Third Hour

Does God Manipulate His Children?

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I remember that when I began to seriously read the scriptures I found God to be really manipulative, among other things. I was turned off by words and phrases like "vengeance," "justice," "wrath," and "persuasion." In the context of all of these words, persuasion seemed especially dark and formidable. If God was going to try to speak to me and have some sort of hidden agenda, then I didn't want to hear His argument at all! But that's just it: Heavenly Father doesn't have any hidden agenda. To believe this, it's important that we understand the differences between persuasion and manipulation and how they work in the context of a loving Heavenly Father. Understanding Persuasion and Manipulation My initial misunderstanding stemmed from having a poor idea regarding the nature of God, and of what persuasion is (unfortunately my K-12 English Persuasive writing lessons didn't help me here¬†ūü§¶ūüŹľ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ). Assuming you've had a similar misunderstanding, let's get on the same page and define what persuasion and manipulation actually are, and sprinkle it with...

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Why do 3H writers think that opening an article like this

I remember that when I began to seriously read the scriptures I found God to be really manipulative, among other things.

is a good way to talk about our Heavenly Father?  Where do they get the idea that reverence for the Divine is only reserved for Sacrament Meeting?

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Guest Mores

I'm trying to be understanding.

I'm trying to be understanding.

I'm trying to be understanding.

I'm trying to be understanding.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

I enjoyed the article. I particularly love this part:  

"We learn from the Greek translation that ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ really means ‚Äúcomplete‚ÄĚ, at least in this context. So Heavenly Father is complete. Completely loving, completely kind, completely pure, completely benevolent, and completely obedient to divine law. One divine law that fits neatly into this context‚ÄĒthe context of persuasion and manipulation‚ÄĒis priesthood power."

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45 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I enjoyed the article. I particularly love this part:  

"We learn from the Greek translation that ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ really means ‚Äúcomplete‚ÄĚ, at least in this context. So Heavenly Father is complete. Completely loving, completely kind, completely pure, completely benevolent, and completely obedient to divine law. One divine law that fits neatly into this context‚ÄĒthe context of persuasion and manipulation‚ÄĒis priesthood power."

I'm surprised you're not a Trump supporter.  You have this admirable ability to ignore the delivery for the message.

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1 minute ago, anatess2 said:

I'm surprised you're not a Trump supporter.  You have this admirable ability to ignore the delivery for the message.

Lol, thanks. 

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I find discussions like this fascinating. I think it speaks to the divide between the generations. I was told by a coworker that millennials write and interpret things differently than older generations, basically implying that the way I say/write things sometimes doesn't go over well with millennials. I'm sure that coworker would be surprised to learn that I feel the exact same way about millennials. So what's the difference? I didn't tell that coworker I felt that same way about millennials too. Case in point with this article. I find this to be an abrupt approach by a younger voice that doesn't go over well with older generations. There is a sliding scale between respect and honesty, and I feel that when it comes to specific topics, different generations will slide one way more than another. An older generation may favor the be respectful above being honest while a younger generation would favor be absolutely honest and try to be respectful while doing it. So which is more important?  I grew up being taught respectfulness above all else, and so I didn't question. I just accepted, or rather I had an internal conflict that I couldn't rationalize, but also couldn't speak about it because of questioning or doubt or disagreement could be disrespectful. Some would say that taught me that lying is acceptable. It does feel safer in correlated conformity until you come across a conflict that puts you on the outside of it. And then it creates this mad scramble of trying to build a bridge between your new truth and the safe haven of correlation. I don't think the "speak your truth your way" of rising generations is going to change. But will the older generation allow a safe place for that? If not, then the place that the older generations have created will die with them. 

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On 4/27/2019 at 1:29 AM, anatess2 said:

Why do 3H writers think that opening an article like this

I remember that when I began to seriously read the scriptures I found God to be really manipulative, among other things.

is a good way to talk about our Heavenly Father?  Where do they get the idea that reverence for the Divine is only reserved for Sacrament Meeting?

A better opening, which would still be honest and it would include respect would have been a reverse of her initial understanding.

"When I began seriously studying the scriptures, I recognized that I had misunderstandings regarding the language used in scripture. I thought the words "vengeance," "justice," "persuasion," etc... were more manipulative until the Spirit softened my heart and help to see the underlying truths of the language used (which may or may not have been the actual verbage). This misunderstanding cause me to think inappropriately toward our Father in heaven, thinking he was...."

All here know how well I don't write, but I find it easy to be both honest and respectful when writing an article. Not so much, when I am off the cuff responses. ūüėģ

 

Edited by Anddenex

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3 hours ago, Anddenex said:

A better opening, which would still be honest and it would include respect would have been a reverse of her initial understanding.

"When I began seriously studying the scriptures, I recognized that I had misunderstandings regarding the language used in scripture. I thought the words "vengeance," "justice," "persuasion," etc... were more manipulative until the Spirit softened my heart and help to see the underlying truths of the language used (which may or may not have been the actual verbage). This misunderstanding cause me to think inappropriately toward our Father in heaven, thinking he was...."

All hear know how well I don't write, but I find it easy to be both honest and respectful when writing an article. Not so much, when I am off the cuff responses. ūüėģ

 

I think the mis-use/understanding of words, etc., is deeper.

What, exactly, does "manipulative" even mean?

Is asking nicely manipulative? Asking seriously? Warning? Threatening? Offering reward?

So is parenting manipulative?

What about school teachers?

Bosses?

Law enforcement?

It's like she's just taken this word that has a negative connotation and thrown it at God with no real meaning behind it other than critical -- as if any of the above is de-facto negative.

So my daughter goes to run out in the street in front of a car and I shout, "STOP! YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!!" and that means I manipulated her.

I mean, seriously?

This isn't about honesty vs respect. It's about implying negativity where negativity doesn't actually exist through the usage of poorly chosen words.

In other words it's about bad writing and communication vs. good writing and clarity.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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I think manipulation is more about controlling others without them realizing you're doing it.  If I threaten you to do what I want, that's not manipulation because we both know full well what's happening.  The same goes for offering incentives, persuasion, etc.

I once heard diplomacy defined as "the art of letting others get your way."  I think that description more aptly fits 'manipulation' than 'diplomacy.'

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8 minutes ago, unixknight said:

I think manipulation is more about controlling others without them realizing you're doing it.  If I threaten you to do what I want, that's not manipulation because we both know full well what's happening.  The same goes for offering incentives, persuasion, etc.

Sure. But technically we all do that with our smaller children. And we don't typically use the word "manipulative" when talking about parenting because we understand that doing this in some ways is a very good thing with small children, being as they are not mentally developed enough to realize what they're doing, and the word "manipulative" has a negative connotation.

It's not hard to equate that to us and God. We are not mentally developed enough to really realize what we're doing either. Hence we live by faith. And hence God does, indeed, "manipulate" us...but to use that word implies negativity where negativity does not exist. Which means expressing it that way implies things that are false. Which is bad communication.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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11 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I mean, seriously?

This isn't about honesty vs respect. It's about implying negativity where negativity doesn't actually exist through the usage of poorly chosen words.

In other words its about bad writing and communication vs. good writing and clarity.

From my purview, in light of Heather's response, I am thinking what you are specifying is more accurate. As one who isn't the best at good writing and communication I was thinking more in line with the dichotomy presented of being honest in your writing, or being respectful.

Components of good writing and clarity is the ability to be honest and respectful. So, I was hoping to get the idea across that a person can be honest and respectful, they don't have to be one or the other. And if they think they do, they the writer needs to be educated regarding the importance of honesty and respect when writing a good article.

But, I agree, any article coming from a member of the Church should recognize the importance of respect toward our God who gave us life, and to reflect any misunderstanding back to ourselves in order to continue glorifying God.

Like myself, one can still be honest and respectful in a published article (toward God the Father) and still be a bad writer -- ehem, like myself at times. ūüėģ

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1 minute ago, Anddenex said:

Components of good writing and clarity is the ability to be honest and respectful. So, I was hoping to get the idea across that a person can be honest and respectful, they don't have to be one or the other. And if they think they do, they the writer needs to be educated regarding the importance of honesty and respect when writing a good article.

Just to further the conversation and thoughts on the matter, consider:

Honest is not relative. You either speak the truth as you understand it or you do not. Moreover -- truth is, very much, not relative. There is truth. There is no "your truth" or "my truth". There is simply truth.

Respect, however, is very much relative. It is entirely based on perspective.

So I'm pretty sure the dichotomy between the two that has been suggested is not legitimate.

The opposite of honest is dishonest -- not respect.  You can make efforts to respectfully speak truth or disrespectfully speak truth, or you can make efforts to respectfully lie or disrespectfully lie. The idea that you have to choose one or the other as your priority is a bit silly.

But...that being said.... One must reasonably understand that if one is going to speak the truth at all times and in all places there will be some who consider it disrespectful regardless of efforts made in how that truth is presented. Prioritizing respect over truth just wades willingly into ignorance of both truth and the reality of respect and its relationship to perspective.

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15 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Honest is not relative. You either speak the truth as you understand it or you do not. Moreover -- truth is, very much, not relative. There is truth. There is no "your truth" or "my truth". There is simply truth.

This sentiment (emphasized portion) is something we all need to understand more clearly. We see all to often this line of thought of, "This is my truth, and that is your truth." This is a false paradigm. There is simply truth and we all need to be searching for it. I believe, but could be wrong, it was President Kimball who said something to this nature, "If we all humbled ourselves and truly sought for the truth, we would all come up with the same conclusion." If this wasn't from President Kimball, I still believe in this thought.

Example, the question, "Is there a God"? If we all truly, I mean truly humbled ourselves we would all come to the same conclusion. This goes for any truth.

I can't say being honest in not relative, but I think -- in context -- I understand your point, thus I don't disagree. We either speak truth or we do not, and how we speak that truth is very important.

15 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Respect, however, is very much relative. It is entirely based on perspective.

So I'm pretty sure the dichotomy between the two that has been suggested is not legitimate.

The opposite of honest is dishonest -- not respect.  You can make efforts to respectfully speak truth or disrespectfully speak truth, or you can make efforts to respectfully lie or disrespectfully lie. The idea that you have to choose one or the other as your priority is a bit silly.

Correct. It doesn't matter what age we are respect is important to any intelligent generation, if not, then we have a problem Houston. :)

15 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

But...that being said.... One must reasonably understand that if one is going to speak the truth at all times and in all places there will be some who consider it disrespectful regardless of efforts made in how that truth is presented. Prioritizing respect over truth just wades willingly into ignorance of both truth and the reality of respect and its relationship to perspective.

True. The Lord who was/is perfect offended those who did not like truth.

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Someone forgot to tell @Vort.

I actually care a great deal about being respectful and kind, even if I have not always demonstrated that on this forum. But when it comes to the gospel truths of the word of God, I do indeed care far more about being honest than about being respectful. That does not justify wanton disrespect, of course. But we should care more about the opinions of God than we do about those of our fellow men and women. Much of what is couched as "respectful" or even "kind" is nothing more than moral cowardice and a pronounced refusal to stand for truth. I wish never to be among that crowd.

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2 minutes ago, Vort said:

I actually care a great deal about being respectful and kind, even if I have not always demonstrated that on this forum. But when it comes to the gospel truths of the word of God, I do indeed care far more about being honest than about being respectful. That does not justify wanton disrespect, of course. But we should care more about the opinions of God than we do about those of our fellow men and women. Much of what is couched as "respectful" or even "kind" is nothing more than moral cowardice and a pronounced refusal to stand for truth. I wish never to be among that crowd.

Just to be clear, I was using you as an example for two purposes. The obvious is the humorous. But the other purpose was to point out that the idea that the "older" generation cares more about being respectful than truthful isn't accurate.

The younger generations(s) (millennials) are predominantly the ones claiming truth is relative -- which implies that "truth" isn't important -- which implies there is no real lying because truth isn't concrete -- which implies honestly is of no importance -- only being true to what one currently sees oneself as. And the younger generation is FAR more concerned with "feelings" and the hurting of them and safe spaces and all that garbage than the older generation. So I'm not actually sure where the idea @Heather proposed comes from.

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:
 
 
1
15 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

"manipulate" us...but to use that word implies negativity where negativity does not exist. Which means expressing it that way implies things that are false. Which is bad communication.

Didn't the writer feel negative about her interpretation of God? Whether or not it's false, are those feelings her true feelings? Would it be lying and manipulative to soften those feelings to appeal to a wider, more faithful audience? I think many faithful would say the ends justify the means. But to show where the writer ended up without being truthful to the journey could be seen as disingenuous and unrelatable. If the writer is trying to reach someone who struggles with God in the Old Testament, that reader is not going to relate to someone who doesn't struggle, or even worse, someone who tells them what they feel when they read the scriptures is wrong. Whether the writer is right or wrong, isn't the point I took away. I saw vulnerability, perhaps even an admittance of one's sins and shortcomings, which is always refreshing to me. It's tiring trying to put on the airs of perfectionism :)

It's your truth (and others) that she is false, but expressing what she is felt is real and raw and human. It is true to her. It is her perception of the truth that she owns, even when coming to the conclusion later her truth is wrong. And that is the payoff. That's the relatable aspect of "I can overcome this too."

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15 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

So I'm not actually sure where the idea @Heather proposed comes from.

My proposed comes from that you would rather she lie about how she felt because it would be more respectful to lie than to be honest. 

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14 minutes ago, Heather said:

My proposed comes from that you would rather she lie about how she felt because it would be more respectful to lie than to be honest. 

I see a problem in openly unequal application of the principle underlying this. For example:

A: I'm gay!
B. Um, you don't have to come right out and say that. It normalizes that which shouldn't be normalized. Think of the children.
A: Hey, I'm just telling the TRUTH.

Do you agree? Is A justified merely because he's telling the truth?

Now compare this:

A: I'm gay!
B: I hope you're keeping it under control. Homosexual activity is a perversion and a grievous sin.
A: How rude!
B: Hey, I'm just telling the TRUTH.

Do you agree? Is B justified merely because he's telling the truth?

Many who claim membership in the Restored Church seem to stand by the first example but reject the second.

The column author openly modeled a rather negative or "bad" viewpoint. They way she first approached things was somewhat immature, lacking developed faith and ignorantly using presentism as a basis of judgment. But that's all of us, right? So what's the harm in TELLING THE TRUTH? Well...because it normalizes that which should not be normalized. It's one thing to say, "I was a child and I didn't know how to consider things well." It's quite another to say, "I thought all those old people were just horrible, and I was scandalized at their lack of political correctness, but I slowly began to see that they may actually have been right in some ways."

Edited by Vort

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33 minutes ago, Heather said:

It's your truth (and others) that she is false, 

I didn't say she is false. I'm saying she was wrong in viewing God as manipulative, which I believe is the conclusion she makes herself. So why would you presume I'm attacking her when I'm agreeing with her?

I don't actually have a problem with this article. I have a problem with other writers and communicators (via facebook, comments, etc.) who continue to contend God is manipulative. 

Which renders this statement:

37 minutes ago, Heather said:

My proposed comes from that you would rather she lie about how she felt because it would be more respectful to lie than to be honest. 

Fully inaccurate.

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3 hours ago, Heather said:

I find discussions like this fascinating. I think it speaks to the divide between the generations. I was told by a coworker that millennials write and interpret things differently than older generations, basically implying that the way I say/write things sometimes doesn't go over well with millennials. I'm sure that coworker would be surprised to learn that I feel the exact same way about millennials. So what's the difference? I didn't tell that coworker I felt that same way about millennials too. Case in point with this article. I find this to be an abrupt approach by a younger voice that doesn't go over well with older generations. There is a sliding scale between respect and honesty, and I feel that when it comes to specific topics, different generations will slide one way more than another. An older generation may favor the be respectful above being honest while a younger generation would favor be absolutely honest and try to be respectful while doing it. So which is more important?  I grew up being taught respectfulness above all else, and so I didn't question. I just accepted, or rather I had an internal conflict that I couldn't rationalize, but also couldn't speak about it because of questioning or doubt or disagreement could be disrespectful. Some would say that taught me that lying is acceptable. It does feel safer in correlated conformity until you come across a conflict that puts you on the outside of it. And then it creates this mad scramble of trying to build a bridge between your new truth and the safe haven of correlation. I don't think the "speak your truth your way" of rising generations is going to change. But will the older generation allow a safe place for that? If not, then the place that the older generations have created will die with them. 

It's jarring to be Gen X and thought of as the "older" generation.  My mother is still alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic.  I still think of her as the "older" generation.

It's a false dichotomy to say being absolutely honest cannot exist with being respectful.  What you're trying to say instead of respectful is Political Correct.  That is not what we're talking about here.  Rather, we are talking about REVERENCE.  Reverence is not something practiced differently generation to generation.  A generation who does not know what reverence looks like is a lost generation.

And while I'm writing this thing, I happened to overhear the YSA holding Sacrament Meeting over the hallway speakers.  The lack of reverence in the talks is very disappointing.  It's like I was listening to stand-up comedy.  The new generation doesn't need a safe space.  They need a stern lesson in reverence.

 

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"I had such a test decades ago when one of my medical faculty colleagues chastised me for failing to separate my professional knowledge from my religious convictions. He demanded that I not combine the two. How could I do that? Truth is truth! It is not divisible, and any part of it cannot be set aside.

Whether truth emerges from a scientific laboratory or through revelation, all truth emanates from God. All truth is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet I was being asked to hide my faith. I did not comply with my colleague’s request. I let my faith show!

In all professional endeavors, rigorous standards of accuracy are required. Scholars cherish their freedom of expression. But full freedom cannot be experienced if part of one‚Äôs knowledge is ruled ‚Äúout-of-bounds‚ÄĚ by edicts of men.

...Spiritual truth cannot be ignored‚ÄĒespecially divine commandments. Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!"

Russell M. Nelson, April 2014 General Conference

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On 4/27/2019 at 2:29 AM, anatess2 said:

Why do 3H writers think that opening an article like this

I remember that when I began to seriously read the scriptures I found God to be really manipulative, among other things.

is a good way to talk about our Heavenly Father?  Where do they get the idea that reverence for the Divine is only reserved for Sacrament Meeting?

Tune in next month for "Lucifer, the Misunderstood Teacher and Friend to All Mankind."

I'm starting to get the impression they know nobody actually reads the articles so they're just farming out the content from a special ed creative writing class. 

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On 4/26/2019 at 8:00 PM, Third Hour said:

I remember that when I began to seriously read the scriptures I found God to be really manipulative, among other things. I was turned off by words and phrases like "vengeance," "justice," "wrath," and "persuasion." In the context of all of these words, persuasion seemed especially dark and formidable. If God was going to try to speak to me and have some sort of hidden agenda, then I didn't want to hear His argument at all! But that's just it: Heavenly Father doesn't have any hidden agenda. To believe this, it's important that we understand the differences between persuasion and manipulation and how they work in the context of a loving Heavenly Father. Understanding Persuasion and Manipulation My initial misunderstanding stemmed from having a poor idea regarding the nature of God, and of what persuasion is (unfortunately my K-12 English Persuasive writing lessons didn't help me here¬†ūü§¶ūüŹľ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ). Assuming you've had a similar misunderstanding, let's get on the same page and define what persuasion and manipulation actually are, and sprinkle it with...

View the full article

I am glad to know that I am not the only Christian who ever went into some sort of philosophical or theological crisis along the line of this.

I wrote up my own somewhat similar problems for another forum:

 

Could the Christian gospel be much worse news?

Back around 1990 I went through a pretty serious theological crisis when I found out that the Soul Sleep theory was in error. I had believed in it pretty firmly since the early '70's. It sure sounded a whole lot more humane than the gospel as presented by Dr. Billy Graham..... that had inspired me to become an Atheist from around 1967 - 1973 until I began to listen to Evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong. 

Without Soul Sleep until the resurrection......
the plan of G-d as explained by Rabbi Yeshua - Jesus sounded pretty awful.

Matthew 22:14

"For many are called, but few are chosen."

Matthew 7:13

¶
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."


Matthew 5:28

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast itfrom thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

So the possible reality of this hell.... that is so scary that it would be a good idea to take an axe to our right hand....
made the Gospel / Good News..... look a whole lot less good. 

Near death experiencer Bob Jones was shown that only about two percent of people in North America can go quickly into the paradise / heaven environment after death.

http://www.thequickenedword.com/rhema/BobJonesTestimonyAugust81975DeathExperience.htm

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