What are the secret combinations of today?

I was reading the 8th chapter of Ether, where we find this:

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

26 Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.

What are today’s secret combinations?

But the secret combinations discussed in this chapter involve secretly planning a coup to get gain. Remember, the story is about Jared who is plotting to kill his own father Omer. Jared’s daughter sees that her father wants to be king so she proposes dancing for another man, Akish. Akish then is told that he can only marry Jared’s daughter if he kills the king. Akish administers the oaths (secret combinations) to his friends. Omer escapes, Jared becomes king, but then Akish kills him so he can become king. What a mess.

To quote the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, secret combinations:

seek to subvert public virtue and legally constituted authority. They defile, defraud, murder, deceive, and destroy the elements of good government, religious or secular. Their goal is to seize power and to rule over all the people (3 Ne. 6:27-30), which results in the destruction of human freedom and agency and the paralysis of peaceful and just communities.

What do you think of when you consider today’s secret combinations?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

30 thoughts on “What are the secret combinations of today?

  1. Would it be too general to just say, the entire Federal Govt, and most of the state of New Mexico (where I live)?

  2. A while back (2005), I had a fantastic roommate. We were mental twins and we would stay up very very late having pretty profound political and theological discussions.

    I expressed a view that America was on a downward path, and he responded that the reason America had lasted as long as we have was due to the strength of her institutions. And he was indeed correct in pointing out that we in the United States have had extremely resilient institutional checks on corruption, generally speaking. You know, separation of powers, independent judiciary, informed electorate, free press, etc., etc., etc.

    What happens when each of the aforementioned institutions have become corrupted? When the cancer metastasizes through the body politic? This is where I believe we are today. Just about everything is corrupt, or in the process of becoming degenerate. Marriage in tatters, Congress dysfunctional, credit rating downgraded, essentially unlimited free porn on the Internet, rampant cheating in school (even among the teachers!), billions of dollars unaccounted for during the occupation of Iraq, no transparency at the Fed or the Obama Administration, passage of 2000 page bills that no legislator reads, foreign fundraising in domestic elections, etc., etc., etc. I could go on all day and night, folks. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

    I guess my point in bringing all this up is to indicate that we, on the cusp of 2013, are absolutely steeped in secret combinations.

    I’m not the Chicken Little type, and I believe that ultimately “those that be with us are greater than those that be with them”, yet I also possess a stringent sense of practicality. And my realistic side says that we’re in deep doo-doo.

  3. In general the world has been getting better over the span of most of recorded history. People are living longer more productive lives. Knowledge is increasing at an astronomical rate. The Gospel/Church is spreading across the world, the Church is legally in more countries now than at any time since the beginning of the restoration. Huge social problems – slavery, segregation, sexism, tribalism, xenophobia, etc. – are losing ground. Overall the human species is improving the average lot of its members.

    Are there still problems, absolutely.

    I would list the two biggest secret combinations as criminal gangs and corporate boards. Followed by corrupt public officials.

  4. This is a subject that fascinates me. I’ve thought a lot about it as I’ve applied it to many personal interests: PAC work, natural healthcare, home schooling, business consulting, organizational behavior, and even Mormon theology and history. When Section 89 talks about “conspiring men” I take that seriously, and in each of my personal interests I’ve found people who fit those criteria: people who will build their own kingdoms at the expense of others and God. To me, it all goes back to Cain and getting gain. Am I a conspiracy theorist? Do I believe AIDS is a manufactured virus? Do I think economic interests collude to promote war? Do I think green issues and millennium goals are used to promote hidden agendas? Do I think the bigwigs in little towns have formed their own leagues? Yes. I’m thrilled that we’ve been offered protection from being deceived if we will search the scriptures and listen to the prophets. I’m not wigged out, but I’m wary.

  5. Without question, corporatism–the .. er…illegitimate child of big business and big government. Both of the major political parties are saturated with it (it having achieved the sole head of government), and it has thoroughly corrupted the entire system, leaving most rank and file Americans without a voice as far as national governance is concerned.

  6. I think there are many secret combinations, each fighting for its own powerbase. Some are stronger than others. They include drug cartels, oil cartels, islamic radicals, Christian radicals, big business, unions, the Defense cartel, radical environmentalists, etc. Heck, some of us may be involved in our own little combinations!

    The key to recognizing what is truly good comes in Moroni 7. It cannot just look like a good work, but it must lead others to Christ and to do good works, as well. There must be real intent. Michael Jackson giving money and time to children’s organizations does not fit the category of a good work, as he used it to get gain.

  7. Ding-ding-ding! I think teelea wins the prize in recognizing the worst secret combination today. It is corporatism, which is private companies using the government for their private gain. I discuss it more here:


    Saying that “banks and corporate boards” have secret combinations is misunderstanding the situation. You small hometown bank is not a secret combination. It is performing a service just like any other company. Is the corporate board of Apple evil? I think not (for the most part). It is the large banks that have set up a monopoly through the Federal Reserve (ie, corporatism) who are performing secret combinations. It is the corporate boards of ADM and GE who are *using the government to get gain* who are performing secret combinations. Your average corporation that is not linked to the government is not doing anything evil, it is simply satisfying a need for products at the best price and service possible.

    So, to sum up, good government is small and efficient and *does not allow corporations to manipulate the government so evil people can get gain.*

  8. I disagree, Geoff. I don’t think it has a thing to do with size. I think it has to do with transparency and intent. Larger entities may appear to affect more people, but all politics is local. What really affects us most deeply is personal, and those secret combinations have a greater ability to do damage. An adulterous secret combination between two does as much to eviscerate a life as did Enron.

  9. Bonnie, I’m not sure I understand your point. If you are saying we should all avoid secret actions such as adultery, yes, definitely. This is a horrible secret act, but I don’t think it falls under the definition of “secret combination.” The BoM makes it clear that secret combinations have to do with attempts to influence the government for private gain (see the story of Jared and Akish and Jared’s daughter). Adultery is horrible for society but doesn’t affect the government of the society directly. This couldn’t be what you mean, so I don’t think I understand you.

  10. That’s why we disagree, Geoff. I think you’re reducing the definition of secret combination. Cain, Master Mahan, defined the abomination by conspiring to subvert the law of truth to accomplish his own gain. THAT is a secret combination. “An organization of people bound together by oaths to carry out the evil purposes of the group.” http://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/secret-combinations?lang=eng

    Those groups concerned with subverting government laws of truth perpetrate terrible evils, but so do small-scale business owners who collude with each other, or individuals who collude to subvert any law of truth for their own benefit. I think if we make this great evil about just one of its manifestations, we interfere with the the appropriate discernment of secret combinations all throughout society.

  11. Bonnie, your point is certainly valid regarding Cain. If you want to see “secret combinations” that way, you certainly have a point. If a few people in a small city get together to form a secret plan to take $1000 each from a new real estate developer if they vote for his project, that is certainly a secret combination on a local level. So, agreed. I would still maintain that massive federal secret combinations that affect millions of people appear to be what Ether 8 and Nephi 6 are talking about for our times, but you are correct we shouldn’t ignore the relatively small stuff also.

  12. I don’t know of any secret combinations today. There may well be some. Presumably The Mob still exists in some form. But after all, secret combinations are necessarily secret. And those mentioned so far do not qualify.

  13. JrL is correct. Everything mentioned so far is not a secret combination, because none of them are secret. The larger the organization, government, or business, generally the more transparent it becomes, the more media oversight, even if it becomes more maddeningly bureaucratic and uncontrollable.

    Corruption and secrecy are much more likely to occur at the local level in city and state governments, where oversight is rare, and media is practically non-existent.

    Conspiracy theorists like to imagine great secret combinations that control things like the UN, or the Federal Government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both those organizations are extremely transparent. If you want corruption, look locally.

  14. Nate, I beg to disagree. The Fed has never been audited. Never. Not once in nearly a hundred years. That is not transparent oversight.

    Your point is valid that corruption exists at the local level. But to suggest that there aren’t “big” secret combinations is, quite frankly, willful blindness.

  15. Everything associated with our monetary system is a secretive cabal. It is not a conspiracy. It is a combination that is not challenged because so few people understand monetary policy.

  16. While I disagree, Nate, that large organizations do not harbor secret combinations, you do make an interesting observation. The bigger the group who knows, the more watered-down the secret becomes. It is in the quiet chambers, not the open meetings, where much of the ultimate and worst mahanism occurs. As groups like the TLC mainstreamed, other groups sprang up behind them, where only the elite kept the master secrets and pulled the strings. Groups and efforts that were once secretly combined are now populated with people who have been swept up in a false front of goals and motivations. They are puppets, for sure, but not conspirators. The true conspirators are still there, puppeteering (sorry J. Max).

  17. . . . what ever happened to ‘no honor among thieves’? No matter how seriously omerta is pressed, self-interest among conspirators causes the ‘secrets’ in secret combinations to find the light of day on a frequent enough basis for us to know that something is up. While I agree that we’d probably be shocked at the degree to which this kind of stuff happens, it’s not hard to find evidence of it in many aspects of contemporary society.

  18. SuperPACs, the Tea Party, people forming militias in order to put down some sort of coming war, people secretly wishing for the US to fall apart because it will prove them right

  19. Get some perspective, people. The “blood of the saints” isn’t crying out against AIG, and there isn’t some satanic group with matching tattoos cackling with glee that your home was foreclosed on. #firstworldproblems

    Getting power through murder and oppression, subverting holy truths (not fiscal truths)…those are secret combinations. I hope the bar Moroni set was a little higher than greedy bankers and selfish capitalists.

  20. Most of this discussion about modern conspiracies actually sidesteps Ether 8. Moroni is talking about “this secret combination” (singular) “which shall be among you.”

    Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), discussed Ether 8 consistently and often during his ministry, including while he was Prophet. He said Moroni warns of “a secret combination” (singular) “that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries [and] is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world.(See Ether 8:18–25.)” (Ensign, Nov. 1988.)

    Benson and Moroni unitedly warn about one particular modern conspiracy that has already amassed enough world power to control national governments, international banks, and communications media all over the planet.

    In Ether 8, Moroni described the workings of ancient secret combinations so that modern man could recognize this great political conspiracy in the last days. Acknowledging all other conspiracies while pretending this one great conspiracy doesn’t exist is like the ostrich burying his head in the sand.

  21. Everyone is correct in saying secret combinations are everywhere but noone on this board of comments examines it within, the BOM says that it will be among you,, well who did the prophets in the BOM think would be reading the BOM,,, members of the church,, so the secret combination is in all things evil but they were trying to tell us it would be in the CHURCH too. In any ward that the SPIRIT of the BOM is absent. The prophets knew that 95% of the readers of the BOM would be members,,, and most likely they would be the members who are spiritually intune,,,, hence the reading of the BOM, lehi stating that the ones who finally fell down and partake of the tree of life are those that cling to the ROD OF IRON, I think the secret combinations are so extentive that they are from the highest levels to our local wards when sisters or brothers get together and backbit and spread rumors that could be true or not true and then the spirit of a local congregation is grieved. Why is it greived, well lets say you get leaders in a local congregation that pick only those that are like they are, maybe they are BIG scouters and anyone who isnt one never gets to serve in specific positions, then the combination begins,,,,,, When the spirit is not directing a local ward or stake then small hints of secret combinations start… I suppose is part of our test to see and feel this and continue active in the church, Wolves among us well sometimes but more commonly members just trying to fit into a social area that has been corrupted by the world, and is absolutly what the BOM prophets had in mind when they saw our day and give us examples of secret combinations entering in and almost prove the entire destruction of the NEPHITEs (members of the church) Hopefully this point is valid to this discusion…

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