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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Opposition and Moderation » Opposition and Moderation

Opposition and Moderation

Don - September 1, 2004

When Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he learned a very simple, however complex truth: “There must needs be an opposition in all things…” (2 Ne. 2:11) In order for him (and in turn, all mankind) to experience one thing, he had to experience the other. Virtue/vice, health/sickness, pleasure/pain, light/darkness, etc. All of us know this principle to be true because we’ve all experienced it. In order to truly know happiness we have to be truly miserable at least some time in our life.

Where it gets complex for me is understanding and finding this thing called moderation. Philippians 4:5 states “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” Being that we need to experience both sides of everything, how do we know how much of each side to experience? This is clearly not an open invitation to sin (to gain said “experience”), but how do we know? One of the things that makes Christ perfect is that He has experienced opposition in all things. Are we not perfected until we experience all as He has? Does the Atonement also somehow make it possible for us to gain opposition experience? So, how can we truly know the happiness of being a free people in a free country if we’ve never lived in bondage?

I feel that this is a very important principle, because all around me I witness the foolishness of living to extremes. I find this true, even if applied to a single aspect of a person’s life. For example, we are often counseled to not adopt gospel hobbies (the Joseph F. Smith manual talks specifically about this). How many of us know someone who has done so and has since fallen away? There are those who spend an excessive amount of time with non-profit organizations, community theaters or other wholesome activities and leave no time for their own families. Conversely, there are some who elevate their family above the Gospel and discontinue their living of its principles because of an offense.

I’m not sure if there are any definitive answers to these questions but I’d love to hear any advice or personal experience that has helped any of you achieve moderation. The more I ponder and study this subject, the more I’m convinced that experiencing opposition and (perhaps more importantly) finding moderation is one of the basic reasons we come to this earth and one of the most essential things needed to achieve godhood.

1 Comment »

  1. I wish I could say I have “achieved moderation,” but of course that is a life-long work. However, here are my thoughts on some of your comments and questions.

    I don’t know that Christ was perfect BECAUSE he experienced all opposition; maybe it’s more accurate to say He’s perfect because He overcame the negative side of opposition that came His way — which is what is expected of us as well. Clearly we shouldn’t go out seeking opposition just to gain the opposition experience Christ overcame, but dealing well with what’s given us will prepare us to be perfected.
    (continued)
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 09.02.04 – 9:14 am | #

    I guess I see “opposition” and “moderation” in separate spheres: opposition is something that comes naturally as part of being mortal on this earth, and we are to seek to overcome the negative side of it. Moderation is something we strive to achieve between the positive (not negative) things in our life — as you mentioned, family, Church, community service, etc.

    Don’t try to find moderation between the light and darkness — seek all the light you can get, and find a balance between the different good lights that are out there.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 09.02.04 – 9:15 am | #

    Amy
    I hope I wasn’t confusing about Christ dealing with all opposition. I DON’T believe He was perfect for that reason only, but I do believe His overcoming all opposition is part of perfection.
    I like what you said about finding moderation between the good things in life. I should have emphasized that. A difficult part I see is when people decide to live in these “bubbles” where they aren’t exposed to opposition enough and when time comes whn they do have to face the fire, they can’t handle it because they haven’t prepared for it. You know those people who’ve grown up in the easy life who’ve never had any real challenges? I pity them when time comes for them to live in Babylon.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 09.02.04 – 2:32 pm | #

    Bret, I understand that you live in Rexburg and consider it a “bubble” but what do you mean when you say these people can’t “handle [facing the fire]“? Are you saying that they cower and run back to the bubble, or that they cry on their doorstep, or they break down and lose their testimony?

    And what’s an “easy life…[with no] real challenges”? I consider myself as someone who has lived a relatively easy life with few real challenges (relatively), but I think I am handling myself in New York City pretty well. Your the one still living in the bubble

    It seems that you are making a few sweeping generalizations without examples. Give me something to chew on.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 09.02.04 – 3:37 pm | #

    Opposition and moderation don’t seem to mesh for me. Yes there is opposition in all things but I don’t want to experience the results of what that means. I don’t think you have to cheat someone to know how to or enjoy the blessings of being honest.

    If we make good choices we get the blessings, we don’t have to make bad choices to see the contrast.

    As far as moderation yes in the sense you point out moderation is ok, but I want to be an extremist when it comes to keeping the commandments.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 09.02.04 – 5:21 pm | #

    Rusty,
    I’m sorry. One of my greatest challenges in life is putting things into words that are clear in my head. The best example I can think of is my summer recently returned missionary roommate. Great guy,(and I don’t pretend to know who’s lived too easy a life and who hasn’t) but this guy lives in one THICK bubble. I just don’t seeing this guy as any real help to others in many ways. He shuts himself out so much to the opposition in the world that he cannot really relate to anyone. He doesn’t know what is going on in the world outside his bubble and doesn’t care to. I know many people that, if he tried to help them/sympathize with them, they’d be offended or turned off because they know he can’t really give them any real help.
    It’s the people that live in their bubbles and, fearing penetration by outside influence, will not reach out to those in need the way they really need it.
    The same can be said of those who can’t disagree without being disagreeable.
    Does that m
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 09.03.04 – 12:53 pm | #

    And yes, I DO live in a bubble, but I do NOT plan on staying in it.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 09.03.04 – 12:54 pm | #

    Bret,

    I still don’t know if the answer to helping, sympathizing with, and relating to others is to expose yourself to more opposition — I mean, it doesn’t make sense that God would want your roommate to go out and have a nice NCMO just so he can help the guy next door who feels bad for doing the same thing.

    That’s not to say, of course, that we can’t and shouldn’t expose ourselves to reality: being aware of other people’s problems and challenges, watching the news to realize some of the suffering that goes on in the world, recognizing the evils that exist in our day, etc.

    To clarify, I think simply acknowledging opposition, rather than participating in it, can go a long (enough) way in what God wants of us in helping and relating to others.

    Maybe that’s all you were saying anyway.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 09.09.04 – 9:49 am | #

    Yes Amy, that is what I was trying to say but like I said before, I have a hard time putting into words what is clear in my mind. You do a better job of that then I.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 09.10.04 – 3:10 pm | #

    Comment by Comment Restore — November 28, 2005 @ 12:36 am

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