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.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
As members of the Church we often speak out quite audibly with respect to homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and similar moral sin. Holding Sodom & Gomorrah up as an example, we show what these things will bring to fruition in a society.
But the verses cited above clearly state that not only was Sodom guilty of these heinous sins, but they also were rich, greedy, selfish, and proud. Does this ring a bell?
We speak out against these sins in our society so boldly because they are easily identifiable targets. We all pat ourselves on our backs when we are in compliance with these commandments. But how do we feel, and what action do we take, when Prophets speak out against our sins that are not so easily identifiable, such as greed, wealth, pride, and selfishness?
“It has been said that it takes something spectacular to get folks excited, like a burning house. Nobody notices one that is simply decaying. But in America today we not only have decaying but burning before our very eyes.”
—Ezra Taft Benson, “Americans are Destroying America“, April 1968
I’m not saying that we should stop vigorously defending traditional marriage, or that we should be more sensitive or lenient towards moral sins of great magnitude. What I’m saying is that it seems a bit of a double standard to be so loquacious when it comes to moral sin, yet we are mostly mute when it comes to the other sin of Sodom: pride.
Please understand that this rant is directed as much towards me as it is anybody else. I think we all have a great deal of work to do in this area. We as Latter-day Saints are, for the most part, extremely financially blessed. To whom much is given, much is required. Let us, in addition to being outspoken on moral issues, analyze our own lives and assess how we are using our wealth, and where our heart truly is.
“It is our duty to preach the gospel, gather Israel, pay our tithing, and build temples. The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth.”
—Brigham Young, as quoted in James S. Brown, Life of a Pioneer, Salt Lake City: Geo. Q. Cannon and Sons Co., 1900, pp. 122-23.