There seems to be a growing chasm between the world and the Church. Years ago, society and Church standards and norms were very similar. In dress, appearance, speech, manners, habits, and basic beliefs, were all on the same page.
However, times and society have changed. Abortion, LGBT, casual sex, and a variety of addictions are looked upon as the new norm. Once stalwart knights sworn to protect societal morals, many churches, Boy Scouts, and other groups have descended into the pit to embrace the devil in his lair.
For those who remain faithful, to condemn sin today means one is intolerant, a bigot, evil. Prophets, once adored, are now seen as less than human, more prone to error than the modern intelligentsia. Scripture, once believed and treasured as revelatory and at least somewhat historical, now is shunned as rhetoric and 19th century fiction. It is a very fine line between gently steadying the ark and being an apostate.
Prior periods of apostasy do not always give us details on how large scale apostasy happens. But there are some signs we can find, especially in the Book of Mormon. Isaiah tells us that apostasy happens when men call “good evil, and evil good.”
Major apostasy, and the “ripening in sin”, in both Bible and BoM, occur when populations get large, bureaucracies and organizations expand, and leaders not only tolerate, but embrace such changes.
Isaiah and the BoM warn about those who wear fine apparel, buy up the lands and property of the poor (until there is no land left), and “grind the faces of the widows and the poor”. Today, politicians are focused on retaining power and gaining wealth, creating laws with titles that sound awesome, but primarily benefit the wealthy. “Patriot” and “Freedom” acts that send money toward the great war machine, but do nothing for patriotism nor freedom; “Affordable Care Act” that enriches insurance companies but increases prices for the average person, Federal government taking more and more land, and putting it out of the reach of the average person, making the remaining limited lands very expensive. TARP, which was supposed to bail out Americans, bailed out banks (American and otherwise) instead.
Corruption in government was a key component to apostasy and destruction in the scriptures. King Ahab wanted a field that lay outside his castle, but the man would not sell his inheritance. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, convinced him to use the law to convict and execute the man, leaving the field open to purchase. The Book of Mormon tells of kings and lawyers seeking power, using bribery and taxation to increase their own coffers. If elections did not go their way, cheating or warfare were viable alternatives.
For many years I pondered how the righteous Nephites could devolve into wickedness in the space of 5 years or less. I’m no longer surprised. For many years I wondered how the righteous Nephites could continue in wickedness, even when tragedies were sent upon them by God, trying to get them to repent, but they refused. I am no longer wondering. These things clearly occur in our own land and nation today.
Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book and we would get closer to God by abiding its precepts than any other book.
Ezra Taft Benson said that there would be a curse upon the Saints if they do not take seriously the Book of Mormon, study it, follow it, and have it at the center focus of our spiritual worship.
The Community of Christ (Reorganized LDS Church), in order to be accepted by the National Organization of Churches, reduced the Book of Mormon into inspired fiction that is optional for its members to read. We see how that church has embraced the world and sin as acceptable to them and God.
It will become harder and harder to believe in living prophets, the scriptures, and commandments, as the world seeks to justify itself and the popularity of sinful lifestyles.
Today, we live in a nation that sits on several precipices. As with ancient Rome, which gives us a variety of theories for its demise, all due to a departure from righteousness, we see the same today. We see division in politics, giant and unworkable bureaucracies, huge public and private debt, coming bankruptcy of Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security, increase in addictions (drugs, alcohol, video games, porn, sex, etc), casual views on sex, destruction of traditional marriage, race wars, intolerance, never ending wars, loss of freedoms in the name of security, and many other areas of major concern, Any of these, or a combination of them, could quickly lead to a collapse, just as they did to the former Soviet Union, or the collapse of the Nephite nation on many occasions.
The faithful will believe these signs of the times that we receive from living and past prophets. The rest will scoff at them, believing the world is better now than it ever has been. Why? Because the wicked measures things not from issues of real and eternal substance, but from the feel good issues of the world.
We will see one worldly organization after another fall under the pressures of the world, and give up their soul to please Babylon. This year, we’ve seen many organizations fall to Babylon, including SCOTUS, BSA, Congress, and many other groups. There are many who condemn Bill Cosby for his actions (rightfully so), but ignore Bill Clinton doing similar things. There are many who condemn a dentist for killing Cecil the Lion (rightfully so), but ignore the marketing of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood. Jesus was concerned for those who swallowed camels, but strained at gnats, we see major issues ignored, while comparatively minor issues take front stage.
I would encourage us to return to the scriptures and teachings of living prophets. They are our source of light and truth in a darkening world. When the nation collapses, and it will collapse, those who have remained close to the Lord’s chosen prophets will be able to recover. As governor Lachoneus guided the repentant Nephites to safety from the Gadianton Babylon of his day, so the Lord will establish a Zion, as a refuge from the storms brought on by the chaos of Babylon.
It will be the end of the world as we know it. But for those who trust in the Lord and his servants, we’ll feel fine.