Preface, for those who don't know this aspect of me: I am an active and believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I live in Utah, but "grew up" in Wyoming. I'm a sassy, questioning kind of person, as is evidenced by the couple of times I've been asked to leave a Sunday School or Seminary Class. I believe I am like this because I have an innate and very pure belief that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost exist and communicate with me. So all I have to do is ask and the answer is there.
On to the metaphor!
I'm thinking that the Letter of the Law is like a body. It is solid, it has definite, see-able boundaries.
The Spirit of the Law is like, well, the soul or spirit. It is eternal, not see-able and not truly measurable. It is the essence.
With just the Spirit, there is no form. It cannot truly affect change. It's like a Ghost.
With just the Letter, there is no understanding of WHY. Basically, it's Zombies of the Law. Unthinking consumption.
Judgement views others by the Letter of the Law.
Love, however, views others through the Spirit of the Law.
Um...we're humans. That means that we are are meant to literally house both.
So how can we use this to our advantage without being Ghosts or Zombies?
As members of an organized religion, members of my church commit to follow commandments. We are held to that commitment by fellow humans who are called to be our leaders, though they have no greater training in being human than we do. We also choose to follow rules in order to maintain order within the structure of the church. The finite rules and commandments are the Letter of the Law.
Subscribing to the Letter of the Law alone may leave a person feeling...well, like a zombie. Empty. Unfulfilled. Always hungry.
That is why Christ, who was WAY better at being human than anyone else on the planet - ever - phrased the commandments the way he did in the Two Great Commandments:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. ... Thou shalt love thy neighbor as theyself."
This is the true Spirit of the Law. Love.
But sitting in a room all day just loving the dickens out of everything is fairly ineffective. Not only for ourselves, but for others. It is a Ghost, a haunting.
Action alone is zombie.
Intent alone is ghost.
Love, in my opinion, requires Intent and Action.
I believe that a fulfilling membership in the LDS church and belief in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ requires both. It requires us to be Human.
How can we be both? Especially as we attempt to balance love with law? Well, if we lead with the Letter of the law, we are leading with judgement. And yes, we all got the same commandments, but in the definition of the Word of God, it is included that "God's children may receive his word directly by revelation through the Spirit."
Basically, we don't know everyone's business. And it's not our business to.
My hope in sharing this thought today is that we decide and make an effort to marry the two, the Letter and the Spirit, the Action and the Intent, maintaining our membership in the church with a balanced marriage of both.
But when it comes to interacting with our fellow members, my hope is that we lead with the Spirit of the Law. Lead with love.