Why is it "wrong" to manually light my water heater

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St. Louis, MO
I'm not a professional. I have a AO Smith GCV 40 300 with a honeywell control valve. I had this issue about 3 years ago and got the pilot light lit, and it's been fine since. My pilot light is current out. The issue is I don't always get a spark when using the igniter.

I'd prefer just to order an entire new burner assembly, but while I wait I have no hot water. I'm wondering how stupid it is to try to light it manually...

Yesterday I removed the water heater burner assembly. I hooked the two red and white cables and the other igniter cable to test if there was a spark while the entire assembly was outside of the water heater. I tried this 3 different times. The first two, I randomly got a spark near the start of my pushing. However, over a minute period there were no other sparks. The third time I didn't get any sparks. Can I hook up the gas with the entire burner assembly outside of the water heater to see if I can light it when doing that test or is that idiotic? If this is not idiotic, what is the best way to do this? Finally, if this is acceptable, why can't I then have the entire assembly ready to install. Meaning everything setup as possible (just before screwing in the two bolts holding out outer shield of the burner assembly) and use a long bbq fire match to have this next to the pilot light and then move the knob on the honeywell control valve from off to pilot, and then push in to start the gas. Assuming that lights it, then let go of the button and leave the position in pilot. Then secure the two bolts.

I don't know where the line of stupidity is. Is this stupid or ok? I guess the concern is, what if it's not secured correctly and gas leaks while the pilot light is lit?
Hey, wait a minute.

This is awkward, but...

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