"We Warn…."

photo credit: smartcitymemphis.com

Today during my scripture study, I came across this scripture:
2nd Nephi 25:9
And as one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews because of iniquity, even so have they been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities; and never hath any of them been destroyed save it were foretold them by the prophets of the Lord.

I was struck by that last sentence:  and never hath any of them been destroyed save it were foretold them by the prophets of the Lord.

I realized that it is so very kind of the Lord to warn the people before they are destroyed.  He says, here are the rules, please do this, this is the way, you will be happier if you….  Then he says, by the way, if you don’t …. then …….  And He continues to seek after and plead for His people to be obedient to His commandments.  But then when things get to the point that He cannot allow them to continue, He says, through the mouths of His holy prophets, WE WARN….

In 1995, the prophets in our day issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  At the end, the Lord uses those infamous words.  Listen to what is said:

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of
chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill
family responsibilities will one day stand accountable
before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of
the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and
nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern

They used the same language as the prophet Nephi.  Calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets (destroyed); foretold them by the prophets (we, the prophets, warn).  If THIS, then THIS, a simple formula indeed.

Marianne Holman, in her report of BYU-Hawaii’s commencement exercises, quotes Elder Bednar:

“We live in a world that grows increasingly confused and chaotic, ever more evil and dark,” Elder Bednar said. “Nothing could have emphasized that truth more than the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Connecticut.” (referring to the December 14th shooting)

Elder Bednar shared the words of President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. 

“I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now they are spread across the world, and they are among us” (“The One Pure Defense,” address to CES religious educators).

See full text here. 

At this point, I think many of us would be tempted to either put our heads in the sand, so we do not have to stir up too much contention, join our neighbors in their revelry, or just completely withdraw from society in general.  But that is not our instruction.  What are we to do then??

I now quote from Elder Oaks in this month’s Ensign magazine (full text here) 

The kingdom of God is like leaven, Jesus taught (see Matthew 13:33). Leaven—yeast—is hidden away in the larger mass until the whole is leavened, which means raised by its influence. Our Savior also taught that His followers will have tribulation in the world (see John 16:33), that their numbers and dominions will be small (see 1 Nephi 14:12), and that they will be hated because they are not of the world (see John 17:14). But that is our role. We are called to live with other children of God who do not share our faith or our values and who do not have the covenant obligations we have assumed. We are to be in the world but not of the world. 

Because followers of Jesus Christ are commanded to be leaven, we must seek tolerance from those who hate us for not being of the world. As part of this, we will sometimes need to challenge laws that would impair our freedom to practice our faith, doing so in reliance on our constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion. The big concern is “the ability of people of all faiths to work out their relationship with God and one another without the government looking over their shoulder.”4 That is why we need understanding and support when we must contend for religious freedom 

He continues:

Our tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs does not cause us to abandon our commitment to the truths we understand and the covenants we have made. That is a third absolute truth. We are cast as combatants in the war between truth and error. There is no middle ground. We must stand up for truth, even while we practice tolerance and respect for beliefs and ideas different from our own and for the people who hold them.  

I love this clear picture, even though the implications are scary for me.  This means that I have a personal obligation to stand up for proper values in the face of those who openly oppose my views and will likely call me names and be mean to me because of my beliefs.  As Elder Oaks says, it is our role….it is what we were called to do and why we have been placed on the earth at this period in time.

Even though Elder Oaks expresses our need to be tolerant of others beliefs, he makes a distinction between being tolerant of their behaviors.  This next paragraph immediately follows the preceding paragraph,
Elder Oaks:

While we must practice tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs, including their right to explain and advocate their positions, we are not required to respect and tolerate wrong behavior. Our duty to truth requires us to seek relief from behavior that is wrong. This is easy with extreme behaviors that most believers and nonbelievers recognize as wrong or unacceptable.

He then enumerates some specific less extreme behaviors and how we can manage our duty to truth and still express love to those who do not agree.

But I LOVED this paragraph:

Similarly, with our children and others whom we have a duty to teach, our duty to truth is paramount. Of course, teaching efforts bear fruit only through the agency of others, so our teaching must always be done with love, patience, and persuasion.

And this one:

Our obligation to tolerance means that none of these behaviors—or others we consider deviations from the truth—should ever cause us to react with hateful communications or unkind actions. But our obligation to truth has its own set of requirements and its own set of blessings. When we “speak every man truth with his neighbour” and when we “[speak] the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, 25), we are acting as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, doing His work. Angels will stand with us, and He will send His Holy Spirit to guide us.
I also read this talk, by Hidden Valley Stake President .  I will end with his quote, since my time is short, and my family is counting on me to fulfill some of my obligations to them (I have to go make dinner 🙂
Brothers and Sisters, as I said last year during Ward Conferences – “we are in the count down.”
Again, I say to you, that the scriptural and modern-day prophesies we have read and heard all
throughout our lives are no longer prophesies to us – they are now our living reality. If there was
ever a time in the history of the world for a people to wake up, pay attention, and get it together –
now is that time. This is a defining moment for us, and we cannot delay. We need to get our
temporal and spiritual houses in order. It is a must. Difficult times are still ahead and we need to
be prepared. 

 Let me know what you think….but I think the stake president is right…..we all have difficult times ahead and we had better be making sure we have our spiritual and temporal houses in order.  We want to be on the right side of the warning equation.

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