A while back on my blog, Seth R (usually of 9 Moons fame) posted a lengthy and detailed comment about the deficiencies of liberal religion (particularly of a hypothetical liberal Mormon denomination) and also the deficiencies of our current orthodoxy. I took a stab at part of his comment in a post on my blog, wondering if it’s possible for the church to be complacent.

But there was another curious (if bold) comment he had made…he points out how he feels in certain areas he hasn’t earned his morals, and that many members aren’t “earning” their morals. If one isn’t truly “earning his morals” from following guidance like the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity, then how do we avoid or move past simply practicing a modern and vain form of legalism?

The meaningful part for this discussion was:

I worry that Brigham Young’s fears may be prophetic – the LDS Church cannot stand wealth. It cannot withstand success. We have grown fat and complacent in our certainties and blessings. We have taken our moral rightness for granted. We have taken our status as chosen people for granted.We have been given a pearl of great price, and thus far, we seem content to use it as a paperweight.

That is the fundamental flaw with Mormon fundamentalism. It’s smug. It’s prideful. It’s complacent. It takes it’s own blessed status with God for granted…

The trouble with the “cultural conservative” view in Mormonism…is not that they advocate for strong morals. The problem is that they really did nothing to earn those morals.

I never slept with any woman before my wedding night. But, while I am grateful for that, I take no moral self-satisfaction from it. The truth is, I didn’t have sex with girls before then because I was raised not to. And frankly, I was too shy as a teenager to ever get to the point with a girl where sex was even a possibility. I earned no right to feel smug about my “purity” as opposed to the drunk frat boys I kept hearing about. What did I earn? What basis for pride on the issue did I ever have?

But modern Mormon culture takes exactly this position. The modern generation of Mormons rest on laurels they have not earned, tout morals that are not truly theirs, and pray to a God that they cannot know – because their preconceptions keep getting in the way.

The cry of “all is well in Zion” has gone on long enough. I think I’d like to see some new sermons.

How can one truly earn his morals? I mean, obviously, a drunk frat boy who converts will see the clear distinction between his past and present life (and the hope is that he’ll feel he’s moved “up”)…but that’s it wouldn’t be safe to say that all of the BIC youth should be shuffled into big sin just to show them what it’s like.

Or is the point simply that we shouldn’t take moral self-satisfaction anyway? After all, if we’re all counseled to be humble, isn’t it silly to dash all that away by being proud of having the Gospel when instead one should remain humble to have it?

And relating to that legalism thing…are we fulfilling the spirit of things through our obedience to the letter of things? Or is the the case that unearned morals still obstruct our view of trying to show true charity to others?

Do you think Seth is on to something, or is he just an angry, angry man?