Quotes on Wickedness

See also: D&C 10:37; D&C 63:32; 3 Nephi 9:10-11; Helaman 4:11-13; Helaman 12:4; D&C 19:18; Matthew 24:37–39; Luke 17:28; Genesis 6; Isaiah 3; 2 Nephi 28:7; Exodus 22:18-24; Proverbs 10:18; Micah 7  

As two men walked across an eastern university campus, they were attracted by a crowd of people surrounding a large maple tree.  As they approached, they noticed that the crowd was being amused by the antics of a fox-tailed squirrel circling the tree, climbing it, and running back down again.  A red Irish Setter dog crouched nearby, intently watching the squirrel.  Each time the squirrel ran up the tree out of sight, the dog would slowly creep towards the tree.  The squirrel paid little attention as the dog crept closer and closer, patiently biding its time.  People watching this entertaining drama unfold knew what could happen, but they did nothing, until in a flash, the dog–catching the squirrel unaware–had it in the grip of its sharp teeth.

The people then rushed forward in horror, forcing the dog’s mouth open to rescue the squirrel.  It was too late.  The squirrel was dead.  Anyone could have warned the squirrel or held back the dog.  But they had been momentarily amused and watched silently while evil slowly crept up on good.  When they rushed to the defense, it was too late.

We see around us daily that which is portrayed in this parable.  We sit idly by watching

as an insidious stream of profanity, vulgarity, demeaning behavior, a mocking of righteous ideals and principles invade our homes and lives through most  types of media, teaching our children negative values and moral corruption.  We then become upset when our children perform differently than we would wish, and social behavior continues to deteriorate. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Church News, August 27, 1994, p. 14

Those who freely deny God with their amoral and agnostic practices will one day find that He may just as freely deny them!  (See 3 Ne. 28:34.) — Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, November 1984, p. 31

Our society maintains the fiction that the display of such things as adultery, pornography, nudity, and licentiousness should be kept from the young people.  Of course it should, but to set an age limit is pure hypocrisy.  Perhaps greater corruption is being administered to the older and married generation.  They are those who commit the adulteries.  They are those who destroy the homes and violate the sanctity of families.  The married ones obtain the divorces, break the covenants, cheat their spouses, and become dishonest in their commitments. — Elder William Grant Bangerter, Ensign, May 1984, p. 27

My brothers and sisters, there seems to be a general state of wickedness in the world in these perilous yet crucially momentous days. . . . It seems that iniquity abounds on all sides, with the Adversary taking full advantage of the time remaining to him in this day of his power.  The leaders of the Church continually cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind and body and our surroundings; against vulgarity, stealing, lying, cheating, false pride, blasphemy, and drunkenness; against fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abortion; and all other abuses of the sacred power to create; against murder and all that is like unto it; against all manner of degradation and sin.

As Latter-day Saints we must ever be vigilant.  The way for each person and each family to guard against the slings and arrows of the Adversary and to prepare for the great day of the Lord is to hold fast to the iron rod, to exercise greater faith, to repent of our sins and shortcomings, and to be anxiously engaged in the work of His kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Herein lies the only true happiness for all our Father’s children. — President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, November 1982, pp. 4-5

Said one insightful man, “If the temperature of the bath water rises one degree every fifteen minutes, how will the bather know when to scream?”  (Marshall McLuhan) Failure on our part to fix position and take a firm stand in terms of rules, covenants, and expectations will result in a gradual float into dangerous waters and a conditioning to the rising heat of wickedness around us, and eventually all of us, especially our children, will get burned. — Elder Carlos E. Asay, Ensign, May 1996, p. 61

D&C 1:33-35: “My spirit shall not always strive with man.”  President Joseph Fielding Smith explained what “spirit” is referred to in this verse:

“Now the Lord has withdrawn His Spirit from the world.  Do not let this thought become confused in your minds.  The Spirit He has withdrawn from the world is not the Holy Ghost (for they never had that!), but it is the light of truth, spoken of in our scriptures as the Spirit of Christ, which is given to every man that cometh into the world, as you find recorded in Section 84 [vs. 46] of the Doctrine and Covenants.

“Now because of the wickedness of the world, that Spirit has been withdrawn, and when the Spirit of the Lord is not striving with men, the spirit of Satan is.  Therefore, we may be sure that the time has come spoken of in Section 1 of the D&C….Peace has been taken from the earth.  The devil has power over his own dominion.  The Spirit of the Lord has been withdrawn.  Not because the Lord desires to withdraw that Spirit, but because of the wickedness of mankind, it becomes necessary that this Spirit of the Lord be withdrawn.”  (“The Predicted Judgments,” BYU Speeches of the Year, [21 Mar. 1967], pp. 5-6.) Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 5

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 every where.  Unspeakable  and perversion were once hid 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. — President Boyd K. Packer, talk given Feb. 6, 2004

But wonderful as this time is, it is fraught with peril.  Evil is all about us.  It is attractive and tempting and in so many cases successful.  Paul declared:

            “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

            “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

            “Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

            “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

            “Having a form of godliness; but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”  (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

We see today all of these evils, more commonly and generally, than they have ever been seen before, as we have so recently been reminded by what has occurred in New York City, Washington, and Pennsylvania, of which I shall speak tomorrow morning.  We live in a season when fierce men do terrible and despicable things.  We live in a season of war.  We live in a season of arrogance.  We live in a season of wickedness, pornography, immorality.  All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society.  Our young people have never faced a greater challenge.  We have never seen more clearly the lecherous face of evil. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living in the Fulness of Times,” Ensign, November 2001, p. 5-6

I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation and the withdrawing of the Spirit of God from the earth await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation.  This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here today, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 328). The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 48

This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here today, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 238). Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121 and 122, p. 30

There is so much of conflict in the world.  There is terrible poverty, disease and hatred.  Man is still brutal in his inhumanity to man.  Yet there is this glorious dawn.  The “Sun of righteousness” has come “with healing in His wings.”  God and His Beloved Son have revealed themselves.  We know Them.  We worship Them “in spirit and in truth.”  We love Them.  We honor Them and seek to do Their will. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Messages of joy, peace,” Church News, April 10, 2004, p. 24

Spiritually numbed, Laman and Lemuel felt that the people of Jerusalem were undeserving of prophetic criticisms leveled (see 1 Nephi 2:13).  Yet a pervasive spiritual decline was actually underway, occurring as often happens, “in the space of not many years” (Helaman 4:26).  A parallel and trampling decline is being missed by so many today too.  Ironically, those engaged in such a lemming-like march to the sea are often proud of their own individualism!  Advice is seen as an insult, and counsel as a contraction of their agency. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1999, p. 7

The revelations tell us that commensurate with their own sins, unrepentant sinners must suffer even as Jesus did for ours, as they one day personally experience the full justice of God (see D&C 19:16-18).  Additionally, those who in various ways persistently foster and intensify this often drug-drenched drama of immorality – whether as promoters, enablers, facilitators, or profiteers – will also then face and then feel all the misery they have caused countless others! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 2001, p. 80

We are told, by way of example, that some conditions preceding the second coming of the Savior will be as in the days of Noah (see Matthew 24:37–39) and “also as it was in the days of Lot” (Luke 17:28). Noah’s time was one of disobedience and wickedness. People were uncomprehending and “knew not until the flood came” (Matthew 24:39; see also Genesis 6:5, 1 Peter 3:20). The choking cares and pleasures of this life led to the general rejection of Noah’s prophetic message. Two especially interesting words are used in the Bible to describe Noah’s time: violence and corruption (see Genesis 6:11). Violence and corruption, seldom strangers to the human scene, appear to be increasing today. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1988, p. 7

Violence abounds, often as people purchase drugs in order to “tune out” of the world instead of overcoming it.  Just as foretold, our days actually are fast resembling the days of Noah, especially notable for their pattern of corruption and violence (see Matthew 24:37; Genesis 6:11).  No wonder the adversary steadily promotes all the ancient sins – not because he is uninventive but because his harvest is so constant.

Abortion, which has increased enormously, causes one to ask, “Have we strayed so far from God’s second great commandment – love thy neighbor – that a baby in a womb no longer qualifies to be loved – at least as a mother’s neighbor?”  Even so, violence to an unborn child does not justify other violence! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell,  Ensign, May 1993, p. 76

The last days will be rampant with the cardinal sins, just “as in the days of Noah.” Society in the days of Noah, scriptures advise, “was corrupt before God” and “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11; Moses 8:28).  Corruption and violence – sound familiar?  Both of these awful conditions crest because of surging individual selfishness.  When thus engulfed, no wonder men’s hearts in our day will fail them because of fear (see Luke 21:26; D&C 45:26).  Even the faithful can expect a few fibrillations. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1990, p. 14

John Taylor, who pointed out that in addition to rendering a just judgment on the wicked of Noah’s time, the Lord had another reason for sending the flood.  He said, “…as men began to increase upon the earth, so wickedness increased until it was decided that they should be destroyed, that they might be deprived of the privilege of perpetuating their species.  Why?  Let us go back to the time when Satan rebelled against the Almighty and drew away one-third of the hosts of heaven.  We find that there were pure spirits that stood the test and who had given to them the promise of bodies on this earth.  Let us suppose that you and I were there as spirits awaiting the privilege of taking bodies, and that we could see the wickedness and corruption that was going on upon the earth, and that we could see Prophets going about teaching the principles of righteousness and warning the people of judgment that should come, of the flood that should overwhelm them and of the prisons prepared in which the ungodly should be cast.  And we say, “Father, you see the people on the earth that they are wicked and depraved, fallen and corrupt?” “Yes.”  “Is it right and just that we who have done no wrong should have to enter into such corrupt bodies and partake of the influences with which they are surrounded?”  “No,” says the Father, “it is not just, and I will cut them off, I will cause the floods to come upon them to destroy them, and I will send those wicked and disobedient spirits into prison,” which he did.  Here was an act of justice.  Some men who profess to be very wise, think that God was unjust in this destroying so many of his creatures.  They know nothing about it because they do not comprehend the law of God and the purposes of God.  It was an act of justice and righteousness according to the eternal justice that dwells in the bosom of the Father.” Journal of Discourses, XXII, pp. 301-02

The Prophet Joseph Smith told of a vision he had of the future:  “I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers.  I saw armies arrayed against armies.  I saw blood, desolation, fires.  The Son of Man has said that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother.  These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city.  Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged” (History of the Church, 3:391). Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 48

I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation and the withdrawing of the Spirit of God from the earth await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation.  This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here today, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 328

Destruction, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand, in large capitals, upon almost every thing we behold. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 16

Let’s talk for moment about the way in which filth is presented . . . . I am talking about the advertising . . . as you watched the beer commercials, did you notice the people drinking?  I have never seen such clean-cut, hard-working, patriotic, good folk in a long time . . . I use that only as one example.  If you turn on your television and watch some of the videos that go with the rock music, you will see how evil is presented by Satan.  It is presented incessantly and attractively.  It doesn’t even look like a sea of filth to the young people who are swimming in it.  In fact, they may not even be swimming, because the presentation is so incessant and so attractive that they may not notice that there is a need to swim. — Elder Henry B. Eyring, CES Religious Educators’ Symposium Booklet, 1984, p. 9

The prophet Nephi warns against another kind of deception:  “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well-and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21). 

Those who fall for this deception may profess to believe in God, but they do not take His commandments or His justice seriously.  They are confident in their own prosperity and conclude that God must have accepted their chosen route.

“Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

“And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God-he will justify in committing a little sin; … there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:7-8).

Surely you have seen and heard these arguments, brethren.  They will come at you in classrooms and hallways, in what you read, and in what you see in popular entertainment.  Many in the world deny the need for a Savior.  Others deny that there is any right or wrong, and they scoff at the idea of sin or a devil.  Still others rely on the mercy of God and ignore His justice.  The prophet said, “There shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines” (2 Nephi 28:9). — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, November 2004, p. 44

Many of God’s children live life as though there were no tomorrow, no day of reckoning.  They fill their lives with the pursuit of comfort, gain, and pleasure.  Of such, Nephi said, “Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us” (2 Nephi 28:7). Many compound this miscalculation by concluding:

“Nevertheless, fear God – he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:8).

As the result of such erroneous thinking, the world is filled with lurid and lascivious attractions.  We see young men who refuse to marry; young women who foolishly surrender their virtue in pursuit of lustful relationships; couples who purposefully refuse to have children or who opt for a “trophy child” because a family would interfere with plans for adventure, leisure, or maximum financial gain. — Elder James M. Dunn, Ensign, May 2003, pp. 35-36

The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ . . . .It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day . . . . God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. — President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, May 1975, starts on p. 63

Satan does rage in the hearts of some . . . . He forges a Rembrandt-quality representation by calling evil good and good evil. He has confused many people, even nations and leaders, to the point of an immoral approach to moral issues.  Let me mention just three examples of voices that are ungodly and powerful among Satan’s many proclamations.  First, he says individual agency is justification for the destruction of a human life through abortion; second, same-gender intimate associations and even marriages are acceptable; and third, chastity and fidelity are old-fashioned and narrow-minded – to be sexually active with free expression is acceptable.  At this very moment, international heroes in sports, music, and movies not only live immoral lives but teach that immorality around the world through the powerful influence of the media. They are idolized and accepted by millions worldwide.  The world in general seems to have lapsed into a coma of unrighteousness, leaving God-given and time-honored moral values and principles behind. — Elder Durrel A. Woolsey, “A Strategy for War,” Ensign, November 1995, starts on p. 84

I am more afraid of covetousness in our Elders than I am of the hordes of hell. . . . All our enemies . . . in the world, and all hell with them marshaled against us, could not do us the injury that covetousness in the hearts of this people could do us; for it is idolatry. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:353

Proverbs 10:18. “He That Uttereth a Slander, Is a Fool”

“Slander is of the devil; the very word devil itself comes from the Greek diabolos which means a slanderer.  It is natural, therefore, that slanderous reports against the Church have their origin, most generally, among those who are living carnal and sensual lives, whose conduct is such as to cause them to be guided and dominated by Lucifer.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 738.) Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings – Malachi, p. 15

We live at a time when many in the world have slipped from the moorings of safety found in compliance with the commandments.  It is a time of permissiveness, with society in general routinely disregarding and breaking the laws of God.  We often find ourselves swimming against the current, and sometimes it seems as though the current could carry us away.

I am reminded of the words of the Lord found in the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Said the Lord, “Ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.”  (Ether 2:25)  My brothers and sisters, He has prepared us.  If we heed His words and live the commandments, we will survive this time of permissiveness and wickedness – a time which can be compared with the waves and the winds and the floods that can destroy.  He is ever mindful of us.  He loves us and will bless us as we do what is right.

. . . We [the General Authorities of the Church] are one with you in moving forward this marvelous work.  I testify to you that we are all in this together and that every man, woman, and child has a part to play.  May God give us the strength and the ability and the determination to play our part well. — President Thomas S. Monson, “Closing Remarks,” General Conference, October 2009

In prophesying some of the evils of the latter days, the apostle Paul said men would be “proud, blasphemers, … unholy, … trucebreakers, … false accusers [slanderers], incontinent [lacking self control], fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady [rash and reckless], highminded [conceited], lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

Expressions of these faults in society today are legion.  In the parlance of our day, we tend to group them into one generic category we call incivility.  One need not look far to find them, in entertainment, sports, politics, professions, commerce – most any arena, including the mass media. — “A Return to Civility,” Viewpoint, Church News, March 13, 2010, p. 16

Why is lust such a deadly sin?  Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality – the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence.  True love endures.  But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female.  True love we are absolutely giddy about – as I am about Sister Holland; we shout it from the housetops.  But lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine – the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case.  Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people.  Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence.  Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” General Conference, April 2010

While the iron curtains fall and thicken, we eat, drink, and make merry.  While armies are marshaled and march and drill and officers teach men how to kill, we continue to drink and carouse as usual.  While bombs are detonated and tested, and fallout settles on the already sick world, we continue in idolatry and adultery.

While corridors are threatened and concessions are made, we live riotously, and divorce and marry in cycles, like the seasons.  While leaders quarrel and editors write and authorities analyze and prognosticate, we break all the laws in God’s catalog.  While enemies filter into our nation to subvert and intimidate and soften us, we continue on with our destructive thinking—“It can’t happen here.” 

If we would but believe the prophets!  For they have warned that if the inhabitants of this land are ever brought down into captivity and enslaved, “it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land . . .”   (2 Ne. 1:7.) . . .

“O that men would listen!  Why should there be spiritual blindness in the day of brightest scientific and technological vision?  Why must men rely on physical fortifications and armaments when the God of heaven yearns to bless them? One stroke of his omnipotent hand could make powerless all nations who oppose, and save a world even when in its death throes.  Yet men shun God and put their trust in weapons of war, in the ‘arm of flesh.’ . . .

Will we ever turn wholly to God?  (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 317–19.) Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings – Malachi, p. 123

Too many of our Father in Heaven’s children are being overcome by worldly desires.  The onslaught of wickedness against our children is at once more subtle and more brazen than it has ever been.  Teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the home adds another layer of insulation to protect our children from worldly influences. — Elder L. Tom Perry, “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” Ensign, May 2010, p. 31

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural.  Not so!  Remember, God is our Heavenly Father. [In the actual conference address, he referred specifically to homosexuality.  After a media and gay uproar, the words were changed before going to press to reflect the message but not offend.]

Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)  You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”  (Alma 13:28)

Isaiah warned, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  (Isaiah 5:20) — President Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, October 2010

Indeed, some people now claim that the Founding Fathers’ worst fear in connection with religion has been realized; that we have, in fact, a state-sponsored religion in America today.  This new religion, adopted by many, does not have an identifiable name, but it operates just like a church.  It exists in the form of doctrines and beliefs, where morality is whatever a person wants it to be, and where freedom is derived from the ideas of man and not the laws of God.  Many people adhere to this concept of morality with religious zeal and fervor, and courts and legislatures tend to support it.

While you may think I am stretching the point a bit to say that amorality could be a new

state-sponsored religion, I believe you would agree that we do not have to look far to find horrifying evidence of rampant immorality that is permitted if not encouraged by our laws.  From the plague of pornography to the devastation caused by addiction to drugs, illicit sex, and gambling, wickedness rears its ugly head everywhere, often gaining its foothold in society by invoking the powers of constitutional privilege. We see a sad reality of contemporary life when many of the same people who defend the right of a pornographer to distribute exploitive films and photos would deny freedom of expression to people of faith because of an alleged fear of what might happen from religious influence on government or public meetings.  While much of society has allowed gambling to wash over its communities, leaving broken families and individuals in its soul-destroying wake, it reserves its harshest ridicule for those who advocate obedience to God’s commandments and uniform, inspired standards of right and wrong. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Religion in a Free Society,” Ensign, October 1992, p. 64

Without question, we need to be informed of the happenings of the world.  But modern communication brings into our homes a drowning cascade of the violence and misery of the worldwide human race.  There comes a time when we need to find some peaceful spiritual renewal.  I acknowledge with great gratitude the peace and contentment we can find for ourselves in the spiritual cocoons of our homes, our sacrament meetings, and our holy temples. In these peaceful environments, our souls are rested. We have the feeling of having come home. — Elder James E. Faust, “Gratitude As a Saving Principle,” Ensign, May 1990, p. 86

God, doubtless, could avert war, prevent crime, destroy poverty, chase away darkness, overcome error, and make all things bright, beautiful and joyful.  But this would involve the destruction of a vital and fundamental attribute in man – the right of agency.  It is for the benefit of His sons and daughters that they become acquainted with evil as well as good, with darkness as well as light, with error as well as truth, and with the results of the infraction of eternal laws. Therefore he has permitted the evils which have been brought about by the acts of His creatures, but will control their ultimate results for His own glory and the progress and exaltation of His sons and daughters, when they have learned obedience by the things they suffer.  The contrasts experienced in this world of mingled sorrow and joy are educational in their nature, and will be the means of raising humanity to a full appreciation of all that is right and true and good.  The foreknowledge of God does not imply His action in bringing about that which He foresees, nor make Him responsible in any degree for that which man does or refuses to do.  The comprehension of this principle makes clear many questions that puzzle the uninformed as to the works and power of Deity. — Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose, First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Messages of the First Presidency 6 Vols. Ed. by James R. Clark [1965-75], 4:325-326

And so today, the undermining of the home and family is on the increase, with the devil anxiously working to displace the father as the head of the home and create rebellion among the children.  The Book of Mormon describes this condition when it states, “And my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.”  And then these words follow – and consider these words seriously when you think of those political leaders who are promoting birth control and abortion: “O my people, they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” — President Ezra Taft Benson, Oct 1970, p. 21

They thought, if they could kill Joseph and Hyrum, they would get the ascendancy, and that it would be an end of “Mormonism.”

Do you not see that every means they devised for their own safety is so many steps towards their overthrow?  They could not have struck a more fatal blow for themselves than when they murdered Joseph and Hyrum, because it made them rulers over their enemies; and by this bloody act they sealed, nailed, and clenched their own doom, and there is now no possible chance of deliverance.

It is just so with our enemies at this time: if they let us alone, we will prosper; and if they don’t, we will prosper the faster and bring them under subjection the sooner.  That is just the way our heavenly Father will overrule it, if we live to his honour and glory. — “Self-Government,” a sermon by Elder Orson Hyde, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 3, 1858; Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, pp. 150-58

In one of the most profound verses in all of scripture, Alma proclaims, “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26) . . .

Today moral deterioration has escalated. One prominent writer recently said, “Everyone knows the culture is poisonous, and nobody expects that to change.”  (Peggy Noonan, “The Dark Night Rises,” Wall Street Journal, July 28–29, 2012, A17.)  The constant portrayal of violence and immorality in music, entertainment, art, and other media in our day-to-day culture is unprecedented. This was dramatically described by a highly respected Baptist theologian when he stated, “The spiritual immune system of an entire civilization has been wounded.”  (Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presentation to religious leaders, New York City, Sept. 5, 2012.)

It is not surprising that some in the Church believe they can’t answer Alma’s question with a resounding yes.  They do not “feel so now.”  They feel they are in a spiritual drought.  Others are angry, hurt, or disillusioned.  If these descriptions apply to you (see 2 Nephi 2:27), it is important to evaluate why you cannot “feel so now.”

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices.  Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants.  Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes.  Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders.  Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed. — Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Can Ye Feel So Now?” Ensign, November 2012

There is an adversary who has his own channels of spiritual communication.  He confuses

the careless and prompts those who serve him to devise deceptive, counterfeit doctrine, carefully contrived to appear genuine.  I mention this because now, as always, there are self-appointed spokesmen who scoff at what we believe and misrepresent what we teach. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, November 1984, p. 66

I suppose that God never organized an earth and peopled it that was ever reduced to a lower state of darkness, sin and ignorance than this.  I suppose this is one of the lowest kingdoms that ever the Lord Almighty created, and on that account is capable of becoming exalted to be one of the highest kingdoms that has ever had an exaltation in all the eternities.  In proportion as it has been reduced – so will it be exalted, with that portion of its inhabitants who, in their humiliation, have cleaved to righteousness and acknowledged God in all things. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 10:175

Do not trifle with evil, or you will be overcome by it before you know.  Our business is to build up the Zion of God on the earth.  Do you think you will do it and go hand in hand with the wicked?  No. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 12:231 

You are aware that many think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit.  Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil.  The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.  In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the Devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth.  If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.  Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization. 

When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead.  If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives.  But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed. Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 69-70

Why do some of our youth risk engaging in ritual prodigalism, intending to spend a season rebelling and acting out in Babylon and succumbing to that devilishly democratic “everybody does it”?  Crowds cannot make right what God has declared to be wrong. Though planning to return later, many such stragglers find that alcohol, drugs, and pornography will not let go easily.  Babylon does not give exit permits gladly.  It is an ironic implementation of that ancient boast: “One soul shall not be lost.” (Moses 4:1.)

“And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying – Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1988, p. 33

Never before, at least not in our generation, have the forces of evil been so blatant, so brazen, so aggressive as they are today.  Things we dared not speak about in earlier times are now constantly projected into our living rooms.  All sensitivity is cast aside as reporters and pundits speak with a disgusting plainness of things that can only stir curiosity and lead to evil. . . . The home is under siege.  So many families are being destroyed. . . . Sisters, guard your children.  They live in a world of evil.  The forces are all about them. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Ensign, November 1998, pp. 97-100

God, doubtless, could avert war, prevent crime, destroy poverty, chase away darkness, overcome error, and make all things bright, beautiful and joyful.  But this would involve the destruction of a vital and fundamental attribute in man-the right of agency.  It is for the benefit of His sons and daughters that they become acquainted with evil as well as good, with darkness as well as light, with error as well as truth, and with the results of the infraction of eternal laws.

Therefore he has permitted the evils which have been brought about by the acts of His creatures, but will control their ultimate results for His own glory and the progress and exaltation of His sons and daughters, when they have learned obedience by the things they suffer.  The contrasts experienced in this world of mingled sorrow and joy are educational in their nature, and will be the means of raising humanity to a full appreciation of all that is right and true and good. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 286

While we pass laws to reduce pollution of the earth, any proposal to protect the moral and spiritual environment is shouted down and marched against as infringing upon liberty, agency, freedom, the right to choose. 

Interesting how one virtue, when given exaggerated or fanatical emphasis, can be used to batter down another, with freedom, a virtue, invoked to protect vice. Those determined to transgress see any regulation of their life-style as interfering with their agency and seek to have their actions condoned by making them legal. 

People who are otherwise sensible say, “I do not intend to indulge, but I vote for freedom of choice for those who do.” — Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Our Moral Environment,” Ensign, May 1992

There are increasing numbers of victims of violence and crime, yet special attention is paid to the rights of criminals.  Accompanying an ever increasing addition to pornography are loud alarms against censorship.  Rising illegitimacy destroys families and threatens the funding capacities of governments; nevertheless, chastity and fidelity are mocked.  These and other consequences produce a harsh cacophony.  When Nero fiddled as Rome burned, at least he made a little music!  I have no hesitancy in stating that unless checked, permissiveness, by the end of its journey, will cause humanity to stare in mute disbelief at its awful consequences. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1996, p. 68