) dreams is to have the opportunity to speak in General Conference and offer up a grossly inappropriate spiritual analogy, preferably one involving bodily functions. I think he wants to do for the gastro-intestinal system what Elder David Bednar did for pickles. “Brothers and sisters, are we cleansing our spiritual colons?” “Do you suffer from spiritual constipation?” “But what of our spiritual hemorrhoids?” He doesn’t have all of these fully worked out yet, but surely you can see their potential. (Or maybe you’d rather not. To each his own.) Sadly, I don’t think he’ll ever be in the position to live out this particular fantasy. But still, it’s nice to have goals.
Analogies can be very helpful when it comes to explaining abstract doctrinal concepts. However, they can be taken too far and become ridiculous. Or they can start out ridiculous and still be effective. Or they can just be ridiculous. What are some of the best (and/or worst) gospel analogies you’ve heard in church (or out of church)? What are some you’ve thought of and can’t wait to use in General Conference should anyone ever be so foolish to call you as a General Authority?