Gentle Pushback on Authenticity
Authenticity is a common topic at The Exponent. But lately, I’ve been thinking that perhaps it is more complex than we sometimes discuss in our threads. My thoughts stemmed when I tried to look at authenticity from a traditional Mormon perspective. When I did this, I realized that most Mormons, and perhaps most Christians, wouldn’t see authenticity as a value they would work towards. I’m not at all saying that authenticity isn’t valuable, and that there is no place for it, but I am worried about using it as the ultimate value, the goal for our spiritual progression.
For a working definition, I consulted wikipedia. Authenticity (philosophy) “the attempt to live one’s life according to the needs of one’s inner being, rather than the demands of society or one’s early conditioning.”
As appealing as this sounds, does it not seem to stand somewhat in contrast to the values of Christianity?
This definition, appears to leave out God, and in so doing distances itself from Christians or Mormons values. Thinking about it this way explains why I don’t hear authenticity discussed much in Sacrament meeting talks or RS lessons. However, integrity seems like a close cousin of authenticity, the difference, I suppose, being that with integrity you would make choices consistent with your beliefs which are based on God’s commandments.
The other question I have is if we decide authenticity is desirable, is it realistic? Like the definition suggests, much of our behavior has been programed by our genetics or socialization: cultural, religious, political, etc. Thus, to what extent we can break away from these factors and really find an independent self to whom we can be true?
For those of us trying to walk the careful line between feminism and membership in the LDS church, is authenticity really what we should be focused on? Is there something better that we should strive for?
It seems that Christianity and LDS teachings encourage us to cultivate a variety of virtues: The YW’s theme comes to mind, as do humility, patience, obedience, and being one with the people of God.
“If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” D&C 38:27
And let’s not foget charity, the pure love of Christ as described in 1 Cor 13 and Moroni 7. This virtue seems to stand above the rest as the greatest love we can have.
All of these virtues are, well, virtuous, so how do rank authenticity among them? Why?
In the end, my purpose here is to create a place to discuss the way value authenticity compared to traditional Christian virtues. I do not mean to offend anyone or any group with these comments, but hope that we can find a way to use our own understanding and experiences to flesh out the complexities of this topic.