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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 1: Introduction


Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. President Brigham Young said, “If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 293).
It also poses the question, "What would society be like if everyone were perfectly honest?" The answer is that society would be very different. We spend a great deal of time and money trying to keep people honest.

As Mormons, how do we measure up? Not well, I think. Why? That will be the subject of this new series that I anticipate having at least six parts.

When I was in Seminary in 9th grade, my instructor told us a story. I'll try and relate it as best as I can. The Church was making a movie. The movie was supposed to open with the President of our Church writing on some paper and then looking up and speaking to the camera. Before it was filmed, the President, who I think was Joseph Fielding Smith, at the time, signed the papers because he realized they were official and needed his signature. When it came time to film he told them he had already signed the papers. They told him, "Okay, then act like you are signing them and we will film that." He protested, "I cannot deceive anyone." They quickly found him some more papers to sign.

Whether true or not, this story deeply touched me. This is a high standard of honesty. In True to the Faith we read:
The thirteenth article of faith states, "We believe in being honest." To be honest means to be sincere, truthful, and without deceit at all times.
As Mormons, we are subject to the same follies and foibles as other people. We constantly lapse into dishonesty without really thinking about it, for many reasons. Society rewards dishonesty in many ways. Little white lies, as they are called, seem more acceptable to us than actually telling the truth.

This dishonesty pervades more of our lives than we realize. It is time to reform ourselves and be completely honest, with the Church, with society, with others and with ourselves.


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