We are All Obedient. It is Simply a Matter of Whom We Obey
I read this statement recently and found it full of meaning (it would make a good bumper sticker).
Good and Evil
In Mormon theology we learn that all things good come from God, and all things evil come from satan . As members of the church we should be interested in determining what is good and what is evil, then choose the good. We’re taught, if we faithfully do this, we’ll inherit a place in the celestial kingdom.
Determining Good from Evil Isn’t Always Easy
Determining good and evil is easy according to Moroni. I’ve struggled to understand this teaching and have found it hard to apply as I’ve tried to determine good from evil in various situations. Sometimes good and evil can not be discerned. The prophet Joseph Smith learned this lesson when the Lord said,
…you cannot always judge the righteous…you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous...D&C 10:37
Detractors have used the Mark Hofmann episode to cast doubt on the brethren’s inspiration because they didn’t detect Hofmann evil agenda when they met with him. Those who are students of the scriptures didn’t buy into this criticism. The Lord also said,
The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:14
It’s possible the Lord wanted to deal with Hofmann in His own way instead of inspiring church leaders to avoid him.
I’ve learned to never read a scripture in isolation. I always try to find a companion scripture to balance understanding.
Most Things are a Mixture of Good and Evil or are Neither
Good and evil are before us everyday. Those who keep up on local, national, and international news can be overwhelmed with the evil reported. However, there is good all around us but isn’t reported by the news as often. Be assured the good in the world far exceeds the evil.
I like to go to movies; however I never watch R rated movies. I figure most movies are a mixture of good and evil because the writers and producers of movies intentionally portray their ideals of good versus evil. In recent years my wife and I have walked out of a few movies because they were offensive. The most recent was, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. It seems humor contains the most offensive material nowadays. The current Batman serial is typical of our entertainment having a strong message about good and evil, where good always prevails after an epic struggle.
The discussion about movies could serve as a metaphor for business, politics, and other aspects of each of our lives.
Good and evil choices don’t exist in everything. Some areas of our lives are free of decisions regarding good and evil; what model of car to buy or style of home to live in, are examples.
That Which Persuadeth
I think Moroni‘s (Moroni 7) main message to followers of Christ pertains to good and evil that has power to persuade. He defines good, as that which persuades men to believe in Christ. And he defines evil as that which persuades men to disbelieve in Christ. It’s the power to persuade that we can judge with a “perfect knowledge“. We know when we’re being persuaded. Observing good and evil as portrayed in a movie may or may not have persuasive power, it depends on the person. If it persuades you towards evil then you know what to do–walk out. If, on the other hand, it persuades you towards good, it is edifying. What’s true for a movie can be true in other areas of our life. We can embrace those things that are edifying and walk out on those things that are not.
The title of this post, We are All Obedient. It is Simply a Matter of Whom We Obey, conveys the idea of obedience to either God or satan. We have all been obedient to both at one time or another. Church members have been given the opportunity to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. When this gift is received we have heightened capacity to see and participate in good, and eschew evil.
Elder Ballard asked church members to have a presence on the internet that persuaded men to believe in Christ. How are we doing? I think we have come a long way, but there is room for improvement. In my opinion too much time is spent exploring topics that make me think we are looking beyond the mark. Elder Quentin L. Cook put it much better than I can:
Today there is a tendency among some of us to “look beyond the mark” rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths….
Some people seem to be embarrassed by the simplicity of the Savior’s message. They want to add complexity and even obscurity to the truth to make it more intellectually challenging or more compatible with current academic trends…. Some in their spiritual immaturity attempt to appear sophisticated and intellectual. Instead of accepting revelation, they want to dissect it and add dimensions and variations of meaning that distort its beautiful truths. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has pointed out, “The Jewish people … rejected the gospel, in part because it lacked adequate intellectual embroidery.” We look beyond the mark when we refuse to accept simple gospel truths for what they are.