I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 7: Korihor and Secularism

Korihor's philosophy outlined in the immediate prior post has a modern equivalent. It is called secularism. In all my academic experience, outside of BYU, secularism required no definition or justification. It was always assumed to underlie everything we were doing or discussing.

For this blog, I'll let some Church leaders define and explain it:

Elder James E. Faust:
Secularism is expanding in much of the world today. Secularism is defined as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” Secularism does not accept many things as absolutes. Its principal objectives are pleasure and self-interest.

From Elder Robert D. Hales:
As prophesied, we live in a time when the darkness of secularism is deepening around us. Belief in God is widely questioned and even attacked in the name of political, social, and even religious causes. Atheism, or the doctrine that there is no God, is fast spreading across the world.
The best topic discussion can be found in Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1974 address, "Eternalism vs. Secularism." In it, Maxwell points out that embracing secularism leave you with no purpose in life but pleasure:
[S]ecularism simply seems to assign a higher value to leisure. Though we all need some leisure, secularism often finds itself trying to reduce the necessity for work without showing corresponding concern as to the purposes to which leisure time should be put—except more idleness or pleasure-seeking.
For Mormons, Korihor and his secular philosophy is easily dismissed, except for one aspect of it in verse 17:
[E]very man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

One of the things that so bothered me in my management training and beyond was how untrue this statement was. Numerous people either succeed or failed on the basis of sheer dumb luck. 

People who should have succeeded, often didn't and people who had no right to succeed, often did.

We are not entirely in control of our own destinies. Forces outside of us, both good (Heavenly Father) and bad (Satan) can affect what happens to us.

But, eternalism will ultimately triumph over secularism.

(This post is late due to upheaval in my personal circumstances.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 6: Korihor

Korihor is the second Antichrist in the Book of Mormon. See the video above and read Alma 30: 6-60.

In a nutshell, Korihor began teaching his particular philosophy that countered the true Gospel of Christ. He was able to persuade others to adopt it. Because the law only punished action, not belief, there wasn't much that could be done about him. The Ammonites wouldn't listen to him and had him ejected from their lands. Korihor went on to greener pastures. He contended with secular and church leaders demanding that he be given a sign from God. He was struck dumb. He asked for his punishment to be reversed insisting he was a changed man. He was refused. He took up life as a beggar and died in an accident.

What is interesting for our purposes is what Korihor was teaching. Many of his philosophies are present today:

There is no Christ.
No one can know the future.
So-called "prophecies" are just foolish traditions.
You can't know something unless you see it.
People who believe in religion are mentally deranged.
We control our lives here. There is no influence from any other power.
There isn't any "sin" per se. You can do what you want to do.
Religion isn't freeing. It's bondage.
Religious leaders are just trying to exert power and authority over you and keep you ignorant.
You can't know if something is true or not.
You can't know Christ will come.
Religious leaders are just trying to oppress people and get rich off of them.
Religious leaders just like directing people based on their own whims.
God doesn't exist now and never has.

I'll evaluate the modern relevance of Korihor's teachings and tactics in future posts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 5: Modern Priestcraft in Mormondom

Modern day priestcraft is most easily identified amongst those who teach. Learners SHOULD emerge from a lesson NOT thinking that the teacher's wonderful, but that the gospel is.
Focusing on the needs of the students, a gospel teacher will never obscure their view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in priestcrafts, which are "that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world" (2 Ne. 26:29). A gospel teacher does not preach "to become popular" (Alma 1:3) or "for the sake of riches and honor" (Alma 1:16). He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which "the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner" (Alma 1:26). Both will always look to the Master. Dallin H. Oaks, "Gospel Teaching," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 78.
Elder Oaks set the stage for this caution much earlier in an address entitled, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," Ensign, Oct. 1994. This is from an address previously given at BYU.
Another illustration of a strength that can become our downfall concerns charismatic teachers. With a trained mind and a skillful manner of presentation, teachers can become unusually popular and effective in teaching. But Satan will try to use that strength to corrupt teachers by encouraging them to gather a following of disciples. . . .Teachers who are most popular, and therefore most effective, have a special susceptibility to priestcraft. If they are not careful, their strength can become their spiritual downfall. They can become like Almon Babbitt, with whom the Lord was not pleased, because “he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church; and he setteth up a golden calf for the worship of my people” (D&C 124:84). 
I think the most poignant comment comes from Elder David A. Bednar in an address originally given to Seminary and Institute instructors:
[W]e must be careful to remember in our service that we are conduits and channels; we are not the light. “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:20). It is never about me and it is never about you. In fact, anything you or I do as an instructor that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self—in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor—is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost. “Doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God” (D&C 50:17–18). David A. Bednar, "Seek Learning by Faith," February 3, 2006, Address to CES Religious Educators, Jordan Institute of Religion.
Elder Bednar's instruction tells us how we can avoid priestcraft in any of our church callings. We should never inject ourselves into what we are doing. This simply distracts from the Spirit and focuses attention on where it shouldn't be -- ourselves. Keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to inject a comment into someone's lesson or dialog, especially if the comment is about yourself.

I've done some video and slide show presentations for some gatherings and conferences. With the above quotes and instruction in mind, I deliberately did not put my name on any of these projects. No one viewing them would know I had anything to do with them. 

It's not my universe. It's not my world. It's not my gospel. It's not my church. It's not my program. Why should I seek the glory for it? Doesn't the glory rest with Heavenly Father? We should never seek any glory no matter what our calling in the church is.

If the Spirit touches people because of you, you are merely a temporary conduit. Heavenly Father is working through you. You should never seek any glory because of it because you deserve no such glory.

This is a sobering subject. You should intentionally keep your profile as low as you can to avoid the sin of priestcraft.

Remember what President Gordon B. Hinckley said on the subject:

It is so very important that you do not let praise and adulation go to your head. Adulation is poison. You better never lose sight of the fact that the Lord put you where you are according to His design, which you don't understand. Acknowledge the Lord for whatever good you can accomplish and give Him the credit and the glory and (do) not worry about that coming to yourself. If you can do that, you'll get along all right and will go forward with a love for the people and a great respect for them and try to accomplish what your office demands of you.

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 10: A New Theory of Sherem 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 4: Priestcraft, Cashing in on Mormondom

Most management scholars are ticked off at Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Why? It is very simple really. They feel he took some basic gospel principles, knowable to everyone, packaged them neatly and made a fortune from doing so. And, they're ticked off they didn't think of it first. . .

In priestcraft, people set themselves up as a light to the world, seek popularity, financial gain, power and influence, etc.

Many people have, and are, cashing in on Mormondom.

Mormondom is rife with people writing books, holding conferences, traveling the lecture circuit, making recordings, videos and multiple other efforts. Very little of it actually builds the Kingdom. Most of it goes into the heads, egos and pocketbooks of a few select people. They are simply Mormon celebrities.

How many Christmas gifts will you receive or give that fit into this category?

Isn't it awfully arrogant to assume the gospel of Christ needs to be subsidized by us and our efforts?

Isn't most of the religious kitsch available in Mormondom basically purposeless? Do we really need all those pictures, doilies, widget's and thing-a-ma-jigs?

Granted, some of it has a purpose. I have a wheat grinder, mixer and some other tools to preserve my memories for posterity, for example. But, what are the real motives of most of the people and entities that hawk this stuff? What were the real motives of the money-changers that Jesus cast out of the temple?

If your primary market is Mormondom then maybe your activities are suspect.

Products like herbs and supplements capitalize on the Word of Wisdom. Is it strange that Utah is the heart of this industry? Hardly. Would crafts be so popular if Relief Society didn't exist? The food storage and emergency preparedness industry also ties it's popularity to Mormon beliefs.

What would happen to certain Book of Mormon tours and other services if we really knew where the city of Zarahemla was actually located? Is it good for your entire occupation to be tied to one theory of geography? Could you let go of your livelihood it your efforts were proven wrong? Would it harm your testimony?

How much of all this is just simply greed?

It's not just religious activities. Many people use their church positions to influence worldly ventures. Affinity fraud is probably the best example. People cash in on the Church in many different ways.

People use the Church to sell the "eliteness" or "specialness" of their own product or service. And boy do Mormons buy it and buy it and buy it.

We should be praying in Church, not preying on it.

So, take a good look at what you, yourself buy and do. Maybe it is time for some personal course correction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 3: Nehor and Priestcraft

2 Nephi 26:29 gives us a definition of priestcraft:

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

The secular definition of priestcraft is a bit different.

Nehor is famous for priestcraft. I notice that Alma certainly knew about it and had a term for it. Usually, new phenomena require new terms. Alma did acknowledge this was the first time it had occurred amongst the Nephites, though.

We like to vilify the people who have instituted priestcraft, but surely they couldn't exist if people didn't believe them and support them. I think their audience is just as culpable as they are.

Priesthood is the antithesis of priestcraft. in Alma, chapter one we learn:

Nehor taught that church leaders should be popular and financially supported by the members and that everyone is saved regardless of how they behave in this life.

Nehor's success led him to to live high by wearing expensive clothing and to be proud of himself. He established his own church based on his teachings.

In the true priesthood, church leaders support themselves financially through their own labors. They do not sport expensive clothing but try and be neat an tidy. In the true gospel, leaders are no better than others and do not consider themselves so.

Repentance is crucial in the true gospel as is making right choices. In Nehor's view, none of that mattered. Nehor did not seem to acknowledge that sin existed.

There are plenty of modern day Nehors. The most obvious ones are the people that "call" themselves to the ministry, establish their own church and ask for money. A simple glance at all the televangelists will confirm this.

We'd be pretty blind if we couldn't identify these type of Nehors. However, I do think we might be taken in by the more subtle ones.

When I began this blog, I allowed advertising to be placed on it by Google. I was hoping that I would attract sufficient traffic to earn something from it. But, after careful thought and reflection, I removed it. I didn't want money to be my motivation. There were a host of other implications as well.

I decided it was unethical to make money off the Church, even if this was a personal blog. I didn't want my attempts at missionary service to hinge on money either.

The connection between making money off my religious blog and what Nehor did was just too close for my comfort.

Next week, I will discuss how other activities could be classified as priestcraft. The week after that, I'll discuss how we should avoid priestcraft in performing our church callings.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 2: Nehor, the Man

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Nehor, please view the video above and read Alma 1:2-15.

First off, Nehor was "a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength."

Strength and stature have always appealed to people. If you examine any culture across the world and throughout time, you will see that no culture values wimps. But, we know that God judges differently. From 1 Samuel 16: 7.
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
How much of Nehor's appeal was due to his physical appearance is hard to say. Nonetheless, it had an impact, or you can bet that the phrases would never have made it into the Book of Mormon.

Our modern culture celebrates physical appearance. Book of Mormon prophets are suggesting to us that we should not put undue value on it. Nehor slew Gideon who was an old man. Vanquishing a foe who is not your physical equal hardly evokes admiration, more likely contempt.

Besides, Gideon used words to contend with Nehor. Nehor resorted to physical attack instead of words. Nehor probably coud not have won a war of words with Gideon or anyone else. That is undoubtedly why he used other means. He did not fare well against Alma in a war of words.

There is a right and wrong way to respond to persecution. In Alma 1:22 we read
Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.
No one should react to persecution, especially religious persecution, with physical force. If you do, then you are following Nehor's example.

Nehor's physical appearance should not have made his words appealing. His words should have been evaluated on their merit.

Ask yourself if you may judge others at church based on physical appearance.

Would you listen to an ugly Bishop as much as you would an attractive one? Do you tend to discount church guidance from individuals you find physically unappealing? If you do, unfortunately, you are not alone, however much you should be.

Remember Nehor's example the next time you dismiss someone because they are physically repugnant to you. Remember Nehor's example the next time you are swayed by physical strength or stature.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 1: Introduction

In 1 John 2:22 we read:
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
This series will examine the three antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Nehor, Korihor and Sherem.

We know that The Book of Mormon is an abridgment of more lengthy writings geared toward teaching us what we need to know for our day. It was written for us and our problems. In addition, since engraving was difficult, and no duplication was necessary for an abridgment, we have to conclude two important things.

First, the three antichrist's in The Book of Mormon are separate and distinct types of antichrists. Second, they may share the label of Anti-Christs but there are probably distinct lessons from all three. Otherwise Mormon wouldn't have included them all in his abridgment.

From the Bible Dictionary:
In a broader sense it is anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel or plan of salvation and that openly or secretly is set up in opposition to Christ. The great antichrist is Lucifer, but he has many assistants both as spirit beings and as mortals.
We normally think of antichrists as openly in opposition to Christ. However, it is possible to be secretly against Christ. I think one of The Book of Mormon antichrist's fits this definition as I will make plain in later posts.

Until next week . . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good Grief, I'm Un-Marriageable?!

People like to tell me I'm different, not the "typical" Mormon, whatever that is. I was typical, up until the time that most women were married and I wasn't. I think it was about age 24.

Until then, I fit all the stereotypes and I didn't stand out much. When I didn't marry young, I continued in school. Now, that made me different. And, it continues to make me different. I've got more formal schooling that anybody really needs. This is hard to admit, given how much money I've paid for it all.

Anyway, this posting isn't about all that though. It is simply a gripe. I thought I was doing exactly what Heavenly Father wanted me to but it ended up making me un-marriageable. By increasing my knowledge, skills and abilities I was less attractive to men.

I was above average in looks, so my un-marriageability cannot be blamed on physical attractiveness.

Most men don't want a highly educated, intelligent female. Well, at least they don't want that the first time around. The second time around General Authorities generally choose exactly that. But, we won't go there right now. Back to my own experience.

I think Church leaders had a responsibility to tell me that if I did all these things, I would become un-marriageable. It was my choice to do them, certainly.

I figure I deserved a warning, that's all.

In the Church, I don't think we do a good enough job of encouraging the young men to value what we are telling the young women to become.

I found my man, though. And, he LIKES strong, competent women, always has. He is proud of me, my education, and everything I know and do. But, he's a rare bird. Most women cannot bank on finding such a gem.

I'm glad I did though.

Note: I was 35 years old when I did get married.

Update: Okay, I can't resist. Apparently, I am the topic of conversation on Zionlist. It is pretty amusing to read all the comments and speculation about ME and not about the point I was trying to make.

My main point is:  I don't think we do a good enough job of encouraging the young men to value what we are telling the young women to become.

I would suggest that the people discussing my post on Zionlist or elsewhere stop speculating about me and simply examine my statement for truth or falsehood.

The comment can stand on it's own. Examining who said it isn't really relevant to whether or not the statement itself is accurate.

But, in the interests of full disclosure I will reveal a little bit more about myself and where I'm coming from by telling a small story.

I graduated in August with my B.A. from BYU. Three weeks later I started graduate school and became a "graduate student." I was astonished at the effect this had upon men. All of a sudden I was getting very different reactions from them socially and the difference in me was only three weeks. This and other experiences have reinforced the statement I made.

Formal education was always Plan B for me. No one that knew me as single ever thought I was intentionally postponing marriage. This assumption only surfaced in people after I got married.

My hubby didn't serve a mission on the moon. He's a convert. He would never pose for underwear ads. I think he is smarter than me although I have more formal schooling.

He valued smart, competent women before he ever became Mormon. He intentionally dated them when he was young and after he got divorced.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Official Church Halloween Policy: Moral Decision Making in Mormondom #8

(This is an occasional series that discusses normative questions. Too often we do not consider the inferences and implications of what we do. In short, we fail to realize when a moral decision is necessary. This occasional series will do so. Readers are encouraged to pose their own questions and views in the comment forum.)

The newswires are abuzz with the latest outrage supposedly perpetrated by Mormons. The following story, eloquently stated in The Salt Lake Tribune, was also distributed by numerous papers and wire services including the Associated Press.  From the Tribune:
Any little girl who wanted to dress up as Harry Potter or boy who chose to be Lady Liberty would not have been welcome at a recent Mormon Halloween party in Sandy.
The invitation, circulated in the neighborhood, specifically barred "cross-gender" costumes.
The local Bishop of the offending congregation explained the flyer thus:
LDS Bishop Dennis Toone — leader of the Crescent 16th Ward, which hosted the party — did not write the flier, but he defended the prohibition against cross-gender costumes, saying "it’s church policy."
It isn't Church policy:
"The flier," LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Friday, "does not represent church policy."
The local Bishop justified the action with:
"we thought it was a church policy,"
I consider this whole cross-gender dressing issue secondary to the more important question: WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY CHECK CHURCH POLICY?

Church policy is not obscure, complicated or obtuse. In fact, it is available and clear. It IS online for heaven's sake -- exactly, for heaven's sake.

Not all are critical however. Homosexuals are coming to our defense:
The Mormon party organizers likely did not intend to hurt any nonconforming or transgender kids, said Jude McNeil, who directs research and training at Salt Lake City’s Pride Center. They were just unaware of the potential consequences of such guidelines.
"[U]naware of the potential consequences of such guidelines." Moral decision making requires taking into consideration the potential consequences of any action, that's what makes it moral decision making.

Cavalier references to Church policy are unworthy of ANY Mormon! Toone should have approved that flyer before it went out. The person(s) responsible for the activity should have submitted it to Toone and other leaders before it went out. Everybody involved should have checked Church policy.

Instead, we have a major public relations disaster compliments of local leaders not paying attention to their responsibilities.

Great, just what we don't need . . .

Monday, October 24, 2011

Muscles, Meals and More . . .

Mormons are big on service, or at least they say they are. We've got a pretty good track record of helping people move in and move out. Generally, we have a whole squad of people show up and help. If you need muscles, meals or cleaning done, Mormons don't bat an eye. They get right to it.

My husband and I have moved a number of times. We appreciated all the help we've ever received. We're pretty good at moving by now. But, I realized that what we truly needed was a little outside the normal spectrum.

Finally, I got the courage up to tell people what we REALLY needed help with when we move -- bathe our dogs. Okay, everybody was incredulous even after I explained myself. But, I wasn't making it up. That was truly what we needed. It wasn't what people were used to hearing though.

It's very simply. My husband is allergic to dogs, which includes our dogs. When we moved, we had to have them in the truck cabs with us. My husband could handle them a lot better if they were clean. They didn't affect his allergies as much. Also, if we had to stay overnight anywhere along the road, the doggies had to be in the room with us. Again, my husband could handle them a lot better if they were clean.

Bathing them myself was an enormous task anyway. It was even worse if we were trying to move. For example, I had to bathe them in the tub with the spray nozzle. If we were moving then often the spray nozzle had to be packed, as well as the tub mat, any towels, the shower curtain etc. Cleaning the doggies meant I had to deep clean the bathroom after I was finished. This was enormously difficult if all my rags were packed, if all the cleaning supplies were packed, etc. In addition, the washing machine and dryer had to be unhooked for moving as well. This all made cleaning the little characters extremely difficult as well as cleaning up after the task was done.

Take the little critters away, bring them back clean. It was that simple. Okay, at about 100 lbs. each it wasn't THAT simple but it was straightforward.

Only one congregation ever took us up on this challenge. They arranged for a lady who did dog grooming in her home to bathe them for us. She was largely inactive. I'm hoping that this contact with the Church did something for her that was lasting. It sure helped us.

Often, people are embarrassed to ask for what they truly need and we have trouble identifying it ourselves in order to serve them.

Let's start observing more and thinking more. Let's start PRAYING more and solicit Heavenly Father's help in truly helping people with what they need and not just what we are used to doing for them.

We'd all be a lot better off!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Relief Society is Raucous

I've been observing a particular phenomenon for some years now. I've observed it across the country in Utah, Kansas, Indiana, Virginia, Michigan and every other place I've lived or visited.

Relief Society is raucous.

Raucous is a terrific word. Essentially it means disorderly and rowdy to the point where it is harsh or grating. I hate to attach such a label to a Church meeting, but I think it applies.

Relief Society ceased to be reverent a long time ago. I first noticed it when we had guest presenters at weekly meetings and such. I was embarrassed that women kept chatting amongst themselves and making comments to near neighbors about a variety of things instead of giving the presenter the courtesy of their attention. I try not to encourage these conversations, but I'm often the unwilling object of them.

I may have noticed it on those occasions because I was more concerned about treating non-Mormon guests appropriately and what impression they would have of us and our meetings.  Anyway, raucousness is pretty widespread now, so much so that no Sunday Relief Society teacher can depend on being able to command attention during a lesson.

I leave Relief Society meetings feeling jangled and on edge because of the constant chatter going on. I have some theories as to why this condition currently exists in Mormondom. I don't think the fact that it DOES exist is in dispute.

Here are my theories, not necessarily in order:

- Leadership is disorganized and/or unprepared. All leadership guidance suggests opening exercises should be well-organized and brief. Usually, it is neither. This sets a tone of raucousness.

- Teachers are often disorganized and/or unprepared. This also sets a tone where raucousness thrives. If other people make comments, then the teacher doesn't have to present as much. It is easy for the teacher to hand control of the meeting over to commenters. This aura of inclusiveness and participation is only that, an aura. The participation is usually pretty off-topic and irrelevant.

- People are selfish and self-absorbed. Most of their comments are simply telling others how the discussion relates to them or trying to be funny or entertaining. Few examine their comments within the framework of "Will this be a valuable comment that can help others understand or apply the concepts being taught?" Having taught as a career I can often tell if something could derail a discussion, despite the best of my intentions. I've kept silent on occasion in Relief Society, and other meetings, because I know my comment won't be taken in the proper light or it will spur tangents that may be detrimental. Very little self-disciple of this sort is evident in raucous Relief Society meetings.

- Humor and entertainment are being inordinately emphasized. Why does no one seem to wonder if something qualifies as excess laughter or lightmindedness? There is certainly nothing wrong with appropriate humor, but I think raucous Relief Society crosses the line. Entertainment pervades our society. It is pervasive at church as well.

If Satan were to try and short-circuit or disrupt Relief Society, raucousness would probably be the tool of choice. Any other tool people would probably reject.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 6: Conclusion

It is difficult to admit we might be a liar, cheat and/or thief. But, do we deserve the label? Probably. We deserve it for most of the reasons I've discussed in this series.  We ought to admit we are liars at the very least.
To repent, we must admit to ourselves that we have sinned. If we do not admit this, we cannot repent.
I always wondered why wicked people had to be TOLD they were wicked. Didn't they know? Didn't they guess? How can people NOT know they are sinning? From the scriptures we have to conclude that either they didn't know or they resisted the information.
. . . I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities.
So often it is simply the classic reaction:  Shoot the messenger! or burn him or her to death or whatever. I wonder what fate is in store for me? I can only guess.

Many years ago I heard the best rationale for why people absolve themselves of their sins while condemning others. This is supported by research. The answer is simple. We judge others by their actions. We judge ourselves by our intentions.

I don't think Heavenly Father looks kindly on this tactic:
Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins,
One of the best talks on this subject is by D. Todd Christofferson entitled, "As Many as I Love, I Rebuke" from April 2011 Conference. I'll extract some of my favorite quotes:
Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct.
Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.
If we are open to it, needed correction will come in many forms and from many sources.
Even when we encounter mean-spirited criticism from persons who have little regard or love for us, it can be helpful to exercise enough meekness to weigh it and sift out anything that might benefit us.
Remember that if we resist correction, others may discontinue offering it altogether, despite their love for us. If we repeatedly fail to act on the chastening of a loving God, then He too will desist.

In one of my classes at BYU, my professor suggested the concept of "measured honesty." What he meant by that is that we don't use honesty as an excuse to destroy people and relationships.

People who pride themselves on being brutally frank generally get more satisfaction out of their brutality than their honesty.

Think about the times Jesus was silent. Think about the times where He could have said much more than He did. Think about the times where He obviously avoided being cutting or harsh.

Jesus was honest, but he wasn't unkind. It was just how people reacted to his honesty. Some were chastened and repented. Others, well, they didn't react so well . . .

But, their reactions didn't change what He said they were.

Mormons and Honesty: Part 1: Introduction

Mormons and Honesty: Part 2: Honesty and the Church

Mormons and Honesty: Part 3: Honesty and Society

Mormons and Honesty: Part 4: Honesty and Others

Mormons and Honesty: Part 5: Honesty and Ourselves

Mormons and Honesty: Part 6: Conclusion

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 5: Honesty and Ourselves

We know Satan tries to get us to lie to others. It makes sense that he also tries to get us to lie to ourselves as well. It don't think this point gets enough attention.

When I've heard people express lies, I've often observed them closely. It is evident to me that sometimes they believe their own lies. How is this possible? How does this happen? I can only guess.

Self-deception often takes the shape of rationalization. Somehow we have reasoned things out to the point where we convince ourselves that we haven't done anything wrong.

I had a friend who worked as a prosecutor. He was telling me about a child molester he was prosecuting who had been operating unhindered for over thirty years. They found dozens, perhaps hundreds of pictures, videos, materials etc. in his home. They were able to locate about 100 victims, over 30 of which were willing to testify against him.

I had two questions for my friend: After all this time how did he get caught and second, how did he justify his behavior? To the first question, my friend told me that finally a little boy reported him to his parents because they had taught him that no one should touch certain parts of his body, even if they were a grown up.

To the second question, he told me the man said, concerning all his victims, "I was just sharing my love with them!"

Molestation, abuse, damage, exploitation and everything else was just sharing his love with them? Surely this man could lie to himself quite well.

I once heard a woman justify abortion with the rationale: "If I give the baby back to Heavenly Father, it will be so much better off."

What lies are you telling yourself? Perhaps one of the following . . .

I'm a good Church member despite the fact that I rarely attend Church, read the scriptures or do anything for anyone other than myself.

I'm a good Christian despite the fact that I yell at my employees and otherwise verbally mistreat them.

I'm honest despite the fact that I don't pay all my taxes and lie about my kid's age so that I can get a better price at the movie theater.

I'm a nice person although I'm constantly stabbing other people in the back.

I'm a good worker even though I waste my employers time and trust in playing video games on my office computer and visiting my Facebook page.

I'm a law abiding citizen although I exceed the speed limit, lie to cops about why I was speeding and try and get the judge to reduce or dismiss my ticket.

The examples I've given so far are pretty large and obvious. What about the small self-deceptions we engage in every day?

Tomorrow I will make it to work on time.

I'll make up for punching in on time today when I really wasn't.

I won't use work materials for personal use.

I won't phone that friend on company time.

I won't do my child's homework for him next time. 

I won't tell someone they look nice when I don't think they do.

I won't act interested in my friend's conversation when I'm really not.

Clearly, few of us could survive socially if we were truly honest. But, can we survive in the hereafter if we aren't?

If you truly want to be honest in this life then you are going to have to work on your character. If you want to just appear honest, then work at being a good actor. There are many examples around you.