This is guest post by Eric Hachenberger, who says he was born and raised in the Church in Austria, served his mission in Spain, studied Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution at BYU-Hawaii, and lives with his wife and daughter in Berlin. He works as Account Manager and a Conflict Coach on the side.
After the First Presidency’s message urging us to get vaccinated, a close relative of mine refused to do so and got Covid-19 a mere few weeks later.
Me, the obedient member, who decided to be vaccinated after this prophetic counsel, felt like the world was in order now. ‘See, you should have been vaccinated,’ I thought, ‘then you wouldn’t have to suffer now.’
I am deeply ashamed of the thoughts I had at the time. Sadly though, I wasn’t the only one to think along these lines. In fact, I saw these tendencies spring up all around me. Similar patterns run outside the church as well.
Using the Gospel as a Hammer
Many of us, who were aligned with the First Presidency’s message’s content, immediately used it as a hammer to say, “See, I was right. Now go, think like me, and get vaccinated.”
This is not how we are supposed to use the gospel. But it is sometimes how we would like to use the gospel, and sadly also do use it, but it really defeats its purpose.
We don’t know exactly how Lucifer wanted to execute his plan of saving all of mankind. Only that it boiled down to the extermination of agency. There is, however, one prevalent theory among members of the church, namely, that Lucifer just wanted to force us to always do what is right. (The second theory, also quite compelling (pun intended), was to simply eradicate all the bad consequences of mistakes and sins).
This tendency to force our ‘truth’ on someone else is easily observable in our natural, human state. ‘To be right’ just feels so good. To know (or at least deceive ourselves to think) that we chose and acted right holds tremendous satisfaction. And in its worst form, it becomes equal to the absolution of judging and condemning others.