July 12, 2011
Man it has been a long, long day! We got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning to get to the bus station to go to the Niah Caves at Niah National Park near Batu Niah. The caves are a huge, elaborate cave system and one of the best places to harvest bird nests (bird nest soup is a real delicacy in Asia). It was so cool! The floor was covered in bat guano. We climbed through small tunnels and ended up climbing 200 feet above the main group. I peered into a hole that had no bottom and saw all kinds of other great stuff. I haven’t been spelunking since Whipple Cave.
President Clark gave me some homework last week and here was the assignment:
Is it worse to give offense or to take offense?
Let’s first take a look at the correspondence between Pahoran and Moroni in Alma 60-61. Moroni absolutely tears Pahoran apart, calls him idle and accuses him of not caring about his brethren. This epistle was obviously written to give offense to Pahoran, to stir him and the government into remembrance of Moroni’s struggling armies. In this case, Moroni is giving righteous offense. We can also see examples of righteous offense given to the Pharisees by Christ and from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young. Back to Alma. Moroni – in a state of ignorance – seeks to offend Pahoran. Did Moroni sin by doing so? No. Romans 4:15 states that ignorance is actually an excuse for sin. No law, no sin; therefore, Moroni is free of fault.
Mosiah 15:24 also supports this conclusion. One expects Pahoran’s response to be filled with indignation. If Moroni’s letter was meant to stir repentance then Pahoran certainly could have chosen to respond in kind, but he didn’t. There isn’t even a hint of anger in his letter; he plead for Moroni’s forgiveness and that Moroni would understand the situation back in Zarahemla. In addition to a tremendous display of charity, Pahoran’s response really saved Moroni.
Doctrine and Covenants 13:16 says that a man cannot be saved in ignorance. Pahoran repented, corrected his ignorance and saved himself in the process. Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke during last General Conference and reminded us that the Lord declared, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). This is true of the correspondence with Moroni. Pahoran certainly was most blessed because of his mercy and Christ-like reaction.
Giving offense seems to me to be a principle of the lesser law. It’s quantifiable, punishable by a court, and enforceable by local authorities. Taking offense – or not doing so – is a higher law principle. It is self-enforced and punished/rewarded only in heaven. Taking offense is a lack of responsibility. It calls for justice upon the heads of the head of he who gives offense and seeks to excuse the receiver from any accountability. One who is easily offended lacks the charity and love prescribed by Christ in John 13:34. In fact, taking offense can be viewed as a sin against agency by allowing others to force us into a response we haven’t chosen. Lucifer was cast out of heaven for proposing such a plan. In reality, no one can force us into anything so it’s just another way of shirking accountability. Taking offense also places us on the same level as the elements that were created to be acted upon instead of the higher creations that were created to act for themselves. Therefore, taking offense also shows disrespect for God’s greatest creation. See 2 Nephi 2:14.
Finally, taking offense also denies the power of the Atonement. Denying forgiveness to others evidences a lack of faith in the Atoning power of Jesus Christ’s suffering. Jesus condemns very little while on Earth but one example is when he called out the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes as hypocrites. Taking offense is hypocrisy. When we’re offended we’re saying, “There is a mote in my brother’s eye.” See Matthew 23:13-15, 3 Nephi 14:3-5 and Matthew 18:21-22.
I have concluded that giving offense can only truly be committed after offense is already taken. I believe that in most cases offense was never meant in the first place. Accordingly, the one who is offended ends up solely responsible for injured feelings and any resulting retaliation. See Psalm 119:165.
I hope this little essay makes some sense. I definitely interested in any thoughts that anyone might be able to add. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended by anything you might have to correct or criticize.
Now let’s go over my week quickly. Thursday we stopped by both of our progressing investigators and taught some great lessons. Phillip and his entire family are on date to be baptized next month on August 20th! Please pray for them. I really want them to be able to come through and make it. We had an appointment with a less-active and some of his non-member friends. We got there at 7:30 and left at 8:15 p.m. He never showed up. We just talked with his friends.
Friday was a finding day and so was Saturday. No success but we were out doing the work so I still felt good. On Sunday Phillip’s entire family came to church! All four of them. We didn’t expect his dad to come, but he did. I think they all really liked it too. For some reason the exit sign was making a ton of noise because it had a short in it or something. They didn’t make it to Gospel Principles but neither did the rest of the branch so it wasn’t so bad. (We usually have four people in class, including me and Elder Forsyth.)
Monday was a cool day. We went knocking again and ended up finding someone.
We knocked this gate and this nice little lady came out asking if we were the “Romans”. Well, I’m not a Roman and not even a Roman Catholic so I answered in the negative. Her son came home after about 10 minutes of talking. He’s 31, I think. And he ended up inviting us in! So he sat down and we spent a few minutes getting to know them. Turns out they’re the cousins of a less-active member which means that we now will have a member present during discussions and a built in security net if they get anti-ed. We are scheduled to have dinner with them this Sunday night; she said she will make curry. I love curry! So that was awesome. We also went to see the less-active and he was very cool. He agreed to go and was even happy about it.
That’s about all. Love you all! Bangarang.