As President Gordon B. Hinckley acknowledged, “It is a fact that we lose some—far too many. Every organization of which I am aware does so. But I am satisfied that we retain and keep active a higher percentage of our members than does any other major church of which I know.” (“The Church Grows Stronger,” Ensign, May 2004, 4.)
An unfortunate trend is to leave the Church over the so-called social issues. It is on these grounds that I see need for further and deeper thought. We will look closely at this question: Where do most people today, including some Latter-day Saints, get their values/conscience/feelings/attitudes/ideologies from? Where do they get their ideas on how to behave, to live, to conduct their lives? Is there such a thing as wrong or foolish values? And if we learn the source of that information, meaning the answers to these questions, can it be trusted or is it false? These are questions that may decide whether certain people will remain in the Church or leave it. So, where is “society” or the “world” and now, and how did we get there?
A Decrease in Morality and Increase in Sin and Disbelief
Elder Boyd K. Packer believed that the United States of America, has from its beginning been a mostly moral and decent nation, deserving of the title “good, moral Christian people,” but that around the time of the Vietnam War, that majority shifted and became a minority; also that the United States has been in rapid moral decline ever since. He wrote: “Perhaps for the first time . . . that balance of decency and morality is shifting past the center. The balance . . . is slowly tipping in the wrong fatal direction.” Further, “It happened first in and to the universities of America. It happened when agnostics and atheists were protected in teaching their philosophy of religion in public institutions of higher learning. Because they claim affiliation with no church, the principle of separation of church and state is supposed not to apply to them. They are free to teach their faithless philosophy at public expense, to shake, even destroy, the faith of their students. Meanwhile teachers of faith are restrained and churches are kept off campus. What happened, happened in and to the schools and the churches, to the towns and cities, it happened in the homes and in the hearts of the American people.”
Elder Packer then stated: “Something is weakening the moral fiber of the American people. We have always had couples live together without marriage, but we have not honored it as an acceptable life style. We have always had children born out of wedlock, but we have never made it to be respectable. And, we have never before regarded babies, conceived in wedlock or out, to be an inconvenience and destroyed them by the thousands through abortion. And this while barren couples yearn for a child to raise. We have always had some who followed a life of perversion [homosexuality], but we have never before pushed through legislation to protect that way of life lest we offend the rights of an individual. . . .” This address, given thirty years ago, presaged well what has become of the United States and the rest of the world as well.
We Live in Enemy (Satan’s) Territory
The prophets and apostles have answered our question over and over and have left no room for misunderstanding. Their collective explanation is not believed by most, but it remains their unapologetic prophetic stance. A few examples will suffice to make their position clear. President Boyd K. Packer, it talking to the youth of the Church, declared: “You are growing up in enemy territory. When you become mature spiritually, you will understand how the adversary has infiltrated the world around you. He is in homes, entertainment, the media, language—everything around you. In most cases his presence is undetected.”
If that statement is not definitive enough and needs reinforcing, Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated that we are surrounded by evil: “Our youth and young adults . . . need our help to reinforce them against the diversions and evils that surround them, which are intense and persuasive. In an address . . . nearly a decade ago, President Boyd K. Packer observed that ‘the world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace.’ And in rededicating the Boise Idaho Temple last November, President Thomas S. Monson declared that our young members ‘walk in a world saturated with the sophistries of Satan.’”
This is strong language from prophets, seers, and revelators, and obviously what applies to the youth applies to everyone else. President Russell M. Nelson taught the same principles about the state of the world we presently live in: “The somber reality is that there are ‘servants of Satan’ embedded throughout society. So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.”
These teachings give us the answer to our question of why some people leave the Church and forsake the gospel. We began by asking where people get their values from; where they get their attitudes, feelings, loyalties, consciences, personal positions, alliances and allegiances from. And the answer is that far too many get it from voices in the world and society around them. The “world” is often figuratively compared to the Telestial Kingdom in Latter-day Saint discourse and will be herein. So—what have we just reviewed that the prophets and apostles have said about the world (or society) as a source of influence and guidance?
Quoting Elder Oaks again: “We are surrounded by associates and a culture that maintain that it is not wrong to have sexual relations without being married. A recent survey reports that 53 percent of the American public believe this.” Then—“I conclude that followers of Christ think differently than others.” Mildly stated, to be sure.
Building on that concept, Elder Oaks reached this further conclusion: “When we begin by measuring modern practices and proposals against what we know of God’s plan and the premises given in the word of God and the teachings of His living prophets, we must anticipate that our conclusions will differ from persons who do not think in that way. But we are firm in this because we know that this puts us on safe ground eternally.” Thus, we see a strong beginning to an answer of why some people leave the Church.
Having laid this foundation, let us then keep this question in mind as we continue: where do most people get their personal morality/feelings/beliefs/consciences from?
Believing the Doctrines of Men and Devils (D&C 46:7)
The apostle Paul informed Timothy that believing false doctrine can lead people (today) out of the Church: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). (Keep in mind that some depart from the faith in their hearts without departing from the Church formally. By remaining within, they hope their voice of criticism and doubt will have more influence with believers.)
Modern revelation also tells us that this world is saturated with the doctrines (philosophies) of men and devils (evil spirits). This cannot be overstated in importance as an answer to our question, for the word of the Lord advises great caution—“that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils” (D&C 46:7). How many people, some still in but many out of the Church, have been seduced in this manner by evil spirits speaking through a variety of voices and organizations?
These lost church members have compared the doctrine they got from men and devils, with that which came by revelation from the Lord, and they became or will become ashamed of the Lord’s doctrine and leave His Church. Over and over again this happens, and as prophesied, will continue as the dispensation continues up until the Second Coming.
All of this was revealed by dream-vision to Lehi and Nephi. They saw multitudes of people “clinging” to the word of God (the iron rod) steadfastly until reaching and partaking of the precious fruit of the tree of life, but then “after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed”—why? Because people filled with the learning and pride and feelings and conscience and sins of the Telestial world “were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” So what happened?—“after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost” (1 Nephi 8). Our great question is further answered by the Book of Mormon. And it seems that mockery and ridicule can often awaken shame in a human heart.
Paul taught that we must endure this form of persecution: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).
A Doctrine of Men and Devils: Moral Relativism
About a year ago, Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave one of the finest talks on the subjects of atheism and related matters that I have ever read; he knew and had carefully prepared his subject and taught by the power of the Spirit. He said: “In much of the world, relativist thinking has become a dominant philosophy. By relativism I mean the view that ethical or moral truths are relative, that they depend on the attitudes and feelings of those who hold them, and that no one can judge the validity of someone else’s ‘truth.’ You hear a lot of talk these days about ‘my truth’ and ‘his truth’ or ‘her truth.’” Elder Christofferson explained further:
I think you would agree that the philosophy of moral relativism has made great inroads in our time. “Not judging” has become an almost unchallengeable standard for conversation and behavior. But in reality, we all make judgments about what is right and wrong, and not just for ourselves, but for the people and the society around us. Laws and systems of law, even political systems, are the embodiment of moral values and perceived truths. In a pluralistic society, we may debate what values should be enshrined in laws or regulations and what is right or wrong or true, but in the end, on any given issue, someone’s view, or some group’s view, of truth prevails and everyone becomes bound by it.
Moral relativism just doesn’t work if there is to be order and justice in society. Can murder be wrong for most but right for some? Is a thief entitled to keep what he steals and continue stealing because he believes robbery is right for him, especially since he grew up in an underprivileged circumstance? Or taking note of something very much in the news today, is a man entitled to sexually harass a woman because he finds it consistent with his personal sense of right and wrong?
“Well,” one might say, “you are talking about things that are generally accepted as wrong. There are some self-existing values that inhere in human existence that are the basis for laws against murder, rape, theft, and other actions that injure people or interfere with their legitimate pursuit of happiness. These are essential and universal human rights that negate any individual right to the contrary. It is only beyond these acknowledged human rights that moral relativism applies, where each individual may define for himself or herself what is right or wrong.” But this line of reasoning makes the point that there are in fact moral absolutes, whether you call them universal human rights or something else. At least some truths and moral concepts exist apart from personal whim or preference. The only debate, really, is what they are and how far they extend. What we refer to as moral relativism is actually an ongoing debate about tolerance: What actions and differences should be tolerated in society and in human relations?
There is much said here about our modern society. Every news organization, blogger, media outlet, website, radio commentator, TV personality, celebrity, singer, actor, athlete, evangelist, and politician has a viewpoint or “truth” that they want to persuade us to accept. Since none of them speak for the Lord, who then do the majority of them speak for?
Elder Oaks, in harmony with Elder Christofferson, stated: “A powerful and influential modern school of thought is ‘moral relativism,’ the idea that there is no absolute right or wrong. Behind that idea is the assumption that there is no God or, if there is a God, that He has given no commandments that apply to us today. . . . We oppose moral relativism, and we must help our youth avoid being deceived and persuaded by reasoning and conclusions based on its false premises.”
We conclude that President Oaks and Elder Christofferson are dutifully teaching us that we should not listen to these “moral relativist” voices of falsehood. This is exceptionally important counsel for spiritual safety. As touching on the youth in particular, Elder Packer noted this interesting fact: “The system of seminary is maintained at enormous expense given willingly by the Brethren responsible for the funds of the Church. We invest much in our youth.” Why?—to help protect them from the false philosophies of the world, and keep them spiritually safe in the Church.
A Doctrine of Men and Devils: LGBT Activism/Behavior/Marriage
A headline in the Tribune recently spoke of someone leaving the Church. The reason this person got such prominent publicity for her apostasy is because she had some standing as a musician, and the Tribune always eagerly gives publicity to apostates. This woman left for these reasons, as quoted in the article: “Her break from her church came from realizing there were things in Latter-day Saint doctrine and history that she felt were too troublesome to ignore. ‘I lost a lot of sleep over it at night, and ultimately could not reconcile those things,’ Gledhill said. ‘I couldn’t reconcile the church’s stance on LGBTQ individuals. … I feel like there is a lot of racial injustice in church history, and in scripture. And I feel like there’s a lot of misogyny in church history. I feel like I was experiencing an awakening to those things.’”
Two factors are at work here: one is that she probably doesn’t really know church doctrine and history very well, but the larger second reason seamlessly encapsulates the purpose of this blog. We therefore ask again in all solemnity and seriousness—where did she get her “feel[ings]” that she is basing her personal apostasy on? Where did she get her personal position or attitude? Did she get it from God or from men and devils?
Is there any way for her to reconcile her “awakening to those” worldly, telestial, feelings and philosophies of the great and spacious building with revealed gospel truths? This is a no-brainer text-book example of someone who has become saturated with the worldly poison of the doctrines pointed out above. She has personally positioned Satan’s ubiquitous philosophies above God’s doctrine and plan of salvation, and in doing so, has (unless she repents), rejected and lost her eternal life because of it. And that is why all of this is so terribly important to clearly understand. The minute someone shifts their personal sense of morality and decency in the wrong fatal direction (to paraphrase Elder Packer above), and begins to champion and live by the doctrines of men and devils, they put their spiritual welfare—meaning their eternal salvation—in serious jeopardy.
This woman is just one of a long line of woefully mistaken people finding themselves in this situation because of the bought an awful rotten new worldview. Whether they realize it or not—however it takes place—they have replaced eternal truths and their testimony with the doctrines of men and devils—and called it good and right and an “awakening.” Simply put, they are ashamed of the doctrine of Christ as taught by modern prophets and apostles and holy scripture.
Ancient prophets, affirmed by modern, warned them against taking this course: “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”—this is Nephi quoting Isiah. Moroni warned of the same seductive trap: “Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.” But Gledhill did and personal apostasy is the sad result. This being the case, it seems unlikely that an improved understanding of church history and doctrine would reverse her course; she has swallowed the lies that the adversary has saturated the world with, and only intense repentance can save her and others like her. (For those interested, in a blog post a few years ago I went into detail on the LGBT scam cooked up by the devil.)
I give my opinion, and this is not doctrine, that the day may come when LGBT activists may gain sufficient influence to withhold employment or housing or other services from followers of Christ that keep His commandments and oppose this great iniquity. I already see news articles that speak of misled celebrities publicly lashing out at good Christians because they affiliate with organizations that oppose LGBT lifestyles and propaganda. I wonder if someday Latter-day Saints will be denied jobs or a seat in a restaurant or be ordered to the back of the bus because of such religious bigotry. LGBT activism run amuck is a frightening thought. We read of it in the Old Testament, where those who prayed were put to death; makes one wonder if times of such severe persecution will come again.
A Doctrine of Men and Devils: Good Doubt
A Salt Lake Tribune commentary headline stated: “Latter-day Saint apostle Dale G. Renlund misses the mark on doubt by blaming the victim” The Tribune had reprinted a blog by Jana Riess, a loud dissident known for trying to keep one toe in the Church and nine in the world. Evidently, somehow, this person manages to keep a temple recommend while constantly publicly criticizing Church leaders, policies, and practices. Elder Renlund (and his wife) have twice now given much the same talk; once to Church Education System personnel and also to the young adults. The Renlund’s message is that doubt is not good or helpful in any way, but should be overcome by faith in Christ. This kind of strong apostolic doctrine tends to rile those imbued with the philosophies of the world, which we have seen are the doctrines of men and devils.
The blogger critic (Riess) quoted in the Tribune called this twice-given address “damaging,” along with other derogatory terms, and proceeded with an almost line-by-line critique. Being filled with the philosophies of the world, she cannot tolerate or comprehend the revealed truth: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36); “Doubt not, but be believing” (Mormon 9:27), and many others like them.
The blogger is a perpetual doubter herself, upset by apostolic correction. She may be receiving at least some feedback that her words are becoming known to alert and perceptive members as constituting deceptive sophistry and “damaging” criticism. I note this because in one more recent blog she became upset that she has gained a reputation for being a “tare”—alluding to the parable of the wheat and the tares. Seems people are discerning her murmuring for what it is—she is ashamed of the gospel because of the world. Elder Renlund’s talk may lessen her influence with faithful people.
Now, lest anyone become indignant and accuse me of judging another, I would simply say, yes, I am standing as a watchman on the tower to point out loudly and publicly proclaimed error and murmuring and criticism. I have no power or authority of myself to condemn her or anyone else, in this life or the next, but I do have the capability to show others where the rattlesnakes lie in the tall grass.
May I repeat what Elder Christofferson is quoted above as teaching: “‘Not judging’ has become an almost unchallengeable standard for conversation and behavior. But in reality, we all make judgments about what is right and wrong, and not just for ourselves, but for the people and the society around us.” May I belabor the point, which this entire blog is meant to do, and ask the question again—where is Jana Riess getting her beliefs from? Where is Peggy Stack (the Tribune religion reporter), Jana’s ally, getting her feminist and LBGT activism and beliefs from? Is it that hard to figure out?
While preparing this piece, I realized that this last Sunday’s Gospel Doctrine lesson, from Luke 1, contained a valuable lesson on this issue of doubt. Zacharias was given clear direction and assurance of a miracle by an angel (Gabriel) standing in the air before him, but, righteous man that he was, Zacharias yet doubted. The result of doubting in that situation is that he was struck dumb as a sign (see Luke 1:18-20). Would that Jana and Peggy could also be so dealt with by the Lord and become unable to type. Another egregious example of promoting doubt as good and beneficial is found here, and my response to the nonsense in it here. No scriptures speak positively of doubt. Those seeking the favor and blessings of God know that doubt is the enemy of faith, not a friend. So many scriptures sustain this eternal truth. The ancient apostles James said it well: “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-8).
A Doctrine of Men and Devils:
Women’s Ordination to the Priesthood and Extreme Feminism
In an otherwise good and insightful interview, a BYU religious educator taught some mildly incorrect doctrine, ironically in the middle of explaining how to determine true and correct doctrine. According to the transcript, he was asked: “Is male priesthood ordination a doctrine, a policy, or a practice? Mike Goodman: It’s a practice.” He went on to confuse adjustments in priesthood and offices made by prophets of past dispensations, with gender, in regards to “who” holds the priesthood.
In this case, Elder Packer has taught the true doctrine (not practice): “From the beginning the priesthood has been conferred only upon the men. It is always described in the scriptures as coming through the lineage of the fathers. (See D&C 84:6, 14–16; D&C 107:40–41; Abr. 1:3–4.)”
In this instance, we are probably not talking about an egregious error coming from the influences of the world on this very fine religion professor, but rather a simple misunderstanding. However, its effect may be to give encouragement for change where none will come. Relating to such cases of error, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “I worry about this. Small aberrations in doctrinal teaching can lead to large and evil falsehoods.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997], 620.)
Sad to say, we seem to have many loud and indignant extremist feminists who have become saturated with the philosophies of men/women and devils in our increasingly corrupt and immoral society, and they are consequently finding their way out of the Church where they have become ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sadly, even supposedly good and faithful people can become tainted with worldly philosophies that may have a detrimental impact. Julie Smith, author of a forthcoming book on the Gospel of Mark, readily admitted to strong feminist beliefs in both an interview and on her website. The problem with this is that many (if not most), readers will be unable to tell the difference between those portions of the book where feminist propaganda has been incorporated into the textual explanations, and those where they have not. I want my scriptural commentary free of the philosophies of the world.
But, darn-it, this blog’s examination of devilish doctrine is not “Christ-like”!
I have come to believe that one of the most misunderstood and misused terms in the Church and the world is “Christ-like.” Everyone that wants something that is true to become false, or something false to become true, wants to justify their stance by labeling their cause as “Christ-like” and “loving.” In doing so they betray the fact that they don’t know what they are talking about and that they are wresting the scriptures.
An example of this sophistry: if you don’t accept, but instead abhor gay and lesbian lifestyles, you don’t love and support people, and since Jesus sat and ate with publicans and sinners, He loved them—and therefore you are labelled as un-Christ-like or un-Christian. This is how they twist love for sinners as people into love of sin. Charity, or the pure love of Christ, cannot rob justice. The Lord has said he “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31). Elder Oaks has taught with great clarity on more than one occasion that when we take a virtue to the extreme, like being “Christ-like,” we turn that virtue into a vice. We cannot stretch tolerance so far that we support, aid or abet evil.
I think people, before using that expression so often, should read the four gospels closely for evidence of exactly how Jesus behaved, and see if that matches with today’s over-use of the term. Loving everyone is indeed Christ-like, but tolerating and supporting the doctrines of men and devils and the sins they practice opposes His teachings. Some people received some really sharp rebukes from the Savior and that would not be considered Christ-like today by many who ignorantly speak those words.
Truly did President Oaks proclaim: “The kingdom of glory to which we are assigned in the Final Judgment is not determined by love but by the law that God has given us.”
Counsel for Helping those Who Have Left
Now that we have thoroughly answered the great question that we began with, and we know where most people, sometimes even friends and relatives, got their personal views that caused them to leave the Church, we must ask: how can we help them?
President M. Russell Ballard offered wise counsel on this matter: “If I have family or friends who are less active [or apostate], how far do I go in my attempts to bring them back? My answer is please do not preach to them! Your family members or friends already know the Church’s teachings.” While this is good counsel and I have heard the same from other General Authorities (such as Elder Matthew Cowley), there is one sentence in President Ballard’s statement that needs some slight qualifying—that “family members and friends already know the Church’s teachings.” I am sure this is true enough in many instances, but it is not in others. President Ballard probably knows the doctrines of the gospel as well as anyone on earth, but he would not recognize them as they are often presented and explained by ex- and anti-Mormons on the many chat-site forums found on the internet. If any of them are the friends and family members that President Ballard is talking about, and we must presume some are, they definitely do not know the doctrines of the gospel. These lost and defiant sheep have been subject to the laws of God spoken of by Alma, wherein he said: “And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries.” (Alma 12:11). It is a marvelous scripture-confirming experience to see this truth in action on the anti- and ex-Mormon forums. They have had taken from them most any true gospel knowledge they once had—but I don’t recommend anyone wade through the icky soul-depressing muck they write.
I learned this doctrine first-hand several years ago when I worked with a relative who had left the Church. I soon found that most everything that he had once known had been taken from him and he was left empty and warped and void of gospel truth. And I also learned that Brother Ballard was right; when I got too aggressive and annoyed at my relative’s lack of understanding of even the simplest things, he angrily cut off all communication.
A Prophet and Seer’s Prophecy
Beautifully summing up all that has been stated above is a prophecy from a prophet and apostle, then-Elder Boyd K. Packer. In my opinion his words qualify as scripture, albeit uncanonized scripture. I feel it was given by the power of the Holy Spirit, and perfectly describes our day and the actions of those who have been shamed by the mockery of those in the great and spacious building; the doctrines of men and devils; the false and deceptive ideologies of the critics and activists in and out of the Church. Elder Packer stated: “As we continue on our course, these things will follow as night the day: The distance between the Church and a world set on a course which we cannot follow will steadily increase. Some will fall away into apostasy, break their covenants, and replace the plan of redemption with their own rules.”
If we need any convincing that this prophecy is true, we have but to glance at the religion and commentary pages of the Salt Lake Tribune, where they consistently proclaim and publicize the non-newsworthy departure of those who have chosen to follow the ways of the world, or, surf the many websites operated by apostates and dissenters; the proof stares us in the face.
Note - For interested readers, the below quotations, describing the sinful and devilish state of our society/the world in the last days, comes from Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s excellent book, The Millennial Messiah. I view these explanations as providing further detailed witness to the situation described in the preceding blog post:
When darkness covers the earth and apostasy is everywhere, then sin and evil rear their ugly heads over all the earth and are everywhere to be found. And the darker the apostate night, the more evil and damning are the sins. The acts of men grow out of their beliefs. When men believe the gospel and are blessed with true religion, their personal conduct conforms to the divine standard; but when they forsake the truth and sink into apostasy, sin takes over in their lives. Thus Jesus, in speaking of the day in which there would be a falling away from his gospel, said: "Iniquity shall abound." (JS-M 1:30.) It could not be otherwise in such an age. Sin and every evil thing always abound when there is apostasy. Their presence today is one of the signs of the times. Without God and true religion in their lives, men sink into unbelievable depths of degradation.
On the other hand, and in a passage of superlative insight, Paul tells us what happens in the lives of men when they forsake the truth. He refers to some who once "knew God" but did not remain true to the faith. They "changed the truth of God into a lie," he says. That is, they forsook the gospel, they apostatized, and darkness supplanted the light that once was theirs.
"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves." Because they turned away from him, "God gave them up unto vile affections"—think now of homosexuals, and lesbians, and all those in the last days who revel in unclean, unholy, and unnatural sexual perversions—"for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."
Be it known that the sexual perversions sweeping the United States and other nations in this day are not of God. Those who pursue them are evil, degenerate, and depraved. It matters not what these advocates of lewdness and license may believe or say. These things are of the devil and lead to hell.
Speaking of them, Paul continues: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. 1:21-32.)
Paul also spoke prophetically of our day: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly," he said, as the message was borne in upon him with power and clarity, "that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." Doctrines of devils! Harsh language this! Where will such be taught? Is it amiss for us to say plainly that Satan's churches teach Satan's doctrines? And are not his doctrines those which lead men, not to the heavenly kingdom where the righteous dwell, but to that realm where the enemy of all righteousness reigns?
And what of those who give heed to these seducing spirits who whisper their false doctrines into ears attuned to evil? The preaching of those so attuned will consist of "speaking lies in hypocrisy." Knowing full well that their words are false, they will yet send them forth because they are pleasing to the carnal mind. "Having their conscience seared with a hot iron," they will justify their own evil deeds. And to show forth a form of godliness, as it were, they will be "forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats," and many such like things. (1 Tim. 4:1-3.)
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come," our apostolic authority continues. "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness; but denying the power thereof."
The perilous times foretold are here. Every alert person, every day of his life, can identify men of every kind named in the holy word. All these evil persons, taking pleasure in their own unholy deeds, are found in all nations. And there are times when their Gadianton bands are so powerful that whole nations persecute the saints, wage war, and revel in the most abominable practices. Think, for instance, of the utter depravity that caused evil men, having gained political control of a nation, to use their power to murder millions of Jews during World War II.
With reference to the whole assemblage of evil men whom he has named, Paul's counsel is: "From such turn away." Then, in a tone of sadness, he adds: "For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts." It is one of the signs of the times that women shall rebel against the established order of right and decency, and that their course will demean and destroy the sanctity of the home and the blessings of a godly family. And all such, wise as they are in their own conceits, are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3:1-7.)
"This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ," the Prophet Joseph Smith said in 1843, "and if He were here to-day, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death." (Teachings, p. 328.) Social and world conditions are worse now than they were in 1843, and they will continue their downward rush until that great and dreadful day arrives in which a just God will come in flaming fire to take vengeance upon the wicked.
This is indeed a vile and hellish day in which carnality reigns, a day in which men are ripening in iniquity preparatory to the day of burning. In it there is but one ray of hope. The light of the gospel shines in the darkness, and all who will come to that light have power to rid themselves of the curses of carnality and to live as becometh saints.
We see the works of false Christs when women and homosexuals are ordained to the priesthood, as it is supposed. . . .
Even in the true Church in the last days there will be some who do not believe the whole body of revealed truth; some who do not give full allegiance to the Cause of truth and righteousness; some who are members in name only and who continue to live after the manner of the world. This also is one of the signs of the times. It shall be as it was among some of old whom Paul rebuked: "When ye come together in the church," he wrote to the Corinthians, "there be divisions among you." Contention, debate, and false views have no place in the Church and kingdom of our Lord. The doctrines are his, not ours, and our concern should be to gain the mind of Christ and to think what he thinks on every point. But the fact is that there are divisions in the Church, for the very reason Paul now gives: "There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." (1 Cor. 11:18-19.)
Heresies among the Saints! Sadly it is so. Are there not those among us who believe the theories of men rather than the revealed word relative to the creation of the earth and organic evolution? Do we not still have teachers who say that God is progressing in knowledge and learning new truths; that there will be a second chance for salvation for those who reject the gospel here but accept it in the spirit world; that there will be progression from one kingdom of glory to another in the world to come? And are there not those among us who refuse to follow the Brethren on moral issues, lest their agency and political rights be infringed, as they suppose? Truly, there are heresies among us.
Moroni, in a great outburst of righteous indignation, speaks of the abominations in the lives of those who worship at the altars of the world. He names the day as the one in which the Book of Mormon shall come forth and be proclaimed to the world.
"It shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied," he says, "and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches."
To this we add: It shall come forth and go to the world in a day when there are churches for homosexuals, churches that accept adulterers, churches containing murderers, and even churches for those who worship Satan. It shall come in a day when there shall be churches for sinners who imagine their sins are remitted, without any act on their part, simply because Christ died for sinners.
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