"In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you. . . . " - (D&C 89:4.)
We need only to go to the newspapers or listen to newscasts to see the latest evil being perpetuated on society. The tobacco industry has been accused of manipulating nicotine levels to induce greater addiction among smokers; the liquor industry, which has seen its sales sag in recent years, is trying to advertise on television in hopes of competing with the breweries; the gambling industry, which has established lotteries in a number of states, now is enticing families to "theme parks" at casinos in order to attract more - and younger - gamblers.All of these subtle changes in latter-day America - and worldwide, for that matter - are attempting to create the impression that these addictive products and behaviors are somehow acceptable. As governments realize more sources of revenue exist in these vices, they turn away from the health and social consequences of increased use of liquor and tobacco and the long-term effects of gambling. The protests of the righteous are then muted in the rush to exact "sin" taxes. Who, after all, would oppose more revenue for schools or health insurance for children - even if what generates the revenue is tobacco or liquor or lotteries? Aren't these merely socially acceptable behaviors - the results of well-intentioned public officials intent on doing the best they can with scarce tax dollars?
No, they are not. The fact remains that tobacco, liquor and gambling wreak much more havoc on the individual than they contribute to the greater societal good. They damage health, destroy lives and livelihoods and, rather than bring families closer together, drive them apart. The sad fact is that governments have become as addicted to the money from these vices as the smoker, drinker or gambler is to his or her habit.
The prophet Isaiah, as recorded by Nephi, saw these times and declared: "Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (2 Ne. 15:20.)
We need to recognize evil - no matter how brightly packaged - for what it truly is, shun it and warn our children and our neighbors about its consequences.
Who are the "conspiring men" spoken about in the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants quoted above? It could be us, if we surrender to evil or ignore the dangers posed by "socially responsible" industries. We can begin with our own families to obey the Lord's counsel in the Word of Wisdom and teach others about the folly of using tobacco and alcohol or seeking out games of chance.
President Joseph F. Smith said, "The more righteous and upright, pure and undefiled, the Latter-day Saints become, the less power will Satan have over them." He continues, "For in proportion to your uprightness, honesty, and fidelity . . . the power of the adversary [will] be weakened, and those who are seeking to entice your sons and daughters into haunts of shame and dens of wickedness . . . will have less power over you." (October 1911 general conference).
Adherence to the Word of Wisdom results in stronger families, cleaner neighborhoods and more socially responsible adults. By obeying one eternal law, we put ourselves in position to obey all the laws of God. The Lord said:
"Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; . . .
. . . for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual." (D&C 29:34-35.)
The spiritual rewards of obedience go beyond physical health. "And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge even hidden treasures. . . . " (D&C 89:19.)
These treasures will lead us back along the path to the presence of God.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, "The road of life is plainly marked according to the divine purpose . . . the destination is eternal life. . . . At that destination our Father waits hopefully, anxious to greet His returning children. Unfortunately, many will not arrive. The reason is forthrightly stated by Nephi - `no unclean thing can dwell with God.'
"To man the word may be relative in meaning - one minute speck of dirt does not make a white shirt or dress unclean. . . . But to God who is perfection, cleanliness means moral and personal cleanliness. Less than that is, in one degree or another, uncleanliness and hence cannot dwell with God." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 19.)