Multiple Meanings

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Have you noticed how some Mormon phrases consist of words with multiple meanings, but somehow the meaning of the phrase includes only one possible meaning?

Let me be clearer. Let’s take “free agency”. Often, people interpret it to mean that it is a free gift; it is given to us without a cost. However, it could also be interpreted to refer to agency that brings makes us free or brings us freedom (as in freedom of bondage to our sinful choices).

Another example: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:22) “Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?” (2 Ne. 4:31)

A very common interpretation of the phrase “appearance of sin” is that we should avoid anything that may appear sinful. For example, we should avoid drinking hot chocolate at work because people might think we are drinking coffee, or we should avoid eating in a pub because some member might see us leaving and think we were drinking alcohol.

However, “appearance of sin” could also refer to when sin appears or shows its head.

If more people thought about how different phrases such as these two could be interpreted, I wonder how fewer fanatical or self-righteous people would exist?

One thought on “Multiple Meanings

  1. But Kim,

    You just gave us some clear examples of how we may be misjudged–not because of what we think the scriptures are saying on the subject, but because of those “appearances” that we naturally associate with sin.

    Overall I think you’re right. I would hope that we would shake at the very appearance of the sin of unrighteous judgement that might begin to well up with in us if we were to see our priesthood leader walk out of a pub.

    On the other hand, I think we should be careful to do our best not to convey the appearance of sin either. IMO it is our duty to be circumspect in that regard. (though blogging with a psuedonym can certainly tempt one to cut a few corners here and there)


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