RoastedTomatoes recent post on Times and Seasons (look here) reminds me of a point that I have been making in my class, but which I am not sure results in actual doctrine. As always, when faced with the possibility of having taught false doctrine in my class, I turn to the faceless opinions of the internet for correction.
RT cites Alma 32:13-16 wherein a dichotomy is established between those who are compelled to be humble and those who humble themselves. I have a notion that God is primarily speaking rhetorically when he brings up the second group.
I don’t believe that humans are particularly good at humbling themselves. I do believe that this is why we have such things as sin, poverty, cancer, paper cuts, etc. Although some acts may constitute a minor humbling of oneself (baptism comes to mind), I don’t know that humanity (as presently constituted) is actually capable of it. While it is the sort of thing that is possible on paper (or, in the case of Christ, in reality), it doesn’t work out in the vast majority of our real lives.
Things that are truly humbling in the sense that they cause us to turn to God are humiliating. Serious degenerative disease that causes a person to rely on others for bathing or the removal of bodily waste. The impotence of parents when they are unable to protect their children. The shame of being caught by loved ones or civil authorities in the midst of an addiction. These are the sorts of things that really put someone in a crisis of faith.
People who believe that they humbled themselves by accepting a church calling believed beneath them or by accepting a deserved scolding are, to my mind, simply puffing up their pride. There is the oft repeated joke in church wherein someone proclaims their own humility. There are people who wear their “humility” on their sleeve, demanding our appreciation of their meekness.
God demands that we be humble. In the comments to RT’s post, someone pointed out Ether 12:27 which we frequently read for the end, while forgetting the beginning. We are weak because God needs us to be humble. If we are humble, God will make us strong. But he won’t make us proud. Only we do that.