Finding Peace in Imperfection
This is the title of an article for young adults in the February 2017 edition of Ensign, the official Mormon magazine. It was written by a Mormon therapist to combat the feelings of unworthiness and despair many Mormons feel because they aren’t perfect.
Her solution? Not only does she urge people to be at peace in their imperfection (her title), she also encourages them to see their imperfections as wonderful opportunities! She writes: “Expecting immediate perfection would mean denying us the opportunity for growth.”
This is typical Mormonism. The Book of Mormon teaches that, without Adam’s fall into sin, humans would have no joy “for they knew no misery” and could do no good “for they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2:22-25). Obviously, this is totally false reasoning. But it is foundational to Mormonism. One of its basic building blocks is the thought that people must progress. They progress from pre-existence to earth. They progress while on earth. And they continue to progress after death. The idea of progression is what the author refers to when she says perfection would deny people the opportunity for growth.
Stop and think about her message. She sees imperfection, (she strikingly doesn’t call imperfections sins), rather than perfection, as good. A couple more quotes: “Our very imperfections may be a way through which God is preparing us to return to Him.” “Perfection comes not in this life but in the next life. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable. But demand of yourself improvement.” It’s all about the person improving, progressing.
Such advice rings hollow with many Mormons. It doesn’t ease their guilty consciences. It doesn’t free them from the burden of their sins. “Demand of yourself improvement” is not good news when you are struggling just to keep your head above water.
In sharp contrast the Bible says, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). Our being made perfect by Christ’s offering is tremendously good news. It is life-saving news because, contrary to what Mormonism teaches, God demands perfection now! “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He says, “be”; not “become”.
God doesn’t command us to progress to perfection because he knows we can’t. Instead he freely offers us Christ’s perfection through faith. He hates seeing people trying to weave their own robe of righteous acts; he loves to freely give them Christ’s robe of righteousness. He isn’t pleased when people downplay his command to be perfect. Rather, he loves it when we talk about the perfection Jesus earned for us.
The message of perfection now through Christ resonates with Mormons who struggle with being worthy. Such Mormons are much more common than most Christians think. Because of Mormonism’s emphasis on progression, many have become adept at not showing their struggle. Just because a Mormon doesn’t look like they are struggling, doesn’t mean they aren’t.
Don’t hesitate, therefore, to share the wonderful message of Christ-based perfection. You probably will be surprised by who responds to it. And seeing the joy in people’s face when they believe this great news is priceless.