November 3, 2008

Is the world getting worse?

Heber C. Kimball  
June 29, 1856
Is the millennium coming soon? I don't know. My personal approach to the question has shifted from guessing when the second coming of Christ will be to determining what I personally ought to be doing right now regardless of deadlines. Many books have been written, fireside talks given, and seminary speculations passed around regarding this issue. So it has been since the beginning of the restoration.

Back in 1856, Heber C. Kimball related the following, which might as well have been said at the most recent General Conference:

The trials in the last days will be numerous, but to the faithful they will be of but small moment, for they will live above these things, they will increase in power. The work of God is bound to increase, and just in that proportion will the devil's kingdom rise in power and strength, and walk up to battle against us. The adversary is bent on having a war with this people, we shall have him right by the side of us, and you will find that he will keep you very busy, if you strive to come off victorious (JD 4:6).
I recall hearing in various Church settings that it won't do to spiritually "stand still" because good and evil are both increasing.1 President Henry B. Eyring related the following in 2004, and it sounds very familiar to the sentiments expressed by President Kimball above:
The world in which young people live is changing rapidly. When their older brothers and sisters return to visit the same schools and campuses they attended, they find a radically different moral climate. The language in the hallways and the locker rooms has coarsened. Clothing is less modest. Pornography has moved into the open.
Not only has tolerance for wickedness increased, but much of what was called wrong is no longer condemned at all and may, even by our Latter-day Saint youth, be admired. Parents and leaders have in many cases bent to the pressures coming from a shifting world to retreat from moral standards once widely accepted. The spiritual strength sufficient for our youth to stand firm just a few years ago will soon not be enough. Many of them are remarkable in their spiritual maturity and in their faith. But even the best of them are sorely tested. And the testing will become more severe. The youth are responsible for their own choices. But as faithful parents, teachers, leaders, and friends, we shore up the faith of young people. And we must raise our sights. The place to begin is with our aim, our vision of what we seek in the lives of our young people.
As teachers, we have always sought to inspire the young people in our classes. As parents and leaders, we have always had a goal that they will qualify for the mission field and for temple marriage and then remain faithful. Those are lofty, difficult goals, but we must raise our sights. Too many of our young people want the blessings of a mission and the temple and yet fail to meet the qualifications to claim them. For many of our youth, next year is a long way away, and beyond a year looks like forever. To them, missions and the temple are far distant, in some future time when the joys of youth have flown away. Those goals are distant enough that too many, far too many, say to themselves: “Well, I know I may have to repent someday, and I know that a mission and temple marriage will require big changes, but I can always take care of that when the time comes. I have a testimony. I know the scriptures. I know what it takes to repent. I’ll see the bishop when it’s time, and I’ll make the changes later. I’m only young once. For now, I’ll go with the flow.”
Well, the flow has become a flood and soon will be a torrent. It will become a torrent of sounds and sights and sensations that invite temptation and offend the Spirit of God. Swimming back upstream to purity against the tides of the world was never easy. It is getting harder and may soon be frighteningly difficult.2

We ought to be careful not to be swept up in the tide of temptation; including the temptation to subscribe to spurious or questionable rumors about the second coming. Things may seem frightening (sometimes frighteningly boring, even) but Brigham Young advised that with faith we should not fear (and he added a great frontier colloquialism to boot):
Are the people going to fear? If fear is in the hearts of any of you, it is because you do not pray often enough; or when you do pray you are not sufficiently humble before the Lord. You do not plead with Him until your will is swallowed up in His. If every one of the Latter-day Saints lived up to their privileges, they would not fear the world, and all that they can no, any more than they fear that the cranes, that fly croaking three quarters of a mile above them, will drop their eggs upon them to dash their brains out. You might as well fear that event, as to fear all the forces of hell, if the people were sanctified before the Lord, and would do His will every day (JD 2:255).3

This happens on a personal level, (as well as a church-wide, family-wide, community-wide, world-wide basis). Regarding the personal level, see "Tempted in Proportion to the Light."

[2]Henry B. Eyring, "We Must Raise Our Sights," Ensign, Sept. 2004.  

[3]An interesting post worth reading was posted by bfwebster on Mormon Mentality. See "Revisioning the Millennium." Along with some interesting thoughts, he posts the following definition from Orson Scott Card: Millennium — A thousand years of genealogy, temple work, proselytizing, and filling out reports, a prospect that can make wickedness and destruction look downright enticing. (Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary, Orion Books, 1981). And a great poem called "Proof" by Carol Lynn Pearson:
Proof Is not the need Of this unbelieving world.
Though Christ Himself Comes in evidence,
There will be many
On that day
Whose knee will bow,
Tongue will confess,
And heart Will turn away.

Orig. posted 4/14/08


I am Chree-uz said...

I find myself thinking about this subject a lot lately, infact. It comes with wondering just where I am going with my life, as far as schooling and career and what not, and more importantly family. But, I like what you said at the begining. Focussing on what I should be doing right now is all that matters for now. Good post!

P.S.- I shall put something together here soon, this next week or so will probably be draining all creative power from me in school projects. So if not now, after that for sure. Any certain person/people?

LifeOnaPlate said...

The most quoted people are Brigham, Heber Kimball, Jedediah Grant, and Orson and Parley Pratt.

Jon W. said...

I have often wondered if the church is locked into a early 1900s mind set when it comes to the understanding of evil in our day.

While certainly evil has become more obvious and emboldened things are not surely worse that it was in times passed.

Just think, in past times most of the population was terrorized by their own leaders. Beaten, whipped, treated like slaves, or actually were slaves. They were raped (mostly women) with little regard to moral convenience. In the 19th century prostitution and their versions of pornography were rife along with severe violence of lynchings, gun fights, duels and so many more things.

Like honestly, was the Blood Eagle, the Nazi Gas chambers, American Slavery, and Russian Pogroms so much nicer than what goes on today?

For me I think we should look at the idealistic version of the 1950s as just a fantasy. We need to see that people were really no different in any age. Technology has just made it more obvious. And people do not seem to hide behind Sunday observance or confession to pass over their sins.

BHodges said...

The grass is always greener, no?

You make a good point in saying that technology has made things more accessible, hence, seemingly worse, I think. Throughout time, though, there has been great evil without the help of the American media, Internet, and technology of today.

Thanks for your thoughts, Jon W.

BHodges said...

I guess it could be argued either way pretty strongly.

Ranveer Patil said...

This is great do you have a catologue if so I would love one to share with friends and family.
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