Brigham Young: The Modern Moses

We are the pioneers of this country (DBY, 474).

70,000. That’s how many people Brigham Young had to help cross the barren plains over the years to get to their new safe haven in the mountains. Let it not be underestimated just how difficult a task was laid out before President Young, all while having to protect the Saints from hostile mobs and governments, but he was able to fulfill his overwhelming task to the utmost and help the Saints find their new home where they could be free to worship God in their own way and live as they desired.

Brigham Young had been prepared by the Lord for this immense undertaking. In Zion’s Camp, he had been able to see Joseph Smith as he led them through difficult conditions (see HC 2:61–134, 183–85). He was also in charge of moving the persecuted Saints from Missouri to Nauvoo where they would be safer (see HC 3:250–52, 261). Thus when Brigham was called by God to be a new Moses (D&C 103:16), he was ready to do so.

Through inspiration from the Lord, Brigham Young organized the Saints so that they would be ready to travel. As outlined in D&C 136, he organized them in companies of hundreds, fifties, and tens similar to Moses of old. Each company had a president and two counselors and everyone was under the direction of the Twelve Apostles. Each company also needed to provide their own necessities and decide who would go and who would wait. In addition, each company would take an equal portion of poor, orphaned, and widowed to make sure they were provided for as was keeping in character with Brigham Young and his concern for the vulnerable.

Brigham Young promised the Saints that the Lord would bless and preserve them on their trek so long as they obeyed the Lord. The Saints were told not to argue and gossip, not to be drunk, to uplift each other, to return what you borrow, to return lost items to their owners, and to be wise with your belongings. All this is of course still good advice for us today. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, President Young also counseled them to praise the Lord with singing, music, dancing, and prayer if they felt happy. Likewise, they could turn to the Lord in prayer if they felt sorrowful, especially given the harsh conditions they were under. Brigham Young wanted the Saints to know that the Lord was watching over them and would hear their prayers whether of joy and sadness. This would have been powerful in helping the Saints not feel abandoned and depressed as they made the long journey.

The journey was not easy. The pioneers had to get up at 5:00 AM and be ready to move out by 7:00 AM. Each day they had to find grazing land for cattle as well as good water. Advance companies had to try and level the trail to make it easier for later companies. Sickness was rampant with even Brigham Young contracting mountain fever. Many people including infants died and had to be buried and left as the pioneers continued on. Despite all these hardships, they persevered.

Just as Moses led the children of Israel from Egypt to Mount Sinai in about three months, Brigham Young led the Saints across America from Winter Quarters to the Rocky Mountains in about three months. Brigham Young reached the top of Big Mountain and looked down at what at the time was the untamed wilds of the Salt Lake Valley and declared: “This is the right place. Drive on.” It must have looked like an inhospitable place to stop, but Brigham trusted the Lord and the Saints trusted their leader. Just as the children of Israel were told the promised land was flowing with milk and honey, Brigham Young and the pioneers eventually turned the wilderness of the mountains into a fruitful field and made the desert blossom as a rose, as had been foretold millennia ago by Isaiah (see Isaiah 32:15–16, 35:1).

Brigham Young had done the seemingly impossible in helping the Saints cross the plains into an uninhabited wasteland that eventually became a thriving community. He would continue to guide people there for decades and eventually helped settle the West for the Saints and later for all. His determination, faith, and wise leadership made it all possible.

Brigham Young: Loving Father


Bring up your children in the love and fear of the Lord; study their dispositions and their temperaments, and deal with them accordingly, never allowing yourself to correct them in the heat of passion; teach them to love you rather than to fear you, and let it be your constant care that the children that God has so kindly given you are taught in their early youth the importance of the oracles of God, and the beauty of the principles of our holy religion, that when they grow to the years of man and womanhood they may always cherish a tender regard for them and never forsake the truth (DBY, 207).

We live in an age where, unfortunately, many public heroes that accomplished a lot of good have been revealed to have immoral private lives. This includes US presidents, civil rights leaders, and religious ministers. In stark contrast to these hypocritical figures is the Prophet Brigham Young. Not only was he a great man to the people and nation, he was equally if not more so a great father to his children.

Brigham Young had a famously large family with 46 children. Given the average American family has three children or less now, this type of lifestyle is probably utterly alien to us. Most imagine it would be impossible to properly see after each of your 46 children’s needs or even to have enough fatherly love to spread around, but Brigham Young was not a typical man of the world but a man among men. His daughter Clarissa fondly remembered her childhood as a time of happiness and that her father was incredibly tender to his family, while another daughter said that he “was an ideal father, kind to a fault, tender, thoughtful, just and firm. … None of us feared him.” This is not at all like the austere, cold authority figure many people make him out to be.

In fact, Brigham Young felt his family was so important that if he failed being a good husband and father then he would “[wake] up in the morning of the First Resurrection to find that he had failed in everything.” He never let his many responsibilities get in the way of his most important responsibility: his family. We would do well to take his principles of child rearing to heart. He said, “It is not by the whip or the rod that we can make obedient children, but it is by faith and by prayer, and by setting a good example before them.” The most important thing we can do for our children is set a good example, and President Young is an excellent example to emulate.

An important aspect of being a good example is spending time with children. Brigham Young would spend every evening he was at home having a devotional with his children where he would instruct them and plan the coming days with them. He also involved them in some of his errands and tasks and made sure to be honest and just to all he encountered. His children later attested to the towering man of integrity he was in their lives.

And what was the effect of all this? His oldest son, Joseph, served in the Utah Territorial Legislature. Brigham Jr. was a mission president, apostle, and First Presidency Counselor. His son John was a counselor with his father. Willard had a prestigious military career. Susa Young Gates, a noted author and editor, was a leader in state and national women’s organizations in addition to raising a large family. We can see that Brigham Young had a great effect on his children and helped them to become upstanding, virtuous men and women.

Few people in history have been the subject of as much slander as Brigham Young. Even today, many biographies and accounts of his life rely on hearsay and fabrications, not the least of which are about his personal and family life; however, we can rely on primary sources concerning his family and relationship with them, chiefly his letters of correspondence with his children. They paint a picture of a man deeply concerned for the well-being of his family and always doing what he can to help them temporally and spiritually. We would all do well to study his methods and example in order to better help our children, too.

For more information:

Brigham Young’s Family

Brigham Young’s Letters

Brigham Young Family Quotes

Brigham Young: Caretaker of the Poor

The man who is hungry and destitute has as good a right to my food as any other person, and I should feel as happy in associating with him, if he had a good heart, as with those who have an abundance, or with the princes of the earth. They all are esteemed by me, not according to the wealth and position they hold, but according to the character they have (DBY, 317).

Brigham Young cared deeply for the poor and needy. Notwithstanding the enormous persecution the Saints received, he covenanted to help all the destitute Saints who could not escape due to lack of funds. After the infamous Extermination Order was given, Brigham Young took part in the Missouri Committee to decide how to help the Saints. There were hundreds of Saints in need, and Brigham Young proposed a covenant be made to “stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our abilities in removing from this state, and that we will never desert the poor who are worthy, till they shall be out of the reach of the exterminating order.” He and everyone who took this covenant fulfilled it and helped all the Saints in need.

Several years later, the Saints were again being driven out of their homes in Nauvoo. Brigham Young led the most of the people out West, but some were too sick or poor to leave at that time. Brigham made plans to find a way to bring these Saints too but then received terrible news. Armed men had driven these sick and destitute people out of Nauvoo across the river into Iowa. With almost no food or tents, they were in a desperate state. President Young quickly organized a rescue team and managed to save them and bring them to Nebraska. Even when organizing over 10,000 people to go West, Brigham Young never forgot the poor.

In 1848, Brigham Young created the Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF), a revolving loan fund, to help poor Saints in America and Europe travel to Utah. In Brigham’s First Presidency’s own words:

The P. E. Fund is designed to deliver the honest poor, the pauper, if you please, from the thraldom [i.e., bondage] of ages, from localities where poverty is a crime and beggary an offense against the law, where every avenue to rise in the scale of being to any degree of respectable joyous existence is forever closed, and place them in a land where honest labor and industry meet a suitable reward, where the higher walks of life are open to the humblest and poorest, and where they can lay a foundation for indissolubly uniting themselves and their children in the progressive scale of human existence.

The PEF helped tens of thousands of people to have a better life where they could practice their religion in peace, but still kept enshrined within it the values of individual responsibility and self-reliance. All those who received funds were expected to repay them back when circumstances allowed.

Brigham Young always stressed the importance of the poor to be hard-working, good in heart and righteous, and not be idlers who break their word. “The Lord’s poor do not forget their covenants, while the Devil’s poor pay no regard to their promises” (DBY, 317). These values are to this day still a key component of the welfare system in the Church and Utah. Work, education, and responsibility are always emphasized and stressed making Utah’s welfare incredibly successful at helping people. Not to be forgotten, Brigham Young also preached the responsibility of those with wealth to help the poor. He said, “Let the poor be honest, let the rich be liberal, and lay their plans to assist the poor, to build up the Kingdom of God, and at the same time enrich themselves, for that is the way to build up God’s Kingdom” (DBY, 317). If these principles were applied everywhere, many people could be lifted out of the desperate cycle of poverty.

The poor and needy were always a concern for Brigham Young. He loved them and cared for them. Because of this love, he preached principles that would uplift and help them while also helping all those that emulated the Savior and cared for the poor as well. Brigham truly wanted to follow the Lord’s teachings by caring for those in need. We should also follow his example and help all those who are trying yet struggling to make a living. The Lord will bless our labors just as He blessed Brother Brigham’s.

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Brigham Young: Persecutions and The Decision to Go West

It can be difficult at times to comprehend just how hostile people were to the early Latter-Day Saints. We hear tidbits and stories, but there were terrible atrocities committed against the Saints, not the least of which was the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith. Brigham Young recounted this event as follows:

We lived in Illinois from 1839 to 1844, by which time [enemies of the Church] again succeeded in kindling the spirit of persecution against Joseph and the Latter-day Saints. Treason! Treason! Treason! they cried, calling us murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, and the worst people on the earth. … They took Joseph and Hyrum, and as a guarantee for their safety, Governor Thomas Ford pledged the faith of the State of Illinois. They were imprisoned [in Carthage, Illinois], on the pretense of safekeeping, because the mob was so enraged and violent. The Governor left them in the hands of the mob, who entered the prison and shot them dead. … After the mob had committed these murders, they came upon us and burned our houses and grain. When the brethren would go out to put out the fire, the mob would lie concealed under fences, and in the darkness of the night, they would shoot them (DBY, 473).

The rancor and hatred directed against the Church and its members was so extreme that they would even attempt to murder people trying to put out fires on their property. Against such hostility, Brigham Young forwent retaliation but instead sought for help from others, but it was all in vain. He said:

In the year 1845 I addressed letters to all the Governors of states and territories in the Union, asking them for an asylum, within their borders, for the Latter-day Saints. We were refused such privilege, either by silent contempt or a flat denial in every instance. They all agreed that we could not come within the limits of their territory or state (DBY, 474).

There was no one willing to be charitable enough or brave enough to take them in. Brigham Young, through revelation, decided to take the Saints out West. This was not an easy decision and required full faith on their part, especially Brigham’s. Although he was leading them, he stated:

We were migrating, we knew not whither, except that it was our intention to go beyond the reach of our enemies. We had no home, save our wagons and tents, and no stores of provisions and clothing; but had to earn our daily bread by leaving our families in isolated locations for safety, and going among our enemies to labor (DBY, 478).

Even in the face of all these trials and persecutions, Brigham Young never wavered in the faith. He knew he had a charge from the Lord to protect His people and lead them to safety. Brigham Young always testified it was the Lord who guided him and said:

I do not wish men to understand I had anything to do with our being moved here [to the Salt Lake Valley], that was the providence of the Almighty; it was the power of God that wrought out salvation for this people, I never could have devised such a plan (DBY, 480).

Few people are great enough to lead a large group of people into unknown land, and fewer still are humble enough to give all praise to the Lord. Brigham Young was given seemingly insurmountable tasks and yet fulfilled them all. No matter the persecution and prejudice he and the Saints faced, he pressed forward and led them all to their destiny in the West.

Brigham Young: An Extraordinary Missionary

Brigham Young was called to serve a mission while an Apostle in 1839. As specified in Doctrine & Covenants 118, the time and place of departure had already been revealed by the Lord. Mobbers were determined to stop this from coming to pass, but without fear, Brigham Young led the other Apostles to the designated meeting place and they all met as required in preparation to their mission to England. Brigham Young never cowed in the face of his enemies and he was always delivered by the hand of God.

Despite being seriously ill and leaving the care of his family in God’s hands, Brigham Young made his way to New York and then to Liverpool to serve the Lord. While there, he and the other Apostles met with tremendous success. The English people flocked to them and were baptized in droves, with over 800 people baptized in four months. Among that number were lay clergy who converted to the restored Church. Success would continue and miracles would occur just like those in the scriptures.

Brigham Young took the lead in all this, including what he considered his most difficult task: getting the Book of Mormon and hymn book printed in England. Many delays of the printing weighed on his mind, but through his faith and tenacity, they were eventually printed and disseminated to the English people, further increasing conversions and strengthening testimonies. Even harassment and persecution only served to bring more people into the fold.

At this time, Brigham Young as well as the rest of the Apostles instituted the policy of emigration. The newly converted saints in England were encouraged to go to America and join the main body of saints there. This undertaking would serve as excellent preparation for when Brigham would have to lead the whole body of saints out West.

After working hard, Brigham Young was finally able to return to his beloved wife and family. His sacrifice and diligence brought many new saints into the Church and many souls to Christ. He showed the Lord that he was able to feed His sheep and would be ready in the future to guide them to where they needed to be.

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White House Petition to Put Brigham Young on the $20 Bill

For understandable reasons, the government is considering replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with another important person in US history. The replacement should be someone who contributed immensely to the United States and helped shape it into the great nation it is today. An excellent choice would be a leader of a prominent American group that historically suffered extreme persecution by the US government and citizens, and despite that, was able to open up large swathes of America for habitation and settlement. There is no better choice to be proudly displayed on the $20 bill than Brigham Young.

Among his many qualifications for receiving such a high honor, Brigham Young led a persecuted group into the then unsettled West and helped it flourish into a land fit for habitation. He placed settlements all over what is now Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona. These states would not exist were it not for his great leadership, and they made it possible for the continent and country to be connected from the East to the West. Not only that, but these settlements were clearly designated as being free territories, helping push for the end of slavery.

Brigham Young was not only a settlement leader, but the second religious leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, currently the largest religion founded in the United States. This group received horrible persecution from fellow citizens and neighbors including having property destroyed, farms burnt, and even church members murdered. When looking for redress from the government, they were instead ordered to leave or be killed in a government enacted extermination order. After the original leader of the Church was martyred, Brigham Young took over the role as leader of the Church and instead of trying to claim vengeance, led his people away to the West. Even then, the government followed them and sought to destroy them.

Honoring Brigham Young on the $20 bill would not only honor a great man who helped make the United States what it is today, but would also be a step in addressing the wrongs committed by the United States against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Let’s make it happen. You can sign the petition here.

The Linear Morality Fallacy

In the 21st century, our technology is more advanced than it has ever been before. Humanity continually refines, builds upon, and improves what we’ve already developed. Despite the occasional regression in advancement, technology is on a constant, upward trajectory of sophistication. This pattern is recognized by everyone and is an inherent part of our ability to create. However, as the world drifts further to secularism and materialism, people try to apply this model to everything. This is the linear morality fallacy.

A common refrain heard today is “the right side of history.” Being against any number of issues will get you charged with being against this right side of history. Leaving aside all the other problems with this, it rests on an assumption that, just like technology, morality is only ever improving and being more refined. People will point to the elimination of slavery, equality for women, and push for homosexual acceptance as evidence of this. Working backwards, they assume that history gets more and more morally backwards the further away you get from today. Even Church members fall into this way of thinking. However, this view of morality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Look at slavery in America. The popular view is that the further one goes back in time, the more hateful and racist people were towards blacks. As time advanced, people in the North became more aware of racial injustice until a war happened and slavery ended. Eventually, even the South became more open to racial equality, leaving behind their prejudiced history. As widespread as this view is though, it’s also wrong.

Researching the history of slavery, one quickly realizes the Founding Fathers thought slavery was a kind of necessary evil that would soon die out. They didn’t think the black man was supposed to be the eternal servant of white people, but that was just how it was now and would end soon enough. However, as decades passed, people began to get a different idea. They began to believe that it really was the purpose of blacks to serve whites. This was a complete reversal from before, a regression in moral thinking. The cultural thinking had gone from temporary evil that would be rectified to an inherent good. Slavery was no longer unjust. It was nature.

This moral regression led to the bloodiest war in US history before slavery was abolished. If people had instead held onto the moral truth that slavery should die out, it could have peacefully, but temptation and evil warped the thinking of many until good was called evil and evil good. And so, morality had not constantly improved but had slipped down until a calamity resulted, which then humbled the people until they accepted moral truth.

Church members know this from the Scriptures. Commonly called the Pride Cycle or Nephite Cycle, people would be blessed, become more wicked, be punished, repent, be blessed, and then it would repeat on and on until their ultimate destruction. Moral progression is shown to be a loop that cultures follow. Yet some members still hold on to this linear morality fallacy. They believe that any new cultural development must be good and that cultural regression is impossible. So they embrace many things contrary to the Gospel and teachings of Christ, arguing that this is simply how society is supposed to evolve. It is the “right side of history.”

History loops and cycles through it’s moral highs and lows. We cannot look to the fads and trends of the world to tell us what is ultimately right and best for us. Only Jesus Christ and His gospel can tell us that. Church members especially would do well to focus on developing their faith and studying the gospel in order to know what is morally right, instead of taking cues from the ever-changing and regressing world. There is no right side of history, but there is the right side of the Lord, and we would do well to be on it.

It’s Not a Valid Interpretation. You’re Just Wrong

What if I told you that the Communist Manifesto is actually an argument for capitalism and private property? Or that the Odyssey is really about horticulture? Or the Harry Potter series is not about magic but about a mental institution and its patients? You’d probably say I was an idiot or a tenured professor. There’s so much evidence pointing against these interpretations of what the stories are really about. The authors couldn’t possibly have had those ideas in mind when writing, so there’s no way those interpretations can be correct.

But what if we just kill the authors’ intentions? We figuratively dismiss the authors from their own works and apply whatever interpretation we want to the story with no one to tell us we’re wrong. Many literary critics, amateur or otherwise, do just that with the death of the author. No longer is the author’s identity regarded nor are the circumstances concerning the creation of the story a concern. The text is completely separated from “limits” and “interpretive tyranny.” Now the true meaning of the text doesn’t matter because there is none. The meaning changes for every person and every time the work is read. So it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it. All that matters is what you think.

Perhaps you can see the problem with this, but let’s use a real life example to illustrate it. In Acts 16: 31, Paul and Silas say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Does this mean if we say we believe in Christ we are saved forever? Does it say we need to believe Christ and obey commandments to go to Heaven? Is it correct that all who don’t say they believe in Christ will be sent to Hell forever? Are works not important, only belief? According to death of the author, any of these are true if you want them to be. However, it is impossible for these to all be true at the same time, and with salvation on the line you can’t afford to guess wrong. So you choose one you think is best and group together with people who agree and maybe form a church especially because another group with a different interpretation formed a church and they are condemning people to Hell with their false teachings so you need to show people how your interpretation is right and…then we end up with today’s hundreds of Christian denominations. Instead of freedom, we have confusion. Instead of no limits, we have no guidance.

Maybe doctrine is special though. Let’s choose a simple story like a man helping a poor soul who has been robbed and left for dead on the side of the road even though they are from groups hostile to each other. Does this story mean we should have open borders for all countries? Or maybe that racism is bad? How about that the Jews were and are racist? The story of the Good Samaritan is world famous and has thousands of interpretations. Which one did Jesus mean? It must certainly matter when people are using it as a basis for government policy.

With all these “valid” interpretations comes endless confusion and contention. So what’s right? A powerful truth is found in the Bible Dictionary for parables which helps clear the fog. It states, “It is important to distinguish between the interpretation of a parable and the application of a parable. The only true interpretation is the meaning the parable conveyed, or was meant to convey, when first spoken. The application of a parable may vary in every age and circumstance.” Here we have the crux of the matter. People have confused application for interpretation.

We can apply not just parables but all stories and principles in endless ways. Maybe the bravery of Abinadi inspires you to never back down from sharing your testimony. Perhaps the damage done to innocent lives by the Count of Monte Cristo stays your hand when you consider getting revenge. These applications come from a correct interpretation of the story though. Abinadi was brave. Revenge is wrong. Flawed interpretations will lead to flawed applications.

So how do we know the correct interpretation? This leads to the hardest question and the seduction of death of the author. Sometimes the author’s meaning is clear, other times it isn’t, and still other times it has layers of meaning. Sussing out what is correct is no mean feat. Death of the author offers an easy way out. Just say it doesn’t matter and it can mean whatever you want. However, an incorrect interpretation by definition will either ignore some things, force meanings, or put ideas together in an unwieldy manner. It can never offer full satisfaction.

The true interpretation can be found though. Again, the Bible Dictionary about parables offers advice. Among other things, it says it’s critical to consider the context and setting. For a parable, this would be who the Lord is talking to and the circumstances of the time as well as the idea it sprang from. A story is a bit different but follows from this. The author’s history and social context must be considered, evidence must be found within the text, and any author commentary can help. Occasionally, the author will just flat out say what the correct interpretation is, but it’s not always that easy. An important thing to keep in mind as well is that with many more recent stories, the author never had an interpretation in mind, wanting instead to have the audience dream up whatever they want. This can easily be boiled down to the correct interpretation being that there is none and it’s meaningless.

Thus, for every story or text, there is a correct interpretation and incorrect ones. It is our responsibility as the audience to find what that interpretation is and then apply it how we want. If we find we are holding on to an incorrect view, we should change when presented with evidence. It is the height of folly to dismiss evidence in the text or especially what an author directly states, and cling to erroneous interpretations. If someone states his interpretation is correct, then it is reasonable to ask him to prove it. Discussion should be centered around finding evidence and putting it together to get at what the author truly meant. Remember that the correct interpretation doesn’t limit us. It guides us to countless applications. Whether it is trying to understand the nature of God or simply finding what motivates a character, we can be safe in the knowledge that a correct interpretation exists for us to find.

A Wise Steward

Who is wiser? The man who receives money, invests it, and reaps more reward, or the man who receives money and buries it away or spends it? We don’t need to wonder, because Christ answered this in his famous parable about talents. When the Lord blesses us with something, be it money, abilities, or opportunities, He expects us to do our best and make the most of it. If we do, the Lord is pleased with us and will continue to bless us. For others, they can know that such a person is an industrious and wise steward.

This is comforting knowledge because recent news (from a self-designated leaker site no less) shows that the Church is using money it gets from its business interests to invest back into the stock market and reap the huge gains that have occurred there. The site put the possible money held now at $32 billion in 13 LLC companies, but this comes with several assumptions such as the Church owning 100% of every company. Even if you don’t think that to be the case, it still shows the Church is investing and growing its money wisely, and has a large nest egg to boot.

So why does the Church need that money? Besides churches and temples, the Church also has many employees that help everything run smoothly. Only a select number of people actually know how many people are employed, but it is well known that the Church pays well and looks out for its employees. This is in addition to all the money needed for the many activities and materials the Church creates to further the Lord’s work. The Lord expects us to do what we can and put in all our efforts to further His work and that includes having the money to do it.

Further comfort can be found in the fact that the Church is not pressed for money. Organizations, just like people, can be bullied and coerced when they need funds. The Church can maintain its independence and fend off any insidious attacks that require capital to resolve whether they be defending against groundless lawsuits, standing up to hostile campaigns, or countering false information. Just like Captain Moroni had the Nephites prepare themselves against attack, the Church must be ready too.

This information, though understandably wanted to be kept private by the Church, should earn the respect of everyone for the Church. Just as Christ counseled, the Church is being a wise steward with what has been entrusted by the Lord. Members hearts can be at ease about the Church’s financial situation.

“It’s None of My Business”

Any word about the moral rot and perversion of today is quickly met by, “Why do you care? They can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes and it won’t affect you. It’s none of your business.” This is meant to shut you up rather than address the problems, but it shows two important underlying assumptions: you should only care about someone if it directly affects you, and what people do by themselves doesn’t affect you.

While this may seem “current year”, it’s actually one of the oldest arguments out there. Cain’s first instinct when called out by the Lord for his sins is to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” or to update it “Why should I care about someone else, even my brother?”

People are defensive. They don’t want to deal with others and especially don’t want their sins getting called out. Cain wouldn’t be out of place in a Twitter thread ranting against legislating morality. But does the Lord want us to do that? Not give a toss if someone is destroying himself? You already know the answer.

Prophets are constantly recorded warning people about sin and imploring them to turn to God. Regular members as well are commanded to warn others about sin and invite them to follow Christ. This is contrary to modern sensibilities which is to turn a blind eye to the sins of someone you aren’t responsible for (and sometimes even if you are). As church members, we know we are all brothers and sisters. Shouldn’t we be looking out for our family?

When we see people advocating for causes that go against the Lord’s way, we need to notice it and call them out on it. They may tell you to sod off, but it may also get them to think and change. Being yelled at a bit is worth it if you can help someone get on the straight and narrow.

“But what about the other part?” you may ask. “The part about it not affecting us?” Well, that’s never been true and never will be true. The Book of Mormon is full of subgroups in societies turning away from Christ and the ruin that brings to not only them, but to all people in their society. The Order of Nehors introduced priestcraft to Nephite society, and it led to civil war and oppression. After Christ’s visit, peace and unity reigned throughout the land, but after a few generations, rebels and doubters led to the sorrow of many and eventual genocide of the entire Nephite people.

Prophets are not called to only preach to people who come to General Conference. They preach to societies, nations, and peoples. This of course includes people in the Church, but it also includes all people for we are all sons and daughters of God. Sin brings misery and suffering, whether from getting addicted to heroin or ruining one’s body through mutilation.

This is why the Lord has His prophets sound the trump of warning, and why He expects all of us to fight. Ceding the culture to those who would encourage sin isn’t being respectful. It’s slapping the Lord in the face and inviting the destruction of everyone.

Our duty as members is to share with everyone what we know is right and stand firm about gospel principles. We do this because we love them but also because the culture we live in affects everyone. The Lord expects strong men and women to stand firm against the tide of lies, hate, and bitterness rising everywhere. Let’s not disappoint Him.