(Note: This article is adapted from Rescuing Wayward Children. Follow this link to learn more.)
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “You face so much evil…I do not know that there was ever a time in the history of the world when there was greater evil in the world than there is today.”
If you are a parent with a wayward child and feel the associated pain and guilt, maybe you should step back and go a little easier on yourself. This world is a hard place; in fact it is one of the hardest places. Because we have the inherent ability to acclimate to our environment, we get used to conditions and imagine them as normal. But not in this case. Not here on this earth.
A Heartbreaking Story
One writer in Idaho contributed this sad but familiar story:
“Our community in Idaho is predominantly LDS. People move here from all over the United States to escape wickedness and to give their children a fighting chance to grow up clean and safe. I wonder if such a place exists anymore.
“My sister, Lisa, began using drugs when she was twelve and in grade school. She started with alcohol and tobacco and progressed to street drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. By the time we realized what was happening, she was already in the early stages of addiction. When we did our first intervention on her, she was in the late stage of addiction and her chances of recovery were not very good. By the time she was a young adult we had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on treatment, wiping out my parents’ precious resources. Lisa’s addiction caused untold suffering for our family.
“After the second intervention, Lisa remained sober for four years, but after her third failed marriage, she began to use again and she has never stopped. She has done jail time and destroyed her health; she cannot keep a job, and she has damaged or destroyed most of the important relationships in her life. Drug addicts end up dead, in jail or insane. In rare cases and with great effort, they overcome and recover. That is our hope.
“Amazingly, Lisa is still alive, and at the moment she is not in jail. With such bleak prospects, some people ask me what keeps us going. The answer is as long as Heavenly Father doesn’t give up on her, neither will we. We love her and pray for her, and we are ever watching for yet another opportunity to help her. And if the next opportunity is not successful, we will wait for another.
“We will never give up on Lisa. We are assured that sometime, somewhere there will be another opportunity to help her, and we are doing all we can to prepare ourselves to be ready when that day comes. That is our faith and our peace.”
The Battle for the Universe is Here
Our world is far from normal. It is the exception. This is the place where the war that began in heaven plays out–a war of gargantuan proportions and eternal and universal implications, a clash of Titans, if you will.
Here on this earth, we are experiencing the continuing conflict between the two greatest powers in the universe-their fight to the death, so to speak. We know the outcome, of course, but in the meantime, we are caught in the middle of a war that only a God could wage. And there are casualties-billions of them. This earth seems to be a frontline of a cosmic battle where sides are drawn…again. One side is for the Eternal God and his Christ; the other side is for Lucifer, the usurper and impostor, the one who would wrest the kingdom from the Father and proclaim himself god.
When we align with Heavenly Father, we are at enmity-enemies–with the devil, and he will use every resource at his disposal to injure and destroy us, including targeting our children. There is no mercy in him, only eternal hatred. Once in the distant past, we helped to defeat him, and he remembers. That fact alone should cause us to shudder; it should summon our constant vigilance to “watch and pray always lest [we] enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have [us].” So why should we be surprised when Satan aims for us, ambushes our children, and enjoys it?
We are in Good Company
When our children are attacked, we can take some comfort in knowing that we are not alone. In fact we are in some pretty good company. Other righteous parents have suffered the artillery launched by Satan toward their children: Adam and Eve; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob and Rachel; Lehi and Sariah; Alma the Elder and his wife; King Mosiah and his wife; even Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith had a problem child, William, and so did Mary the mother of Jesus, who, after Joseph died, struggled with her disbelieving children, who could not accept the fact that their older brother, Jesus, was the long-anticipated Messiah. Clearly, no family is immune.
Therefore, when we feel the war intrude upon our family, perspective might help. Perspective tells us that, as telestial worlds go, we are not in a “normal” environment. Perspective tells us that we do not face a typical enemy; even the worst tyrants who have ever lived are tame compared with the master tyrant who taught and controlled them. Perspective tells us that both our circumstance and our adversary are extraordinary. Perspective opens our eyes to see things as they “really are,” and to see our children and ourselves for who we “really are.” Such perspective, then, directs us to the only Power upon whom we may draw strength to do the work of reclamation and redemption, which only a god can do.
A Cosmic Perspective of Local Wickedness
A theatrical technique to awe an audience is to begin the show in front of the curtains, and then, when the introductory act is completed, to draw back the curtains to reveal the majestic sets. The more the curtains are withdrawn the more the audience sees until it is thoroughly immersed in this new world on stage.
Enoch experienced this drawing back of the Lord’s curtains. In vision, the Lord began by parting the veil and showing Enoch some of the workmanship of his hands. Of course, Enoch was awestruck. Struggling for comparatives, he exclaimed, “And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still…” revealing infinitely more.
In that cosmic view of the universe, Enoch saw “millions of earths like this,” and likely he saw the “inhabitants thereof,” other sons and daughters of God. Then, as he wondered, he saw the Lord weeping. How could this be? Why, in the midst of the grandeur of eternity would the great Creator of the universe weep? So Enoch asked, and the Lord responded with an answer that should give every parent in Zion cause to tremble: “.
..among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.”
Interpreted narrowly, the Lord’s answer might be thought to reference only Enoch’s generation. That was the generation preceding the great Flood, which, by all accounts, was a generation so wicked that it warranted destruction, a generation that some have suggested was destroyed because its children no longer had a chance to grow up without being overwhelmed by pervasive sin. But because Enoch was enjoying a sweeping view of the ages, we might interpret the Lord’s statement as including us in the last days.
The Latter Days are Among the Worst
Therefore, we latter-day parents realize that our children are at terrible risk. Enoch saw that our day would be much like his-a day defined by gross wickedness, the likes of which would equal then exceed the depravity achieved by the people in the days of Noah. “But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of Man….”
The message is clear: Enoch’s “brethren,” who would live upon this earth across the ages of time, would sink to one of the lowest levels in all the universe, and scripturally we understand that some of the worst conditions are here and now. Brigham Young said,
We are inhabitants of a world of sin and sorrow; pain and anguish, every ill that can be heaped upon intelligent beings in a probation we are heirs to. I suppose that God never organized an earth and peopled it that was ever reduced to a lower state of darkness, sin and ignorance than this. I suppose this is one of the lowest kingdoms that ever the Lord Almighty created….
Speaking of the evils facing our youth in “epidemic proportions,” President Boyd K. Packer, said, “These are days of great spiritual danger for our youth.” Continuing he said that he knew of no time when worse things were so widely accepted in the world, not even in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. While evil was localized then, he pointed out, it has now spread across the world. Sodom and Gomorrah and the world of Noah are examples of civilizations whose wickedness became so oppressive that it strangled agency and overwhelmed children before they could make informed choices. Such conditions demand extermination for the merciful sake of the children.
The Impact of our World’s Wickedness on the Host of Heaven
Evidence that our world and situation are extraordinary can be found in a further reading of Enoch’s vision. After the Lord reminded his prophet that no wickedness in the universe exceeds that which is found upon this earth, he stated, “…the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands….”
We are being watched!
The events that transpire on this earth are likely viewable by heavenly hosts, who see us and mourn. The powers of darkness that prevail upon this earth and the enemy that has combined against us have corrupted all flesh “in the presence of all the hosts of heaven, which causeth silence to reign, and all eternity is pained.” Imagine!
Have you ever witnessed something so abhorrent that speech fails you? What you are viewing “causeth silence to reign.” Such may be the case with “the hosts of heaven.” With jaw-dropping disbelief, they are evidently sickened to the point of silence. All eternity is pained. The awful wickedness that occurs on this world apparently rouses profound anxiety among even the angels of God who await “the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned.” There could be no other divine reaction; there never has been. Only the patience and mercy of God stays certain retribution for the sake of his elect.
The Unique Identity of This World
The hosts of heaven have a good reason to watch us. Here, their Savior came to work out the universal atonement to make the inhabitants of all other the worlds “begotten sons and daughters unto God.” Moreover, this world is destined to be crowned with glory and the presence of God the Father and belong to Christ and his saints, which suggests that this earth–presently one of the lowest, darkest and most wicked objects in the heavens–will be exalted high in the heavens and become one of the greatest and most brilliant luminaries in the universe, a significant celestial kingdom where Christ shall dwell.
Therefore, extremes define our earth, and the “hosts of heaven” are watching. Some of the worst acts of wickedness and some of the greatest act of righteousness have been and are being played out on this planet. The salvation of the universe depends on the success of events that happen here. This should tell us something about our children and ourselves. We–our children and us–have strengths beyond our imagination, and over time the Lord will help us remember and then employ our abilities to do the work of redemption among those who are temporarily deceived or wounded in this benighted world.
Prophetic Description of Our Time
Nephi’s vision of the latter-days is chilling.
And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church. And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity. And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church. And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity. 
In the language of war, Nephi describes an organized effort to slay the saints. The sole purpose of the “great and abominable church”–for it truly is a consuming religion to its founder and its adherents–is to torture, bind down, yoke with a yoke of iron, and bring down into captivity the covenant people. To accomplish this “slaying,” the devil dangles bait like a fisherman will dangle a lure to entice fish to bite. Whereas tragically the young and inexperienced are often the most fascinated by the lures and draw close and are caught, the older and wiser recognize the lures for what they are and seldom pay them any mind.
In the devil’s creel is an impressive arsenal of lures–if he can’t catch us with one he will simply change lures and keep trying.
According to Nephi’s vision:
• The pursuit of wealth is a lure-“gold and silver.”
• Fashion and materialism are lures-“silks and scarlets and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing.”
• Sexual sin of every variety is a lure-“many harlots.”
• Peer acceptance and popularity are lures-“praise of the world.”
Whether or not these lures are employed singly or in combination, or whether or not they are chosen or imposed upon us, the intention is the same–“to destroy the saints of God, and to bring them down into captivity.” With some degree of confidence, then, we can retrace a child’s footsteps to waywardness–by his choice or by his victimization–to his being hooked by one of the devil’s lures.
Even Satan seems to be amazed by His Success
Is Satan’s strategy working to deceive and destroy even the very elect? Evidently better than he had hoped.
He has made us to “bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression.” He has “strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion,” which condition of wickedness and confusion has been “growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity. It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.” Satan has been so successful that even he is astonished. His “dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy.”
Perspective and Hope
This would be a dismal view were it not for Jesus Christ, who anticipated, suffered for and overcame each problem that every wayward child encounters. Therefore, he can speak with optimism when he promises a successful outcome. Why? Because he has already accomplished the outcome. He knows!
Joseph Smith said, “I have a declaration to make as to the provisions which God hath made to suit the conditions of man…. What has Jesus said? All sin, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come…. Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved.… God has wrought out a salvation for all men…and every man who has a friend in the eternal world can save him…. And so you can see how far you can be a savior…. Hence the salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men, in order to triumph over the devil; for if it did not catch him in one place, it would in another; for he stood up as a Savior.”
Despite what may seem as evidence to the contrary, our children are ultimately safe in this wicked world. And so are we.
Note: This article is adapted from Rescuing Wayward Children. Follow this link to learn more.
Also, to receive a sample of my new 5-book series, The Three Pillars of Zion, Click here.
 Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, September 2007
 See D&C 29:36
 Moses 4:21
 3 Nephi 18:18
 See John 7:5
 Moses 7:30
 Jack Marshall drew this analogy in a 2002 BYU Education Week presentation
 Moses 7:30
 D&C 76:24; 88:61
 Moses 7:36
 JS Matthew 1:41
 George D. Watt, ed., Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.175
 Boyd K. Packer, “One Pure Defense,” CES Devotional, February 6, 2004
 Moses 7:37
 See D&C 38:11-12
 D&C 38:12
 See JS-Matthew 1:20
 D&C 76:24
 D&C 88:19-20
 D&C 130:9
 D&C 103:7
 1 Nephi 13:4-9
 Matthew 24:24
 D&C 123:7-10
 Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356-57, emphasis added