Does it seem to you that the world is more divided now than any recent time?
It certainly seems that way to me. The divisions seem to be popping up in every sphere: politics, culture, religion, in families and even in leisure activities.
For the first time ever, the Oscars involved a physical confrontation in which a presenter made a joke about an actor’s wife, and the actor walked onto the stage to slap the presenter.
Personally, I found the joke in very poor taste. Making fun of a woman who is losing her hair should definitely be out of bounds, but the point is that this is yet another sign of division and conflict in a world filled with it.
During the pandemic, there was conflict between mask wearers and non-mask wearers and the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Now we are being told that we as Americans must consider Russia our enemy, and if we don’t we are guilty of treason, even if the United States is not at war with Russia. When it comes to cultural issues, it seems like we are supposed to be outraged every day. Biological men take the place of biological women in women’s sports events, and if we question this at all we are condemned. If we ask teachers not to discuss sexuality with very young children, we are condemned yet again.
Long-standing boundaries of behavior and social mores are being erased, and yet those who want to maintain even a semblance of the boundaries are somehow the bad people?
My wife and I have noticed we know a half-dozen married people — latter-day Saints married in the temple — who are either divorced or heading towards divorce. In our lives, this seemed to happen all at once — all of a sudden a married couple who seemed happy was suddenly unhappy.
It seems obvious to me that these conflicts are part of Satan’s plan to cause division and contention and conflict in the latter days.
President Wilford Woodruff warned in 1896:
“There are two powers on the earth and in the midst of the inhabitants of the earth—the power of God and the power of the devil. In our history we have had some very peculiar experiences. When God has had a people on the earth, it matters not in what age, Lucifer, the son of the morning, and the millions of fallen spirits that were cast out of heaven, have warred against God, against Christ, against the work of God, and against the people of God. And they are not backward in doing it in our day and generation. Whenever the Lord set His hand to perform any work, those powers labored to overthrow it.”2
Church doctrine says that it was always so. Satan is about division and the Lord is about unity.
The word “devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos,” which has one meaning of “to divide,” “to separate” or “to throw against.” Regarding our pre-mortal life, Church Institute instruction puts it this way:
Our Father in Heaven asked, “Whom shall I send [to be the Savior]?” Jesus Christ answered, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). He was the Father’s “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning” (Moses 4:2) and was always meant to fulfill this role. But Lucifer interrupted and offered himself along with a proposal that would have destroyed the agency of man and exalted Lucifer above the throne of God (see Moses 4:1–4). Heavenly Father responded, “I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27). Lucifer rebelled and became known as Satan.
Division among spirits caused a war in heaven. A third part of God’s children turned away from Him and followed Satan (see D&C 29:36–37). These rebellious spirits were denied physical bodies, were cast down to the earth, and continue to make war against the Saints of God (see D&C 76:25–29). The rest of God’s children shouted for joy because they could come to earth and because Jesus Christ was chosen to overcome sin and death (see Job 38:7).
Meanwhile, the Savior wants us to be unified and united.
Jesus said in John 17:20-22:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
The Lord has said, “If ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27).
The Church Gospel Topic on Unity says:
We can seek and promote this standard of unity in our families and in the Church. If we are married, we and our spouse can be unified in purpose and action. We can allow our unique qualities to complement one another as we face challenges together and grow in love and understanding. We can also be unified with other family members and with members of the Church by serving together, teaching one another, and encouraging one another. We can become one with the President of the Church and other Church leaders as we study their words and follow their counsel.
As the Church grows throughout the world, all Latter-day Saints can be united. Our hearts can be “knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). We appreciate cultural diversity and individual differences, but we also seek the “unity of the faith” that comes when we follow inspired leaders and remember that we are all children of the same Father (see Ephesians 4:3–6, 11–13).
How do we achieve unity? I firmly believe that daily prayer and scripture study helps, as does attending Church meetings and the temple and of course doing your callings. My wife and I have been doing these things for years now, and we get along better than ever, so on a personal level, these simple steps really do work.
But the very first step must be a recognition that Satan is causing division and contention. As we watch or listen to General Conference this weekend, perhaps it might be worth looking at how often the speakers urge us to be unified and to avoid contention.
And then as we head back into the world next week, when conference is over, we will notice how many forces there are in the world pushing us towards division and conflict. The contrast should be obvious: love, charity and unity brings us closer to the Lord, while the opposite forces will take us in the wrong direction.
We’ve had some pretty nasty post-Covid fall out in our ward. 5-6 whole families have decided the church is no longer true and they’ve left. Their exits were some what rocky, their absence is sad.
Excellent thoughts, Geoff. You hit the nail on the head with this. Doubtless the Brethren will have something to say about the divisions in our lives in this upcoming conference. Whenever a conversation between my wife and I results in a disagreement of some sort and possibly an argument, because she is “without guile”, I have to take the initiative to humble myself and apologize no matter who was in the right or the wrong because I can feel that the Spirit has left. I strongly believe that this is the reason our marriage has lasted for 46 years this coming June. It is, indeed, a difficult thing to humble oneself but it does become easier with practice, and unless the leaders of this world do so and realize who is initiating their conflicts and once again return to God, it will only get worse. We, therefore, pray for the influence and success for the Spirit of Unity which should prevail in this world. Thanks again, Geoff.
For what it’s worth, I’ve read Chris Rock was supposedly unaware Jada Pinkett-Smith had alopecia. His joke was based purely on what he thought was her chosen hair style. I guess another lesson is that it pays to be informed.
But I agree with the post. One has to recognize the tactics. But right now, I’m also struggling to find ways to be united that doesn’t also play into some of Satan’s tactics.
We are to be united in Christ and not dispute or contend over the points of Christ’s doctrine (see 3 Nephi 11:28-41). Those combined in faith in Christ will be blessed with a powerful unity to stand against the lies and deceptions of the adversary.
Unfortunately, what I observe in Christians generally and in LDS specifically is they are glib about the doctrine of Christ and greatly motivated to earn the praise of men.
Consider what is the doctrine of Christ. Jesus explains: “And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God”
Believe in Christ and be baptized! How easy and simple. It is simple,, but the perception of easiness can actually be us fooling ourselves. To believe in Christ and to be baptized is to keep God’s commandments, and the first of all commandments is to put God first in our life.
I’m afraid very few people put God first. This is not because we choose to watch football on Sunday. This is because the world – Babylon – wants nothing to do with the True God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. The world makes great demands to have us substitute trust in men in place of trust in God. And we rationalize our support for the world as being necessary and the way things are to be.
Just consider the rampant lying, deceit, dishonesty and abject immorality of our politicians and the media that supports them. A righteous society would not tolerate this corruption. Not only do LDS tolerate this wholesale corruption, many highly esteemed members are active participants in the filth! And when such members die, other highly esteemed members lavish praise in their memorial!
And we tolerate this.
If we embraced the doctrine of Christ we would be united in His Holiness, and we would be actively engaged in challenging the corruption that pervades our society. Melchizedek did this. King Benjamin did this. Captain Moroni did this.
Modern Christians have opted instead to rationalize being nice and tolerant of wickedness as the primary virtue of discipleship. Thing is, being nice and tolerant has little to do with being Christian! Anyone of any faith can be nice. So ask yourself, how does believing in Christ lead you to act and believe differently such that people in the world are drawn to the light of Christ that is in you? How are church leaders acting different to bring glory to God?
Joyce, I am so sorry to hear that. I am not 100 percent sure, but I don’t think we lost any members during the pandemic. We have a few people who stopped going because they were immuno-compromised, but they are still active and watch Church services via Zoom. I have to say our ward is, for the most part, pretty unified.
Hans, Eli and Disciple, good comments. Thanks.
Old videos of Will Smith have been put out on social media where his jokes were about people’s looks, hair styles, bald people, etc.
What is disturbing is Hollywood applauded Smith. Then Smith accepts his award and blabbers on about being kind, not violent blah blah blah…..Woke Marxist word salad. These are the same people who support the violence of the anarchist groups of antifa and black lives matter, among other nefarious activities and legislation, silence free speech, support cancel culture, attack anyone who doesn’t march in lockstep with them. These are the same people who supported Kathy Griffith beheading Pres. Trump, violence against his family, violence against anyone not aligned politically with them. When called out they scream….”it was just a joke, it was just a joke….where is your sense of humor” and other feeble excuses by these same people.
Worse things have been said about famous people by famous people, as jokes, in award show situations and people laughed….no one became violent.
I have read that many Black women lose their hair because of the hair products they use and……hair styles they wear = tight weaves/braids and extensions….all which damage and destroy hair follicles. And if they have alopecia without knowing, the damage is accelerated.
@ A Disciple……
Good post and interesting comments – I really appreciate reading them.
Disciple: Regarding your 4th-to-last paragraph – generally, most people are trying to do what they believe is right. The difficulty is that there are all these different ideas about what that is.
E.g. The ‘wokeists’ are all believing they’re doing some noble thing, that everyone else is wrong and needs teaching (forcefully), and that everything that currently stands needs to be torn down. I think they’re also very fearful. Of anything that contradicts what they believe – partly because it doesn’t hold much water, and they don’t want to face that.
So there are problems of blindness, pride, anger, etc. – but the people displaying the anger, for example, think it’s okay, because it’s in the service of what they believe is right.
So the answer must be the spirit of discernment – which can only come in an atmosphere of humility, openness, and a desire to see what is really true – whether it gels with one’s existing ideas or not. How do we get more people to develop this gift? Certainly the companionship of the Holy Spirit. But if Church members still are being deceived, then perhaps this Gift is not enough? Or is not being used effectively/fully?
I keep thinking, lately, about what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young kept emphasising – the primacy of ‘getting’ and ‘keeping’ the Spirit. And I keep seeing how our times are bearing out the scriptures about how even ‘as it were’ the very elect will be deceived. I guess this is why the prophet also keeps emphasising the necessity of members developing greater spiritual discernment and power.
@Tulan can you point out the Marxist ideology that came through in Will Smith’s acceptance speech. I didn’t watch it but I’m always curious about these woke weirdos and their ideology.
The fundamental Satanic trick in wokeness is the evolution of the progressive mindset. Everything can be defined, and everything can be known, and therefore everything can be organized (by the educated elites) and everyone can live a life free of conflict, disappointment, or trauma. “We” (humanity) can be as the gods, knowing good and evil, in all things and at all times and in all place. This is a lie, which quickly becomes apparent but which those ascribing to the ideology adamantly refuse to recognize.
Lattertarian, this essay on the problems with wokeness is very good and on topic.
Bottom line: as we heard in Conference last weekend, the solutions to the world’s problems are all part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must change peoples’ hearts and we must avoid contention, which is of the devil. This is obviously more difficult to do than many people imagine.
At its heart, wokeness, progressivism, cultural Marxism, critical theory, etc is a religion, a false, Satanic religion. It is the latest in a long string of false religions that Satan has inspired on the Earth since the beginning. It uses a small bit of truth (we should be kind to all people and overcome prejudices) to create an entire super-structure of falsehood based on resentment, conflict and strife.
I often refer to Alinsky’s rules for radicals as something that explains what’s going on. Here’s an online PDF:
Book, reading Alinksky’s book is always a good thing, and it is no mistake that he praises Lucifer in the first few pages, so you know where he is coming from. (He is literally a Satan-worshipper and does not hide it).
But it is anachronistic. He wants to burn the system down, and in 1971, the system, for the most part, protected liberty (with some obvious exceptions like the draft and the monetary system and the tax rate). Most Westerners were actually free in 1971 (and I am old enough to have lived through this era and speak intelligently about it). But today the system has actually been destroyed from within so that it is much more oppressive than protective of liberty. So, the reality is that people like Alinsky today talk about being radical, but for them the radicalism comes from reinforcing and building up the existing system, not tearing it down. Many of the Rules for Radicals are more appropriate for conservative truckers against vaccine mandates than they are for the woke people who have basically taken over almost all of our institutions.
So, we should definitely read Alinsky, at the very least to understand the tactics the woke have employed over the years to win so much cultural space, but we should not take the radicals seriously when they say they are radicals. They are protectors of the status quo, not radicals. We who favor liberty are the real radicals.
Geoff; Granted, RfR is more about tactics than strategy. But there are enough throwaway lines in it to give a good picture of what his goal was: Destruction/nihilism. The lie was/is that a utopian Marxiet state could/would be built up from the ruins. The secondary/lesser lie is that there would be less suffering under Marxism than under captalism.