Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Wicked Take the Truth to Be Hard (1 Nephi 16 Part I)

Listen now!Despite Nephi having urged his brothers to pray to know the truth of what he and their father Lehi had been teaching them from the beginning of this journey, Laman and Lemuel continue to protest being taught.

1 Nephi 16:1
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
Notice that even they admit that the things they were told were "hard things" and "more than we are able to bear", not that they were necessarily false. This is one of those scriptures that speaks volumes about our own period in history, where good is called evil and evil is called good. One need only open the newspaper, or a magazine, or turn on the television or surf the Web to see that the things that were once considered decent, and a high-water mark of civilized society are now being called evil, selfish, and indulgent practices.

Take, for example, the erstwhile ideal of having large families. It used to be that a large family was considered a blessing, even a necessity in keeping family businesses, farms, and other economies thriving. When a person mentioned to an acquaintance that he/she had eight children, they received congratulations and were afforded a certain amount of respect. However, I know from my own experience (and hearing that of others) that this is no longer the case. Mention that you have more than one child and you're likely to get stares of disapproval, or even outright rude comments such as, "Well, I certainly hope you're finished now."

On the other hand, things like pornography, drug abuse, violence, gossip, taking advantage of another person to get rich, etc. are all acceptable, even respectable facets of our society. Not that they didn't exist before, but at least there was a healthy dose of stigma attached to them.

In the early history of America you could cause a man to feel real shame when you confronted him with a sin or transgression he was committing against God, himself, his family, and humanity. Try confronting, say, a pornography purveyor today with the real-world, heartbreaking consequences of his business and you will be laughed off as being out of touch with "what the people want" and "good business" and "market forces". As if being popular and rich were a virtue rather than a tipping point for being ripe for destruction.

That is the state in which we find Laman and Lemuel. The good news, at least in the short term, is that they accept Nephi's truth-telling and realize they need to repent.


  1. This "twisting" or confusion of good v. evil is everywhere around us. I find it profoundly disturbing, and yet I know it marks one of the signs given for the onset of the millennium.

    I see it in the realm of feminism (God is the ultimate feminist, but not as the world defines it), freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, sexual orientation, and even the in most fundamental intent to "be" good, to do good to others, or to further basic goodness in the world. Instead, as you have already noted, we are intent on becoming "successful," as defined by our wealth, our prestige, physical features, social prowess, political power, ability to have "fun", to avoid duty and responsibility, or other worldly factors.

  2. So true. I like what you say about God being the ultimate feminist, but not as the world defines it. My wife and I often joke about how "repressed" she is as a Mormon wife and how "oppressive" I am towards her. We joke, of course, because nothing could be further from the truth! (My wife told me to say that.) *laugh*

  3. I don't understand the significance of "The wicked take the truth to be hard" for don't the righteous take lies to be hard? Or should more righteous people be more open-minded and would think about it thoughtfully before explaining his/her view? This and the "calling good, evil and evil, good" phrase just seems vague and doesn't really say anything to help you. Now these phrases just sound like a close-minded excuse to not take people's concerns seriously. To me it sounds like you're acting like shaming guilty people is productive. Doesn't Jesus welcome sinners? You also sound like you're saying power (popularity, riches) are innately evil rather than something morally neutral that can be misused or acquired through explicit means. Can you give me some reassurance? I don't want to misunderstand where you're coming from.

  4. Anonymous,

    Your premise seems to be that all truth is relative and that there are no moral absolutes. You're free to believe that just as we are free to believe that there are moral absolutes and that moral relativism is a form of calling evil good and good evil. We take our truth straight from God, who we believe to be the Father of Truth. We ignore lies from Satan, who we believe to be the father of lies. That may sound like circular reasoning, but it's really not, in our experience of living the truths and comparing how we feel and how things go for us vs. how we feel and how things go for us when we don't choose to follow God's plan. There are lots and lots of scriptures in the Bible and Book of Mormon, as well as the Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price that are full of hard-won, ancient wisdom on truth vs error. It seems foolish to me to try to create wheels and figure out how to start a fire while throwing out those very tools and lessons that bring us to the knowledge of how to do those things.

    "Doesn't Jesus welcome sinners?"

    A common objection to the question of "what is sin, and how shall I know it?" has been to cast doubt on the intentions of those who name sins by their right names. Adultery, for example, is the wanton destruction of a sacred covenant and promise between a man and a wife, to have and to hold and to cherish, honor, and respect each other for eternity. Next to murder itself, it is the deepest form of betrayal one can experience, wouldn't you agree? Did Jesus welcome sinners who had committed adultery? Of course! Did he condone their sin and make allowances for them to continue down those same broken paths? No. He said to the woman about to be stoned for adultery, "Go, and sin no more." People who want to argue that Jesus "welcomed" everyone conveniently leave that aspect out of the equation. There were plenty he rejected on the grounds that they were not repentant or that they were only following him to benefit from the miracles and without the intent to give up sinning. It's important to read _all_ of what was written in the Bible on this topic, and not just the parts we want to have agreement with.

    If scripture is unpalatable at this stage of your spiritual development, C.S. Lewis also wrote some pretty insightful things about the nature of evil and sin in the world. "The Screwtape Letters" is a good one to start with, but nearly everything he wrote has included some well thought-out theses on this topic.

    "Can you give me some reassurance?"

    I can't give anyone reassurance. That comes from putting your own faith in Jesus Christ and asking Him to help you come unto Him and be forgiven of your sins.


We are happy to discuss any and every topic and question. We will give wide berth to a variety of opinions and ideas. The only thing we ask is that you return the favor by respecting our right to believe as we do and by not issuing lengthy, inflammatory diatribes meant to shock and confuse anyone not familiar with LDS teachings. They can certainly get that elsewhere. :)