Looking at Blessings…

The oddest thing for me is how the LDS belief in healing works.

Meaning, LDS believe there are three types of sick people:

1. People whom God isn’t going to heal. No matter how much praying or blessing you do, it’s their time, and God will take them or allow them to finish their lives with some sort of disease or discomfort.

2. People who are going to get better. Whether or not they get a prayer or a blessing, they’re going to get better.  God doesn’t need any encouragement to save them.

3. People whom God might heal. These are our biggest concern.  Apparently, there are people who have some illness, malady, or discomfort (even life-threatening ones), and God will intervene only if certain people do certain things.  It might be prayer (maybe, a whole bunch of people have to pray, or just a few), it might take fasting (again, a whole bunch or maybe just a few), it might take priesthood power (maybe a lot of faith and worthiness is needed on the part of the blessor and/or blessee, or maybe not so much), or it might take being on the prayer roll in a Temple.

But frustratingly, we just don’t know.  For any given sick person, we have absolutely no idea which category they are in until they get better, stay the same, or die.  For those in the third category, we don’t know which particular combination of actions God is waiting for.  Have enough people prayed?  Do they need another blessing, or is it a name on the Temple Rolls that is needed?  God won’t tell us, so we just have to hope we hit the right combination to get him to act, hoping the person is in category 3 to begin with.

And even after the fact, we have no way of ever knowing which category the person was in.  If someone gets better, we’ll never know if it was our fasting that did it, or if they were in category #2 and God didn’t need us to fast to take action (or no action on God’s part was needed in the first place).  If the person doesn’t get better (or dies), we don’t know if they were going to go anyway, or if we just didn’t meet the proper combination of fasting/prayer/Priesthood Blessings needed for God to positively intervene.

Even for faithful but analytically minded LDS, this can be a frustrating situation, because there is no way to know what kind of “data” we’re collecting as we go through life.  People in category #2 might be misidentified as being in category #3 if they get better after a fast, prayer or blessing.  While people in category #3 might be misidentified as being in #1 if they die, just because we didn’t know there was more we could do that would call down divine power to heal them.

Truly, God does work in mysterious ways.


Filed under Doctrines, Teachings, Policies and Traditions

5 Responses to Looking at Blessings…

  1. Magical thinking also applies to many other aspects of Mormonism. I can’t count how many times I have heard, “I prayed to find my lost gadget/son/daughter/twenty bucks and I found it! Ergo God listened to my prayer.” Duh, keep looking for something and you’ll eventually find it.

    Also applies to tithing….

    I remember when I stopped paying tithing (because I no longer believed in the Church). About a month or two later, out of the blue, I was contacted by somebody who wanted to shell out $700 (and did) for a domain name I bought. I wasn’t even advertising it. I guarantee that if I was still in the Church and I told other LDS members about it, they would have directly attributed it to God himself (because of tithing).

    I’ve read that this magical (ie superstitious) type of thinking generally comes from our tendency to find connections/relationships/or causes in life. It’s a way to cope with the uncertainties. This is why baseball batters are so much more likely to have superstitions than fielders. Batting percentages hardly get over 30% but fielders generally catch the ball 90%+ of the time. Being superstitious provides a way for people to think that they have control over situations that are commonly unpredictable. (Check out Thomas Kida’s book 6 Mistakes In Thinking).

  2. Having had a father have cancer and then be saved via priesthood blessings, then another form of cancer take his life a few years later, I can personally attest to this belief. The ward in Provo fully believed and testified of this fact, and then fully engaged in the idea that he was meant to be taken, and faith and the priesthood had no role, as it was now God’s ultimate will to have him return…
    Also cinepro, wondering if you care to blog on the Tironian Notes, and Anthon “Caracters” similarities…

  3. Anonymous

    “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

    Pretty worthless advice when (as your main point mentioned) god doesn’t give us the formula for that law.

  4. Matthew

    Thanks for this post… Very well reasoned.

  5. Sophocles

    “Truly, God does work in mysterious ways.”
    As your post clearly demonstrates, in this case “mysterious” means “in ways indistinguishable from his nonexistence.”

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