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Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Wicked Take the Truth to Be Hard (1 Nephi 16 Part I)

Listen now!Despite Nephi having urged his brothers to pray to know the truth of what he and their father Lehi had been teaching them from the beginning of this journey, Laman and Lemuel continue to protest being taught.

1 Nephi 16:1
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
Notice that even they admit that the things they were told were "hard things" and "more than we are able to bear", not that they were necessarily false. This is one of those scriptures that speaks volumes about our own period in history, where good is called evil and evil is called good. One need only open the newspaper, or a magazine, or turn on the television or surf the Web to see that the things that were once considered decent, and a high-water mark of civilized society are now being called evil, selfish, and indulgent practices.

Take, for example, the erstwhile ideal of having large families. It used to be that a large family was considered a blessing, even a necessity in keeping family businesses, farms, and other economies thriving. When a person mentioned to an acquaintance that he/she had eight children, they received congratulations and were afforded a certain amount of respect. However, I know from my own experience (and hearing that of others) that this is no longer the case. Mention that you have more than one child and you're likely to get stares of disapproval, or even outright rude comments such as, "Well, I certainly hope you're finished now."

On the other hand, things like pornography, drug abuse, violence, gossip, taking advantage of another person to get rich, etc. are all acceptable, even respectable facets of our society. Not that they didn't exist before, but at least there was a healthy dose of stigma attached to them.

In the early history of America you could cause a man to feel real shame when you confronted him with a sin or transgression he was committing against God, himself, his family, and humanity. Try confronting, say, a pornography purveyor today with the real-world, heartbreaking consequences of his business and you will be laughed off as being out of touch with "what the people want" and "good business" and "market forces". As if being popular and rich were a virtue rather than a tipping point for being ripe for destruction.

That is the state in which we find Laman and Lemuel. The good news, at least in the short term, is that they accept Nephi's truth-telling and realize they need to repent.