In a recent meeting with a counselor in the stake presidency, he asked us all to tell him how we run our families so well. While I appreciate the compliment, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking I do a lot of things wrong, as well as some things right. I didn’t like the implication of the question, which seemed to me that we are all perfect. I responded that I’m a sinner.
I talked with a friend, a former stake president, (who happened to be in the meeting I attended), and he didn’t seem to like the phrase “I’m a sinner.” Do you have something to confess? I told him I don’t always hold family home evening, we don’t always have family prayers every night, and I don’t always say nice things. I fall short of the ideals we are all supposed to live. In short, I’m a sinner.
It seems to me that this is a phrase common to Born-Again Christians, but Mormons like to constantly strive for perfection, and don’t like to focus on being a bunch of sinners. Are you a sinner? Are you comfortable calling yourself a sinner? Do we have a problem with pride when we don’t like to call ourselves sinners? Should “I’m a sinner” be reserved only for “major” sins?
The issue is that Baptists, Catholics, and others use that mindset to justify living in an unchristian manner while calling themselves Christian. The statement “We are sinners” implies that one should be tolerant of sin. Sin should be regarded as something to be avoided. Mormonism encourages us to be as perfect as we can be until we reach a state where our capacity for perfection is magnified. The inevitability of sin is by no means an excuse for it.
As I review my life, my relationships with family, neighbors, strangers, I think whenever I am misaligned or misconnected to God I am a sinner. I can carry a temple recommend, pay tithes and offerings, serve in my callings etc, but still miss the mark because of pride, selfishness, lusts of the flesh. I have no problem stating I am sinner and am in desperate need of grace. There is something of value about how we treat and think of others. I always think of Howard W Hunter explaining that our relationship with other mortals is the best indicator of our discipleship. One of my first questions I like to ask God is, “so, how am I doing?”
‘The statement “We are sinners” implies that one should be tolerant of sin.’
While I know that some people rationalize sin, this seems like an overly broad generalization, IMO.
MH, As Paul said in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” thus we are all sinners. But I believe, and this is just my opinion, that it also is a negative mindset, a negative label, that is used by too many as a shaming device. A “glass half empty,” man is rotten and worthless, type of thing.
I think that the LDS meme of us all being children of God is a more positive “glass half full” mindset. Realizing that we have all made mistakes, yet with the hope of the Atonement making it possible for us to overcome those mistakes.
According to the Book of Mormon, I’m a sinner. But of course the Book of Mormon is rather Protestant in its doctrinal orientation. Even Nephi, the most faithful soul God ever created (at least according to his own account), admits he is a wretched man.
I think that, in small groups, going around the group and saying, “Hi, my name is Blank, and I’m a sinner who needs help from Jesus Christ” aptly sums up the reason and purpose for which we all go to church…any Christian church.
I think many churches get caught up in the fact that they have an awesome preschool or a great ministry with the homeless or another external program.
Those things are important, and we all know that faith without works is dead, but our own messed-up, sinful insides are the unique reason that we go to *church* and don’t merely satisfy our needs for childcare or a volunteer opportunity through a secular vein.
As I was listening to testimonies last Sunday, I heard a few that said “I’m imperfect” or “I’m not perfect.” That’s mormonspeak for “I’m a sinner” I suppose.