Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of excerpts from the book “The War in Heaven Continues: Satan’s Tactics to Destroy You, Christianity, the Family, the Constitution, and America” by Gary Lawrence. 

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We have experienced a deep cultural shift within the last few years. Whereas the power of public opinion once guarded a modicum of decency in movies and media, today cuss bombs, nudity, and how-to-sin scenes abound. We shrug.  

It begins with small things that coarsen: a me-first mentality, lack of politeness, diminished respect for another’s race or ethnicity, diminished civility in public policy debates, such as constant interruptions (hello, talk-show hosts) and using harsh terms to describe opponents.

Then come lies: twist the facts, convolute the meaning of words, and masquerade improprieties as noble.

Then wink at sin (everybody’s doing it), trivialize it (no big deal; try it, you’ll like it), and in time nonchalantly dismiss it (there’s no such thing as sin; no consequences).

And finally glorify all that is gross, filthy, and putrid. Rub it in. Browbeat us into silence by political correctness. A most disgusting example was, as described by those who sat through it, a film of nothing-left-to-imagination lesbian sex scenes that received a standing ovation from the glamorous and a Cannes International Film Festival award, and saw top American moviemakers tripping over their tongues to heap praise upon it.

Elder Boyd K. Packer tells us the evils of this world will not abate this side of the Second Coming:

The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. … I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Words of profanity, vulgarity and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now they are spread across the world, and they are among us.[1]

And the cognoscenti are worried about carbon dioxide polluting the planet!

Where are the brave souls who will say, “Now wait just one minute”? Where are the outspoken like Mahatma Gandhi who said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet”?

How did we get to such a state? Easy. The world has rejected absolutes – good and evil, right and wrong. They say that we who talk of good and evil are simplistic and unsophisticated, while I maintain one must be gullible and naïve not to so believe. Satan’s finest trick is to convince us that he doesn’t exist. If people buy that, the corollary is easy to accept: there is no evil. And if no evil, then whatever a person does is no sin. And if no sin, then no consequences, no justice, no agency. Satan’s top strategies are all too successful.

Reading Isaiah, one wonders how people could be so dumb as to mistake darkness for light and light for darkness.[2] It is easy if they reject absolutes and see the world in shades of nice or not nice, or good and not-so-good. Call it the pastel-ization of America. People lose sight of light and dark incrementally: black becomes grey and then purple, and white becomes yellow and then pink. In a world of pastels, it’s easy to mistake light purple for dark pink. Rationalization is easy, situational ethics reigns, and sins are frequent.

Power seekers love a pastel point of view because people are malleable without anchors. They can be more easily persuaded and molded by string pullers. Agency is undermined, state power is advanced, America is weakened.

Frederic Bastiat cautioned:

When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.[3]

The Litmus Test

Correlated with this increasing debauchery, if there is one thing that will do more to destroy America than anything else, it is not worshipping Jesus Christ as the God of the land.

The great promise, as early immigrants seeking religious freedom seemed to understand intuitively even before the Book of Mormon was published, was that the land would be free of kings if its people followed a simple formula found in Ether:

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ….[4] (Emphasis added)

The idea that Jesus Christ is the God of the land brings hoots of derision from the non-religious, sometimes even from self-identified Christians. “What about Jews, Muslims, Buddhists?” they ask. The answer was given by Mosiah to his people just prior to the introduction of the rule of judges. It centers on the majority – the voice of the people (I call it the Pollster’s Passage):

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law – to do your business by the voice of the people.[5]

In other words, it is common that a minority will choose iniquity, but that does not negate the blessings of God if the majority does what is right.

Then comes the kicker if the minority becomes the majority:

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.[6]

And when was the “hitherto”? It was when the people of Jared and his brother were guided to this “land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.” They were told that “whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them.”[7] [Emphases added]

And what happened to them? They failed the test and were swept off.

Is there a message here?

Now imagine a modern people given this choice land and the same deal: Keep God’s commandments and prosper, or turn immoral and get booted out.  Not very complex, is it?

Imagine that in this land that cannot belong to an unrighteous people …

  • 48% of women ages 15-44 cohabited with a partner as a first union compared to 34% in 1995[8]
  • 55 million abortions have been performed in America within the last 40 years[9]
  • 48% of first births happen outside of wedlock[10]
  • 22% of men 25-44 have had 15 or more sexual partners[11]
  • 78% of 15-44 year olds say it is okay for an unmarried female to have a child[12]

Imagine further that a sizeable and growing number believe that good and evil are subjective opinions, gender is a social construct, male and female distinction is not important, marriage is merely a piece of paper invented by religions to keep women down, and that fathers aren’t necessary.[13]

As this immorality and muddled thinking proceed, picture yourself on the other side of the veil defending the people of this nation. What arguments could you possibly employ to acquit them? How would you explain why destroying angels should not be unleashed? How would you excuse the corruption and obvious “spiritual wickedness in high places”?

Please explain why this people should not be “destroyed from off the face of the land.”[14]

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Gary Lawrence is a public opinion pollster and author of “How Americans View Mormonism” and “Mormons Believe …What?!”. He lives in Orange County, California. He welcomes reader comments at [email protected].

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[1] Quoted by Elder David A. Bednar, December 15, 2012, BYU-Hawaii commencement address

[2] Isaiah 5:20

[3] Frederic Bastiat, The Law, Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, 70

[4] Ether 2:12

[5] Mosiah 29:26

[6] Mosiah 29:27

[7] Ether 2:7-9

[14] Jarom 1:10