Why should we think to earn a great reward?
This past month, our Relief Society was able to do a chapel session with the temple matron. This was my first time going to the temple after the birth of my son over a year ago, and the first time doing an endowment session since before that pregnancy. Sitting stagnant for a couple of hours while pregnant? No, thank you.
So it had been a while. I was nervous about some of the feminist issues that have been brought up here in the past, but decided to go with an open mind. At one point the temple matron, emphasized that we were queens and priestesses and that in the temple endowment and sealing ordinances we are promised great blessings. She went over the specifics of those blessings, and suddenly, I didn’t want any of it. None of my original worries were ever addressed in her talk, and while that was unsettling, none of that mattered: I didn’t want these promised blessings.
I should clarify: it’s not that I don’t want the blessings, it’s that I don’t want blessings to be a reward for “good” behavior, a carrot on a stick. I spent the entire endowment session with my mind reeling with frustration. What does it mean about God’s view of us if rewards, and even threats, are used to keep us on the straight and narrow?
The way we talk about the Celestial Kingdom, we use words and phrases like gold, glory of the sun, highest of all, wealth untold. Why resort to afterlife bribery? Does God think so little of us? I’m leaning towards shelving the afterlife altogether and just focusing on here and now because I really can’t handle how degraded I feel when I think that God might see me as a puppy who will get a rawhide bone when this is all over.
I don’t think God bribes us to do good. I think that the reward in heaven mindset is a product of our culture (thousands of years of it!) and does not appropriately reflect our relationship with Diety. But then what? How am I supposed to reframe this? So much of Mormonism and Christianity is this promise of the glittering shininess of glory in the end.
So I want to ask you, have you run into this dilemma? Have you had to reframe your entire religious framework and how did you tackle that? Are there scriptures that discuss the afterlife without using it as a pat on the head?