February 19th, 2007

Disliked and Downtrodden

photo credit: BullyRook

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! (Luke 6:26)

What an interesting scripture.

In 1914 President Joseph F. Smith said:

There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within, and the authorities need to awaken to the fact that the people should be warned unceasingly against them. . . . They are the flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity. (“Editors’ Table: Three Threatening Dangers,” Improvement Era 17, no. 5, March 1914)

Citing the verse in Luke and then commenting on the first of President Smith’s suggested dangers, being “flattery of prominent men in the world”, President Ezra Taft Benson remarked:

As Latter-day Saints we have been driven, mobbed, misunderstood, and maligned. We have been a peculiar people. Now we are faced with world applause. It has been a welcome change, but can we stand acceptance? Can we meet the danger of applause? In the hour of a man’s success applause can be his greatest danger.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with being honored by men, if one is being honored for a good thing, if one comes to these honors through righteous living, and if, while holding these honors, one lives honorably. One should strive to have wide influence for good.

However, virtue is not the only basis for being singled out and promoted. As the world gets more wicked, a possible way to attain worldly success may be to join the wicked. The time is fast approaching when it will require great courage for Latter-day Saints to stand up for their peculiar standards and doctrine — all of their doctrine, including the more weighty principles such as the principle of freedom. Opposition to this weighty principle of freedom caused many of our brothers and sisters in the preexistence to lose their first estate in the war in heaven.

We are far removed from the days of our forefathers who were persecuted for their peculiar beliefs. Some of us seem to want to share their reward but are ofttimes afraid to stand up for principles that are controversial in our generation. We need not solicit persecution, but neither should we remain silent in the presence of overwhelming evils, for this makes cowards of men. We should not go out of the path of duty to pick up a cross there is no need to bear, but neither should we sidestep a cross that clearly lies within the path of duty.

We are in the world, and I fear some of us are getting too much like the world. Rather than continue a peculiar people, some are priding themselves on how much they are like everybody else, when the world is getting more wicked. The Lord, as he prayed for his Apostles, said, “. . . the world hath hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14.) As Latter-day Saints, we too have been called out of the world.

Some things are changeless — priceless. We must anchor ourselves to the eternal verities of life, for life is eternal. The honors of men more often than not are fleeting. Anxious to run after the honors of office or succumb to the pressures of public glamour and worldly acclaim, some of us are no longer willing to stand up for all the principles of the gospel. We seek to justify our unrighteousness by claiming that if only we can get title or position, then think of the good we can do. Hence we lose our salvation en route to those honors. We sometimes look among our numbers to find one to whom we can point who agrees with us, so we can have company to justify our apostasy. We rationalize by saying that some day the church doctrine will catch up with our way of thinking.

Seeking the applause of the world, we like to be honored by the men the world honors. But therein lies real danger, for ofttimes, in order to receive those honors, we must join forces with and follow those same devilish influences and policies which brought some of those men to positions of prominence.

More and more the honors of this world are being promoted by the wicked for the wicked. We see this in publicity and awards that are given to movies literature, art, journalism, etc. We see in our own newspapers widely read columnists carried who advocate one world socialism who have been consistently caught in falsehoods, and who continually parrot the communist line. Less and less we see the virtuous rewarded by the world, and when they are, ofttimes it almost seems to be done insidiously in order to get us to swallow the many evils for which the wicked are even more profusely honored.

Yes, President Joseph F. Smith was right. Today we are being plagued within by the flattery of prominent men in the world. (CR, October 1964, p.56-60)

Popularity is detrimental to the spiritual growth of God’s children. It drives them to conform to Satan’s standards, shedding their mandated peculiar status. Flattery, popularity’s pioneer, is a tool used extensively by Satan as we learn quite plainly in the Book of Mormon. This tool is being used today, as President Benson states so boldly.

As one who is outspoken on many matters and has taken note of intellectual “enemies” and others who treat me negatively because of my political and religious views, I find the above-cited verse very interesting. Clearly, having enemies does not automatically make one’s message true, but it shows that the person is taking a stand and choosing sides, something that must be done in the ongoing battle for men’s souls.

So to those of you that may speak ill of me for whatever reason, thanks for helping me to avoid receiving “woe”!

6 Responses to “Disliked and Downtrodden”

  1. Brooke
    February 19, 2007 at 7:31 pm #

    Connor, I’ve never considered you to be popular, so it looks like you’re safe. 😉 (I kid. We all know you’re the coolest kid on the block.)

    Very interesting doctrine from President Benson. And, so true. Thanks for sharing.

  2. bethany
    February 21, 2007 at 5:37 pm #

    May I just say that while popularity is not a good thing, I also don’t think it is wise to be obsessed with “unpopularity.” I think we should just be who we are, we should keep the Lord’s commandments and be wise to avoid accepting the world’s standards, but we should not go out of our way to make ourselves unpopular with the world.

  3. Connor
    February 21, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    I also don’t think it is wise to be obsessed with “unpopularity.” I think we should just be who we are…

    Exactly, we should be who we are: Children of God, born into the lineage of Ephraim and Manasseh, charged with providing moral leadership and example in this dispensation, trusted with the Lord’s priesthood, and commanded to boldly oppose evil.

    Anybody who takes a moral stand (especially one in complete alliance with the restored gospel) is bound to attract enemies and create opposition.

    The Lord himself said:

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
    For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matthew 10:34-35)

    …we should not go out of our way to make ourselves unpopular with the world.

    Perhaps not, but we should go out of our way to spread the gospel and be a moral example in the world, which by corollary will certainly make us “unpopular with the world”. It’s one or the other; we can’t have it both ways.

  4. Connor
    February 21, 2007 at 8:52 pm #

    I just came across this recording of one of Brigham Young’s dream by Mosiah Hancock, which relates to this discussion:

    He conversed freely on the situation of the Saints in the mountains, and said that he dreaded the time when the Saints would become popular with the world; for he had seen in sorrow, in a dream, or in dreams, this people clothed in the fashions of Babylon and drinking in the spirit of Babylon until one could hardly tell a Saint from a black-leg. And he felt like shouting, “To your tents, Oh Israel!” because it was the only thing that could keep the people pure…. Many of this people for the sake of riches and popularity, will sell themselves for that which will canker their souls and lead them down to misery and despair. It would be better for them to dwell in wigwams among the Indians than to dwell with the gentiles and miss the glories which God wishes them to obtain. I wish my families would see the point and come forth before it is too late. For oh, I can see a tendency in my families to hug the moth-eaten customs of Babylon to their bosoms. This is far more hurtful to them than the deadly viper; for the poisons of the viper can be healed by the power of God, but the customs of Babylon will be hard to get rid of.” (Autobiography of Mosiah Hancock, 1834-1907)

  5. Michael L. Mc Kee
    February 24, 2007 at 7:19 pm #

    There are times when, after reading a post by Connor, and the resultant comments, I am simply overwhelmed by the the rush to judgement, and the obvious attempts to enthusiastically offer an opposing opinion. It is even more disturbing that the commonality factor of being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many seem to be reflecting characteristics of the very nature articullated in this post.

    We should be encouraging his efforts, and doing all we can to aid him in his desire to know the truth of all things, and take his findings to the rest of the world. I think it is simply wrong to spend so much time trying to tear down that which shows potential of doing good merely to express our differing views. The debate took place in that life from whence we came, and it is now time for those of us who were called out of the world to leave debating to the worldly while we members of the Church go about our Father’s business of taking the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to our brethren.

    I, for one, would like to thank Connor for the extensive efforts he puts forth to provide us with information, and viewpoints which are intended to enlighten, and edify. It is certainly a blessing for me when I see that a 20 something American is actively engaged in pointing out the goodness of America, and the importance of living according to the commandments, and the guiding influence of the Prophet. He will be receiving great blessings from our Lord and Savior, and I pray that we may be fortunate enough to share some of the same.

  6. Connor
    February 24, 2007 at 7:32 pm #

    ::: blushes :::

    Certainly I don’t deserve such praise. But thank you, Michael. Your comments are always appreciated, and I’ve always found them to be insightful and resonating (except for when you embellish and talk about me like you have here! :)).

    Thank you.

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