Mar 31, 2008

"The church is perfect, but the people aren't."

That's what my dad always said when I was a kid and complained about something that had happened at church. I tried to adopt this as my personal philosophy when encountering conflict with other members, and it served as a good reminder that even in the Lord's Church there are some morons. But, however moronic some people can be, only I could push myself into inactivity.

Dad was definitely right that the people aren't perfect. And for many years, I believed that the Church was. But as I've gotten older and (perhaps) wiser, I've had doubts about that part. I think that I believe that the Gospel is perfect, but I often find myself asking which is which.

I had an interesting experience at church a few weeks ago. The stake president, who barely knows me and was utterly unaware of my many doubts and questions, was speaking that day and throughout his talk, which managed to keep my undivided attention for its entire duration, it felt and appeared like he was talking directly to me. He said several things that I could really relate to, but perhaps the most interesting, and surprising, comment he made during his talk was when he said something along the lines of "the Church is good, but not everything that has been done in the Church has always been good." Interestingly enough, right after the meeting ended, he approached me and told me that he had actually prepared another talk, but felt a inspired to speak about something totally different. And he felt a strong impression that his words were directed specifically at me.

I know that some people will really think that I'm a true dissident when I say that I don't believe the Church is perfect. And I don't. I do, however, still hold out hope for the Gospel being perfect. I used to assume that they were the same thing. I mean, the Church is supposedly headed by the Lord and has the fullness of His Gospel. So they're really the same thing, right? I don't think so. I can't say I have a proper definition of what constitutes "The Church" and "The Gospel," but a church is an organization run by human beings. Even if the Lord is at its head, it's still being run by flawed humans capable of making mistakes and committing sin. I'd like to believe that the Lord's true and pure Gospel has not been corrupted by men, despite their human weaknesses. It's still hard to differentiate between the two.

Just a thought... has anyone had similar thoughts?


The Flints said...

This is an older post, I know. Happily, I just found your site and loved it. This post is really great. In fact, this is the same train of though that keeps me going every day. I hold out hope that the Gospel is perfect and I live with the knowledge that the Church isn't. Just last night, I threatened my husband (with eternal haunting) and made him promise that he will make sure my face does not get veiled before my casket is closed. (Just one of the things that I--in my amazing wisdom--thinks will be corrected some day.) ~Bonnie

The Faithful Dissident said...

Flints (Bonnie), I appreciate your comment. It cracked me up as well. :) Do they veil the faces of sisters before their coffin is closed? I wasn't even aware of that. :)