Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Degrees of Glory and Tolerance

The Doctrine and Covenants is explicit that certain forms of conduct are not allowed in certain degrees of glory:
38 And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
39 All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:38–39)
21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:21–24)
In the degrees of glory, actions against the law of that kingdom are not tolerated. Those who commit them cannot remain in that kingdom. This means that in the three degrees of glory there is only limited tolerance. The more tolerance displayed, the lower the kingdom of glory. This argues that tolerance is not a celestial virtue but a telestial one.
For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; (Doctrine and Covenants 1:31; cf. Alma 45:16)
The more like God we are, the less we will tolerate sin. He does not tolerate sin and so if we are like him, we will not either.

It is in the telestial kingdom that all manner of sins are permitted and tolerated. One reason we may have to tolerate sins in a telestial world is to give others what the Book of Mormon calls "space for repentance" (Alma 42:5; cf 12:24). If others give up their sins, we do not have to tolerate them anymore. We cannot, however, keep our sins and expect them to be tolerated in a celestial realm.

We might think that God is being exclusionary in not tolerating our sins in the celestial kingdom, but that is not the correct way to view the situation. As Moroni explains:
3 Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?
4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.
5 For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you. (Mormon 9:3–5)
God's exclusion of sinners is not intolerance, it is mercy.