Quotes on Contention

See also: D&C 136:23; Matt. 18:15; Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:29-30; 3 Nephi 11:28-30; II Timothy 2:14-26

If the adversary can influence us to pick on each other, to find fault, bash and undermine, to judge or humiliate or taunt, half his battle is won.  Why?  Because though this sort of conduct may not equate with succumbing to grievous sin, it nevertheless neutralizes us spiritually.  The spirit of the Lord cannot dwell where there is bickering, judging, contention or any kind of bashing. — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, General Conference, April 1992

We have no time for contention.  We only have time to be about our Father’s business.  (Elder Marvin J. Ashton) — Robert Millet, “What We Believe,” BYU Devotional, February 3, 1998, p. 8

I pray that each of us will be a little more kind, a little more thoughtful, a little more courteous.  I pray that we will keep our tongues in check and not let anger prompt words which we would later regret.  I pray that we may have the strength and the will to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile in lifting up the feeble knees of those in distress. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Let Us Live the Gospel More Fully,” Ensign, November 2003, p. 103

I can testify that it only takes one contentious person in an apartment of roommates, a family unit, a marriage, a ward, a community gathering, or any other place where a group of people are working closely together to accomplish a task or are just socially enjoying time together, to spoil the spirit of the occasion.  With one contentious person, very quickly dissension and ill will can replace the spirit of joy, cooperation, and good will.  When the spirit of contention enters a gathering it is amazing how quickly productivity and good will can stop and an uncomfortable feeling can permeate the entire gathering. — Stanley A. Peterson, “Contention is Not of Me,” Address at BYU-Idaho, October 14, 2003

If Satan can succeed in creating in us habits of arguing, quarreling, and contention, it is easier then for him to bind us with the heavier sins which can destroy our eternal lives. — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May 1978, p. 9

How unwise we are in today’s society to allow ourselves to become irritated, dismayed, or offended because others seem to enjoy the role of misstating our position or involvement.  Our principles or standards will not be less than they are because of the statements of the contentious.  Ours is to explain our position through reason, friendly persuasion, and accurate facts.  Ours is to stand firm and unyielding on the moral issues of the day and the eternal principles of the gospel, but to contend with no man or organization. — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May, 1978, p.8

As we dread any disease that undermines the health of the body, so should we deplore contention, which is a corroding canker of the spirit.  I appreciate the counsel of Abraham Lincoln, who said:

“Quarrel not at all.  No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. . . . Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him.”  (Letter to J. M. Cutts, 26 Oct. 1863, in Concise Lincoln Dictionary of Thoughts and Statements, comp. and arr. Ralph B. Winn, New York: New York Philosophical Library, 1959, p. 107)

President Ezra Taft Benson in his keynote address yesterday described contention as “another face of pride.”

My concern is that contention is becoming accepted as a way of life.  From what we see and hear in the media, the classroom, and the workplace, all are now infected to some degree with contention.  How easy it is, yet how wrong it is, to allow habits of contention to pervade matters of spiritual significance, because contention is forbidden by divine decree:

“The Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another.” (2 Ne. 26:32.) — Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Canker of Contention,” Ensign, May 1989, p. 68

Certain people and organizations are trying to provoke us into contention with slander, innuendos, and improper classifications.  How unwise we are in today’s society to allow ourselves to become irritated, dismayed, or offended because others seem to enjoy the role of misstating our position or involvement.  Our principles or standards will not be less than they are because of the statements of the contentious.  Ours is to explain our position through reason, friendly persuasion, and accurate facts.  Ours is to stand firm and unyielding on the moral issues of the day and the eternal principles of the gospel, but to contend with no man or organization. . . . Ours is to be heard and teach.  Ours is not only to avoid contention, but to see that such things are done away. — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May 1978, p. 8

We are called Mormons.  Many people look upon us as a singular sect as they cry: “Delusion, false prophets, polygamy,” as once was so common; or “Racists, anti-women, patriarchal dictators,” as some now say; or “Worshipers of Adam and deniers of Christ and his grace,” as others falsely acclaim; or whatever sophistry of the moment will sow the seeds of prejudice among those who otherwise might learn who we are and what we believe.

Oftentimes it seems to us that these cries from shallow minds and these self-serving statements of those who resent our rapid growth and increasing influence in the world and these voices whose social and political views we do not espouse are but another evidence of the truth and divinity of the work itself.  The devil is not dead, and as his voice was once raised in cries of “Crucify him, crucify him,” so it now shrieks in shrilling hysteria against Christ’s people in this day.
            We feel it is not too much to ask, in this age of enlightenment and open dialogue, to let us be the ones who tell who we are, what we believe, and why our cause is going forward in such a marvelous way.  — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, General Conference, October 1979

When others disagree with our stand we should not argue, retaliate in kind, or contend with them. . . .

Ours is to explain our position through reason, friendly persuasion, and accurate facts. 

Ours is to stand firm and unyielding on the moral issues of the day and the eternal principles of the gospel, but to contend with no man or organization.  Contention builds walls and puts up barriers.  Love opens doors . . . . Contention never was and never will be an ally of progress.  — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Conference Report, April 1978, p. 10

You see, hear and witness a good deal of contention among the children – some of you do, if not all – and I will give you a few words with regard to your future lives, that you may have children that are not contentious, not quarrelsome.  Always be good-natured yourselves, is the first step.  Never allow yourselves to become out of temper and get fretful . . . . They [children] have so much vitality in them that their bones fairly ache with strength.  They have such an amount of vitality – life, strength and activity, that they must dispose of them; and the young ones will contend with each other.  Do not be out of temper yourselves.  Always sympathize with them and soothe them.  Be mild and pleasant. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 19:69

I consider it a disgrace to the community, and in the eyes of the Lord, and of angels, and in the eyes of all the Prophets and Revelators that have ever lived upon the earth, when a community will descend to a low, degraded state of contention with each other. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:32

Whenever you get red in the face, whenever you raise your voice, whenever you get “hot under the collar,” or angry, rebellious, or negative in spirit, then know that the Spirit of God is leaving you and the spirit of Satan is beginning to take over.  At times we may feel

justified in arguing or fighting for truth by contentious words and actions.  Do not be deceived.  Satan would rather have you contend for evil if he could, but he rejoices when we contend with one another even when we think we are doing it in the cause of righteousness.  He knows and recognizes the self destructive nature of contention under any guise. — Elder Theodore M. Burton, Conference Report, Oct 1974, p. 77