Chapter 18
World Conditions

They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

Doctrine and Covenants 1:16

      An Old Sick World.(1) The world is sick. It is not the first time it has been sick. It has had a good many different experiences of that kind. Sometimes nations have had to be wiped out because of the wickedness of the people who live in them. The Lord, all down through the ages, has spoken to his leaders and teachers who are inspired, but when the world refuses to heed after it has been properly taught, it places itself in a position of saying to our Heavenly Father who owns this world—he is our landlord—“We do not need you. We will do just as we please.”

      Unfortunately, people who think that way do not realize how they are shortening their own experiences in life, and setting the stage for the sorrows that may follow. (President George Albert Smith, CR-10/49:167)

      We are living in perilous times. We are approaching the evening of the sixth day. All the world is in confusion, and unfortunately, as has been the case before, the majority of the men and women who live upon the earth are in darkness, because they do not have the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of light . . . .

      We live in a wonderful land, choice above all other lands, blessed as no other nation is blessed, and yet we are in danger . . . .

      We are coming dangerously near to a time when our Heavenly Father will withdraw his spirit from the world [p. 424] because the people of the world will not accept it. (President George Albert Smith, CR- 4/49:166-68)

      Our world is in turmoil. It is aging toward senility. It is very ill. Long ago it was born with brilliant prospects. It was baptized by water, and its sins were washed away. It was never baptized by fire, for that is still to come. It has had shorted periods of good health, but longer ones of ailing. Most of the time there have been pains and aches in some parts of its anatomy, but now that it is growing old, complications have set in, and all the ailments seem to be everywhere.

      The world has been “cliniced,” and the complex diseases have been catalogued. The physicians have had summit consultations, and temporary salve has been rubbed on afflicted parts, but it has only postponed the fatal day and never cured it. It seems that while remedies have been applied, staph infection has set in, and the patient’s suffering intensified. His mind is wandering. It cannot remember its previous illnesses nor the cure that was applied. The political physicians through the ages have rejected suggested remedies as unprofessional since they came from lowly prophets. Man being what he is with tendencies such as he has, results can be prognosticated with some degree of accuracy . . . .

      Today is another day, but history repeats itself. We read the headlines. The great powers warn and threaten. Bombs are detonated. Terror is substituted for reason. Defense stockpiles increase. Nuclear races get swifter. The radios whine. The newspapers carry glaring headlines, politicians wrangle, students and authorities harangue. Everybody expresses opinions, but few approach the real cause or the real cure.

      What is the illness? Its symptoms are manifested in every corner of the globe. They are found among men in high places, in hut and mansion. Its symptoms are carelessness, casualness, covetousness, slothfulness, selfishness, dishonesty, disobedience, immorality, uncleanness, unfaithfulness, ungodliness.

      Our national and international authorities should know that men have [p. 425]

      . . . been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities; and never hath any of them been destroyed save it were foretold them by the prophets of the Lord. (2 Nephi 25:9)

and modern prophets are warning frequently, constantly. People are destroyed by their own acts. A modern prophet said,

There is one principle [that we should] understand:-that is of blessings and cursings. For instance, we read that war, pestilence, plagues, famine, etc., will be visited upon the inhabitants of the earth, but if distress through the judgments of God comes upon this people, it will be because the majority have turned away from the Lord.

      The world’s living prophet has warned and pleaded that the people return to God, who has said again:

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10)

(Spencer W. Kimball, CR-10/61" 30)

      A Listening Ear Needed to Hear Prophets. It is a trite thing to say the world is in a mess. That we know, and out of a life of seventy-seven years I can say that so far as I can see, it has never been in the mess that it is in today. There have never before, in my life, been the powers of evil in such strength. Satan seems to have taken us over very largely, and we are more or less his tools. This is not the first time in our national history that we have been in trouble, and when I say “we,” I mean the people. I am not talking of administrations. I am talking of us, we the people of the United States . . . .

      The trouble with the world is they do not want a prophet teaching righteousness. They want a prophet that will tell them that what they are doing is right, no matter how wrong it may be . . . .

      We do not lack a prophet; what we lack is a listening ear by the people and a determination to live as God has commanded. That is all we need. The way has been made perfectly clear. (J. Reuben Clark, CR-10/48:78-80)

      We are living in what may be the most epoch-making period of all time. Scientific discoveries and inventions, the breaking down of heretofore approved social and moral standards, the uprooting of old religious moorings [p. 426] all give evidence that we are witnessing one of those tidal waves of human thought which periodically sweep over the world and change the destiny of the human race. I call attention to world conditions because the mission of the Church of Christ is world wide . . . .

      Throughout the world generally today there is a spirit of unrest, a grasping for untried ideologies, (and our community is not an exception), and, what is worst of all, a tendency toward moral abandonment. It is all too apparent that “our spiritual culture lags far behind our material culture in its development.”

      Now is a time when peoples in all the world should pause and in all earnestness repeat the Pentecostal question propounded to Peter and other apostles: Men and brethren, what shall we do? (President David O. McKay, CR-10/47:117)

      A Revolutionary Period. It is a time that demands clear thinking and sound judgment. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, this is a revolutionary period.

      There is social and political upheaval. “Thoroughly tested, well-tried principles are being thrown into discard. Long accepted social theories,” writes Charles Foster Kent, “have suddenly been rejected, and new ones are being adopted. Many of the moral standards of our fathers are being set aside in theory as well as practice . . . . Religious dogmas long regarded as the corner stones of religion and the church are being disproved or supplanted by the discoveries of modern science.”

      It is not strange, therefore, that the majority of the men and women in this war- shattered and war-threaten-ing world are unhappy, because they feel the foundations beneath them are tottering. As reported in the public press a year or so ago, an experienced United States congressman, reputably one of the best lawyers in Congress, said: “There isn’t a person in this room now who can be certain that he can leave to his children the heritage of the privilege of being free.”

      Today, if ever, is a time for young people who are not satisfied with merely building “birds’ nests” or with temporary desires and pleasures of the moment, to get in [p. 427] mind eternal verities, fundamental truths, and make them life’s guiding stars. (President David O. McKay, CN-6/6/51)

      A World Housecleaning Coming. I fear that the time is coming, unless we can find some way not only to prevent the destruction of human life by careless accidents, but also unless we can call the people of this world to repent of their sins and turn from the error of their ways, that the great war that has just passed will be an insignificant thing, as far as calamity is concerned, compared to that which is before us. And we can avoid it if we will; if we will each do our part, it can be prevented . . . .

      We are not out of the woods. This world is in for a housecleaning unless the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father repent of their sins and turn to him. And that means the Latter-day Saints, or the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with all the rest, but we, first of all, ought to be setting the example. (President George Albert Smith, CR-10/46:149-153)

      A Spiritual Problem. It is sick, terrifyingly sick, the whole world is, and everybody knows it. Hate, suspicion, envy, covetousness, and lust for power, stalk the earth, keeping the whole globe in turmoil. Gripped by fear, the nations are congealed with terror. Christian civilization has suffered a tragic moral collapse. No thoughtful person disputes that. But it is very doubtful if we have correctly diagnosed the malady. Rather does it seem that we are toying with symptoms while the root causes of the disease are left to flourish and propagate, administering palliatives instead of cures . . . .

      The truth of the matter is that our problem is a spiritual problem, and unless that is solved, our civilization is lost. The cure does not lie, as so many fondly believe, entirely in technical and economic reconstruction. I have already said that the civilization of Christendom is founded on belief of God. You will destroy that civilization if you let its basis perish. To live, it needs constant nourishment at the source. (Albert E. Bowen, CR- 4/47:107-8) [p. 428]

      Perilous Times. We are just in as much danger as were any people who have ever lived upon the earth, unless we listen to our Heavenly Father. His is the only voice, and the teachings of those whom he directs are the only teachings that we are safe in following.

      We know that the adversary is alert. If he can betray the rising generation, if he can lay pitfalls for their feet and ensnare them in evil, his desire has been realized, and their downfall is accomplished.

      We are living in perilous times. It would seem that the scriptures are being fulfilled; it appears that this is the particular time when “’if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’” (Matt. 24:24.) (President George Albert Smith, 1948, E-51:425)

      The most ominous threat to the peace and happiness of mankind in this the twentieth century is not the probable misuse of the atomic bomb, but the dwindling in men’s hearts of faith in God. “Epochs of faith are epochs of fruitfulness; but epochs of unbelief, however glittering, are barren of all permanent good.” (President David O. McKay, CN- 7/9/52)

      Righteous Preparation Removes Fear. Fear, which “shall come upon every man,” is the natural consequence of a sense of weakness, also of sin. Fear is a chief weapon of Satan in making mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life, for the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of evil ever seeks to engender fear in human hearts. In this day of sorrow, fear walks with humanity. It directs, measurably, the course of every battle. It remains as a gnawing poison in the hearts of victors as of the vanquished.

      As leaders of Israel, we must seek to dispel fear from among our people. A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well. The Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned world-mission so great that they cannot afford to dissipate their strength in fear. The Lord has repeatedly warned His people against fear. Many a blessing is withheld because of our fears. He has expressly declared that men cannot stop his work on earth, therefore, they who are engaged in the Lord’s latter-day cause and who fear, [p. 429] really trust man more than God, and thereby are robbed of their power to serve.

      The key to the conquest of fear has been given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30) That divine message needs repeating today in every stake and ward. Are we prepared in surrender to God’s commandments. In victory over our appetites? In obedience to righteous law? If we can honestly answer yes, we can bid fear depart. And the degree of fear in our hearts may well be measured by our preparation by righteous living, such as should characterize Latter-day Saints. To the handful of believers at the opening of this dispensation, the Lord gave this glorious promise:

Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. (D&C 6:34)

(John A. Widtsoe, CR-4/42:33)

      Only One Hope.      There can be no certain protection to the people of the worm in the future except by keeping the commandments of God and the counsel he has given to his children through his servants the prophets . . . .

      If the people of this nation will turn to the Lord and keep his commandments, they will enjoy happiness, and our Heavenly Father will continue to bless them. But on the other hand, if we and all other people who dwell upon this favored continent refuse to obey the commandments of our Heavenly Father, it will be only a question of time until the nations now existing and the people who dwell here will suffer destruction.

      The promises of the Lord concerning peace and happiness are always conditioned upon righteousness. When large portions of his sons and daughters, who have been enriched with the comforts and blessings of life, turn their backs upon that which is good and become wicked and immoral, it becomes only a question of time until misery and destruction follow, as did the great flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Jerusalem, of Babylon, of the Jaredites and the Nephites. All of these things follow unrighteousness. [p. 430]

      There is only one hope for us; there is only one hope for any nation and any people, and that is to turn from our wicked ways and worship the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Joseph Smith, and honor Him by keeping his commandments. (President George Albert Smith, 1947, E-50:75, 126)

      Wicked Promote Wicked. Virtue is not the only basis for being singled out and promoted. As the world gets more wicked, a possible way to attain worldly success may be to join the wicked . . . Some of us.. seek to justify our unrighteousness by claiming that if only we can get title or position. then think of the good we can do. Hence we lose our salvation enroute to these honors. We sometimes look among our numbers to find one to whom we can point who agrees with us, so we can have company to justify our apostasy. We rationalize by saying that some day the Church doctrine will catch up with our way of thinking . . . .

      More and more the honors of this world are being promoted by the wicked for the wicked. We see this in publicity and awards that are given to movies, literature, art, journalism, etc. We see in our own newspapers widely read columnists carried who advocate one-world socialism, who have been consistently caught in falsehoods and who continually parrot the communist line. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR-10/64)

      Life Not Complex. If we dig down into the motives of humanity we shall find that the horrors of this day, the war, and all the troubles that surround us at this time. both at home and abroad, are rooted in the failure of men to assume personal responsibility for the organization to which they belong. In democratic governments, at least.. if every man in those countries had sensed his personal responsibility for his nation. I doubt whether this warfare, these bloody horrors, would be upon the world . . .

      We are too prone I think to look for complex causes, for things far away, when in fact the issues strike home into our firesides within the simplicity of life and action. Life is not very complex, after all, if we analyze it thoroughly and well. This is not President Roosevelt’s country. It is my country, and I must help to make it what it should be. (John A. Widtsoe, CR 10/41:77-8)

1.       “Being out of harmony or at odds with the world around us is considered a sign of maladjustment or mental sickness in our modern psychologically oriented society. But that depends on the condition of the world we live in. If the world is sick, being in harmony with it is sickness. Sin is sickness. For adults to have an infantile passion for the sheltering care of a big welfare government is sickness. (Glenn L. Pearson and Reid E. Bankhead, A Doctrinal Approach to The Book of Mormon, p. 57) [p. 431]

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