What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: BullyRook
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! (Luke 6:26)
What an interesting scripture.
In 1914 President Joseph F. Smith said:
There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within, and the authorities need to awaken to the fact that the people should be warned unceasingly against them. . . . They are the flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity. (“Editors’ Table: Three Threatening Dangers,” Improvement Era 17, no. 5, March 1914)
Citing the verse in Luke and then commenting on the first of President Smith’s suggested dangers, being “flattery of prominent men in the world”, President Ezra Taft Benson remarked:
As Latter-day Saints we have been driven, mobbed, misunderstood, and maligned. We have been a peculiar people. Now we are faced with world applause. It has been a welcome change, but can we stand acceptance? Can we meet the danger of applause? In the hour of a man’s success applause can be his greatest danger.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with being honored by men, if one is being honored for a good thing, if one comes to these honors through righteous living, and if, while holding these honors, one lives honorably. One should strive to have wide influence for good.
However, 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. The time is fast approaching when it will require great courage for Latter-day Saints to stand up for their peculiar standards and doctrine — all of their doctrine, including the more weighty principles such as the principle of freedom. Opposition to this weighty principle of freedom caused many of our brothers and sisters in the preexistence to lose their first estate in the war in heaven.
We are far removed from the days of our forefathers who were persecuted for their peculiar beliefs. Some of us seem to want to share their reward but are ofttimes afraid to stand up for principles that are controversial in our generation. We need not solicit persecution, but neither should we remain silent in the presence of overwhelming evils, for this makes cowards of men. We should not go out of the path of duty to pick up a cross there is no need to bear, but neither should we sidestep a cross that clearly lies within the path of duty.
We are in the world, and I fear some of us are getting too much like the world. Rather than continue a peculiar people, some are priding themselves on how much they are like everybody else, when the world is getting more wicked. The Lord, as he prayed for his Apostles, said, “. . . the world hath hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14.) As Latter-day Saints, we too have been called out of the world.
Some things are changeless — priceless. We must anchor ourselves to the eternal verities of life, for life is eternal. The honors of men more often than not are fleeting. Anxious to run after the honors of office or succumb to the pressures of public glamour and worldly acclaim, some of us are no longer willing to stand up for all the principles of the gospel. We 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 en route to those 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.
Seeking the applause of the world, we like to be honored by the men the world honors. But therein lies real danger, for ofttimes, in order to receive those honors, we must join forces with and follow those same devilish influences and policies which brought some of those men to positions of prominence.
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. Less and less we see the virtuous rewarded by the world, and when they are, ofttimes it almost seems to be done insidiously in order to get us to swallow the many evils for which the wicked are even more profusely honored.
Yes, President Joseph F. Smith was right. Today we are being plagued within by the flattery of prominent men in the world. (CR, October 1964, p.56-60)
Popularity is detrimental to the spiritual growth of God’s children. It drives them to conform to Satan’s standards, shedding their mandated peculiar status. Flattery, popularity’s pioneer, is a tool used extensively by Satan as we learn quite plainly in the Book of Mormon. This tool is being used today, as President Benson states so boldly.
As one who is outspoken on many matters and has taken note of intellectual “enemies” and others who treat me negatively because of my political and religious views, I find the above-cited verse very interesting. Clearly, having enemies does not automatically make one’s message true, but it shows that the person is taking a stand and choosing sides, something that must be done in the ongoing battle for men’s souls.
So to those of you that may speak ill of me for whatever reason, thanks for helping me to avoid receiving “woe”!